British blogger persecuted?

by Richard on January 10, 2008

Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion has been blogging (here, here and here) about Lionheart, a British blogger who is claiming that he is under threat of arrest by British police for the crime of inciting racial hatred.

Inevitably, this is being presented by some as an assault on free speech and further evidence that Britain is being taken over by Islamist extremists determined to undermine and overthrow “the British Way of Life”. This is, of course, utter nonsense. For one thing, the same law that is (allegedly) being used against “Lionheart” has also been used against Muslims.

I can understand why some folk think that our incitement to racial hatred laws are not a good idea, but to suggest that they represent some kind of capitulation to an Islamic threat is, frankly, ludicrous. Like it or not, British law makes it an offence to publish “material intended or likely to stir up racial hatred”. (You can look it up if you’ve a mind to: Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (c. 33))

Sadly No has been kind enough to trawl Lionheart’s blog for evidence of this kind of stuff. Examples include

Do you want your children to become Pakistani Muslim drug and sex slaves? It is each of our individual and collective responsibilities to act now before it is too late….

This is the Islamic enemy my community and country is faced with and the Moslem enemy which has forced my community into ‘Dhimmitude’. Things can only get worse from now unless action is taken and this Pakistani Moslem community’s actions are stamped out. …

There are gangs of Moslem rapists and murderers walking the streets terrorising our society…Do we give in like most of Europe and accept the Islamification of our Nation? Or do we stand up and fight with every last drop of blood declaring ‘No Surrender’ no matter what the cost? …

The next generation will have ‘no’ option but to go to war with Islam unless appropriate action is taken now in this generation. …

That’s enough of that. Whether these words are an incitement to hatred, I’ll leave you to judge. To me, it looks as though the whole thing is being stirred up by Lionheart himself and some equally idiotic supporters who love to present themselves as persecuted minorities suffering for the truth.

The reality is that Lionheart and others like him are fearful and deluded, terrified by change, covering their fear with a self-aggrandizing veneer of ‘heroic’ bluster. I pity him.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Joshua Claybourn 01.10.08 at 9:42 pm

Regardless of whether the writings do or do not incite hatred (I tend to think it does), why would you be condoning a government crackdown of it? As an American this concept is of course quite foreign, but more important, it seems utterly irrational counter-productive. But I’m still eager to hear a Brit’s defense of it.

2

Richard 01.10.08 at 11:33 pm

I don’tknow that I am condoning “a government crackdown”. What government crackdown? There is a law against incitement to racial and religious hatred. I agree that there’s an argument to be had about whether such laws are good things or not and if I’m honest, I’m really not sure.

But characters like ‘Lionheart’ present themselves as brave defenders of our way of life. I don’t believe they are any such thing.

3

BD 01.10.08 at 11:43 pm

I hope Sadly No will be able to do some more digging, given Lionheart’s past, the question he may be running from more than an interview and more than the neighbourhood drug dealers is valid.

One of the difficulties about discussing this cross-culturally is the difference in hate speech or free speech laws.

It should be a clue to Pajama Media readers that Lionheart is not getting support in the UK by media, bloggers or Christians.
Americans don’t understand the BNP, know it’s history or have a working understanding of British law.

And they don’t care.
Condon a crackdown?
Cripes.

The facts at Sadly No are irrelevant to US bloggers fawning over Lionheart. Pathetic.

Richard Bartholomew puts this nicely:

“Personally, I would like to see the UK introduce protections for free speech along the lines of the American First Amendment. However, the historic fact is that in most democracies free speech has been balanced against other factors deemed to be socially desirable.
Thus some countries have laws against Holocaust denial, to prevent Nazi revivalism; some have laws against blasphemy, to prevent inter-religious strife and to keep the wrath of God at bay; some have laws against mocking the monarch, to avoid possible civil disturbance caused by undermining the established order.
Unless you have a society where free speech is treasured as absolute virtue in itself, as we see in the USA, this is hardly a surprising state of affairs. Since intercommunal hatred and prejudice against ethnic and sexual minorities are clearly social evils, the easiest response is (or at least seems to be) to limit freedom to express views that might tend to provoke these things.”

Richard B provides some examples and concludes:

“Of course, those of us who have a more “American” view of free speech will see such laws as counter-productive and confused and tending towards other evils that must be opposed, but that’s the context in which they come into existence and are applied; conspiracy theories about Muslims and “cultural Marxists” miss the point.”

4

John Meunier 01.11.08 at 1:44 am

Well, the First Amendment gets balanced against other things by our Supreme Court all the time. It is not a limitless right.

My question is more practical. By reprinting these statements, Richard, are you in danger of prosecution as well?

5

Beth 01.11.08 at 1:50 am

You won’t get any argument from me, Joshua. Much as I abhor these things being said, I can’t accept that it’s a good thing to ban people from saying them. (And as a side note, it’s interesting that Nazir-Ali hasn’t been charged with a similar offence after his comments - perhaps the law is more strictly applied to those who aren’t major establishment figures?). On a purely emotional level, I would like nothing better than to throw bigots into the outer darkness, but I know that it’s the wrong way to do things.

There are, of course, limits on free speech - even in America! Incitement to violence is an example which, to me, seems a sensible area in which to restrict speech. But incitement to hatred? We’re going to legislate over how people feel now? It’s pure George Orwell.

Frankly, I probably won’t lose much sleep over Lionheart’s fate. What really scares me is the precedent. Get people into the habit of thinking that it’s okay to censor unpopular and unpleasant views, and you’re on the road to hell.

6

BD 01.11.08 at 5:50 am

John: Short answer. No.

7

Richard 01.11.08 at 7:53 am

There’s a question lurking behind all this. Who says that Lionheart is going to be arrested apart from Lionheart himself? As far as I can see, not one single respectable news source has picked this up. It could be a case of the blogosphere going where the horrid MSM won’t, of course. But that isn’t the most likely explanation.

8

Steve 01.11.08 at 9:27 am

Hi,

I agree that these are some of the harder question in legislating in a civil society.

I’ve been present at BNP gatherings though where I work where they shouted racist abuse across the road. I’ve been involved is discussion about how to deal with tensions that have arisn (even death) becasue of people inciting stories about one faith or ethnic group raping women of another group etc.

That this sort of incitement leads to violence, tension and abuse seems to be fairly well documented. So the simple question is then, should this incitement of hatred, which leads to violence be a crime as well as the actions themselves. Why should those who deliberatly whip it up get away scot free?

(I’m inclined to leave aside the various test cases that do hit the media, and which churches particually get excited about)

I’m not sure in what way this is really legislating about how someone feels. Someone can’t be prosocuted for what they feel. If this guy were prosocuted it would be for what he had written, and how that was or could be percieved. (Unless I’m getting this wrong?)

Anyone is entitled to feel what they like. Rather it’s how they express it, and in what form they choose to do so.

Interesting point about Nazir Ali. I can see a distinction between the two , but it seems to be a fine line.

Warmly

Steve

9

John 01.15.08 at 1:37 pm

I’m not sure in what way this is really legislating about how someone feels. Someone can’t be prosocuted for what they feel. If this guy were prosocuted it would be for what he had written, and how that was or could be percieved. (Unless I’m getting this wrong?)

Anyone is entitled to feel what they like. Rather it’s how they express it, and in what form they choose to do so.

So in the UK you can think whatever you like so as long as you keep your mouth shut?

Lionheart is a nut, but he should be free to express his lunatic ideas.

10

Steve 01.15.08 at 2:48 pm

Hi John,

Little bit of a simplification of responsibility really. Shouldn’t there be consequences for those who incite others to hatred which almost ineviatibly leads to abuse?

Steve

11

Steve 01.15.08 at 2:50 pm

I should read what I write before I click submit.

I meant to say:
Little bit of a simplification of what I said. Isn’t this about responsibility really?

12

Beth 01.15.08 at 6:40 pm

Shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre is not the same as writing a blog saying that theatres are firetraps.

To make racist comments on a blog may be slanderous, untrue and hateful, but it doesn’t have the same potential for harm and violence as shouting racist comments on a crowded street, unless the person who reads it is unreasonably prone to racist violence in the first place.

Blaming writers with racist opinions for racist violence is like blaming Sappho for making your daughter a lesbian. The reader needs to have the tendencies in the first place in order to accept what the writer says without checking the facts for themself.

13

roGER 01.17.08 at 10:13 am

Paul Ray (aka “Lionheart”) is bonkers.

I hope the Muslim community (whom he insults and lies about) has the wisdom to realise he’s a simply a ranting loon and ignore him.

One of the most annoying things about free speech is what people proceed to do with this right. But the whole point of free speech is putting up with views that you may find offensive, or even evil.

The hate speech laws are a disgrace to Britain and an insult to our society, which is more than strong enough and mature enough to cope with fruitcakes like Paul Ray.

14

me 01.20.08 at 7:37 pm

richard you run a blog why remove comments you dont like is it not freedom of speech…maybe you should have a caution on here saying comments i only approve of will be listed…man what a double standard,grow some balls

15

Richard 01.20.08 at 8:08 pm

Well, me, as you can see I don’t delete comments I don’t like. But if you haven’t commented before, you go into moderation . You left a lot of other comments which are still in the moderation queue. Do you really think they add anything to the conversation? Cos I don’t. What do others think? If you want to see them, just ask.

And, though I don’t want to be overbearing, this is my blog and the rules are mine too. Those who’ve been round awhile know (I hope) that I’m not generally capricious or unwilling to allow dissenting voices. But we keep a civilized conversation here. That’s important to me.

16

Beth 01.20.08 at 11:17 pm

Hey, Richard. Perhaps it would be an idea to flag up the fact that first-time commenters will be placed in moderation? That way, you won’t have to deal with people re-posting because they think there’s been a glitch, or with slightly paranoid people who think you’re censoring them!

17

Richard 01.21.08 at 12:11 am

Good idea — I’ll try to organize that, Beth.

18

me 01.21.08 at 6:52 pm

Richard you know I have just read your reply…and youre right I did leave a few silly messages, I got caught up in the moment, Sorry….wont happen again.

19

Richard 01.21.08 at 7:04 pm

Fair enuff.

I’ve added a few words about comment moderation, but as I’m writing this I realise that they’re in the wrong place. Back to the drawing board…

20

me 01.23.08 at 6:34 pm

Richard I like what you did at the bottom…..my question to everyone out there since Paul Ray is a Christian is he behaving like one??

21

The Boss 03.16.08 at 1:08 pm

I have met and spoken with Paul Ray many times. The one thing he is not is a loon. He has his own views and simply wishes to change the way people in Dunstable and Luton are being treated. I live in Dunstable and although I don’t agree with all Paul says a hell of a lot of it is true. Only last week we had four drug raids by police and they were Muslim dealers. Because of Paul’s brave front, he’s had several high-profile dealers banged up. They are no longer on our streets so that’s all down to Paul bravely giving the police the information to convict. As for race-hate, I am white and don’t like a few black people, a few Asain people, and a load of white people. The Boss

22

leon 11.10.08 at 3:45 am

Will a Welsh man one day be reading from the Koran?

23

willow 05.30.09 at 2:50 pm

“material intended or likely to stir up racial hatred”

Islam isn’t a race you dhimmi

24

Roger Pearse 07.27.09 at 7:29 pm

Don’t worry. When the new Nazis come to power, as assuredly they will under some name or other, and start locking people up for their views, they will use the same excuse of “inciting hatred of ” to lock you up (and me).

I fear that you can’t imagine yourself at risk, so take a relaxed view of other bloggers being locked up. This is unwise. How quickly some have forgotten the Thatcher years, and how the whole world changed into one hostile to the Left!

We can either defend free speech for people we don’t agree with, or lose it ourselves.

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