UK: May government rejects petition for Free Speech Act and end to “hate speech” laws

Editor's Note: Robert Spencer highlights the UK government’s fear of free speech in this article on the Home Office’s rejection of a petition calling for a Free Speech Act.

Hate speech” laws are a tool of the powerful to silence dissenters. The person or group empowered with determining what is and is not “hate speech” has total power over the public discourse, and can criminalize any perspectives that the government does not favor. “Hate speech” laws are, in short, a tool for tyranny, and the freedom of speech is a society’s foremost protection against tyranny. The May government is the betrayer and destroyer of Britain, which is, of course, finished.

“Tory Government REJECTS Petition for a Free Speech Act,” by Jack Montgomery, Breitbart, January 28, 2018:

"The British government has rejected a petition calling for a Free Speech Act and an end to laws against so-called ‘hate speech’. “For several years now the government has been infringing people’s most basic rights to speak freely on matters, by deeming their speech ‘offensive’ or ‘hateful. and declaring that such speech, even online, warrants being fined or jailed,” the petition suggests. “We demand the legal right to Free Speech, in an Act which will bring an end to the ludicrous notion that ‘hate speech’ and ‘offensive speech’ deserves people be imprisoned or charged … Ideas must be fought with other ideas, not with force."

The petition system in the United Kingdom allows citizens to have petitions published on a parliament.uk website, subject to certain conditions. The Government is supposed to respond to petitions which pass 10,000 signatures, and the Backbench Business Committee is supposed to “consider” petitions which pass 100,000 signatures for a parliamentary debate. The Home Office, led by Amber Rudd MP, responded on behalf of Prime Minister Theresa May’s administration as the Free Speech petition reached around 16,000 signatures — rejecting it out of hand. “The Government is committed to upholding free speech, and legislation is already in place to protect these fundamental rights,” the statement begins — then immediately contradicts itself, adding: “However, this freedom cannot be an excuse to cause harm or spread hatred.” The statement explains that British citizens have “a right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)”, but that “This is a qualified right … This means that free speech is not absolute.” The right to freedom of expression as described by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights is certainly qualified, with the document spelling out in no uncertain terms that free speech rights are “subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.” Critics have pointed out that, far from providing citizens with the right to freedom of expression, the European Convention in fact provides governments with the right to restrict freedom of expression on the flimsiest of pretexts, with the caveats concerning the protections of “morals” and “the reputation or rights of others” appearing particularly open to abuse. The authorities under have if anything appeared more enthusiastic in cracking down on free speech since the nominally conservative Tory Party returned to office in 2010, with the police dedicated significant resources towards arresting people for making “offensive” online comments despite swingeing budget cuts. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that police forces increased arrests under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, which makes it illegal to intentionally “cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another”, by up to 877 per cent between 2014 and 2016….

This article was originally published on the Jihad Watch website on January 28, 2018, and can be viewed on their site by clicking here.

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