Not quite sure here

Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, are to appear before magistrates in Derby accused of handing out leaflets calling for homosexuals to be executed.

The pair, who were arrested after a tip-off from the public, have been charged with distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

It is the first prosecution since laws outlawing homophobia came into force last March.

They are also accused of placing the leaflets through local letterboxes during the same month, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

The pair were yesterday (THURS) charged with distributing the leaflet, titled “The Death Penalty?”, outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July last year.

Prosecution on the grounds of incitement to violence, as with prosecution on the grounds of libel or slander, I\’m fine with.

\”Stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation\” I\’m not so fine about as a grounds for prosecution. Sure, I agree, we don\’t want to change the law in the manner they propose: I don\’t think we want to end up executing anyone for any reason.

I don\’t know in detail what the leaflet said of course, but imagine it this way. That they were recommending that UK law be changed so as to reflect one of the more extreme versions of Sharia law.

No, of course I don\’t support such a move. But we\’ve really gone and made it illegal to recommend a change in the law?

If the leaflet said \”Kill Teh Gayers\” then it comes under that first part which I\’m entirely happy about: incitement to violence. If it really was \”we should change the law so that Teh Gayers are executed\” then while it\’s obnoxious, appalling even, I\’m deeply unconvinced that urging such should be against the law.

Isn\’t this actually what democracy is all about? That the peeps get the chance to say, however absurdly, what they think the law should be?

7 comments on “Not quite sure here

  1. The key word for me is “threatening”. If the material said something like “When we take over all you lot are for the rope” then that would be a threat against a particular group. It’s a pretty weak threat of course, as no matter what frothy-mouthed commenters say there’s no chance of that kind of law getting up in the UK. It’s not incitement because it’s not calling for anyone to actually perform an illegal violent act, but it is still a threat.

    Of course without the pamphlet text we’ve no way of knowing – I agree with your interpretation of your hypothetical example, which I assume you plucked from a similar location to where I got mine from.

    For context, here’s a country where such a law is proceeding through Parliament (although it could be stalled, hard to tell). Here is a possible consequence of that attempt to legally impose the death penalty.

  2. Before all the Labour machinations, the law used to proscribe incitement to hatred and incitement to violence, irrespective of the subject.

    This is to cause people to hate or commit violence, who otherwise would not.

    “Stirring up” hatred implies the hatred already exists. You cannot muddy a pool by stirring up the mud if it has no mud in it to start with.

    I am reminded of the old Willie Whitelaw quote, “People are going around stirring up indifference.”

  3. The case that there could, explicitly, be no limit on advocating a change in the law is probably more persuasive where there is no written constitution than it would be in (e.g.) the USA.

    Certain portions of the US Constitution (including retention of equal representation of States in the Senate unless they waive any objection) are entrenched against amendment. Therefore, in priniciple, a change to the law which repudiated such a consitutional provision might be an act of revolution, and advocacy of such a change incitement to revolution, however much the Attorney General’s office regarded discretion as the better part of valour.

  4. Sure, I agree, we don’t want to change the law in the manner they propose: I don’t think we want to end up executing anyone for any reason.

    Don’t know exactly what you intended this to mean, but a majority of the electorate (presumably “we”) would want the death penalty back for a number of crimes, such as child, police and serial murderers. Quite right too in my view. But, antidemocratically, they are never given the option to elect anyone who proposes it.

    The death penalty would have the additional considerable advantage that we would have to pull out of the EU.

  5. “Incitment to violence” should only apply to specific plans:eg–”Let’s meet on the corner at 7 and kick Z’s head in”. Simply saying that any group should be killed or whatever is free speech not incitment to anything. Listeners have the choice to ignore or act on what is said. If they did act, they should be charged with what they have DONE regardless of where the idea came from.

  6. I’m slightly more concerned by this statement:

    It is the first prosecution since laws outlawing homophobia came into force last March.

    As far as I am aware “homophobia” has been illegal for some time. there have certainly been prosecutions labelled as being for the same in the past. Which brings us to a couple of questions:

    Firstly, is the reporter actually reporting the truth or something he made up?

    If it is the truth and homophobia has only been illegal for ten months, why were the new laws necessary? There are plenty of existing laws against stiring up violence, incitement, hate crimes etc etc. Why did we need more?

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