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Paul T Horgan: Ordinary people are being criminalised for posting online things they say in the pub


There is an interesting, if not disturbing, article that was posted to the Spectator blog site in the last few days.

It states there are now more people being arrested and imprisoned for what they say or write in the UK than at any time since the eighteenth century. This was a time when it was a criminal offence to report on parliamentary debates.

What appears to be happening is that the laws designed to control the contents of printed matter or public speaking are now being applied to online text as if it is the same thing, or at least something approximate. This is not the case; for something to be mass-printed still requires the originator to go through a manufacturing process, albeit one that has been simplified. The emanations of people online, or at least the ones that have attracted the attention of the Thin Blue Line, is akin to banter. People are being criminalised for repeating the kind of things they would normally say in the pub or sewing circle.

But there seems to be an exception going on. If the online speech that Her Majesty’s Constabulary feel obliged to inspect contains anything from a left-wing, anti-capitalist and anti-Western perspective, it seems to be allowed to pass as acceptable political discourse. So any form of bigotry based on politics, economics or certain social matters passes the test. Other forms of bigotry, however, are seen as beyond the pale.

An example of the former should suffice. There was a Conservative politician whose political conduct caused irritation amongst the left-wing literati. One political commentator was so moved by this conduct that he stated in an article for a left-wing newspaper that this politician should harassed in public wherever he goes for an unlimited amount of time. I could not recall such an encouragement of persistent harassment ever being made by any other columnist in any major British newspaper and directed against any major politician or other individual. I didn’t think this columnist should set a precedent which may be followed by other writers in his position, whose articles are read by hundreds of thousands of people, a number of whom may act on his words.

I contacted the Metropolitan Police to determine if what this columnist had written was an offence. It was not, but the police say only because of the writer’s, or more likely the newspaper’s lawyers, use of one type of auxiliary verb instead of a couple of others. A single word made all the difference. It is probable that the newspaper’s editor took one look at the article and reached for the legal hotline and it was they who changed the offending word to one that was less insistent and more defensible in law.

But the fact remains that there was a widely-disseminated call for persistent harassment against a Conservative politician that remains in the public domain.

The Left do not hate their opponents for their ideology, but for who they are. A prime example of this is the motto ‘never kissed a Tory’. The Left conflate achievement and prosperity with the fact of existence and define it as ‘the other’ to be despised. This has informed their hostility. And yet this hatred, based on economic and social differences, is not seen as being as evil as that based on ethnicity, despite the fact that millions have been killed over their economic circumstances and not their genetics. Once again, the gulag is favoured over the gas chamber, despite the intent and outcomes being the same. But I have written about this media blind-spot before.

Of course, the Left would love to be the targets of overt state attention as, according to their ideology, this would validate their twisted ideals and invite misguided support as bogus underdogs. The never-ending moan over the defeat of Arthur Scargill’s private army at Orgreave is a prime example of this, ignoring the fact that it does not take five thousand bullies to man a picket line and that Scargill had been explicit one month after Margaret Thatcher’s landslide victory in 1983 that he did not accept the result and was going to bring the government to its knees by extra-parliamentary action. But this inconvenient truth is never brought up. Instead Orgreave is seen as equal to Hillsborough. Once again this is typical muddled socialist thinking in trying to find equality where none exists.

What seems missing is public disgust over the antics of the Left that is getting more extreme in its rhetoric. This may be due to the attitude of the dominant and uniquely-funded media organisation in the UK. In the 1970s, the BBC’s accurate coverage of union militancy gave Margaret Thatcher a mandate for change on the back of popular revulsion over the rise of mob rule and violence in the streets. But the Left have discovered that picket lines stopped working for them in 1979. Instead of manning the barricades, they man the TV studio. But they are not being properly challenged over their rhetoric, economics or policy. Instead they are allowed to say their piece and walk away. This is undemocratic.

There is a new deference to replace the one shattered in the early 1960s by the satire. The new beneficiaries of this modern genuflection are not those with country estates, but those who can demonstrate a socially liberal ’cause’, irrespective of the hatreds and immorality behind it. The reason for this is that they are allowed on television to channel the spirit of William Wilberforce. Virtue-signalling can conceal bigotry. It is usually left to other guests on BBC shows to point out the weaknesses of the arguments of these self-appointed latter-day secular saints. The implication is that the senior people behind the cameras agree with much that is said.

The Labour Party has not been properly challenged by the BBC over its anti-Semitism, with the exception of Andrew Neil, perhaps because the party allegedly champions the ’cause’ of the less well-off, despite making more people less well-off by wrecking the economy whenever it has the chance. It has not been held to account over a shadow cabinet member chairing a rally in support of Syria’s embattled leadership, which gasses its own population and suppresses moderate opponents of the Assad regime. The economic policies of the Labour Party approach Leninism, with debauching of the currency and state-mandated workers’ co-operatives taking over private businesses with a perverse ‘right to own’. Such a comparison has yet to reach our screens from the state broadcaster.

Labour-supporting Shami Chakrabarti was not challenged over the links that the organisation she once led had with paedophiles. But she has sat next to Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You. So that’s okay. And no Labour party member seems to have been interviewed by the police over their anti-Semitic statements. However a Christian street preacher who was falsely accused of homophobia was arrested and spent 11 hours in a police cell.

This, then, is the climate that permits a left-wing columnist to call for the persistent harassment of a Conservative politician to a readership of thousands, but for people to be arrested for drunkenly typing nonsense into the device of their choice to a few dozen others.

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan worked in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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