Free Speech Includes the Right to Rant. Doesn’t it?

 Not in England it doesn’t!

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This is a headline in today’s London Daily Mail:

Transport police make arrest after tram passenger ‘hurls vile abuse at onlookers in racist rant as toddler perches on her knee’

This story, filed by Emily Allen, tells of a young mother who expressed her displeasure at the fact that she was one of the few white people on the tram.  It’s true that she used colourful, some would say intemperate,  language.

The full transcript of her rant reads:

‘What has this country come to? A load of black people and a load of f***ing polish. 

Just too many of them for her…

A load of f***ing, yeah… you’re all f***ing… do you know what I mean? 

 ‘You ain’t English. No, you ain’t English either. You ain’t English. None of you’s f***ing English. Get back to your own f***ing… do you know what sort out your own countries, don’t come and do mine.

 It’s nothing now. Britain is nothing now. Britain is f** all. My Britain is f*** all.

‘Yeah its fine. I have got a little kid here. Have respect? I have a little boy here. F** you. I dare you, I f***ing dare you.

Don’t watch my language. Go back to where you come from, go back to f***ing Nicaragua or where ever you come from. Just f***ing go back.

I work, I work, I work, this is my British country until we let you lot come over.

‘So what. It is my British country, you ain’t British. Are you British? You ain’t f***ing British. F*** off.

‘You ain’t British, you’re black. Where do you come from?

 ‘No, someone’s got to talk up for these lot. Look the whole f***ing tram, look at them. Who is black and who is white.

 ‘There is all black and f***ing burnt people.’

OK, if you read this far you will understand that this was socially unacceptable behaviour. The question is- should it also be legally unacceptable? 

Let me be clear about my position. I am not a racist; at least, I don’t think that I am. How could I be? I am a Jew who lived most of his life in London and experienced the special type of English anti-Semitism.  Actually, I recall the first incident at age 9.

Telling someone to go home doesn’t really compete withHitler should have finished the job!”

Race has become a big issue in the UK. From the sanitised reporting of the riots which occurred last summer to yesterday’s reports of the England football team captain being questioned by the police, over a racist remark he is alleged to have made during a match.

John Terry during a match vs Everton at Stamfo...

John Terry faces charges of racism

How did people become so ultra sensitive? My reaction to this lady on the tram ( after seeing the video of the event) is simply that she lost it. So what. I would have thought that reasonable people, confronted with this situation, would simply shrug it off as ignorant rants.

Does anyone know what happened in this woman’s life to bring her to this position?

Were it not for the media, and the power of the internet, this would be nothing more than an incident on a tram. Not front page headline news and viral video on You Tube.

Political correctness in the UK has no limits.

The media exploit incidents like this simply for circulation and ratings.

A similar event happened in Paris to British fashion designer, John Galliano. What was simply an alcohol and drug fuelled rant in a bar, turned into a cause -celebre. And he WAS praising Hitler!

So, why do I defend the indefensible?

Fundamentally, it comes down to freedom of expression.

For me, the old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is my credo. Of course, it’s not strictly true that they don’t hurt; but, as a minority, you learn to develop a thick skin. That is, if you want to survive. I survived for almost 50 years. ( Full disclosure – eventually I got fed up and emigrated to Israel. Here, I can be vilified by the whole world!)

The only grey area I am willing to concede is to do with demands for violence or death of any group. 

In 1934, Hitler became Germany's president und...

Name not necessary

But, even there, I am not convinced that a mob screaming ” death to the Jews” really means that. People say history teaches otherwise, and give Germany in the 1930’s as an example.

That’s not really a good example. It wasn’t the words that caused the actions. It was a combination of historical anti-Semitism and economic difficulties. Hitler’s rhetoric, and the shouts of the mob were simply the catalyst.

Should there be limitations on the right of freedom of expression? 

I am not persuaded that the answer to that question is “Yes”!

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!


Update 29/5/2012

London Daily Mail Headline to story:

Tube racist whose champagne-fuelled tirade was viewed by thousands on YouTube is sentenced to five months in prison

  • Jacqueline Woodhouse, 42, abused passengers on the Central Line train and was given a 21 week jail sentence today



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