Do You Find This Insulting?

Did you know that under Section 5 of the Public Order Act the police and the courts can decide if you or someone else might feel insulted? Some examples of Section 5 in action include the case of Kyle Little, who was arrested and prosecuted under Section 5 for having ‘woofed’ at two Labrador dogs; an unnamed teenager, who faced prosecution for using the word ‘cult’ to describe the Church of Scientology; and Harry Hammond, a 69-year-old evangelist street preacher who was charged under Section 5 for proselytising against homosexuality. Instead of being ignored, Hammond drew a crowd and at one point was even assaulted, but no one was charged for assaulting him.

Am I missing something here? What happened to free speech and civil liberties? Don’t you think that this has been taken a bit too far? Shouldn’t you and I be the ones to decide if we find something insulting or not? And don’t we have the ‘power’ to look or walk away from what we find offensive? And what of our politicians who are constantly ‘insulting’ each other on a daily basis? We all know that’s all part of the game, but under Section 5, an insult is an insult, right?

If anything, I find all of this insulting to my intelligence. Are we so far gone that we can’t treat each other with mutual respect and know where to draw the line? Thankfully, I’m not the only one that feels this way. To find out more about Section 5 and what you can do to get involved, check out Reform Section 5 – Feel free to insult me. I never really thought much about this before (perhaps I’ve take it for granted) but I guess I am a strong believer in free speech, free debate and responsibility.

6 thoughts on “Do You Find This Insulting?

  1. Free speech is an American thing. We don’t do it. This is the country where we moralise our war heroes to the point of suicide and pat ourselves on the back for preventing the spread of perversities that might upset our late grandmas.

    • If you can show that they lied then they get in trouble for it. But even so, I wonder if you could get an advertiser done for saying something insulting in an advert? We could start with Wychwood Breweries who make a slogan out of insulting lager drinkers.

    • 5       Harassment, alarm or distress

      (1)  A person is guilty of an offence if he–

      (a)     uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or

      (b)     displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,

      within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.

      (2)  An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and the other person is also inside that or another dwelling.

      (3)  It is a defence for the accused to prove–

      (a)     that he had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, or

      (b)     that he was inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling, or

      (c)     that his conduct was reasonable.

      (4)  … [REPEALED]

      (5)  … [REPEALED]

      (6)  A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.’


      How would you seek to apply this to untruthful advertisers?

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