We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. Once allowed to criminalize speech, individuals and groups demand more and more prohibitions. England is in a free fall over free speech and this week is yet another example. The police have indicated that they are considering making wolf whistles the latest category of hate speech.We also have even seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).
Now a prank on a girlfriend with a pug could land a man in jail for months as a hate crime for being “grossly offensive.” There seems little concern over the subjectivity of such standards or it impacts free speech. Moreover, not a single person even filed a complaint and Jewish comedians defended Meechan and warned of the implications of such criminalization of jokes.
Nevertheless Sheriff Derek O’Carroll told the court: “The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive. He would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people.” So you are now subject to arrest if you say something that could be deemed offensive to any group.
It is chilling to see how the United Kingdom has plunged head first into speech criminalization and regulation. It is now a textbook example of how the appetite for speech criminalization becomes insatiable with time.