back to article 'Repeal hate crime laws for free speech' petition passes 14k signatures

A petition calling for "an end to hate speech laws" has passed 10,000 signatures – requiring a formal response from the UK government. The petition, on Parliament's have-your-say site, had gathered just over 14,000 signatures at the time of writing. It calls for "current laws criminalising 'hate speech' to be rescinded", …

  1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    "The phrase 'gas the Jews' contains a clear threat of incitement to carry out a seriously violent act,"

    Fair enough, but does the dog have access to the necessary equipment to carry out said the atrocity? If so, the dog should have his collar felt too.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Joke

      I fail to see how the dog could correctly interpret those instructions without first being taught who 'the Jews' were.

      Without that the confused canine would have potentially picked people at random to fart on.

      1. codejunky Silver badge
        Devil

        @ Sir Runcible Spoon

        They could be trained like the russian dogs were taught to run under tanks with a bomb strapped to them.

        *For anyone not clear the russian dogs were taught with russian tanks so the plan didnt work very well in the battlefield.

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: @ Sir Runcible Spoon

          Bomb dogs. Nasty.

          https://youtu.be/jGTPqaNP710

        2. Alt C

          Re: @ Sir Runcible Spoon

          IIRC because of fuel shortages they were trained to run under soviet tanks without the engines running or exposure to battlefield conditions - so when exposed to that chaos they ran under the wrong tanks or back to their handlers with preictable results.

          For some reason they continued with the program for ages despite it being a failure nearly every time they were used

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Joke

            "continued with the program for ages despite it being a failure..every time they were used"

            Well nothing like that could ever happen in the UK, with it's strong tradition of evidence lead policy making.

    2. goldcd

      Dog's just

      following orders though..

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Dog's just

        Just following orders, eh Mr Tiddles? There was a lot of that at Nuremberg

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a bit rough on the dog.

    4. Stu Mac

      As nobody is likely to be setting up shower blocks I suggest it is not incitement at all, but an expression of antipathy which will appeal only to those of like mind.

      I suggest it is impractical to criminalise not liking other individuals or groups.

  2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Megaphone

    I don't know about repealing it, but it could certainly do with a bit of a review and a proper set of guidelines laid out as to what constitutes a hate crime. There appears to be mounting evidence that the law is being used to stifle debate on legitimate issues of the day that concern us all. Unless that was the intended purpose of the law (in which case write that down so we know for sure) then perhaps a bit of tweaking is in order.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Presumably training the dog to salute to the command "bomb ISIS" would be ok ?

      So we just need a government dept to tell us who the acceptable hate figures of the day are.

      Of course this may have to change if/when the Taliban (or Russia/Iraq ) go from being friends to enemies and all the previous statements about them have to be deleted.

      Not sure what you would call such a ministry in charge of setting out the Truth ?

      1. John G Imrie Silver badge

        1984

        Euraisa has always been at war with the Taliban, any one believing that the Government funded the Taliban should go to room 101 for re-education immediately.

        Long live BB

      2. inmypjs Silver badge

        "to tell us who the acceptable hate figures of the day are."

        It has been only peedyfile for years.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There appears to be mounting evidence that the law is being used to stifle debate on legitimate issues of the day that concern us all.

      Mounting evidence, such as? Personally, given the standard of debate on a lot of forums these days, I could frankly support a lot more stifling.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        @AC

        Mounting evidence, such as? Personally, given the standard of debate on a lot of forums these days, I could frankly support a lot more stifling.

        Whilst I'm not going to argue your point on debating standards (because I agree it's woefully low) but I believe that is partly due to people not being able to say what they think and have to caveat everything they say.

        I happened across a live studio debate a few months ago and it seemed that the whole audience were of the 'SJW' type - i.e. getting offended on others' behalf, not their own. It was amusing to watch them tie themselves in verbal knots over what they felt they could, or more to the point what they could not, say whilst discussing whatever the issue at hand was.

        There was so much caveating going on it was hard to actually discern what the subject being discussed actually was.

        The problem is the wording of law invites intolerance of someone else's point of view, it encourages people to 'be insulted' so that they can claim the other party is 'x-ist' or whatever so they can shut them down and not have to address the (often) valid points that are being raised.

        I could write 500 words on a worthy subject, and even if I managed to convey constructive ideas and practical means of employing those ideas it would only require one badly worded sentence for the whole thing to be shot down in self-righteous flames and all the valid points would be ignored, even if those very same points could do a lot to help the very people who are flaming.

        It is insane.

        As for examples, there are too many to list. The first hit I got when I looked was an article from several years ago that mentions a few abuses of this power and why it needs an overhaul. If you want more have a look for yourself.

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/06/section-5-harassment-free-speech

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Robin Hood Airport

    Robin Hood Airport (currently known as Doncaster Sheffield airport, I assume due to someone realizing how silly the previous name was) was actually 'blown sky high' in it's previous incarnation as RAF Finningley, in the super cheery, hit BBC comedy of the 1980's 'Threads'. I'm sure other 40 somethings who were traumatized by it as children will remember the moment well, mushroom cloud, woman pissing herself, it got a bit breezy, classic lols. Anyway, perhaps Barry Hines would have been liable to prosecution these days, had he still been alive.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Robin Hood Airport

      I think there is a general exemption for hate crimes directed against Doncaster

      1. John G Imrie Silver badge

        Re: Robin Hood Airport

        I'm more with John Betjeman. Lets bomb Slough

        1. Semtex451 Silver badge

          Re: Robin Hood Airport

          How would you tell?

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Robin Hood Airport

      You missed the melting milk bottles... to me that was the most iconic scene in the trailers (back then called 'ads' I believe?)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        Re: Robin Hood Airport

        '....melting milk bottles....'

        Martin you are right that the melting milk bottles stole the show : but they, and the burning cat, melting boy and exploding woolworth's were from the strike on the Tinsley Viaduct a few minutes later, rather than the first attack on RAF Finningley I mentioned above. I feel a little guilty about getting all pedanty about a TV programme from 34 years ago, but, it's just happened. I'm sorry. I'll go to my room and think about what I've done.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Robin Hood Airport

          Are Sheffield city council still hoping for a nuclear attack on Tinsley to improve the area ?

          ps For years Britain conducted nuclear tests in Attercliffe and Brightside - nobody noticed

  4. AstroNutter

    The justice system really has money to waste?

    anti-hate-crime laws don't need repealing, they just need to be applied with something which seems to be missing... Common sense.

    Hoax bomb threat email to failure-prone train company Southern Rail

    I don't care if he was blowing off steam or not. He made a threat and it was right to go to court. I'm surprised that he's been cleared though. Might be interesting to see the case details. (but I'm not going to bother) This reminds me of the idiot that tweeted a "joke" bomb threat to Robin Hood Airport a few years back. The book was thrown that that prat.

    YouTuber who trained his girlfriend's dog to make Nazi salutes

    Ok, I get the whole anti semetic thing, and that there will be people offended by it. However, I don't see how an idiot stupidly training a dog should have public money wasted on it. If it was evidence in part of a bigger case, then of course that's a different story.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: The justice system really has money to waste?

      "anti-hate-crime laws don't need repealing, they just need to be applied with something which seems to be missing... Common sense."

      That sounds like "unequal application of the law" to me. If a law is to be enforced, it's enforcement needs to be equal, blind to circumstance, and consistent.

      Otherwise, it's "banana republic" time - you pissed off "dear leader" and so he'll actually ENFORCE THE LAW on YOU.

      Wait a minute... this sounds familiar... something about 'executive orders'... recent history...

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: The justice system really has money to waste?

      @ AstroNutter

      I'm guessing you do not have to deal with the barely functioning UK rail system on a near daily basis?

      If you did, you might realise why someone could easily rage tweet thet sort of thing.

      Twitter is bad as, when previously someone would just have a few seconds of rage swear ranting they now do their momentarily stupid spleen venting via typing into twitter, so it's now visible to all and sundry instead of previously just reaching the ears of nearby commuters.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: The justice system really has money to waste?

        Just because something makes you angry, doesn't mean you've suddenly got a pass on your subsequent behaviour.

        It's not exactly difficult to type something, look at it and think "maybe that's going a bit far", then delete or edit it. Angry raging when you don't get your own way is embarrassing in a toddler, in a grown adult it's just sad.

        1. Jonathan Schwatrz
          Happy

          Re: phuzz Re: The justice system really has money to waste?

          "....Angry raging when you don't get your own way is embarrassing in a toddler, in a grown adult Millennial it's just sad the norm." TFTFY ;)

      2. Jonathan Schwatrz
        Facepalm

        Re: Tiggity Re: The justice system really has money to waste?

        "I'm guessing you do not have to deal with the barely functioning UK rail system on a near daily basis? If you did, you might realise why someone could easily rage tweet thet sort of thing....." It's called self-control. As I was taught from a young age - "engage brain before opening mouth". It would seem even smarter to engage brain before Tweeting, especially given that you have zero control over the likely audience of a Tweet. Whilst I have suffered the "joys" of the UK rail "service" many times, I have always kept my grumbling to a select audience and not felt the need to mindlessly shriek it over the Internet. Might I suggest the Millennial tendency to "look-at-me"-ism is really the culprit here?

    3. Cederic

      re: The book was thrown that that prat.

      Fortunately sanity prevailed:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-19009344

  5. TimeMaster T
    Megaphone

    My view

    You should be able to get up on a soap box on any street corner and start speaking your views, even if you say that Gay's should be stoned, Jews should be gassed, US President Trump should be impeached and local zoning laws should be changed to allow a brothel next to the church. The only restrictions on public speech should be in regard to interference with local business/private dwellings, bothering people in their homes or other non-public spaces, disturbing people late night, etc. (personally I would also like a noise ordinance to keep Public parks reasonably quite, you could still stand there in a sandwich board and speak at a normal volume). If I don't agree with the person speaking I can ignore them and walk away, or ask them to move from in front of my business/home.

    "Free speech" should be about expressing you views without fear of censorship, no mater what you want to say. Putting limits and restrictions on what can be said, no mater how repugnant those opinions may be, goes against the entire concept of "Freedom of Speech".

    I think it was US's "Founding Father" John Adams who said that when defending freedoms you will often have to defend those who are repugnant, because that is where the erosion of freedoms will begin. The restrictions will first be targeted at those on the fringes that no one will object to, and then it will grow. If you say nothing when they come for the Neo-Nazis eventually there won't be anyone left to speak out when they come for you.

    I'm fully aware that my view on this is more than a little simplistic, idealistic, and naive to the point that it will beggar some peoples minds but it is how I see the topic. I would rather have someone venting their hate for X publicly and being ignored than them keeping silent and letting the hate fester and build until it actually harms someone.

    I will now step down from my soap box. Thank you for your time and have a good day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My view

      TimeMaster T is a child molester. I have proof. Kill the fucker.

      Just exercising my freedom of speech in the manner that you seem to support.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: My view

        "Just exercising my freedom of speech in the manner that you seem to support."

        Indeed, and notice how little threat you pose to the community. By the way, you're wrong. I think you should be killed just in case you are tempted to say something unsafe again in future. It's the only way to be sure...

      2. silent_count

        Re: My view

        Hey AC, remember the yanks who said Obama shouldn't be president because he's not a US citizen? The problem was not in their ability to make the accusation but with their lack of evidence.

        Incidentally a similar problem arises for you. Sure you can exercise your free speech to make the accusation against TimeMaster T but, in a world of free speech, there's nothing to stop me from asking what evidence you have to back your accusation.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: My view

          'Sure you can exercise your free speech to make the accusation against TimeMaster T but, in a world of free speech, there's nothing to stop me from asking what evidence you have to back your accusation.'

          And if he doesn't have any TimeMaster T could take him to court for libel. Or is it slander. One of the two. So no need for the hate speech legislation.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My view

          Hey AC, remember the yanks who said Obama shouldn't be president because he's not a US citizen? The problem was not in their ability to make the accusation but with their lack of evidence.

          And yet the guy who came to prominence by being one of the lead accusers now sits in the White House. Lack of evidence does not seem to have proved much of a hindrance.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My view

          Incidentally a similar problem arises for you. Sure you can exercise your free speech to make the accusation against TimeMaster T but, in a world of free speech, there's nothing to stop me from asking what evidence you have to back your accusation.

          People have been killed for being alleged child molesters, in case you hadn't heard. The mob isn't always greatly concerned by such wish-washy things as proof and facts.

      3. Michael Thibault

        Re: My view

        "Kill the fucker" is incitement. Not good. Not allowed. Not free-speech-wise, anyway. Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $/£200.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My view

          "Kill the fucker" is incitement. Not good. Not allowed. Not free-speech-wise, anyway. Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $/£200.

          Way to spectacularly miss the point, which is precisely that Timemaster T's espoused view of free speech does not appear to preclude such incitement, nor many other forms of free speech that most of us would consider problematic. Jesus, you have to spell everything out in short words these days.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: My view

            Going back and reading what was actually written..

            Putting limits and restrictions on what can be said, no mater how repugnant those opinions may be, goes against the entire concept of "Freedom of Speech".

            This implies that the free speech in question relates to that of expressing one's own opinion. Whilst it doesn't specifically preclude 'orders' or incitement to commit a crime it's a bit pedantic to pick on that one element and ignore the implied limitations just so you can ignore the rest of what he said.

      4. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: My view

        Just exercising my freedom of speech in the manner that you seem to support.

        Quite right. And perfectly appropriate, because it's clear you're doing it in support of your argument.

        If you said such unpleasant things in a different context with no such excuse (as in this story), that makes you an arse, and someone who deserves to be ignored and end up alone and friendless[1].

        But it absolutely doesn't mean an overbearing state should clog up the courts or the prisons with your idiocy: that's totalitarianism.

        [1] At least until you apologise in an appropriate manner. This is the kind of situation where one might reasonably invoke the religious language of repentance and redemption.

      5. RickyPosy

        Re: My view

        Specific allegations about a person are either true, or not. If untrue and liable to lower the person in the eyes of the world, they are defamation. Please try and keep up. Stating an opinion, however unpleasant, about a group of people such as "The Jews", is free speech, not defamation.

        "In my opinion Jews should be gassed" is very different to "My neighbour John Smith does it with goats" - unless of course you have proof that he does. For the record, I viewed the YouTube video and it was offensive and funny in equal measures. The guy is clearly never going to win a good taste medal, but when people have their collar felt for a sick joke, you know that the secret police are on their way and nobody is safe.

    2. Not also known as SC Silver badge

      Re: My view

      "Free speech" should be about expressing you views without fear of censorship, no mater what you want to say. Putting limits and restrictions on what can be said, no mater how repugnant those opinions may be, goes against the entire concept of "Freedom of Speech"

      It's a difficult one. However if you ever want a reason why free speech should be curtailed can I just say 'Westboro Baptist Church'?

    3. Jonathan Schwatrz
      Boffin

      Re: TimeMaster T Re: My view

      "You should be able to get up on a soap box on any street corner and start speaking your views, even if you say that Gay's should be stoned....." The English law is that it is illegal to make those statements as a command or incitement to an illegal act. As an example, on a street in England, it used to be arguably legally acceptable (though morally repugnant) to say "gays should be stoned", but illegal to say "stone the gays" - the latter is incitement to commit assault and possibly murder. But, under the new English statutes, just saying "gays should be stoned" to an audience that might be distressed by your statement would count as hate speech and get you locked up.

      I suspect the CPS's argument wasn't that the guy was inciting his dog to murder Jews by giving the command "gas the Jews", that would seem a tad silly and would seem to fall under the humour clause in Part 3A of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, but that his putting the video of it on the 'net could be classed as hate speech as viewers could be distressed by the sentiment.

    4. Stu Mac

      Re: My view

      Slightly abridged:

      “If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Goebbels was in favour of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favour of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.”

      Noam Chomsky

  6. Garymrrsn

    You can't legislate freedom

    Anything you do will deny someone something they believe should be their right. The last person on earth loses the right to free association. In an anarchy everyone loses the right to be left alone.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We fall back to the age old question of who defines what is hate and what constitutes a hate crime?

    Do words really constitute hate? Does it require the government to dictate what you can and can't say? Where does it end?

    I'm not advocating allowing anyone to say anything as clearly there are some things that should be unsaid but where do you draw the line and who decides where the line is?

    Letting the majority dictate in a wave of populism can lead to the place banning hate speech is trying to avoid. It is also open to abuse by those that wield that power and decide what you can and can't say, it also moves the people that say these things underground so rather than banning speech why not try and remove the causes of people wanting to say these things?

    Be careful what you wish for because when the government decides everything for you then it's game over.

  9. scrubber

    Hate Speech ...

    ... ultimately protects the groups that need it least (e.g. white Christian heterosexual males).

    The same free speech that allowed people to speak out in favor of equal rights for the disgusting, perverted (at the time) gays is the same free speech that allows people to now call gays disgusting and perverted. You can't have your cake and eat it. Unless it's a gay wedding cake, but that's a whole other argument.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Hate Speech ...

      A good way of drafting a 'hate speech' law would be to get someone totally opposed to you in every way, to proof read it... and show how they'd use it against you. If you're happy with that result, it's well drafted.

      1. Michael Thibault

        Re: Hate Speech ...

        "A good way of drafting a 'hate speech' law would be to get someone totally opposed to you in every way, to proof read it... and show how they'd use it against you. If you're happy with that result, it's well drafted."

        The assumption here being that your opposite number is not so calculating that they'd wait until after the law was passed to use it against you.

  10. SVV Silver badge

    David Davies

    "David Davies, 37, of Croydon, emailed the firm saying: "I hope you call the police. This is not a hoax. I will fucking bomb your fucking HQ to fucking smithereens.""

    First of all, how come their are so many people called David Davies (there are at least 2 Tory MPs I believe with this name too - haven't parents got any imagination if they have this surname?)

    Secondly, HE asked for the police to be called so they granted his wish, and arrested him so what's the problem here? I mean he even sent his hoax in BY EMAIL which is about as clever as writing a formal hoax letter on headed notepaper. The jury (probably rightly) cleared him of any malice - but he's obviously an idiot.

    Finally, why is Robin Hood Airport serving Sheffield and Doncaster? Surely East Midlands Airport would be more suitable for that particular character? Unless I've remembered it wrong and Robin and his merry men battled the evil Sherrif of Doncaster....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: David Davies

      He nicked it and gave it to the poor.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: David Davies

      Robin Hood Airport was selected because in days of yore, Sherwood forest covered most, of what is today, South Yorkshire more so than Nottingham. Now instead you get Doncaster and Mansfield. Some would say the forest would be preferable nowadays to those 2 places......

      EMA even tried renaming itself to Nottingham East Midlands a few years until people pointed out that it's closer to Derby and situated in Leicestershire so the name was silly.

      Anon coz I've got F&F in both Doncaster & Mansfield.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: David Davies

        "Robin Hood" Airport was selected because the other obvious local celebrities, "Arthur Scargill" or "Geoff Boycott" might give an altogether too accurate picture of the airport.

    3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: David Davies

      The MP's are called Davies and Davis.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. The Nazz Silver badge

    I wouldn't mind but ....

    but it seems a bit rich in a country

    a) with a recent PM who was intent on causing actual significant harm to 100'000s of defenceless Iraqi's and lied to teh country to do so.

    and

    b) with a recently elected MP whose CV includes being a speech writer for Eastenders for some ten years (i believe thereabouts).

    Now i have never watched as much as a minute of Eastenders but from many account, there is much hatred within it ( the Mitchell brothers alone account for a fair bit of it). What an example to set anyone.

    Anyone follow this drama? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-42584168

    Totally disproportionate? Trust the BBC.

    Anyone know if the Mayor actually bent over and succumbed to Young's wishes? What a huge waste or scarce resources if he did so.

  13. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

    Seriously Pommies, free speech is great. It's a very quick way to let you detect douche-bags. Almost as fast as facial tatoos. And best of all you get to tell them what you think about their dribbly comment.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "Freedom of Speech"

    Not just for nice people.

  15. Nocroman

    Free speech

    Zieg Heil, Welcome to the new roman empire. where you can lose your freedom or be beaten or killed for exercising any kind of freedom of speech. Faggots are faggots, dykes are dykes, terrorists are terrorists and two people of the same sex getting married is WRONG. I don't care if you don't like what my opinion of what you do hurts your feelings. I have the God given right to say what I believe about what I believe to be insane behavior. You cannot force your twisted way upon any God loving person or expect that God loving person to accept what the have been taught is WRONG. God made man and woman. woman to support man, keep him company, and to procreate with Propagating the human race and replacing those that have ceased to live. Gays, lesbians, and those same sex couples do nothing to propagate our human species. They may adopt a normal couples child, but what values will they teach that child? How to not propagate the human species or become a heterosexual couple and propagate the human race as a species.

    Those that are not heterosexual are mentally ill. They are not normal. They will never be normal unless they are treated and can see that man and woman are meant to be a couple and no other combination is a sane choice.

    Losing your freedom of speech to tell the truth is the first step toward the loss of all your freedoms and only leads to a life lived under the yoke of tyranny by yet another power hungry insane leader who has risen to power on the backs of his people and must by greed alone have more. To see and point out these people, you have only to look in your back yard. North Korea, Russia, The United States of America, Syria , Afghanistan, Yemen, And many other countries with civil wars and attacks on their neighbors and against other countries around the world.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Free speech

      Thank you for your enlightening comments - YHVH will be delivering fire and brimestone on you soon for taking his name in vain.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Coat

        Thank you for your enlightening comments

        I think his deeper point might be that words are just that.

        Words.

        He has expressed his opinion. That many would think them those of first class Ahole is irrelevant. In a free society you are allowed to express them.

        Actions OTOH....

  16. LDovic

    Free speech is absolute

    It's not that hatred of race religion or whatever is a good thing and needs to be protected.

    It's that when a certain idea or group of ideas are censored you dont know whether it's justified,

    Because you can't hear what's being said.

    And sooner or later the government in power will start to censor whatever it likes,

    Because you can't hear what's being censored.

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Free speech is absolute

      Free speech is not absolute and has never been, anywhere, even in the USA - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_exceptions/

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