Poppy burning is a free speech issue too


by Sunny
8th March, 2011 at 4:45 pm    

The Sun and other tabloids are screaming about how a publicity-stunt artist from Al-Muhajiroun only got fined £50 for burning a poppy on Remembrance Day.

The Sun rails:

What kind of deterrent is £50 to other Islamic fascists bent on sowing hate throughout Britain? How much longer must we tolerate their free speech over-ruling the sanctity of the Remembrance Day silence?

As this Economist blog post points out, a lot longer we should hope. The right to political protest and free speech should not be banned by the law however abhorrent the majority finds it.

But there is another point to make. Critics of multiculturalism like Douglas Murray take a similarly muddled approach.

The tabloids and Murray are either always attacking Muslims for not fitting in (sentiments diametrically opposed to creating a democratic, liberal society that allows people to live how they want to), or attacking Muslims for not embracing free speech and democracy. They want to have their pie and eat it too. The Sun, like Douglas Murray, is flip-flopping depending on what issue they can use to attack Muslims.

Lastly, the fanatic from al-Muhajiroun will undoubtedly be ecstatic for the coverage today – their entire aim with these stunts of 10-20 people is to grab media attention. They feed off the Sun, and vice versa.

Related: Alex Massie agrees, and is right to wish we also had more of a first amendment rights culture here, like in the US.


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  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : Poppy burning is a free speech issue too http://bit.ly/gqJLAB


  2. Nemesis Republic

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Poppy burning is a free speech issue too http://bit.ly/gqJLAB #EDL #UAF


  3. Matt Flaherty

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Poppy burning is a free speech issue too http://bit.ly/gqJLAB


  4. Roger Thornhill

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Poppy burning is a free speech issue too http://bit.ly/gqJLAB // yes, so is Koran burning


  5. Gawain Towler

    RT @rogthornhill: RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Poppy burning is a free speech issue too http://bit.ly/gqJLAB // yes, so is Koran burning


  6. David Poole

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Poppy burning is a free speech issue too http://bit.ly/gqJLAB


  7. Gareth Winchester

    RT @sunny_hundal: Poppy burning is a free speech issue too http://bit.ly/gqJLAB


  8. The Sun-Tabloid Lies

    RT @dnotice: RT @sunny_hundal: Poppy burning is a free speech issue too http://bit.ly/gqJLAB


  9. Safe Asian Traveling Tips and News - Poppy burning is a free speech issue too

    [...] Source: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/12080 [...]




  1. Matt Flaherty — on 8th March, 2011 at 4:53 pm  

    I saw this today when I went to an auto parts store to pick up a part and The Sun was lying on the counter. I thought, man you really don’t get it. A Muslim (on benefits no less) burns a poppy on Remembrance Day and gets away with it. This is a liberty that the war-dead helped to secure. Let’s honour that. The Sun makes me want to weep.

  2. Jenny — on 8th March, 2011 at 5:32 pm  

    Well, in that case, so is Koran burning. I’m just as offended by the burning of poppies. I have family who died for those degenerate foreigners so they could live in our democracy!

  3. cjcjc — on 8th March, 2011 at 5:53 pm  

    Poppies, korans – burn the lot!

    (Or we should indeed be allowed to burn anything we like – subject to ‘elf and safety of course…!!)

  4. Shamit — on 8th March, 2011 at 6:12 pm  

    I guess then if someone calls me a Paki but does not physically assault me then the court would have no choice but to say I dock half of your weekly wages – I have to accept it as well after all its freedom of speech.

    What about the rights of those who wanted to use their freedom of expression and speech and pay respect to those who have dies for the country?

    And if Jenny decides to burn a Koran or draw a cartoon of the Prophet of Islam- I guess I won’t see moral policing on that one after all she would be exercising her freedom of expression and no one would threaten violence and pledge to kill her.

    If that is the case then of course there should be no condemnation but why do I feel if someone burns the Koran or draws a cartoon then things won’t be the same.

    In fact I am against doing any of the things I cited above – in fact,the court did find him guilty and found him offensive – that’s the most important issue.

    There was this case in the US about the vile Westboro church and father of a dead marine and the US Supreme Court in a 8-1 majority said the wankers of the church were exercising their freedom of speech.

    But although I disagree with Justice Samuel Alito, I think his minority dissent makes sense to me –

    “In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims like petitioner,” – I agree.

    http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/41006

    ***********************

    At least in this case the court found the wanker guilty. But all those defending free speech on this occassion must realise that this kind of fee speech might be directed towards you or your family.

    For example, for a long time Johann Hari at the Independent has been writing about how bad Gilligan is when he calls Tower Hamlets a Caliphate in the making but when those thugs started bashing gays in the name of Islam – he suddenly realised there is a problem of radicalisation and circumvention of the rule of law.

    *****************************

    So the civil society must have a debate about where does the boundary of free speech lie – where should the line be drawn.

    Most commentators on this issue in the media and beyond today have made it sound rather simplistic – I am afraid I think the matter is far more complex.

  5. MaidMarian — on 8th March, 2011 at 6:33 pm  

    Sunny – You may very well be right. But to be quite honest here, I think that there should have been a much harsher penalty. I really can’t reconcile it in my head – I think it is something to do with quite how gratuitous it was.

    And to say so does not carry with it any endorsement of the sentiment behind the Sun’s editorial.

  6. douglas clark — on 8th March, 2011 at 7:27 pm  

    MaidMarian,

    It strikes me that what these sort of protesters are doing is deliberately attempting to find our weakest spots. Determine what is likely to be our sensitivities, if you will, and challenge them directly. The idea of picketing the hearses going through Wootton Bassett, for instance.

    Most people would see themselves as reasonable citizens who can differentiate between commemorating dead soldiers and the policies that put them into harms way. It is that that is being exploited here.

    That is a deliberate game of polarization and provocation. I don’t know what to make of it either.

  7. Imran Khan — on 8th March, 2011 at 8:54 pm  

    Lots of Muslims died fighting aginst the Nazi’s on behalf of this country.

    The Muji’s need the exposure and Dougie and Murdoch need them to feed their agenda.

    You are talking about people who love being the centre of attention and pretending they are the ultimate guardians of Islam without actually knowning much about it at all.

    You do realise that Omar Bakri gave us Anjem Choudary, “Ed” Hussein and Majid Nawaz via HT and Al-Muj!!

    Both misguided groups whose knowledge of Islam is as accurate as Omar Bakri turning down a TV appearance – its not happening!

  8. notafeminist — on 8th March, 2011 at 9:08 pm  

    Poppy burning is a free speech isue. So is hijab burning and koran burning.

  9. KB Player — on 8th March, 2011 at 9:20 pm  

    It strikes me that what these sort of protesters are doing is deliberately attempting to find our weakest spots. Determine what is likely to be our sensitivities, if you will, and challenge them directly. The idea of picketing the hearses going through Wootton Bassett, for instance.

    Well, of course they are. You believe in freedom of speech, freedom of association and the other great liberal values? So what if I express my opinion in Wooton Bassett or at what you might call places of sacred patriotism like the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day? Oh, not so keen on freedom of speech, are we? They’re twisting our tails, and I really don’t think there’s much we can do about it and stay consistent to liberal principles.

  10. douglas clark — on 8th March, 2011 at 10:17 pm  

    KB Player,

    You believe in freedom of speech, freedom of association and the other great liberal values?

    Well yes, of course I do. That is why I am so uncomfortable with this entire debate.

    They’re twisting our tails, and I really don’t think there’s much we can do about it and stay consistent to liberal principles.

    Which is the dilemma is it not? My liberal values are being traduced by people who clearly haven’t a liberal bone in their bodies. Liberal ideals are, I think, a contract between us all.

    Sunny, for instance, is pretty gung-ho about keeping the EDL off our streets. I have seen no consistent argument from him that they too have a right to protest wherever they want. Indeed the argument, with which I agree, that they were deliberately provoking the muslim population of Luton, doesn’t really sit very well with not criticizing these bampots.

    They too are attempting to disrupt a community. In this case folk that wanted to pay their respects.

    Frankly I think the worst possible outcome is for these folk to get what they clearly crave for.

    This is becoming hard ball.

  11. douglas clark — on 8th March, 2011 at 11:05 pm  

    I want a second shot at this.

    Forget, for a moment the 10-20 idiots. Recall instead the literally thousands of people employed in 24/7 media who can fill a news cycle or two with this crap.

    But remember also that creating controversy only plays in to the same multi-headed hydra that is all the 24/7 news channels actually about. A sort of dealer looking for it’s next fix for you and not really worrying whether it is 99% talcum powder. “It’s a fix, it’ll do!”

    We are being manipulated at two levels and the worst of the two is the media. The idiots become ‘famous for fifteen minutes’ and the juggernaut of news stupidity rolls on ever afterwards. But what we are looking in is a fairground mirror where nothing is as it seems.

    Whatever we were, we no longer are, we have had our brains corrupted.

    The major is minor and the minor, major.

    We no longer know ourselves.

    What matters and what doesn’t?

    To paraphrase, does that which we think matters: matter? Or does that that we think doesn’t matter: matter?

    Don’t expect any help from the media though, as it hasn’t a memory, only talking heads and ratings….

  12. KB Player — on 8th March, 2011 at 11:17 pm  

    I think in a sane world I would not have heard of Anjem Choudary, any more than I’d have heard of some nutter who thinks he is the real heir to the throne of Britain, and was constantly publishing genealogical tables to prove it. These things are horribly ramped up by the media.

  13. joe90 — on 8th March, 2011 at 11:20 pm  

    in a week when the chairmen of banks gave themselves multi million pound bonuses. The governor of the bank of england Mervyn king admitted “The price of this financial crisis is being borne by people who absolutely did not cause it.” i.e joe public

    The media instead force feed us wall to wall coverage over burnt plastic flowers, absolutely classic!

  14. Shamit — on 8th March, 2011 at 11:52 pm  

    “The media instead force feed us wall to wall coverage over burnt plastic flowers, absolutely classic!”

    Yeah the same reason the nutters pledge violence and death when someone draws a cartoon or burns the Koran. At least no one called for someone’s death when the poppies were burnt –

    After all Koran is just another book right? So why the fuss?

    But those flowers mean something to us – if you cannot comprehend it or respect it do not expect others to respect what you believe.

    As Nick Clegg said recently – true multiculturalism enhances society where “values compete but do not conflict” – but I guess it is hard for you to understand.

  15. David — on 9th March, 2011 at 12:07 am  

    Shamit, when did Johann Hari ever criticise Gilligan on those grounds? Never. hari has consistently been critical of Islamism.

  16. Sunny — on 9th March, 2011 at 12:33 am  

    . I have seen no consistent argument from him that they too have a right to protest wherever they want.

    I’ve written loads of times in favour of letting the EDL protest!

  17. joe90 — on 9th March, 2011 at 12:34 am  

    post #14

    If you consider a burnt plastic flower of more importance than the economic crisis, cuts in services, and you cannot see the deliberate dumbing down of people’s thinking about the important issues then that is your opinion.

    if you wish to burn the koran go ahead knock yourself out.

    nick clegg lol the man is a joke he has lost all his principles and credibility he is the political version of a rent boy.

    But hey i guess that must be a little difficult for you to understand that.

  18. anon — on 9th March, 2011 at 1:57 am  

    Joe90, the only person comparing the burning of “plastic flowers” (a memorial to the immeasurable sacrifice made by those who died during WWI and other conflicts) and “the economic crisis, cuts in services” seems to be you.

  19. anon — on 9th March, 2011 at 2:05 am  
  20. anon — on 9th March, 2011 at 2:10 am  
  21. MaidMarian — on 9th March, 2011 at 9:22 am  

    douglas clark – I’m inclined to agree with your point about the media. I do not know a single person who thinks that a 24 hour news cycle is a good thing, but that is what we have.

    The huge oversupply of media lends itself to panto dames who want to do things like burn poppies. Difficult to see a ready solution though.

  22. ukliberty — on 9th March, 2011 at 9:37 am  

    So the civil society must have a debate about where does the boundary of free speech lie – where should the line be drawn.

    Most commentators on this issue in the media and beyond today have made it sound rather simplistic – I am afraid I think the matter is far more complex.

    quite!

    Poppy burning and shouting at a memorial service is indeed an issue of freedom of expression.

    But so is wearing the poppy and attending the memorial service and wishing to pay one’s respects in silence and with dignity – some people seem to forget or not realise this.

    This, then, is an example not merely of a state infringement of expression (the conviction and fine) but of two competing exercises of the freedom of expression (shouty poppy burners vs. the Remembrance Day attendees).

  23. damon — on 9th March, 2011 at 10:29 am  

    I think these people should be left alone for the most part, but not allowed within shouting distance of something like a remembrance service.
    The police should get in their faces for that – or even the general public should – and push them away.
    Just like you would do if it was fascists trying to disrupt a holocaust remembrance service.

  24. Kismet Hardy — on 9th March, 2011 at 10:54 am  

    Did he buy the poppy? Yes. He can do what the fuck he wants with it.

    And no, this doesn’t apply to burning of the Quran, because books are art, and burning art is something to condemn.

    But the poppy? It’s just a bit of plastic, people.

  25. douglas clark — on 9th March, 2011 at 11:43 am  

    I agree with damon @ 23.

  26. Hermes — on 9th March, 2011 at 11:44 am  

    Why do these pigs want to burn the poppy anyway? It is in remembrance of soldiers who died in the war against Nazi Germany. Given half a chance, the Nazis would have gassed most of these Islamic nutjobs anyway.

    It is all very well having an intelectual, academic debate of PP. How this plays out in working class pubs up and down the country is a different thing. That is where hatred of Islam is cemented through gossip about these idiots.

  27. ukliberty — on 9th March, 2011 at 11:44 am  

    Kismet,

    He didn’t just burn the poppy, did he?

  28. Frankie D. — on 9th March, 2011 at 11:52 am  

    I think it’s hilarious that Jenny says
    “Well, in that case, so is Koran burning. I’m just as offended by the burning of poppies.”

    Really? You’ve got an entire religion and strive to live your life based on what is written on a poppy?

  29. Ravi Naik — on 9th March, 2011 at 12:08 pm  

    Most commentators on this issue in the media and beyond today have made it sound rather simplistic – I am afraid I think the matter is far more complex.

    I think you have made it overly complicated, and it should not be, specially if you can be prosecuted for it.

    Causing offence should not be the reason to put people on trial, not because they say in private that Islam is wicked, or that they like Hitler, or drawing cartoons, burning sacred books or burning poppies.

    And it pisses me off to no end that a repugnant human being with clear mental problems is given so much importance, that people are offended by his actions – any of his actions. Perhaps this repugnant fellow should also be considered as part of Remembrance Day, and to be thankful that we live in a liberal democracy, and not some theocracy or fascist state.

  30. Kismet Hardy — on 9th March, 2011 at 12:41 pm  

    It’s been quoted before and it deserves to be quoted again:

    “So you’re offended. So fucking what?”

  31. Ahmad — on 9th March, 2011 at 12:59 pm  

    I agree with Hermes on this.

    I think the term freedom of speech within boundaries is a total oxymoron.

    I think the term itself needs to be rephrased as it isn’t accurate. If we see now, the biggest advocates of freedom of speech are not the libertarians but those with extreme views. The term ‘freedom of speech’ is banded about within the media by the likes of the EDL, and also on the opposite side of the spectrum with the Al Muhajiroun types.

    At one side we are told we have ‘freedom of speech’ and then when people exercise it in its most vilest form, the authorities censor them by bringing in legislation that prevents them to say how they feel.

    On that basis, freedom of speech needs to be axed and something else needs to be brought in, such as the ‘freedom to express enlightened thought’. By this, people can’t just bandy about bullshit in public and spread half truths but rather express an idea, a hypothesis, or a statement with reliable proof, no matter how controversial it is. As long as there is evidence that can be provided, say what you like.

  32. boyo — on 9th March, 2011 at 1:23 pm  

    @28 Particularly at a time when national identity has been devalued, people cling to symbols such as the poppy and what it means (to some). That my forefathers fought (and died) for certain values means much more to me than a book used as an excuse to keep large sections of the world in misery and ignorance. Indeed, it was against this kind of backwardness my forefathers largely fought.

    But that much is obvious.

    You either have freedom of speech or not. We do not have it in the UK. There is a reason we do not – it would inevitably give license to bigots of all stripes, and invariably cause further tensions.

    The truth is there is no right or wrong answer.

  33. boyo — on 9th March, 2011 at 1:44 pm  

    By coincidence, I happened to click through to this via CIF.

    http://rwac-egypt.blogspot.com/2011/03/faggots-for-whores-or-what-happened-to.html

    The saddest thing was when “Rebel” writes

    “I know the demands would be controversial and we expected strong debates at the protest, but what happened in reality was much worse than any of us expected.”

    Check out the demands. And the reaction.

  34. damon — on 9th March, 2011 at 2:19 pm  

    Interesting link there Boyo. It’s one thing to force Mubarak out of office, but to try to really change things is going to upset a lot of people. And these aggressive street misogynists show some of the basic backwardness that has to be overcome.

    Burning poppies should be on par with burning a flag.
    A right to do so which I have always supported, even if people do find it offensive.
    But time and place are important. The EDL protesting outside a mosque during friday prayers might be considered behavior likely to cause a breach of the peace – and like racist chanting inside a football ground, be deemed to be unacceptably offensive.

    In Northern Ireland, the Royal Irish Regiment is planning three ‘homecoming parades’…
    http://www.u.tv/News/Three-parades-for-RIR-homecoming/9b6703ea-0f30-4e44-9313-a353039f729b

    …. and as usual, they are controversial. On the Northern Ireland forum I read, some people say they should stay away from the majority catholic town of Enniskillen for example. Others have said that they find such displays by the British army offensive, as they are ”murderers” and kill children in Afghanistan etc.

    In 2008, similar parades, attracted criticism.

    Clara Reilly, a campaigner against the use of plastic bullets, said the event should be held in private. “We are not objecting to anyone wanting to celebrate the safe return of their loved ones from these conflicts,” she said. “We are anti-war but we don’t have an issue with families wanting to welcome back their sons, husbands or dads. But it should be a dignified civic reception or church service. Holding a march through the city centre is insensitive, divisive and indeed sectarian. It will offend many.”

    The Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun said: “This parade is insensitive, rash and completely unnecessary. To date the MoD has been invisible on this contentious and divisive march, failing to put up any spokespeople or address the wider public concerns.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/sinn-fein-protest-to-target-army-homecoming-parade-in-belfast-976908.html

  35. Sunny — on 9th March, 2011 at 2:31 pm  

    his, then, is an example not merely of a state infringement of expression (the conviction and fine) but of two competing exercises of the freedom of expression (shouty poppy burners vs. the Remembrance Day attendees).

    If I remember correctly, they were allowed to organise their own stunt separately. It wasn’t in front of a memorial day service.

    Similarly – I’d agree that people who want to shout ‘scum’ at soldiers should be forced to do so away from the main memorial service / procession – but that may also have a knock-on effect on other protests.

  36. Ravi Naik — on 9th March, 2011 at 2:41 pm  

    That my forefathers fought (and died) for certain values means much more to me than a book used as an excuse to keep large sections of the world in misery and ignorance. Indeed, it was against this kind of backwardness my forefathers largely fought. But that much is obvious.

    You can romancise the war as many who have no grasp of History do.

    But the truth is that Britain went to war because Poland was invaded, not to fight against misery, ignorance and antisemitism. And for that, it dragged not only your ancestors, but mine as well to another European war, to save its colonial masters against another European power. The end of war was not pretty either – atomic bombs were dropped on a non-white country who was already on its knees, the rise of USSR (it was an important Allied state after all) and the brutality of communist regimes for decades in Eastern European countries which were allowed to spread misery, ignorance and antisemitism.

    Of course, the Americans, the British and the French were a more enlightened bunch.

  37. boyo — on 9th March, 2011 at 3:15 pm  

    Ravi, funnily enough I’m well aware of the history. However, looking beyond the trees it may have escaped your attention but we are not living in the Third Reich.

  38. KB Player — on 9th March, 2011 at 3:24 pm  

    On that basis, freedom of speech needs to be axed and something else needs to be brought in, such as the ‘freedom to express enlightened thought’. By this, people can’t just bandy about bullshit in public and spread half truths but rather express an idea, a hypothesis, or a statement with reliable proof, no matter how controversial it is. As long as there is evidence that can be provided, say what you like.

    That is quite, quite crazy. Should I now have to face prosecution because I can’t produce evidence of its craziness except that it is self-evidently crazy?

  39. MArk2 — on 9th March, 2011 at 3:27 pm  

    What no one has yet mentioned is that the legislation udner which this offence was prosecuetd is s5 of the Public Order Act. If you google it youwill see that the principal purpsoe of the legislation is very broadly communal peace. A number of cases have actually been about people who have used “insulting behaviour” towards Muslims. As they say whats sauce for the goose is surely sauce for the gander!

  40. chairwoman — on 9th March, 2011 at 3:27 pm  

    When the American Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they obviously hadn’t even considered freedom of speech, or it wouldn’t be the first ammendment. Even so, I don’t think that this sort of behaviour is what they had in mind.

    It is deplorable because the majority of people attending Remembrance Day Ceremonies are remembering the dead of past wars. Wars whose victories gave people the freedom to behave appallingly.

    Perhaps the Crown used the wrong act to prosecute this selfish hothead.

    How about Behaviour Likely to Cause a Breach of the Peace?

    Far more appropriate.

  41. farooq — on 9th March, 2011 at 3:58 pm  

    damon
    ‘The police should get in their faces for that – or even the general public should – and push them away.
    Just like you would do if it was fascists trying to disrupt a holocaust remembrance service.’

    Or the EDL trying to disrupt a mosque service?
    Oh wait THATS freedom of speech

  42. boyo — on 9th March, 2011 at 4:55 pm  

    “Or the EDL trying to disrupt a mosque service?
    Oh wait THATS freedom of speech”

    And you see, there’s your problem. It’s either all or nothing. Perhaps absolute freedom of speech should also be accompanied by asbolute freedom to give someone who offends me a hiding? Because that’s where it will lead – less prosecutions for speech, more for violence.

  43. Don — on 9th March, 2011 at 5:12 pm  

    Or the EDL trying to disrupt a mosque service?
    Oh wait THATS freedom of speech

    farooq,

    Actually, Damon described it as ‘conduct likely to cause a breech of the peace’.

  44. joe90 — on 9th March, 2011 at 5:46 pm  

    post #18

    newsflash it was not a comparison!

    you missed the point, never mind.

  45. Shamit — on 9th March, 2011 at 7:56 pm  

    Ravi -

    I think it is a complex matter and not as straight cut as you make it seem to be.

    on your point: “causing offence should not be the reason to put people on trial”

    First of all I share John Stuart Mill’s and Stanely Fish’s views on Free Speech – there is no such thing as free speech. There is always a context.

    For example, if someone calls you a Paki or a black person a nigger in his face that is a criminal offence under the statutes of both the US and the United Kingdom and the person who said that can be prosecuted.

    Although the legal violation would be violation equal rights legislations the bottomline crime is offence and therefore yes you can be prosecuted for causing “personal” offence.

    The laws in both countries make clear distinctions between “personal” and “public” matters – and that is why the Westboro church in the recent Supreme Court got away or your idiotic mates at Moveon who put a full page poster calling David Patreaus (betray us) even before he uttered a word – by assuming something which was not even true.

    And in fact, Gen Patreus gave a very honest testimony but you still defend those idiots in Moveon which has now become the tea party equivalent of the far left. But I digress.

    So the point about “causing offence” as a non prosecutable crime is utterly bogus.

    “You can romancise the war as many who have no grasp of History do.”

    No one is romanticising the war but those wars did have an impact on how the world has evolved – and some of the cardinal principles of mankind such as the Universal Human Rights did come out of that.

    And we were on the right sides of the conflict and we did make huge sacrifices (including the commonwealth) to stop fascist regimes taking over the world. And it is worthwhile to respect those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

    And if someone’s son/daughter died in Iraq and Afghanistan and they wish to remember them by standing silent – it is not a public matter but a private grief and respect and by violating that these wankers did cause criminal offence and that is exactly why he was found guilty.

    It was not a public policy matter nor was it public matter per se but it was the choice of individuals to pay respect to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

    And they have the right to do so without morons shouting all sorts of obscenities and make false claims and add to the personal grief and insult individual memories you moron.

    The court gets it you don’t and so stop lecturing us about history or how racially unequal we were as a society.

    Maybe you need to get a grip on your pontification

  46. Ravi Naik — on 9th March, 2011 at 9:03 pm  

    So the point about “causing offence” as a non prosecutable crime is utterly bogus.

    I was not saying that people are not put in trial because they cause offence. I was saying that speech should not be made a criminal offence in the first place. However, I am not defending that free speech should be free, in the sense that it does not cost you anything. For instance, a Historian that states that the Holocaust never happened would probably lose his job and reputation. A newspaper spreading lies could be sued.

    and that is why the Westboro church in the recent Supreme Court got away or your idiotic mates at Moveon who put a full page poster calling David Patreaus (betray us) even before he uttered a word – by assuming something which was not even true.

    Are you kidding me, Shamit? When did we last talk about this? 2 years ago, and you still keep bringing this up?
    Are you really comparing a group of people who come to funerals shouting that their deceased ones are going to Hell, with an organization who was formed to help Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial and build an anti-war movement when everyone was cheering it?

    you don’t and so stop lecturing us about history or how racially unequal we were as a society. Maybe you need to get a grip on your pontification

    I really hope I didn’t cause you offence. :-)

  47. Dr Paul — on 14th March, 2011 at 5:17 pm  

    Here’s something from this week’s Weekly Worker that expresses my view well:

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    As someone whose maternal grandfather was killed in World War I, I have never been happy that the Earl Haig Fund has been largely dependent on the annual poppy appeal. Field marshal Earl Haig, commonly known as ‘Butcher Haig’, was a true blue blood who never gave a damn about the cannon fodder he sent over the top to certain death. Two million soldiers died under his command, including at Passchendaele and the Somme. He was the Royal British Legion’s first president; its HQ is Haig House. So we have good reason to question what the poppy really stands for.

    Many contribute to the poppy appeal each year in order to help servicemen and women disabled in the course of military duty. Why? Because the state has failed disgracefully over decades to make proper provision.

    But to look more closely at what the poppies symbolise, rather than at what money for them goes toward, is to see an unattenuated glorification of imperialist adventures that led to death and destruction. That may be why some anti-war protestors burnt the damn things during a Remembrance Day two-minutes silence last November near the Royal Albert Hall.

    Unfortunately for the protestors, the British state – the very state that is responsible for over two centuries’ carnage and for spawning monsters like Haig – attacked them through its laws. Accused of burning oversize poppies under section five of the Public Order Act, Emdadur Choudhury, a member of Muslims Against Crusades, was found guilty and fined £50, while Mohammed Haque was cleared. Others at the protest had allegedly chanted “British soldiers – burn in hell”.

    Of course, I would argue that protests couched in such terms are counterproductive. Propaganda designed to split workers in uniform from their modern Haigs is far more effective and therefore politically astute. Indeed such propaganda worked stateside during Vietnam protests, and there was not one documented case of peaceniks verbally abusing serving personnel or veterans, subsequent Hollywood lies notwithstanding (eg, Rambo).

    Be that as it may, Choudhury and other such demonstrators must be free to offend without the weight of the law coming down on them. And their political opponents must have the right to criticise them. That someone may be offended, get upset, or even become apoplectic is absolutely no reason to render ‘offensive behaviour’ illegal. These things are, after all, part and parcel of the rough and tumble of politics.

    Outrageously, the district judge who found Choudhury guilty stated that freedom of expression is not unlimited and that some who saw the poppy burning suffered “harassment, harm or distress”. Who was harassed or actually harmed? Many of us are daily distressed by the continued existence of capitalism, its satraps in government, and what they inflict on people and the environment; I doubt we shall see those responsible prosecuted any time soon.

    Used against these quasi-Islamist demonstrators one day, these legal attacks will inevitably be trotted out against the left the next. Now I’m off to burn a ‘butcher’s apron’.

    Jim Moody

  48. Frankie K — on 15th March, 2011 at 3:53 pm  

    Sunny, perhaps you can direct us to the equivalent article you wrote in defence of the Gateshead Koran-burners at the time of their arrest. For some reason I can’t find it.

  49. Don — on 15th March, 2011 at 4:53 pm  

    The Gateshead Koran-burners weren’t prosecuted.

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