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.