Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Freedom of Speech

This John Terry versus Anton Ferdinand thing is one of those classic cases which puts freedom of speech firmly under the spotlight. To those of you who can't be arsed to Google it, John Terry allegedly made a racist remark to Anton Ferdinand after a football match. In light of this allegation, he has been arrested and charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.

Some of the specifics are coming to the fore. It appears that Ferdinand was winding Terry up about his alleged shenanigans with a team-mate's wife. Terry responded by swearing at him. In other words, they were mouthing off at each other. Technically, therefore, both of them were in breach of the Public Order Act.

Have you read the Act? Fucking stupidest law I've ever read. Get this:

'A person is guilty of an offence if he:

  1. uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
  2.  displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.'

Yep, that's right. It's illegal to insult someone. So, if I call someone a fucking cunt, I've broken the law. It's even worse if I refer to their skin colour.

So, let me address a few points here.

Firstly, both Ferdinand and Terry were mouthing off at each other. Technically, Terry could press charges against Ferdinand as well. It strikes me that they should act like men, and drop the whole fucking thing, on account of it being rather reminiscent of running to teacher 'because the nasty boy is calling me names.' Are we actually supposed to be fucking ADULTS, or what?

Secondly, I understand that Ferdinand is a bit upset because Terry brought his skin colour into it. However, I can't help but feel that the racism card is played WAY too much these days. If a black guy calls a white guy a honky, nobody seems to care. If someone was referred to as a 'blue-eyed bastard', would it evoke the same level of emotional response? No - they'd probably look at you with a sense of bemusement. As if having blue eyes had anything to do with it. What about having brown hair? 'Mudheaded twat.' Would that be racial aggravation? I'm guessing not. But you put the word 'black' into a sentence containing 'cunt' and all of a sudden, everyone loses their minds. Given that skin colour is just another physical characteristic, I don't quite understand why the hell we get so hung up on it.

Lastly, IT IS THE DUMBEST FUCKING LAW I HAVE EVER READ. What the actual fuck? I mean, illegal to insult someone? Assault, I can agree with. But an insult? The way the law is worded, you can actually be breaking the law if someone happens to be offended by something you've said, even if you didn't really mean it that way.

That's fucking horseshit. It's a bad law. To be honest, if I was the judge, I'd throw the case out, and tell both Ferdinand and Terry to grow the fuck up and act like men. And then I'd give the Police and CPS both fucking barrels for wasting the Court's cunting time.

It should not be illegal to insult people, regardless of how much it offends you, them or any other fucker. Unfortunately, the price of such freedom means having to put up with insults when they throw them at you. I can cope with that, if it means that I don't have to look over my shoulder every time I call someone a twat. Because if I call someone a twat, it's pretty much guaranteed that they fucking well deserve it.

So, to whichever dopey little shit managed to get this onto the statute books: