Another UK attack on free speech

This report on a “bigot” who is to expect a jail sentence for expressing dislike online of those whom he saw as his enemies should make us all shiver.  There is no pretence that the man did anything except say how much he hated Catholics. 

Apparently that is justification enough for “a substantial jail sentence”.

Who knew?

8 Responses to “Another UK attack on free speech”


  1. Maureen

    As a Catholic, I think this is ridiculous. Especially ridiculous, because the worst, most virulent and expressive anti-Catholics are often about six inches away from converting to Catholicism, and most of the others are just ignorant people begging to be educated better. Everybody else, we just offer it up.

    I fully understand that in some UK places this can get more serious and scary; but still, when the religious wounds are this deep, you have to see the pus to get it out. So clearly this isn’t going to help.

  2. Maureen

    What I don’t understand is this.

    1) Why not just complain to Facebook and take down this “hate page”? Obviously a violation of the ToS.

    2) How can an online page be “breaching the peace”? No, seriously, I don’t see it. Especially Facebook, where nobody ever is forced to see anything they don’t want to see. (Admittedly I’m not on Facebook and don’t understand its workings, but I thought that was the basic attraction of it.)

    (3. Why does anyone join Facebook and give them their real name, if it’s just a license to be arrested in the UK and beheaded in Mexico?)

  3. Roger Pearse

    I’ve nothing against Catholics, and I think it’s horrible to lock people up for disliking them. And you realise, if I reposted any of it, I’d risk prison too?

    But I think the judge just made the law up.

  4. Maureen

    Yeah, I know. The UK and US doctrines of free speech have never been exactly congruent; but as stupid as things are now here in the US, you folks have it worse.

  5. Roger Pearse

    There is a general trend to censorship on political grounds, and, while your constitution protects it, I think that trend will affect you too. There will be repeated attempts to silence this group or that. I believe some US universities are preventing various groups from operating on campus because the people in charge of the university disagree with the politics or religion of the student groups. If so, that’s the same theme. Still, those who have complete power are unlikely to be restrained in using it.

  6. Dioscorus Boles

    I could never understand the hate between the Catholics and Protestants of Scotland over football. This man’s mother is Catholic and yet he goes on to abuse the Catholics.

    I can’t make my mind about whether he should be banned from writing such stuff or not. While I think he shouldn’t for writing Catholics are “dirty scumbags” I am not sure about “Hope they (Catholics) all die.” The distance between the latter and violence, whether by him or others who read his comments, is short. The former is an opinion that should not be censored; the latter is intolerant attitude implying that Catholics (not just their Faith) have no right to exist.

    These things are always difficult. Fortunately he represents a very tiny extremist fringe in British society. Censoring this group may be good. But I am not sure about jailing him unless his words are deemed to be potentially leading to violence. This is a matter to be assessed by the courts.

    I am writing this thinking of other countries such as Egypt, where anti-Christian (Coptic) propaganda, in the media and mosques, is widespread, and is much, much worse than anything in Britain; and hope that Britain will cease its confusion on this matter because Britain, and the West, is supposed to lead the rest of the world into finding the right balance between the freedom of expression and violence inciting.

  7. Roger Pearse

    Inciting violence is wrong. That should be the limit. But “hoping all the Catholics die” is nasty, but not inciting violence. It might be incitement in Egypt, of course.

  8. Dioscorus Boles

    You are right – the overwhelming majority of the British public will not be moved by or agree to such sentiment; unlike matters in Egypt, where many will share in such sentiments and can even get easily moved by them. So in Britain a sentiment like this may not incite violence while in Egypt it has frequently done.

    I feel in Britain things are getting ridiculous as the politicians want to appear even-handed: they of course fear that allowing a football fanatic to express his sentiment about Catholics will make it difficult to curb hate sentiments expressed by more extremist groups who are ready to commit acts of terrorism and mass murder in Britain without hesitation. Or so I think the case may be!



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