Scotland’s Crime of “Outraging Public Decency”

Scotland reportedly is about criminalize sending anyone an “indecent communication” without their consent. It is one of the new crimes covered by a law against “Outraging Public Decency.”

Thus, before writing any sexual statements to another individual, Scots will be expected to obtain their permission. A simple call will suffice with an inquiry “whether you would mind if I sent you an indecent line or two.”

The law appears wildly ambiguous and vague. It would be struck down on that ground in the states, but Scots may have a better understanding of what is indecent. The law reportedly will take effect this year according to the article below.

A commission report for England and Wales addresses this category of crime. It notes that the previous common law rule made it a crime to perform “any indecent activity in such a place or way that more than one member of the public may witness and be disgusted by it.” That is an astonishingly low standard that could encompass protected speech and art. In his time, Van Gogh would have been dead meat in the United Kingdom. The commission sought to reduce prosecutions by emphasizing a scienter or intent requirement to eliminate inadvertent or negligent acts. This does not do nearly enough, however, to address the impact on what should be considered protected speech, in my view.

Source: Opendemocracy

15 thoughts on “Scotland’s Crime of “Outraging Public Decency””

  1. Blouise,

    We are Brits, or British, although the Scots are a breed apart

    Brought to you by the people who also brought you kilts, haggis

    Fortunately the Scots legal system is not applicable to the entire United Kingdom

  2. Mike Appleton : you’re correct, it was Chapman\Cleese collaboration. At any rate if any of them are available I’d love to here their take.

    Terry Jones wrote some rather hilariously scathing articles on the neoCons several years ago.

    Those guys make comedy look so easy

  3. CEK, Cleese and Palin performed the sketch, but I think it was written by Cleese and Chapman, who collaborated on many Python sketches.

  4. roflol CEK

    That Hungarian/English dictionary skit has always been a favorite because my hovercraft is full of eels.

  5. Hungarian phrase book, maybe a combination


    do you want…do you want to come back to my place..bouncy bouncy

  6. Monty Python and Scotsmen? okay


    Mike Appleton: Too bad Graham Chapman is no longer around to work some “dead parrot” magic on the idea of an indecent communication.

    I hate to pick nits but Cleese and Palin were responsible for the Dead Parrot sketch

  7. What a ridiculous proposal. I would love to see Monty Python take up this bit of legislative nonsense in a reunion special. Too bad Graham Chapman is no longer around to work some “dead parrot” magic on the idea of an indecent communication.

  8. Which is worse: saying something indecent or blowing a bubble at a policeman?

  9. They may take our lives, but they’ll never take… our freedom of sexting???

    There’s gotta be a Mel Gibson joke in there somewhere, right?


  10. Time’s up …

    Whew … no response from any United Kingdomer … I’m in the clear

    For those of you United Statesers who remember Senator Arlen Specter’s lecture to the Senate on Scottish Law … he is not my paid advisor.

  11. Okay, let’s see …

    To anyone in the United Kingdom:

    If I do not hear from you within the next 5 minutes, I will take that as your consent to my sending you indecent communications.


    starting ….. now!

  12. “whether you would mind if I sent you an indecent line or two.”


    well this is looooooooong overdue thank you !

    I absolutely put the question…..:)

  13. Ya reckon, AY? Hey, at least we’ll have a Scottish cell close to one another.

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