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Have you a licence for that opinion, sir?

The clampdown on disrespect continues. Sir Iqbal Sacranie is under police investigation. The putative crime, a public order offence, disorderly conduct: behaviour likely to cause alarm, harrassment or distress contrary to the Public Order Act 1986.

So, has Sir Iqbal been staggering aggressively around a shopping centre waving his fist at passers-by? Has he been picketing a building yelling threats at workers? Has he been hanging around on a street corner with his legal director and PR man, holding open bottles of cheap cider and throwing traffic cones at one another?

No. Sir Iqbal is a genial, if quite intense, man. He has been doing the sort of thing he got knighted for.

The alleged offense took place in the course of a serious discussion of his religious beliefs on Radio 4. He reportedly said that homosexual behaviour is not acceptable on moral or health grounds, and that civil partnerships therefore were not acceptable either. Some people were offended by this “homophobia” and complained to the police.

I do not care for what Sir Iqbal thinks about gays. But he does think it. I do care that he should be allowed to say what he thinks. And it does worry me that offending people by your mere opinion expressed publicly in a public forum can now be a police matter. I have always opposed the Public Order Act 1986 as too widely drawn, and likely to inhibit all sorts of activities in public places that pose no threat to others – but I had no clue that it might be used like this. You can always find someone who will be offended by anything.

But more disturbing than the law – the existing law, before Tony Blair gets to work on arbitrary extension of summary powers – being used to interdict opinion, is the certainty that it will not be open to anyone to have those expressing opinions that offend them investigated. I am alarmed harrassed and distressed by everything that issues from the Prime Minister’s mouth and the ruthless mendacious actions of his government in promoting those views, will police investigate? Had Sir Iqbal, who, like a lot of other conventional religious people, plainly is distressed by the thought of gay sex, heard a lewd interlude by Julian Clary on a Radio 4 panel game, and complained, would police investigate?

This adumbrates a world in which officially approved opinions may be expressed freely, but those that are not officially approved will be deemed offensive, and suppressed therefore. Whatever it is, it is not freedom of expression.

78 comments to Have you a licence for that opinion, sir?

  • Noel Cooper

    Clearly Sacranie should be able to say whatever he thinks, however as he is so willing to reduce the freedom of expression of others through his support of the incitement to regligious hatred bill, I can’t help feeling a small degree of satisfaction as he is hoist by his own petard.

  • Keith

    How many opposition parties are actually promising to repeal this Act if elected? If not, why not?
    England is screwed.

  • APL

    GH: “Sir Iqbal Sacranie is under police investigation.”

    Laugh, I nearly cried.

    So now we know, the Nu Labour PC doctrine homosexuality trumps mohammedism.

    Stand by for fireworks.

    PS. I use the term ‘fireworks’ in the figurative sense, I am not intending to incite anyone to set off fireworks or other fast burning or flammable material.

  • Laughing Cavalier

    Between the devil and the deep blue sea. The whole episode almost (but not quite) makes one sorry for the NuLabour thought police. Which of the two constituencies should they pander to?

  • Tricky one methinks. If that had been the BNP peddling such tripe I would want to see them proscecuted, so why not Sir Iqbal?

    Think I need to consider my position a little more carefully….

  • Indeed, a rather interesting point – in the PC worldview, homophilia trumps anti-“Islamophobia”. Which, given the “dangers” our society faces from homosexuality, as opposed to those (quite real, I’m afraid) that stem from radical Islam, might be somewhat reassuring.

  • Personally I think this comes under the “hoist by his own petard” category or similar. As I wrote at my blog today, this application of the “rules” of PC seems to have shocked Sir Idiot Sacaramie who thought his status as “victim” meant that he could be intolerant.

    I agree that the law is bad, but I am strongly in favour of this case being prosecuted to the fullest extent so that the hypocrisy of intolerance inherent in both PC and Islam gets shown up before all

  • Simon Jester

    I can’t help wondering whether this was intended to show that the law is even-handed, after the police inestigation of Lynette Burrows’ “homophobic” remarks.

    The law may be an ass, but at least it is consistently asinine…

  • Pete_London

    Indeed, a rather interesting point – in the PC worldview, homophilia trumps anti-“Islamophobia”.

    Woah there, not so fast. The pinkos were just evening up the score following this. Many of us got into the ground late for this one so Laban provides an update here(Link) (‘A Ding Dong Battle). I hope this one will go to extra time and penalties, I’m loving every minute of it.

  • John Rippengal

    Simon Jester has got it. Someone wrote to the Telegraph asking why the Lynn Burrows treatment was not meted out to similar remarks from the Islamists. This has to be the result.

  • pommygranate

    I am amazed that there is such satisfaction expressed here at Sacranie’s fate and a desire to see him prosecuted.

    It is terrifying that the English state is openly prosecuting people for their beliefs. His views may be repulsive but they are not causing physical harm to anyone nor are they putting anyone in danger.

    Laugh at these people, ridicule them but don’t make martyrs of them.

  • rosignol

    I expect that just about everyone commenting would be quite pleased if the law in question was repealed, unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen.

    However, there is some entertainment in seeing one of it’s supporters run afoul of it.

  • RobtE


    Precisely. I am likewise amazed. While I have no truck whatever with Sacranie’s views (and to do otherwise would for me be hypocritical), I still wish for him to be allowed to express his views in the marketplace of ideas. Any views, regardless of how repulsive, cannot cause physical harm or put others in danger. It’s only when the views become actions that they are dangerous.

    That Sacranie should be investigated for his opinions on this government’s watch should come as no surprise. Six years ago Blair stood up in the Commons and called for a British subject, Glen Hoddle, to be stripped of his means of livelihood for expressing religious beliefs that some found offensive.

    No society punishes those who agree it; the test of any society’s freedom is what it does to those who disagree.

  • What is good for the Christian is good for the Islamist. The law is an arse but it is far better if it is applied equally that if it is used by some to pursue an agenda in favour of one minority or other.

  • Pete_London

    Glad to see above that my ability to operate simple computer programmes is in tip top condition.


    Agreed. Sacranie simply stated an opinion. Moreover, it’s an opinion many in this country agree, whether Christian, Jew, muslim or secular. It is indeed an outrage that the neutered Police have seen fit to interview him. The thing which strikes me though, is that you must be devoid of any sense of humour not to laugh. Muslims and gays have been in the front rank of the prissy legions calling for anything and anyone who holds them in less than great esteem to be jumped on by the authorities. Gay and muslim groups have done as much as anyone to render Great British discourse a minefield. Well it was only a matter of time before incompatible beliefs and practices clashed and the weapons they have used against free speech in my country have no turned around. I do not believe anyone who says this isn’t fun.

  • pommygranate


    I posted my second considered reaction.
    I almost hospitalised myself following my initial reaction.

  • GCooper

    guy herbert writes:

    “This adumbrates a world in which officially approved opinions may be expressed freely, but those that are not officially approved will be deemed offensive, and suppressed therefore”

    Adumbrates? I would have said it hammers it out in letters of fire. It’s pretty plain that this is government policy and that the nod has been given to the thought police to implement it.

  • Verity

    I don’t agree with Guy Herbert that Iqbal Sacranie is “genial if intense”. Intense yes. Genial, no. He’s a thought fascist and he is a liar. And he thought he had bullied the government into special treatment for Muslims.

    Well tough shit, Iq, old boy. And yes, I am sure this was prompted by someone writing in to The Telegraph suggesting he merits the same treatment as Lynette Burrows and that elderly couple who also got their collars felt for asking if they could put some Christian literature on a table in their (taxpayer funded) town hall that had stacks of gay literature on it. (They were told no, as Christian literature might offend gays, and the police called at their home and told them they “were walking on eggshells”.)

    Well, now the self-righteous, bullying, equivocating Iq is finding out how it feels.

    Obviously, I also agree that this law is an obscene breach of our constitution, but as long as it’s here, it’s nice to see it being used to bash a bully.

    And yes – I haven’t seen the LibDems or the Chocolate Orange Inspector express any disgust or alarm at this law, or promise to repeal it.

    It’s not working out quite right for dhimmitude in Britain (or Denmark), is it, Iqqi?

  • permanent expat

    Well, ‘allo ‘allo ‘allo……..what’s all this then!
    Some folk are being prosecuted for saying what they believe …….and some folk are getting killed for not believing in what other folk say they should believe…..
    and a lot of other folk are truly offgepissed that gumment überfolk are rascals & have no idea how to run a day-nursery…..
    Oh well, time for a cuppa……….
    God, Allah, Yarveh, Whoever (It matters not), please save us from ourselves before it’s too late.

  • JSinAZ

    This is interesting – the UK seems to be implementing most of the sorts of legislation deeply desired by the the loopy left in the USA.

    And the result of bans on self defence and bans on expression of opinion are just as anticipated: tyranny by criminal and tyranny by bureaucrat.

    So, you have my deepest sympathy. Please know that the progression of the disease will be documented so that others might be saved.

  • Verity

    I would also be surprised if Peter Thatchell did not have something to do with this. After all, Iq and the gang wanted this law, thinking it was going to favour them. One more step towards imposing “Islamic values” on Britain. We all know what happens to homosexuals in Islamic countries.

  • Cracking piece of police work. Bravo.

    I think we should have a whole range of new offences:

    Offensively complaing.
    Acts preparatory to offensive complaining.
    Possessing items that could be used for offensively complaining.
    Offensively awarding knighthoods.
    Being, or contemplating acts designed to become, a member of an offensive government.

    That should keep the police away from traffic cameras for a while. Perhaps Sir Iqbal Deeply Offensive could meet his complainants – in the cells.

  • guy herbert


    Both genial and intense are a matter of manner, not content of belief. That is my description based on having met him.

    I don’t think he’s a liar–and I don’t see on what basis you think he is. What I do think is that (in common with other religious leaders) he is quite often frighteningly wrongheaded in his sincerely held and openly expressed beliefs. No doubt religious sorts think the same of us atheists.

  • Verity

    guy herbert – “genial” – fair enough.

    I say that he is a liar because he is a practitioner of taqqya and kitman.

  • guy herbert


    After all, Iq and the gang wanted this law, thinking it was going to favour them.

    You have the wrong law. This is nothing to do with incitement to religious hatred, which is not on the books yet.

  • Verity

    Oh no! This is a different repressive law? Which law is this? Sometimes my eyes glaze over when I contemplate the rate at which bonkers new legislation pours out of Westminster under British strongman Blair.

  • guy herbert

    I say that he is a liar because he is a practitioner of taqqya and kitman.

    Translation: You have no actual basis for the accusation. You assume he’s a liar because he is a Muslim and you think all Muslims are liars by definition.

    We have been round that particular argument before. Unless you can produce an example of an actual lie, rather than a mangled slogan, then I suggest we drop it.

  • guy herbert

    Which law? The one I cited. The Public Order Act 1986. ‘Disorderly conduct’ was one of the Thatcher administration’s less desirable inventions. One can see a family resemblance to Blairite conceptions of ‘anti-social behaviour’.

  • Verity

    Thank you, Guy. I missed the ‘1986’ and thought it was the latest Blair special. If they’ve had this law since 1986, it doesn’t seem to have been used before. At least, I don’t recall reading about it.

  • guy herbert

    It’s one of those laws that sounds reasonable while you are being assured that it is to deal with yobs, but as an archetypal bad law relies on prosecutorial discretion to stay reasonable. It has been used for plenty of dubious purposes before now.

    Even the owners of rude garden gnomes have been threatened with it.

    The criminal law textbooks (though I can’t recall the citation now) deal extensively with a case of two gay men being prosecuted under it for kissing in the street.

    And a couple of years back an evangelical type with a was prosecuted for waving a placard and ranting against homosexuality in Bournemouth town centre.

    But this is the first time I’ve heard of someone being investigated for giving an interview to the BBC.

  • guy herbert

    To clarify: the ranting was in Bournemouth. I don’t know where the homosexuality objected to was. (Probably all over the world, throughout human history.)

  • Verity writes:

    I would also be surprised if Peter Thatchell did not have something to do with this.

    No Peter Tatchell was on Radio 4 last night defending Sir Iqbal’s rights to freedom of speech and also arguing against restrictions on free speech on matters of race and religion as well. On these matter Tatchell is a genuine liberal and not a PC ninny. Indeed his contribution to the debate was little short of brilliant.

  • Julian Taylor

    Well, we have MCB leaders spouting homophobia plus Mustafa Kamel (really, it is his name!) aka Abu Hamza caught on video espousing the deaths of Jews, homosexuals, brothel owners, Serbs and for some unknown reason local newsagents – so why shouldn’t Sir Iqbal Sacranie be charged? As much as I totally agree with the point that freedom of speech should not be subject to a Tony Blair “except in the case of …” type of clause, I still think that Sir Iqbal should be made aware in some way that he lives in a country where tolerance is a byword and if he wants to make his views public then homosexuals have just as much right to take umbrage with his opinion.

    Of course any homosexual objecting to Sir Iqbal Sacranie’s opinion would then be subject to same Blair kneejerk reaction legislation as may cause Sir Iqbal to be arrested. If I were in his shoes right now I’d just stick to lobbing remarks at Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly for their obvious support of paedophile PE teachers.

  • Verity

    Srikbal – I am a big admirer of Peter Tatchell and you are right; he is a genuine liberal. He’s also a very brave man. He launched himself at Mugabe knowing he was going to be beaten to a pulp by Mugabe’s goons – and he was.

    I only thought Tatchell might have had something to do with Iqqi’s receiving a visit from the police because I thought he might be using it as an illustration that intolerance for the goose is also intolerance for the gander.

    I wish I’d heard that radio show. He is a fine man.

  • guy herbert

    Strange point, Julian: abu Hamza makes a video nasty so why shouldn’t Sir Iqbal be charged?

    There’s been a hit and run accident. I might rent a car, so I should be prosecuted for speeding.

    This debate shows up all sorts of interesting things about people’s presuppositions.

  • Ian

    I found this out yesterday via this thread at Harry’s Place. It’s a decent left blog, but most people there seem to agree with the commentariat here: it shouldn’t be an offence for Sacranie to make his remarks, but it serves him right.

    A commenter there called Franky eloquently summed up how I felt:


    I hope everyone of the fuckers who supported such a measure that would restrict my right to free speech gets prosecuted for ever increasingly absurd infractions of this stupid and morally corrupt law.

    This is also why I’ve been gunning for a single equality council – to watch the fighting and have the various lobbies show themselves up for what they are.

    It would be nice to think that Sacranie might revisit his desire to silence criticism of Islam. Sadly, with these types, it’ll likelier just make him even more set in his ways. Land of the decadent kuffar and all that.

    If Sacranie were just a bloke mouthing off to me at the next barstool about my sexual preferences, then I would prevent anyone complaining or involving the police unless he threatened violence. But Sacranie’s the very fellow who’s been manipulating the media and the government to take away our freedom to call a barbaric religion a barbaric religion.

    And Sacranie’s not genial. He’s a rabid Islamist and Jew-hater, for a start, as well as a two-faced creep. I’ve got on well with many people who don’t approve of my sexuality but can live and let live. These are genial people, who are prepared to put differences aside in order to get drunk or share a joke. Sacranie is not such a person, by any means.

  • guy herbert

    Well, the scariest thing about this is it isn’t a new law. It is 20 years old. It is an old law being used in a new way by an increasingly repressive state.

  • RAB

    You can Verity, If Srikbal can tell us what prog on r4 last night it was, you can pull it up again from the BBC radio player.
    Yes I like Tachell too. I like people with convitions
    Not Moves.

  • RobtE

    RAB –

    It was R4’s PM programme. And Srikbal is correct; Tatchell was the voice of sweet reason.

  • Johnathan

    Ian, I have also looked at Harry’s place. Some of the comments are scary.

    Guy, I totally agree. However noxious the views of this Jew-hating nutjob are, he should be free to say what he wants. That applies to homophobes, Holocaust deniers, whatever. Freedom of speech is non-negotiable. The freedom to say what you want is null if it is only the freedom to say that which gives no offence.

    A libertarian insight comes from private property rights, of course. This jackass does not have the right to post his vile views on a privately owned site if the owner objects. (Perry has removed many such people, recently including the vile Luniversal). A bigot who tries to barge into a private space should be ejected. The importance of private property in dealing with such potential unpleasantness is all too often ignored.

  • Verity

    RAB or someone – How do I do this, please? I’d like to hear the programme. I find Mr Tatchell a very likable and rational man.

  • Noel Cooper


    If you follow this (Link), then click on “listen to latest programme” you should get the BBC radio player pop up. Then if you scroll down the list of programmes to get to “pm”, you should then find you can select wednesday’s edition. Thanks RAB and RobtE for the info.

  • Verity

    Noel, RAB, RobtE – Thanks for the information. I went to the page and found the programme, but I don’t seem to have Realplayer. I had it once but it was too aggressive and I took it off. I don’t see why I can’t listen on Windows Media Player.

  • GCooper

    guy herbert writes:

    “You assume he’s a liar because he is a Muslim and you think all Muslims are liars by definition.”

    Sacranie may, or may not, be a liar. He is, however, a devout follower of a religion which advocates the slaying of homosexuals. He is also a campaigner for laws to protect Islam from precisely the sort of criticism he has felt free to express against others.

    The latter makes him a hyprocrite. Whether the former makes him a monster or a fool, I can’t quite decide. Perhaps both. In either case it somewhat mitigates any sympathy I might have for him. However “genial” he may seem.

  • Verity

    Sacranie is a liar by default. He circumnavigates the truth. This is not only permitted, but is mandatory, in Islam when speaking to a person who isn’t a Muslim but is discussing Islam. For example, if he is asked whether he believes the London Transport mass murders were unequivocally wicked, he will not be able to say yes. He will say something like he regrets the terrible loss of life or something similarly anodyne.

    People who want to be overly tolerant of Islam as another respectable and respected religion, like Christianity and Judaism are misguided. The point is that the entire world has to be Dar-es-Salaam, at the point of the sword, or blast of the bomb, if necessary.

    I find the authoritarian, rigid Sacranie who is, at its kindest, economical with the truth, repellent.

    That said, I do not believe he should have the back of his collar felt for expressing his opinion in a nominally free society. He should be free to express distaste for homosexuals, Jews, women, dogs, demon rum, whatever, without coming to the attention of “the authorities”.

  • RAB

    Nope folks like him should be sentenced to Celebrity Big Brother and ridiculed mercilessly by Barrymore and the trannie who sounds more and more Lily Savage as it goes on.
    It wont change his mind, but quite a few scales would fall from eyes of those who hold it’s just another religion that he represents.
    Free speech is invioable.

  • Verity

    You seem to be quite getting into Big Brother, RAB … Agreed, free speech is inviolable, except incitement to murder or commit other crimes. Otherwise, anything goes.

  • Ian

    The trannie is none other than Pete Burns, he of that great dancing number ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).’

    Though I’ve not seen him on TV, I think he’s a great guy because he’s claiming his fur’s a gorilla and he’s incurring the wrath of the outside world. I read that we Brits are blessed with a Biodiversity Minister (thank goodness – I thought this had been overlooked) who says Burns is liable to prosecution if it is indeed a gorilla fur. Something to do with endangered species yada yada yada.

    Mr Burns said he was thrilled to be taken to task by one of his housemates who’d put her ex-boyfriends’ dirty underwear in a book.

    Who of us who have to make do with coney can tell whether it’s gorilla or not? Maybe he’s just minded épater les bourgeois? And so good luck to him…

  • permanent expat

    Late again….sorry. Who is this Iqbal bigot & how did he get the dubbing he flaunts? Is he a footballer, and if so, what position is “bigot” on the field?……..I really am out of touch with today’s sports scene. Will someone please help.

  • RAB

    Well now you mention it , I kinda am.
    Never having watched more than the time it takes to change the channel before ,you get into analysing this collective of freaks, and asking yourself what THEY think they are doing here doing this.
    Like I said, it’s like a car crash or being at a high place and someone says dont look down. You cant help it!
    This particular lineup is considered by the regulars to this type of thing as being the best yet.
    Now then!!! Now then!!! ohhh as it ‘Appens, they not only take people out, but parachute people in.
    Guess who is rumoured to be turning up in two tone hair and tracksuit!
    It may become unmissable!!!

  • veryretired

    For decades, every school and university in the West has been teaching that the feelings of the protected classes trump rights of free expression.

    The media are ruled by it, politics is in thrall to it, and each and every citizen of all these great, free, democratic societies knows in the back of his or her mind that if you dare say the wrong thing, you will be keel-hauled.

    We’ve all watched it happen. We’ve complained and objected and had various hissy fits. The PC crowd just shrugged and found some more terms that were offensive, some more victims that needed to be protected, some more ideas that demonstrated a depraved, sexist, racist, whatever-ist mind and needed to be cast out.

    I don’t care who this guy is, or how ironic it all is. What difference does it make. The suppression many predicted, and so many others played down, is here.

    Did you think they were kidding?

  • Keith

    “I don’t care who this guy is, or how ironic it all is. What difference does it make. The suppression many predicted, and so many others played down, is here.

    Did you think they were kidding? ”

    Right on the money, VR. As usual.

  • guy herbert

    Hear, hear.

  • Tuscan Tony

    Apparently under the present government it’s possible to make remarks that might be thought offensive to the equine minority. Odd really, has anyone told TB they don’t actually vote – or is there a new plan to extend the franchise?

  • michael farris

    “under the present government it’s possible to make remarks that might be thought offensive to the equine minority.”

    Insert your own Camilla joke here:

  • Ian

    This of course presumes that remarking that a horse is gay insults the horse.* So the decision to prosecute is itself homophobic – and possibly equophobic, too, presuming that horses are all bigoted and judgemental and have red-blooded reputations to protect (“I’m a stallion in the bedroom, you know”).

    Either that, or they haven’t heard that ‘gay’ can just mean ‘naff.’ (I’m gay myself, and I take great delight in dropping in the word now and again to mean ‘naff’ or ‘carefree’ or ‘brightly-coloured’ just to throw people.)

    In older times the boy would have got a thick ear for impertinence and would have been on his way. This, though illiberal, would have been preferable.

    Finally, though I’m embarrassed by some of the idiocies gay lobbies have said over the years, I’m pleased that in the main their demands have been fairly sensible and not for special rights. Sure, I know they talk about employment protection, which we believe shouldn’t be an issue in the private sector, but still, I can’t think that they would be pressing for a prosecution in this case.

    I don’t know how much of this is because gay people are naturally a diverse group and don’t form a ‘community’ and how much of this is because we’ve had to tackle illiberal inequalities (age of consent, sexual offences, and so on). When we start demanding special gay rooms at work or mandatory time off for Gay Pride or separate shelves in the fridge for quiche (all of this taken, mutatis mutandis from the MCB recommendations for employers), then I shall be sad. More importantly, I hope I shall have the will to fight it.

    * From the link: “Excuse me, do you realise your horse is gay?”

  • Very succinctly summarised, veryretired. I agree entirely.

  • guy herbert

    I don’t know how much of this is because gay people are naturally a diverse group and don’t form a ‘community’…

    Which also–‘community leaders’ notwithstanding–applies mutatis mutandis to other groups whose notional collective interests are promoted in the pursuit of power. That’s true even of groups that are self-labelled by religion or cultural affinity, never mind racial categories, women, children, the poor…

    At best such labels recognise characteristics of individuals that are of interest to the persons concerned. But everywhere there are hucksters seeking to co-opt people as representative of a type, either as an enemy or a servant of a ‘group interest’.

  • Ian

    Guy, you’re right. I was thinking of ‘communities’ as special-interest ones overlapping with geographical ones. I don’t like the word ‘community,’ and whenever I hear it I know someone’s going to say something that will make me explode with rage. (E.g, the govt’s report on faith communities and sustainable development, which bangs on about how much better people of faith are at doing x, y and z.)

  • RobtE

    Verity wrote:
    Agreed, free speech is inviolable, except incitement to murder or commit other crimes. Otherwise, anything goes.

    Why stop there? What constitutes ‘incitement’? Say someone suggests ‘Let’s kill all the lawyers’ or ‘Carthago delenda est’. Surely it’s his audience who bear the responsibility if they move from hearing words to taking actions. Does that ‘incitement’ fall under the rubric of O. W. Holmes’s ‘shouting fire in a crowded theatre’?

  • I’m backing up RobtE, and I think there is another reasonable argument against incitement to violence laws.

    Take Robin Hood, now you may see in this tale a symbol of the welfare state, but isn’t there also a thread in the tale about the use of violence against the state in order to correct injusticices? Should Robin Hood be locked up for inciting his merry men to violence or held up as a hero for taking on the man?

    Isn’t the availability of violence as a last resort against the state a key principle of liberty?

    BTW, the reason you can’t use Windows Media player is because the defence of patents on mathematical formula caused the free-market in operating system software to suffer. The BBC came under pressure to stay out of the matter and eventually were forced to invent their own mathematical formula at the licence payers (tax payers) expense. Aren’t patents brilliant?


  • Verity

    Ian – You are on the button about “communities”. I’ve had gay men friends all my life and they do not form one giant community. There are groups of friends with shared interests, obviously, as among all humans, but the notion that they are a block of identical opinions and lifestyles is so crazy that the epithet must be used intentionally to deceive. A lie. A lie to impose unwanted laws and restrictions on the rest of us.

    It’s the same with “the Jewish community” as though they were all cut out with a biscuit cutter. All holding the same opinions and living the same lifestyle. You might as well refer to the cat loving community.

    Slot every human being into a “community” and then use it to beat the rest of the citizenry with.

  • Verity

    PS – I meant to add that I think RobtE makes a very good point. It really is the responsibility of the hearer not to act on incitements to violence. He is quite right.

  • Simon Jester

    A late addendum to Ian’s comments on the former lead singer of Dead Or Alive – could he have been alluding to this?

    Needless to say, it was sung by Mr. Burns…

  • pommygranate


    Surely it’s his audience who bear the responsibility if they move from hearing words to taking actions

    I’m not sure.

    Sacranie says “homosexuality is a sin”. No offence committed – all agreed

    Abdul Hafeez Hanzmissing says “exterminate homosexuals”. No offence committed? Disagree. He is in a position of power and is looked up to by thousands of Muslims living in the UK. Some (of the more intellectually challenged ones) will try and carry out his wishes.

  • Paul Marks

    To some extent this is an own goal by “the right”.

    For years writers such as Richard Littlejohn have been saying (about the powers-that-be) “you would not prosecute a Muslim for saying this” about various matters.

    So the powers-that-be can now reply – yes, we will look into it.

    On free speech “homosexual acts are are evil” is one thing, “kill all people who engage in homosexual acts” is another.

    It is harder (although possible) to argue for free speech in the latter case than in the former.

    As for homosexual acts. All the semitic religions (whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim) hold such acts to be evil. This does not fit with modern ideas, but Sir I. was simply repeating the standard postion of his faith.

  • Common sense can surely provide the link between words and actions. If Hitler says, “I need a final solution to the Jewish problem” and five years later six million Jews have died at German hands, we have a link! If Arafat says “one million suicide bombers will march on Jerusalem” and even one suicide bomber then shows up at the Wailing Wall, you don’t have to agonize over whether such speech incites violence.

  • guy herbert

    Robert Speirs,

    That’s “common sense” to the extent “common sense” usually is. That’s to say, pseudodoxia epidemica: vulgar error.

    If I say that the sun will rise tomorrow morning and, lo! the sun does rise tomorrow, can I have the credit for having caused it?

  • RobtE

    Pommygranate –

    To be honest, I’m not so sure either. My post, the one to which you responded, should have been hedged round with qualifications, as it was more a sense of the thing than a firm conviction – thinking aloud, if you will.

    I am deeply sceptical of all anti-incitement legislation, though I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise. To start with, it seems that things that should be quite separate get conflated when it comes to legislating about incitement. For instance, there seems to be little or no distinction made between actions that cause genuine harm, on the one hand, and opinions, thoughts, and emotions (such as ‘hatred’) on the other. To the persons on the receiving end, however, there is a very real difference. Whatever you think of me, whatever your opinion of me, regardless of whether you hate me or my opinions, you cause me no real harm. You may offend me, you may hurt my feelings, and I may have difficulty overcoming the resultant sense of grievance. But I suffer no physical harm. If, however, you actually attack me physically, then I will almost certainly be harmed. Even then, short of outright killing me, I still have recourse to the traditional powers of the state to protect me. I can seek an injunction against you, sue you for libel, swear out a complaint against you and so on.

    Regardless of whether you only think evil about me or you move on to cause me actual harm, it seems to me that you remain, in the end, responsible for your own thoughts, words and deeds. To be sure, there may be extraordinary cases. You may have acted as you did only because there was a gun, literal or metaphorical, held to your head, and had you not done what you did, harm would have come to you or loved ones. Or it may be that you are intellectually sub-normal or mentally ill, in which case different standards of responsibility may be applied. But in most cases, it seems that you should carry the responsibility for your own actions. Neither ignorance of the law nor the so-called ‘Nuremberg defence’ (that one was simply following orders) are accepted as defences in the courts – though I may well be wrong on that one.

    As I said, that’s more a sense of the thing than a firm conviction, and I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise.

  • Saif

    Sir Iqbal – genial?

    This is a man who was happy to call for Salman Rushdie’s death.

  • Verity

    I thought it was his colleage at the Council Banglawangla who called for Rushdie’s death?

  • Nick Timms

    Freedom of speech should extend to saying whatever one wishes, even if one says so-and-so should be killed. The crime is in the action not the words. If someone, even someone of lower intelligence, acts on these words, the crime has been committed by them and no one else. Each individual in society, unless sectioned under the mental health act because they pose a danger to themselves or others, must be presumed to be responsible for their own actions.

    The alternative, which we seem to be approaching, is a society where people are not held responsible for their own actions, and punishment for crimes is meaningless because “he had a tough childhood you know… etc etc”

    Either we are citizens with rights, and responsibilities, or we are wards of the state without either.

  • Verity

    The British have descended into being wards of the state. They have been lured exactly as paedophiles (I thought I would make this into a populist thread) lure children with ice cream and videos …

    They have no one to blame but themselves for allowing it, for tolerating it, for making excuses for it … because Gordon Brown has arranged it so now almost everyone seeks favours from the state. Tax credits. “Free” 10th rate medical care. “Free” state education to remove all traces of intelligence from your child. “Free” police who are your boss and make no mistake. They even tell you what to think.

    And now we have the slippery David Cameron. Things can only get worse. I have said before, “Sauve qui peu!” because this situation will not be reversed in our lifetimes. Twenty years? No. I don’t think so. Thirty? Possibly. Forty? Who knows what the political geography, with the inevitable overlays of Chinese and Indian cultures will be by then?

    But that’s a long time to hold the faith.

  • guy herbert

    There’s no reason to suppose it will be reversed. Liberalism in all its forms has been enjoyed by a minority of humanity over a short segment of human history. Populist tyranny may be a much more stable form of political organisation. The surveillance society could quite easily trump mobility, and ever more pervasive mass communications wipe out the benefits of easier private ones.

  • pommygranate

    Freedom of speech should extend to saying whatever one wishes, even if one says so-and-so should be killed

    Nick – i’m sorry but that is idealistic crap.

    So if a Muslim leader orders one of his flock to execute a particular person (for being gay, or a girl for being adulterous or say, excessive showing of an ankle) and one of his flock carries out his request, he shares no blame for the act?

  • Di

    To some extent this is an own goal by “the right”.

    For years writers such as Richard Littlejohn have been saying (about the powers-that-be) “you would not prosecute a Muslim for saying this” about various matters.


    Only recently Lynette Burrows was heard to say on radio that she didn’t think homosexuals should adopt children. A member of the public complained to the police and an officer contacted Mrs Burrows the following day to say a “homophobic incident” had been reported against her.

    Ibqal Sacranie says much worse about homosexuals and now Blair says he’ll review police procedure. If this doesn’t prove appeasement of Islam and preferential treatment I don’t know what it’ll take to open some people’s eyes to the way or freedoms are being destroyed bit by bit.

  • Verity

    Di – the old couple of pensioners who asked at their town hall if they could put some Christian literature on the same table as they were displaying gay literature got the same treatment as Lynette Burrows. Obviously someone at the town hall reported them to the police – on what grounds, who knows? – and sure enough, Sgt Plod turned up on their doorstep and “explained” what is allowed and what is not allowed, lectured them and told them they “were walking on eggshells”. They never voiced a negative thought about homosexuality. They just said they would also like the table to have a display of Christian literature as well.

    Sacranie says homosexuality is wrong. He comes from a society where routinely, today, yesterday, tomorrow, homosexuals are sentenced to be buried up to the neck and stoned to death or hanged for being born homosexual. And Blair seeks to appease him.

    I don’t care what a little turd Blair is, but his eager dhimmitude is dangerous for Britain. These people are set upon taking over, an inch at a time, a generation at a time. If he thinks he can be their friend by appeasing them, that is tragically ignorant. But then, he is a deeply ignorant man. I wonder whether he has ever read a book.

  • guy herbert

    “If I say that the sun will rise tomorrow morning and, lo! the sun does rise tomorrow, can I have the credit for having caused it?”

    No because you can not influence the movement of the Earth, but you can influence another human beings actions.

    To what extent you are then morally or legally responsible for that persons actions is the question.