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Should UK Law criminalise comments and opinions?
   Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:18 pm

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Should UK Law criminalise comments and opinions?

Permanent Linkby Graveyard on Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:18 pm

Two young men have been in the UK news over the last couple of days, for making objectionable posts on Facebook. One was a white lad who told a sick joke about April Jones, and the other was a Muslim lad, who made some nasty comments about British soldiers killed in Afghanistan. They've both been taken to court and prosecuted for their comments. The white lad was given a 12 week sentence, whilst the Muslim lad was given a community service order.

Both of these idiots would have got an angry reaction from me if they'd said what they said in real life. I might even have been tempted to punch them, but are they really criminals? Is it really the business of the law to be prosecuting people for being arse holes, or expressing a political opinion?

Both of them immediately suffered a backlash from their friends. Both of them, quite rightly, became instantly very unpopular. Both of them would have learned a painful enough lesson without the law getting involved.

In the case of the Muslim lad, who was voicing a political opinion, the involvement of the law will only make a martyr of him, and give him status amongst those who agree with him. It will add fuel to the fire of the perceived persecution that some of these Muslims feel. The same thing happened recently when a white woman was locked up for appearing in a YouTube video making angry remarks about black and Polish people who she felt were taking over her area. The people who agreed with her felt their opinions were being systematically oppressed.

You can't change people's opinions by criminalising them. All you'll acheive is to validate them, create an aura of persecution, and make people of that opinion even angrier.

Criminalising opinions has no place in the modern Western world... in my opinion of course!

Criminalising opinions actually makes those opinions more dangerous than ever. It just pushes groups of people underground and increases their feelings of persecution. It's far better to uphold people's rights to say whatever they believe in the open, as that enables dialogue and a chance of progress, as opposed to 'underground groups' of people festering with resentment and feelings of persecution.

Take away a minority's right to a voice, and no matter how ridiculous their 'cause' may be, if they believe in it enough, they'll find other ways to get their point across, like planting bombs in city centres...

Another concern about criminalising opinions, is who gets to decide which opinions are right or wrong? Today we have a centre-right party holding power in the UK. Tomorrow we could have a centre-left party, or a far-left party, or one that is far-right. You might agree with prosecuting the unfashionable opinions of today, but tomorrow it could be your head on the chopping block for saying something you believe in.

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Re: Should UK Law criminalise comments and opinions?

Permanent Linkby HaxX on Sat Oct 20, 2012 11:05 am

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I did not speak out;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

-Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller

I support freedom of speech no matter how ugly it is. You can´t have conditional "freedom" of speech and still have it be freedom. Allfreedoms have a price, as criminals and unsavory types as well as the law abiding will use them, but this is a price I will gladly pay.
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Re: Should UK Law criminalise comments and opinions?

Permanent Linkby Graveyard on Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:11 am

Well put, HaxX! :)
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