Incitement to Hatred

I\’m really not sure that I follow the logic here.

The right to crack jokes or be rude about homosexuals could fall victim to new government laws to stamp out "homophobic" behaviour, Rowan Atkinson, the Blackadder star warned yesterday.

"Witness the fact that the Government has invited two additional groups – the disabled and transsexuals – to \’make the case\’ for the proposed legislation to be extended to them.

"I am sure that they could make a very good case, as indeed could all those who can claim that they cannot help being the way they are. Men, for example, or women. Or people with big ears."

Atkinson added: "The devil, as always, will be in the detail but the casual ease which some people move from finding something offensive to wishing to declare it criminal – and are then able to find factions within government to aid their ambitions – is truly depressing."

OK, all of that I understand and indeed agree with. It is, as he says, depressing. The bit I don\’t understand is this:

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, has told MPs that such fears are unfounded because he will shortly introduce an amendment to the Bill ensuring that cases can be pursued only when the offending words are specifically intended to pose a threat and are not merely humorous, mocking or abusive.

What\’s the point of that? As a lawyer, surely Straw knows (he\’s the bloody Lord Chancellor so we do hope he does know) that we already have a blanket law about incitement to violence. So why do we need a law about incitment of violence to gays, the disabled or the changelings? It\’s all already covered so why bother?

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