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to think that if people are to be arrested for speech crimes, we should be told what they have said

(27 Posts)
PatPig Tue 28-May-13 12:55:49

A man was murdered in broad daylight last week.

This was widely reported and televised, and the act and its media reporting has led to the commission of numerous crimes.

A number of people have been bundled out of their homes in the middle of the night for allegedly making offensive comments on Facebook and Twitter.

Quite what these comments are, is not being divulged, despite the fact that arresting people for speech crimes is not uncontroversial, unlike say arresting people for murder and theft, which in every nation on earth throughout history has been recognised as a serious crime.

AIBU we should be told what they said?

CloudsAndTrees Tue 28-May-13 12:59:02

What you mean is that you think the media should report what was said, and I disagree.

If comments were posted on twitter or FB then the proof is already there and enough people have seen it. I don't think it does any good to spread the offence any further.

I'd rather not know, and trust the police to do their job.

MrsLettuce Tue 28-May-13 12:59:51

Oh yes, it's always good to publish and re-publish as much hate speech as possible hmm

The court will be told, that's enough.

LaurieFairyCake Tue 28-May-13 13:02:28

Really torn on this. On one hand I don't want them to become martyrs or to get air time.

On the other I don't want to live in a police state where it is decided for me. In a democracy I want to know, have the opportunity to oppose the hate.

I do of course trust the police so it is nothing to do with thinking it would be badly handled.

PatPig Tue 28-May-13 13:04:40

I don't see why we should trust that the police are correctly interpreting the current definition of hate speech, nor indeed that that definition is necessarily a reasonable one.

Justice should be done publicly. Reporting that 'X was arrested for saying Y' is not inflammatory.

The remarks on Twitter and Facebook are not readily available to the public - I have searched for them and haven't found them.

The Bristol Post reports that 'Complaints were made to Avon and Somerset police last night about comments that appeared on the Twitter social-networking website, which were of a racist or anti-religious nature.'

There are thousands of anti-religious comments on this very website. It doesn't give us much to go on.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 28-May-13 13:09:01

If you look hard enough you'll find what was said. Most people know.

Unfortunately, it was their intention to commit a horrid act to get publicity for their cause. It's a known way to recruit for extremists.

Therefore in this case, you either need to hunt out the comments yourself, or believe that you don't need to hear them.

I'm not sure why you think that you need the opportunity to oppose the hate. Would you ever agree with what they did? Are you related to them, and can therefore directly influence them? If not, you just need to condemn the act, not the message.

It's frequently debated. As yet, it is not appropriate for the sayings to be repeated across controlled media. It's for the greater good.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Tue 28-May-13 13:11:03

I don't see why we should trust that the police are correctly interpreting the current definition of hate speech, nor indeed that that definition is necessarily a reasonable one

I agree

PatPig Tue 28-May-13 13:11:05

Well I looked and didn't find, and I am definitely 'above average' in my Googling skills. Most people clearly do not know.

How can I possibly know if I would agree with what they said if I am not told what it was?

JetSetWilly Tue 28-May-13 13:12:55

It's not really for us to decide though is it, it's the courts

As soon as people are arrested details of the crime are rarely reported for fear of swaying a jury. Same here isn't it?

Wouldn't repeating something that is classified as hate speech be a problem for the people reporting it. There is a valid debate on whether or not hate speech should be criminalised but I don't see the point in repeating what was said. It will be repeated in court if the matter gets to trial.

Interesting discussion

BarbarianMum Tue 28-May-13 13:18:05

It should certainly be made public in court. But I don't see why it should be widely broadcast at this point.


MrsTerryPratchett Tue 28-May-13 14:20:08

Go to Court. Courts are mostly open in this country for that very reason. Hate speech is a 'special' case because repeating it is like aiding and abetting IYSWIM.

cory Tue 28-May-13 14:30:39

When someone is arrested for blackmail the press don't get to report what they said either- because that would be letting the blackmailer win. But it will be made clear in court.

quoteunquote Tue 28-May-13 14:32:16

Of course it should be transparent what someone is being prosecuted for, the system will fail, if people don't trust it, also people need to be aware what is and is not acceptable.

cory Tue 28-May-13 14:35:58

The question is a) whether it is transparent to the arrested people why they have been arrested (because otherwise clearly their human rights will have been breached) and b) whether it will be clear to the public in court why they have been arrested.

Dawndonna Tue 28-May-13 14:38:01

Keep an eye on the court lists. The paper can't repeat what was said for legal reasons.

PatPig Tue 28-May-13 14:39:22

Actually libels are reported in the papers (see Sally Bercow for example).

I believe the Facebook man is up in Skegness Magistrates Court tomorrow, not sure if it will be reported.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 28-May-13 14:41:31

Libel is different to blackmail.

You could go an sit in the Court in Skegness if you want.

cory Tue 28-May-13 14:53:39

The difference between hate speech and libel, as I see it, is that hate speech is not just saying unpleasant and possibly untrue things: it is actively encouraging other people to perpetrate illegal actions. It is intended to have a direct effect. So it could be argued that publishing it is in fact enabling that aim, spreading the instructions.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 28-May-13 14:58:22

Can anyone explain why the revolting rape 'jokes' on FB, which sound like incitement to me, are not covered by this law? Or, if they are, why is no one being prosecuted?

FreyaSnow Tue 28-May-13 15:21:36

MrsTP, gender doesn't fall under hate speech laws. If somebody was making rape 'jokes' about, for example, gay men or a particular ethnic group, then it could be investigated as hate speech. If they are making rape 'jokes' about women in general then it isn't, under the law, hate speech. I think it should be, but presumably other people disagree.

OP, I do think we should know what people who have charged in relation to hate speech offences have actually said, because otherwise people won't know what is and is not hate speech. This may not be a concern for people whose comments come nowhere near hate speech, but for people whose remarks are nearer the edge of legal speech or have opinions that would be acceptable to voice if phrased in one way but not another, they do need to know what can legally be said. Similarly, people who are on the receiving end of comments about a group they are in need to know what constitutes hate speech so that they have some idea when they might benefit from reporting it. Given that certain vulnerable groups will have a well founded prior assumption that they may be treated dismissively by the police or even charged with some offence like wasting police time, making up crimes etc, they would benefit from knowing what kind of remarks actually lead to prosecution.

I would assume that one of the purposes of hate speech legislation would be to reduce the extent of hate speech by encouraging people not to use it, on the basis that using it may lead to legal consequences. People then need concrete examples of what it is and is not acceptable to say, so that they can stop saying it and report it when others do.

limitedperiodonly Tue 28-May-13 16:10:47

freya makes a good point about people needing to know what constitutes hate speech so they don't fall foul of the law.

This looks like self-censorship and it's not helping anyone.

Neither do I share people's confidence in the police and courts always doing the right thing.

Most people cannot attend court. That's why we have court reporters. It's trite to say: 'If you want to know, why don't you pop along?'

If the evidence is that damaging then a judge can hold proceedings in camera. I don't think that's happening here.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 28-May-13 16:17:27

Most people cannot attend court. But anyone can and some do. It is supposed to keep everyone honest. Plastering everything all over social media doesn't do the same job IMO. Too much hysteria and not enough commitment to the process.

It isn't proved to be hate speech until a court determines it as such. Yes they may have been charged with hate speech but a court may decide that it doesn't actually meet the standard required.

If a court decides it is hate speech then it can be reported as such and people will know what has been determined by a court to meet the criteria. Reporting it now doesn't add to public information because it hasn't yet been judged hate speech in a court of law so it might or might not be.

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