Free speech - we've heard of it

Clucking bell. A couple of Gwent Community Support Officers could do with some sensitivity training:

Matthew Taylor, 35, the owner of Taylor's clothes store on Emlyn Walk in the city, printed up and displayed the T-shirt with the slogan: "Obey our laws, respect our beliefs or get out of our country" after Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, was killed in near [sic] Woolwich barracks in London last week.
Following a complaint from a member of the public (I'm really curious about who this was, but I'd probably bet a fiver that they were white and an avid reader of The Guardian) the CSOs dropped by to advise Mr. Taylor that someone had found the shirt design offensive. At this point Mr. Taylor advised the CSOs in turn of his right of freedom of expression, pointed out the lack of targeting at any ethnic, racial or religious group, and the CSOs accepted his argument and departed peacefully.

Kidding! Mr. Taylor ended up removing the shirt from display:

A spokeswoman for Gwent police confirmed: "We did have a call from a member of the public. We visited the shop and asked him to remove it (the T-shirt) as it could be seen to be inciting racial hatred."
Holy little green apples. Was the spokeswoman fighting to keep a straight face when she said this? Racial hatred against whom? Indonesians? Scots? Gloucestersharians? Inuits? Criminals? If this had been the CSOs being a little over-zealous then I could almost understand this, but Gwent Heddlau backing up the action makes me despair for humankind. I can't help but feel that the late lamented Inspector Gadget was spot on here - this is what you get, and the mindset of people you end up hiring, when you create lots of comfortable REMF diversity-related jobs.

As a thought experiment, what if the shirt had said the same thing but in Welsh? What if it said "Obey our laws, stop claiming illegitimate expenses or get out of our Parliament"? Perhaps, to gather better data, Mr. Taylor should produce sample shirts with a range of variations on the theme, sit back and watch to see which ones the police make him remove. Better yet, his MP should back him up, tell him to reinstate the line at his convenience, and tell Gwent police and the local busybodies to take a running jump.

Someone who wasn't paying much attention in his "Life in the UK" test was Newport city councillor, Majid Rahman:

I believe in freedom of speech and defend his rights to say what he wants, but once it starts offending people then it's a police matter and it's up to them whether they think it's broken any laws.
Wow. Well, I'm offended by people claiming that Marmite tastes delicious. We should definitely refer the matter to the police for further consideration. I didn't realise that offending people was ipso facto grounds for a criminal complaint...

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are subject to retrospective moderation. I will only reject spam, gratuitous abuse, and wilful stupidity.