What Price Free Speech?

‘Defending free speech seriously, as opposed to just rhetorically, means defending the right to expression of those we vehemently disagree with (including those who would put us up against a wall come the revolution), are embarrassed to be associated with, and whose outpourings we find repugnant.


Political liberals worthy of the title should, therefore, be appalled by the decision of Westminster Magistrates Court to imprison two police officers, Jonathon Cobban and Joel Borders, under Section 27 of the Communications Act for sending ‘grossly offensive’ messages on WhatsApp. Their messages on a private group that included PC Wayne Couzens, the murderer of Sarah Everard, contained rape jokes, racism, homophobia – the abominable works.


However, in a free society people should be free to be ‘grossly offensive’, because what constitutes this is, by definition, a matter of subjective judgement.’


Marc Glendening - Cap X


This is a difficult one for the Met, who seem to have very loose HR criteria for taking officers on the payroll. There has been too much of this culture and actual criminal behaviour.


However as stomach churning as some of this ‘banter‘ is, it is not a matter for the Criminal Courts to judge and condemn those whose views we find as repugnant.


If we are going to this, you may as well take a riot van to every building site, factory floor and hairdressers in the land.


I find the violent rhetoric of fanatical left wing pretty appalling; Eat the Rich being one of the milder demands of smashing and looting fellow citizens.


Once we start locking people up for thought crimes, we are sliding down a very slippery slope.


Andrew Withers FRSA


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