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“I thought Racism was illegal”

The Daily Mail reports:

Lord Sugar faced police racism probe after joking on Twitter that crying Chinese boy was upset ‘because he was told off for leaving the production line of the iPhone 5′

How far we have fallen.

In speaking of our fall, I do not refer the belief of the complainant, Nichola Szeto, that Lord Sugar’s joke was racist: stupid people have always been with us. The joke was not remotely racist. Apple might have cause to whine, at the implication that the company employs child labour, but Apple Inc. probably has enough sense to refrain from going to law at a joke and getting a tidal wave of bad publicity. Poor Ms Szeto herself nearly had the sense to refrain from going to law at a joke and getting a tidal wave of bad publicity. It did take Merseyside’s Hate Crime Investigation Unit two tries before they could get her to ruin her business and reputation:

She was contacted by police on Wednesday but declined to give a statement.
At 8am the next day, she was again contacted by officers who said they wanted to visit her home.
Instead, she agreed to attend a police station in Central Liverpool later that day, where she spent an hour giving a statement to two officers.

I do not refer to the mistaken belief of Ms Szeto that racism is both illegal and a proper noun. State schools are often not very good, and in all fairness how far can we blame someone for thinking that an opinion might be illegal, when the police evidently thought so too? Or perhaps Merseyside Hate Crime Investigation Unit thought no such thing but was just anxious to drum up trade in a slow market. You know times are hard in the hate biz when you get sales calls at eight in the morning. Funny, though, when I have once or twice called to report the old sort of crime it took Plod ages to answer the phone. Why Merseyside police seem keener on home visits to well-toned ladies upset at what someone said on Twitter than on home visits to Toxteth amphetamine addicts beating their women is just one of those unfathomable mysteries.

How far we have fallen when this can be part of the normal operation of the care of a state for its citizen, in a country that once had something like freedom:

However, the remark was in the end classed as a ‘hate incident’ – which means no further action will be taken, although details will be kept on file.

Got that? Not even the zealous young commissars that they send to work in the Hate Crime Investigation Unit could find a enough of a crime to give the boys in the CPS something to work with. What a scalp that would have been: a Labour peer and a TV celebrity. All would have trembled at the power and reach of the law if such a man were brought down. Alas for the Hate Crime Investigation Unit, this time it was not to be. But it is still a “hate incident”. Not an alleged hate incident, or a complaint of a hate incident, an official hate incident. On file, for use if need be.

22 comments to “I thought Racism was illegal”

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    I have nothing but contempt for the British police.

  • RRS

    What, pray tell, is a “Hate Incident” in the specific statutory language; or, is there any such wording?

  • chuck

    The revolution advances on schedule. Let the show trials of the old Bolsheviks begin.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    RRS, I don’t know about mere incidents, but this is what the Home Office has to say about hate crime:

    Hate crime involves any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic. Hate crime can be motivated by disability, gender identity, race, religion or faith and sexual orientation.

    Link.

    We have the Macpherson report to thank for that. I seem to recall that even the late Hugo Young of the Guardian called the definition “intellectually indefensible.”

  • Laird

    I think the point RRS is getting at is whether there is any statutory basis for classifying something as a hate “incident”, and if so which is the relevant statute and what precisely does it say. Because if there is no such statutory authority, and the police are just making this up, the retention of such an “incident” in the official files could itself be a criminal action, and certainly could be grounds for a defamation suit against the Hate Crime Investigation Unit. Having such a derogatory (in this strange age) item retained in ones official record is a serious matter, not to be suffered lightly.

  • RRS

    Laird,

    BINGO

  • RRS

    Once again, we are looking at Rules of Policy (legislation) which though it may be given the force of law is distinct from Law.

    Rules of Policy seek to describe, define and delineate a desired social order and the relationships within it.

    Expressions of individuality in the determination of those relationships cannot be permitted except for those assigned, or who arrogate to themselves, the determination of what shall be desired in the social order and the relations within it.

    It is therefore important that Rules of Policy, particularly in their delineating effects, be specific lest individuality shall intrude.

  • Johnnydub

    On a parallel note, the police tried to enforce a bad on Spurs fans using the word “Yid” – which thankfully the Spurs fans ignored.

    Does this mean Jay-Z will be arrested during his next UK concert when he uses the word “N*gger” is his rap lyrics?

  • Mr Ed

    23 years ago last week, East Germany vanished. The spirit simply moved West, finding a natural home in the British public sector.

  • Jim

    @Natalie Solent: but the definition only defines a ‘Hate crime’ as a criminal offence that is perceived to be motivated by racism etc. Ergo if no criminal offence has taken place, no hate crime has taken place either. So the question remains, as others have pointed out, what is the statutory definition of a ‘hate incident’, and the legal basis for recording such on official records?

    I think if I was Lord S I might be expending a small part of my millions in the direction of m’learned friends to investigate that exact point.

  • Rob

    In a year or two these “hate incidents” will be used by the usual suspects as evidence of actual racially motivated physical attacks on actual people.

    The BBC will notice that “hate incidents” have risen by x% over n years, and will present it as evidence that Britain is an overwhelmingly racist country, etc.

    This twig will become a big stick with which to beat us all.

  • Gareth

    The definition of a hate incident is similar to that of a hate crime except that it doesn’t involve a criminal offence.

    Or rather, a hate crime is a hate incident that involves a criminal offence.

    See page 31 of Response to Equality and Human Rights Commission Call for Evidence (pdf) and the House of Lords answer at the bottom of this page.

  • Jim

    Thank you Garath for that link.

    Is it not time that we started using this as a weapon against those who instigated it? There appears to be no controls over it whatsoever, other than it is any incident that the ‘victim’ (who doesn’t have to be involved in any way shape or form, or even within hundreds of miles of the event) perceives to be motivated by prejudice or hate? Ergo why cannot someone who is American not complain next time some lefty comedian on the BBC makes a joke about Americans? Or next time the UK Uncut brigade start on Amazon/Google et al, complain its racially motivated as they are US corporations? Basically any time one could shoe horn some sort of perceived slight based on race/religion/disability/sexual orientation, get on the phone and report it as a hate incident.

    It needs a sort of ‘I’m Spartacus’ movement to start that makes a mockery of the entire system, and forces it to either be reformed or abolished.

  • CaptDMO

    “Hate incident”, on file.
    Kinda like a yellow star on the outermost layer of clothing.
    Of course, only gub’mint folk can “see” it, until such time as it’s “leaked” to “certain”
    propaganda institutions.

  • RRS

    @Gareth:

    Thank you for the clue:

    a hate incident is any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by hate or prejudice; anda hate crime is any incident which contributes to a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.
    Hate crime is not specifically mentioned in any Act of Parliament. However, any act of violence will be brought under the appropriate legislation as determined by the Crown Prosecution Service.

    So, this cackle was issued (“agreed”) by [??] the Association of Chief Police Officers. See also P 31 of their “Response.”

    Does all this derive from the adoption of the EU “Human Rights” legislation? How is the ACPO authorized to “implement” that legislation by some assumed powers to issue (or “agree”)definitions.

    Albion you have a problem

  • Paul Marks

    Once the PRINCIPLE is conceded (as it was in Britain, on both freedom of speech and freedom of association-nonassociation as regards “race”, as far back as 1965), everything else is just a matter of time.

    In short “practical” people who hold that “principles do not matter – as long as thinks work out reasonably in practice….” have things upside down, in the end what determines how things work out in practice is what PRINCIPLES are followed.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes, Paul, absolutely. Following principle matters, and the principles one chooses to follow also matter. And I suspect that Lord Sugar is himself one of your Practical People, who thinks (among other things) that being an S.O.B. on international TV is just glorious. So:

    In the first place, Ms. Szeto has drummed up publicity for herself, whether deliberately or as a fortuitous result of stupidity, or paranoia, or–just possibly–even out of disgust with anyone who would befoul himself by appearing as the Master on The Apprentice (see below), one cannot say. I seriously doubt that she has besmirched her reputation to the detriment of her business; more likely her customers are the sort who will applaud her “courage” in reporting possible Error (and especially Error by the Rich and Famous). There are many who positively slaver at exhibitions of troublemaking by tattle-tales.

    Secondly, I hope everyone here will take it as read that I thoroughly heartily LOUDLY agree with all the comments as to the frightening lawlessness with which this woman’s “complaint” was met by The Authorities. And that that, of course, is the main, and the worst, issue.

    However, I believe that shows like The Apprentice both result (in part) from, and contribute to, the climate of opinion that enables such egregious lawlessness on the part of The Law.

    Why? Because unless The Apprentice has changed its entire style in the ten years or so since I had the misfortune to see bits of it while Mr. Trump was exemplifying the requirements of success to the would-be successes under his TV tutelage, namely the eponymous Apprentices, Lord Sugar, as (I take it) the Master in the show, deserves whatever scorn he gets.

    Preaching the efficacy of A**h***ry as the Way to Success in the area of entrepreneurship and business in general is not a strategy that will make for a better, more benevolent, less suspicious, and more well-behaved society; nor yet for a more ethical business climate.

    Of course, I don’t know that Lord S. has behaved in this fashion on the show, and if in fact he has not then I do apologize. But in the Day of the Donald, and before, that is the way things were done on The Apprentice.

  • bloke in spain

    @Julie
    So agree with the final paragraphs of your post. And so good to see the Brentwood oik (for indeed I do remember him when his commercial empire stretched no further than a room above the mini-cab office & helping on his father’s market stall) suffering under the legislation, the party he supports championed.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Being a Brentwood oik is much more respectable than being a Labour peer.

  • bloke in spain

    Ta for the compliment, Natalie. And rest assured, I’ll try desperately to avoid ennoblement by any party.

  • Paul Marks

    Julie – yes Lord Sugar is one of the “practical” people, supporting the Labour party and so on.

    The doctrines that he supports himself have turned round and attacked him.

    As is normally the case with such folk.