Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Insulting the Scientologists

Baron Bodissey says,“This is just barmy.”

That’s the voice of traditional British common sense. This story is definitely barmy, but we live in barmy times.

Muslims are normally the only ones who get insulted and then call on British law enforcement to help silence their critics. But this time it’s a different fringe cult that has managed to suppress the free speech of ordinary people.

According to The Telegraph:

Church of Scientology: Boy faces court for ‘cult not religion’ placard

A teenage boy is facing a possible criminal prosecution for holding a sign describing the Church of Scientology as a “cult”, police said on Tuesday.

The boy, who is described only as a minor, was taking part in a demonstration outside the church’s central London headquarters on May 10 when City of London Police officers ordered him to remove the placard.

It read: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.”

When he refused, he was issued with a form of summons for an alleged breach of public order. Police plan to pass a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether charges can be brought.

Since the lad’s sign was simply stating his opinion, one would think that his protest would be covered by the right to free speech under English Common Law.

But anyone who thinks that is foolishly naïve. By statute, speech may be suppressed if it is “insulting”:

A spokesman for the force said the youth had been “reported” under section five of the Public Order Act, which contains measures against displaying signs considered to be “threatening, abusive or insulting”.

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