For years, we have seen the offended and the thin-skinned being used to take more and more freedom from society. Many now have the expectation of living in an offense-free world. Never should what they do, believe, think, or look like be spoken ill of in public or private.
With this impossible and stupid aim in view, Britain passed Section 127 of the Communications Act, in 2003. This has been used to prosecute offenses by pastors and football fans. And now, the ever present threat of prosecution is spreading.
The London mayor’s office for policing and crime (Mopac) will spend £1,730,726 of taxpayer’s money policing speech online after applying for a huge grant from the Home Office Police Innovation Fund (PIF), it was announced in a statement.
“The purpose of this programme is to strengthen the police and community response to this growing crime type” is was announced, and will “involv[e] a dedicated police team” backed by “volunteers”,
What this will mean is that anything that others do not want to hear or read on the internet could land the writer or speaker in jail. But, there is a problem with this kind of policing: who decides what is and is not offensive?
Who determines what speech is allowed? Further, we should ask, by what standard shall we be judged to have been offensive?
The law criminalises “using [a] public electronic communications network in order to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety,” and can result in a six-month prison term or fine of up to £5,000.
But this vague notion of criminality is open to a broad interpretation. It will be one way that the left will silent all opposition. It sure will mean the death of free speech in Britain.
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