We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Azhar Ahmed – and I – and every British citizen – should all have the right to say offensive things

Azhar Ahmed has not been sent to prison for expressing his offensive opinions on Facebook, but he has been sentenced to 240 hours community service and fined £300.

I protest.

Azhar Ahmed’s “crime” was saying on Facebook that he hoped that soldiers fighting for Britain in Afghanistan would “burn in hell”.

This was clearly not an incitement to violence. Azhar Ahmed was merely expressing the wish that Allah should inflict violence. Azhar Ahmed is not himself planning to burn anybody in hell, nor is he inciting any other particular individuals to burn anybody in hell.

I think this is a perfect opportunity for all those of us who believe in the right of individuals to say offensive things to protest vehemently on Azhar Ahmed’s behalf, and to tell him and anyone else listening that he should not have been legally punished in any way for what he merely said. There is an important principle at stake here, and this is a truly excellent moment for many, many people who agree about this principle to say so.

It is also a perfect opportunity for us all to say other offensive things that we each happen to believe in, thereby doing the old “I’m Spartacus” trick. In that spirit, let me now say some other offensive things that I happen to believe in, and which I also believe to be pertinent to this argument.

I hate Islam. Not just “Islamic extremism”. Islam. I agreed with Osama Bin Laden about very little, but I did and I do agree with him about what Islam says and what it demands of its followers. That’s all part of why I hate it. I think that if you are a Muslim, then simply by saying that you are a Muslim, even if you never do anything else evil at all, you encourage evil-doing by others. You should stop being a Muslim. Your only morally reasonable excuse for remaining a Muslim is that you are scared of all the grief you will suffer from Muslims of your acquaintance, and from Muslims generally, if you do stop being a Muslim. None of my best friends are Muslims.

So, those being my opinions about Islam, and now that I have said them, again, on a blog, should I also be sentenced to 240 hours of community service?

If not, this hardly seems fair to Azhar Ahmed.

What I have just said will surely offend most Muslims (though probably not all) who read it. Tough. Muslims have (by which I mean should have) no right not to be be offended. And nor do all those British citizens who are offended by what Azhar Ahmed said on Facebook. Tough. Live with it. We don’t all agree about things. Many non-Muslim British people consider Islam harmless, even entirely good. I am offended by what I consider to be the stupidity of such head-in-the-sand opinions. And I continue with my life. I also have no right not to be offended.

The correct way for people with my opinions about the whys and hows of reducing the influence of Islam in the world, and of persuading people to abandon it, is for us to say – to argue – that Islam should be reduced in influence in the world and that people should abandon it. The correct tactic is not for us to agitate to make the expression of Muslim opinions illegal. Violence should only be used against Muslims when those particular Muslims have done something that is – and should be – legally wrong. (Done something like: physically attacking someone who has stopped being a Muslim.)

Azhar Ahmed should not be legally punished for what he has merely said. Muslims in Britain should be legally punished only for what they do, for what they do that is and ought to be illegal, not for what they think or what they say, no matter how offensive.

Perhaps Azhar Ahmed has, in the opinion of some British people in authority, done actual wicked things, illegal things, things that are illegal and which ought to be illegal. Perhaps this is why they are going after him. If so, let them present the evidence that Azhar Ahmed has actually done these bad things. Meanwhile, let Azhar Ahmed say whatever he wants.

(My thanks to Bishop Hill for pointing me towards the Padraig Reidy piece in the Telegraph. There always was more to the Bishop than just the climate.)

LATER: Here is a somewhat more detailed description of the trial. Azhar Ahmed is reported in this as saying that soldiers should “die and go to hell”. That’s slightly closer to incitement, but only closer. Not close.

All part of how depressing this trial was is that Azhar Ahmed was reduced to claiming that what he said was not that offensive, when it clearly was very offensive indeed to many people. He ought to have been able to just say: “Offensive? So what? There’s no law against it.” Sadly, it would appear that there is.

59 comments to Azhar Ahmed – and I – and every British citizen – should all have the right to say offensive things

  • Runcie Balspune

    I’m not clear on what Mr Ahmed actually did here. Did he post “offensive” comments on his own Facebook page, or on one of the families pages or one set up as a dedication to the soldier(s)?

    When it comes to matters of free speech, there is a subtle difference in how offensive a comment can be depending on how or where they are expressed. Merely stating publicly “British soldiers will burn in hell” is different to chanting it to mourners at a soldier’s funeral.

  • Natalie: Indeed. Me too. But there would be none of this confusion if we all had ID cards.

  • Rob Berbank

    I am Azhar Ahmed and I’d kill for a bacon sandwich.

  • Rob: Yes. I have just raised my beer to my lips and drunk to that.

  • Right On Brother !!

    If we don’t stand up and support the rights of people whom we find offensive to be able to speak their mind, who are we?

    I used to tell my French friends that I hated their law against holocaust denial. I’m Jewish, but I am far more offended by free speech denial than I am by a few socialist nationalist scumbags. The law by the way was named for its communist author, which I think says all one needs to know about it.

  • Paul Marks

    We should have freedom of speech in Britain – but we do not.

    Once it became a criminal offence to “incite racial hatred” (i.e. basically to say that one really disliked another race – because they were another race) the principle of freedom of speech was thrown in the rubbish bin. All else followed from this move.

    This is why it so angers me when people say “we are a free country” or “we have freedom of speech here – it is one of our basic principles”, because they are talking tosh (there “should be a law against” talking tosh…….).

    The modern principle is not freedom of speech – it is freedom of speech as long as what you say is not offensive.

    A “right freedom of speech” that only covers nonoffensive things is not worth spit.

    By the way – notice that the “liberal” elite only care about certain forms of offensive speech.

    For example, I am as poor as a church mouse – yet I find social justice “eat the rich” speech highly offensive. But no one would be sent to prison for it.

    If someone said “all the rich should die and burn in Hell” there would be no prosecution.

  • RAB

    I am offended by something almost every day of my life, but if I were on the phone to the Police each and every time I am offended I wouldn’t be able to pay the Bill.

    Being offensive and being offended is a normal part of human existence, but it should have no part in Common Law, unless the offensive speech is intended to incite acts that are already Criminal (violence, Arson, Murder etc). “Sticks and stones…”

    But now the Law has been subjectivised instead of Objectified as it once was. Don’t expect our Masters to repeal any of these laws soon. They are far too damn useful to them as instruments of our suppression.

  • Hippopotamuses are vile and disgusting creatures.

  • RAB

    And bloody dangerous too Michael. They kill more humans in Africa than all the rest of the wildlife put together; but at least they’re not litigatious ;-)

  • Laird

    Umm. that’s “litigious”, RAB. The use of non-words offends me.

  • Dacre

    Good thing you pointed that out as I’m sure the notion of offending you gives the guy sleepless nights.

  • Hippopotamuses are vile and disgusting creatures.

    WHAT? Off with Jennings’ head I say!

    (dials 999)

  • RAB

    Sorry Laird, but someone begs to differ, it isn’t a non word apparently…

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/litigatious

    But I like your joke natch :-)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well I think you people are most dreadfully bigoted. Either that, or complete lowbrows. Hip-po-pot-to-MI “vile”? Nonsense, they are wonderful and marvellous. What, you don’t appreciate the ballet?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEjPDS8Jp1E&feature=related(Link)

    Anyhow, everybody knows it’s the Dimocrats who get the Olympic Gold Medal in the Vileness Event. :>))

  • Julie near Chicago

    Smited! Just because I disagreed about hippopotamooses?? :>(

  • I find the idea that words aren’t allowed to be made up very offensive. Where did words come from? People made them up. If words weren’t ever made up, there wouldn’t be any.

  • veryretired

    I appreciate the humor, but this is a miscarriage of justice in a very real and significant way, so I know the kidding around is frustration about something deeply felt.

    This type of prosecution violates some of the foundational concepts of Anglo-Saxon common law in two different ways.

    First, and most important, it deems something to be a criminal act which is completely undefined in the law.

    Normal laws specify which acts are specifically illegal, and which circumstances or effects are aggravating factors.

    This type os “speech code” law does neither. No one can ever know what they might write, speak, or publish in some fashion which might cause offense in an unknown 3rd party, or incite that other party to react.

    Secondly, cognitive processes, i.e., ideas, concepts, theories, etc., are subject to censure not because they are contra-factual or libelous, but merely because they provoke an unwelcome emotional reaction in some completely unpredictable fashion.

    This holds higher human functions hostage to the vagaries of lower reptilian responses.

    It is, in its own modest way, a variation of the doctrines of the inquisition, which held that any tenet held by faith trumped any factual discovery made by reason and science based on empirical observation.

    The obvious danger is that no developed civilization can survive if its legal maxims are reduced to the unreasoning, emotional levels of primitive societies, whose “legal” systems consisted of not disputing anything said by the ruling clique and its priesthood on penalty of gruesome death.

    I recall being taught in a world history class early in high school that the “Code of Hammurabi” was a great advance in social law because the various statutes were published, clearly defined, and punishments specified.

    Apparently, we have now regressed back in time to a level prior to that development.

    Hardly a positive sign for the 21st century.

  • Tedd

    This holds higher human functions hostage to the vagaries of lower reptilian responses.

    Wonderfully said. That precisely captures so much of what’s wrong with the direction the Anglosphere is heading, on so many fronts.

  • Slartibartfarst

    We could have all been snookered by this judge punishing Azhar Ahmed (presumably an Islamist) for his “crime” (if that is what it was) of using not terribly hateful or harmful words in speech/writing.

    Thus arbitrarily making not terribly hateful words in speech/writing somehow illegal or even criminally offensive (in an ill-defined and ambiguous manner) could seem to be moving one step closer to providing a justification to making it illegal to “offend” someone’s religion or someone’s religious sensibilities. Why not? And we all probably know who has said that they want to pass that law.

    Inch by inch, ground is gained and ground is lost.

  • Antoine Clarke

    Regarding the difference in freedom of speech in France compared with the UK and USA. Two words. Charlie Hebdo.

    But hippopotamophobes? Throw away the key, I say!

  • John Rohan

    I agree that he should not be legally punished – the UK’s “hate speech” laws go too far in that regard.

    However, if he is pending an application for asylum, citizenship or permanent residency, then I think he should be disqualified based on these statements. It’s obvious he doesn’t feel the slightest bit “British” and has no intention of assimilating into the UK.

  • RogerC

    Is it me, or is this the third such case so far this week? This is terrifying stuff. It’s a very short step from locking people up for expressing an opinion you don’t like, to locking up people you don’t like for expressing an opinion.

    ~R~

  • James Hargrave

    Burning in hell? A former Commonwealth PM expressed to me, and many others, that he hoped Harold Macmillan would burn there TWICE. (My PM had had to deal with the aforementioned person when both were in office.)
    If only one could trade a far earlier acquaintance with the hot place for M H Macmillan and E R G Heath for a longer life for Noel Skelton and Oliver Stanley, soggy but sounder, I’d do the deal instantly.

  • James Hargrave

    You make a very good point. Next time a British public figure is heard to say that someone should “burn in hell”, it should immediately be said, by the likes of us, that he should do 240 hrs of CS and be fined £300.

    It is, as you say, a very common expression among many Brits.

    I feel a google search coming on.

  • Alisa

    ‘No one can ever know what they might write, speak, or publish in some fashion which might cause offense in an unknown 3rd party, or incite that other party to react.’

    It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

  • Boogliodemus

    I’m offended by people who are offended by people who say offensive things. Or something like that.

  • “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
    — Barack Hussein Obama, 25 September 2012.

  • JohnB

    There is a difference between expressing dislike for something and hoping it burns in hell forever.
    You didn’t cross that bridge and I’m not suggesting you do!!

    I agree the super-sensitivity (unrealistic) of sensibilities that can be offended is ridiculous.
    Big daddy likes to remind us that we need him.

    As a believer in the Lord Jesus I stand by Azzar and his right to express his opinions.
    As long as he will let me express mine.

    Even prosecuting incitement to violence (rather than violence itself) is crossing the line into the area of interpreting another person’s thoughts.
    But I guess one can almost live with it as one of those compromises?

  • People on both sides of the Atlantic could use reminding of the early American line, “I disagree with what you say but will fight to the death your right to say it.”

  • Edward

    tim maguire said

    People on both sides of the Atlantic could use reminding of the early American line, “I disagree with what you say but will fight to the death your right to say it.”

    Early Americans might well have said it, but that line is traditionally attributed to that old Frenchman, Voltaire.

  • Kasper Hauser

    I know a 15-year old girl was arrested (and perhaps tried) for burning a Koran in the UK a few years ago.

    Would someone be arrested if they burned a Bible?

  • Brian Macker

    “I’m Sparticus” its original context was an attempt to obstruct injustice, and would have been an attempt to obstruct justice if Sparticus hd committed an actual crime. I’m not sure it makes sense here because the police know who this guy is.

    If you want to actually stand by this guy then you need to do someone more akin to sitting in the front of the bus. You need to actually break this law in protest by violating it. You can do so without sympathizing with his sentiments against the troops, by condemning some other group to hell. Use his exact words but substitute the words “parliament”, “Muslims”, etc.

  • David Gillies

    The battle is lost. This is simply not a point that can be argued with most people in Britain now. They have internalised the idea that any activity which causes them discomfort is ipso facto wrong and therefore should be prohibited.

    The plural of hippopotamus (iππoπóταμoς, horse of the river) is hippopotamuses. One could make a case for hippoipotamu or perhaps hippoipotamoi, but a faux-Latin construction like hippopotami is clearly a catachrestic usage whelped by some sort of prissy Victorian hyper-correction. It makes no more sense than Enoch Powell’s apocryphal “one bathroom, two bathra“. I pronounce a fatwa on its usage; all who persist in uttering it shall feel the sword of Jihad against their necks.

  • You can do so without sympathizing with his sentiments against the troops, by condemning some other group to hell. Use his exact words but substitute the words “parliament”, “Muslims”, etc.

    Quite. All hippopotamuses, hippopotami, hippopotamai etc deserve to burn in hell. Hopefully this will make them tasty.

  • Voluble

    Obama, that stuttering clusterfuck of a miserable failure, had a perfect opportunity to explain why free speech is a necessary precondition for a civilized society. Like everything else, he blew it. He does not believe in any of the western values and sees them as obstacles to be overcome. He ended up encouraging the very behavior that we want to discourage. It only adds to the shame that he hid behind a video to make people think we were not hit by a terrorist attack… as if being motivated by religious outrage is any more of a legitimate excuse for such actions.

    Muslims in western countries by and large know that Mohammed’s behavior is not acceptable which is why they feel it so necessary that blasphemy laws be created and enforced. They do not even bother making an affirmative case for Islam. There simply isn’t one to be made. But it is also why mockery is so powerful against Islam. Islam does not provide any tools to deal with it short of violence.

    I would like an American president with the stones to say that if Islam is good, and decent, and true it needs no laws to protect it from criticism. If it is not then no such laws will help. Either way there is no role for governments to play.

  • Brian Macker

    I think context matters. Who, where, and when some statement, as week as the ideology of the speaker matters to whether speech violates other rights such as the right to not be trespassed against, free association, life, liberty etc.

    Endangering another party is a form of trespass. If I store dynamite next to your home on the border of our shared properties then even though I have not actually stepped on your property I have committed a trespass. Same goes if I am a crack shot and never have missed what I am aiming at and take pot shots at you with the intent to miss.

    Deluding followers to the point where the will kill you over a cartoon is clearly a form of endangerment. Although a religion which leaves it always up to God to punish those who deserve hell is not a threat, one that leaves it to followers to enforce religious edicts would in fact be a threat. So when followers of such a religion claim that a person or persons deserve hell it is not at all unreasonable to interpret this as incitement to violence. Especially if the person making the claim is a religious authority.

    Thus I think Fatwas are in fact not protected free speech when they are issued by a religion with a long and continuing history of motivating believers to murder those who fail to believe in their religion, or are the non-criminal subjects of such Fatwas.

    I don’t have enough information about this case to tell if this should be considered protected free speech. What I the context? Does this guy belong to a sect that teaches that those who deserve he’ll should be sent there by believers as soon as possible? Is he respected? Has this sect threatened or acted with violence towards others in the past?

    A atheist saying that somebody deserves hell is obviously no threat, and likely a taunting joke. Not true in other circumstances like the Inquisition, and no the only crime there was not the actual murders but also the threat (the trespassing risk) forced on those who dared object.

  • Peter

    Face it. You’re f*cked. This has been going on since your ancestors voted Atlee PM and now the decline of Formerly Great Britain has gotten to the point that some of you can see the precipice.

    Still, there’s a whole pile of denial going on, hence the word “should” in the title. You have an unalienable right to say whatever you want. Period. You’ve always had that right. Too bad you surrendered that right along with your right to arms: asserting a right to uninhibited speech is credible only when one has the tools to enforce that claim. Unfortunately all you have now is whining after the fact. And until you do something, anything that the Government has to take seriously, that’ll be all.

  • Brian Macker

    Michael Jennings your attempt fails because Hippos do not have rights. You can not only actually advocate but you can practice the roasting of Hippos, rabbits, and other varmints tom your hearts content. You can’t do that with people in any serious fashion. It also needs to be a credible threat. For example, let me advocate that vegetarian animal rights advocates roast and eat you. Now there is a non-credible threat.

  • Brian Macker

    I found a more detailed new article on exactly what Azhar Ahmed wrote and he was clearly in context within his free speech rights. One has the right to express moronic ideas, and in a disrespectful manner. He was clearly expressing a personal opinion founded on dubious reasoning when he wrote, “All soldiers should die and go to hell”. I doubt even the Islamists believe that one, since they thing their soldiers go to heaven. It’s not likely to motivate anyone to do anything, and thus is hard to construe as incitement. Given the anti-war death context and his immediate retraction of it prior to any charges the evidence is overwhelming evidence his intent was not to incite anyone.

  • Brian Macker

    “You have an unalienable right to say whatever you want. Period. ”

    Not true. There are many things you can say that would be a violation of the rights of others through force, fraud, intimidation, threat, and endangerment. You are not allowed to tell a young child that the running opening of a garbage shredder is a “Fun slide. Try it.”. You aren’t allowed to tell people the local honest butcher is using fixed scales. You can’t tell someone that they should pay you money if they don’t want something bad to happen to their property. You can’t advise someone to buy some investment while falsely claiming that you have no interest in an investment. You cannot knowingly and falsely claim there is a fire at a movie or convention in order to disrupt it. You can’t tell a someone their spouse is cheating on them if you know it to be false. You cannot verbally conspire to commit crimes, or incite others to do so.

    These are all criminal violations of individual rights done via speech. Not free speech, the right, mind you, but criminal speech.

  • Tedd

    Brian:

    Just a nit. You do have the right to say offensive things. I think what you meant to say is that your right to say offensive things should be recognized and defended.

  • Brian Macker

    Tedd, I don’t think I ever claimed that I don’t have the right to say offensive things.

    I searched my comments, saw some typos like “thing” for “think”. I don’t even see the word “offensive” in any of my comments. Where did you get the idea I was claiming offense was a criteria to identify the violation of a natural right that could possibly limit the right to free speech?

    Are you talking to the other Brian? I don’t see him advancing that notion either. How about a quote and last name in your reply so we know the reference.

  • Michael Jennings your attempt fails because Hippos do not have rights.

    It was an ‘in-joke’ that that many of the Samizdatistas understood (i.e. he was ‘insulting’ me, whose nickname is… Hippo)

  • Julie near Chicago

    @David Gillies: Yes, as a matter of fact I am well aware of that. And so was the comedian (whose name, unfortunately, is lost in the mists of time) from whom I swiped it. He had a deep, rich baritone voice and it seems to me he might have been doing the narration for a cartoon.

    Alas, I am easily amused, and “hippopotamooses” tickled my funnybone. I promise to try to behave better in class. At least for the rest of the evening.

    Now, for extra credit: Are you that extreme rarity in the Anglophonic world, a gent who actually knows the proper form of the simple past tense of regular monosyllabic -ing and -ink verbs…such as the verb “to swing,” for example, or the verb “to shrink”?

  • Peter

    Brian,

    What utter crap. Did it occur to you, even once, as you were typing out that drivel, that you were simply saying something just to say something?

    You’re on a sinking ship, a ship that you and your parents/grandparents steered onto the reef, and you quibble over what sorts of free speech are permissible?

    To continue the metaphor, why don’t you concentrate on looking like a woman or child? Perhaps you’ll get a spot on one of the lifeboats that way.

    You have been seduced by the appearance of normalcy and the expectation by Society that you comport yourself in a ‘civilized’ manner. That time is past. You can either prepare yourself for what will eventually be literal blood in the streets or you can hope that you’ll be killed last. Choose wisely.

  • Tedd

    Brian(s):

    My comment about “have” versus “should have” referred to the title of Brian Micklethwait’s original post. Sorry, I should have been more clear about that.

  • Brian Macker

    Wow, Peter that was so generic I could probably cut and paste it to lots of other articles and it would still make as much sense.

    Various topics it could be used to respond to (Pro or Con) with regards to claims of silencing by either side.
    Global Warming
    Gun Rights
    Illegal Immigration
    The Gold Standard
    Banking
    The Economy
    Genetically Modified Foods
    Foreign Threats
    Biodiversity
    The Endangered Species Act
    Gay Rights
    Gaia
    etc.

    WTF, are you on about? It’s impossible to tell what you are referring to let alone why.

  • David Gillies

    Julie: of course. Preterite I shrank/I swang, perfect I have shrunk/swung. In the case of swing, the swang form of the preterite is chiefly a British usage; in North America I swung is the favoured construction.

  • bob

    Hippopotomice.

    Hippopotomice.

    Read and heed.

  • Paul Marks

    Voluble – please do not fall for the propaganda that the attack in Libya was about a Youtube clip.

    The government people were watching the attack (livefeed) they knew there was no Youtube protest at that time.

    The story they came out with (day after day, week after week) was a LIE – and the msm went along with the lie. Although S. Logan (CBS) and J. Tapper (ABC) are starting to try and expose the lie. Apart from a few people (such as the above) only Fox News and talk radio questioned the lie.

    Alisa….

    Yes the establisment elite do not want a population of comfortable independent people – they want a fearful population desperately concerned that they might be punished for writing or saying the “wrong” thing.

    Ayn Rand in “Atlas Shrugged” (1957) predicted this – but, of course, Rand was working from the history of Progressive regimes going back to the Jacabins of the French Revolution.

    Remember “true freedom” is not an individual doing and saying what they think they want to do and say (humans are not rational beings books such as [the fictional] “So You Think That You Think” and “Thinking: Fast and Slow” have “proved” that we are free will agents – beings).

    Only the enlightened elite, “the lawgiver”, can give us “true freedom” – which is collectivism.

    This was core of Roussau’s teaching before Karl Marx, and it was the core of Plato’s teaching before Roussau.

    Veryretired…..

    As usual you make a profound, and true, argument.

  • Alisa

    Tedd: FWIW, I understood you perfectly the first time.

  • RAB

    The irony is, of course, that even as we here staunchly stand up for Azhar Ahmed’s freedom of speech, no matter how obnoxious or offensive it may be, the man himself is more than likely to have been attending this…

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/9607763/Muslims-protest-age-of-mockery-as-thousands-descend-on-Google-HQ.html

    Ho Hum as they say.

  • Alisa

    You mean he got a taste of his own medicine? Heh.

    Still, this is not really about him, you know.

  • RAB

    Alisa it is about him, you, me, each and every one of us. Without Freedom of Speech we are cattle and chattels of our Governments, to be herded into the pens of closed thought at their desire and whim.

  • Kirk Parker

    Boogliodemus,

    I am more offended than I can possibly express by people who hint at infinite regress in a discussion.

  • CaptDMO

    So…How about ‘dem open protests, (with banners in foreign script I’m guessing) by folks from far away who, for some reason, decided to um…emigrate to England (et al.) DEMANDING that You Tube erase “speach ” mocking their own Department of Silly Walks OR ELSE!

    No sillier than other “Occupy” demonstrations I suppose. But who’s gonna’ clean up their mess?

  • Julie near Chicago

    David,

    Very GOOD! I was fortunate enough to attend first a one-room country school, then “town school” in our small Midwestern farm town (pop. 1800), then our district high school (total student body south of 400)–back in the 1950’s.

    When they still taught English grammar.

    Drank, swam, shrank, swang, BRANG or (by 1957) the alternative “brought” (pity; “brung” had already officially fallen by the wayside)…und all dem strong verbs, ja.

    The first time (and I’ve always been a denizen of the U.S.) I ever saw “shrunk” as the simple past in actual print was in that horribly-entitled movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. GAG!! I couldn’a belief mine eyes. I’ve never been able to watch a Rick Moranis movie since.

    I’ve always been an avid reader, also, clear back to when my folks did the voiceovers for my “reading.” (Up to around age 4, that would be.) It amazed me, therefore, when, driven by desperation just a few years ago, I started going back through books from the first half of the century…and there, lo! I found example after example of the horrible “swung.” Finally I discovered a grammar textbook online from the 1890’s–swing, swung, swung.

    Well it AIN’T!!! It’s swing, swang, swung and so it shall be till my dying day. Oddly enough, it seems to have taken longer for the Miseducated Hoity-Toity to dishonor the verb “to shrink”…but you’re right, over here at least it’s what you see nowadays.

    Except by me. :>))

    I could beat everyone about the chops with some of my other most hated misusages…but I’ll desist. For now. :>)

    P.S. I found a site that conjugates quite a few verbs in quite a few languages. Interestingly (yes, I know that technically this usage is a no-no), it does the -ing, -ink verbs properly…but for the verb “to sink,” it gave sink, sank, sunk–and then messed it up completely by giving examples on the order of “The elephant sunk in the high water.” Yikes! I wrote them about it. A week later they’d removed the examples altogether (rather than correcting them). Such is the life of a self-appointed GrammarNazi!