Andrew Neill on the implications for Free Speech of Scotland's Hate Crime act

I have always supported free speech within the law, and believed that the law should allow the maximum practical degree of free speech. 

I was against the "No platform" policy when I was at University - attempts by the left to suppress free speech on campus are not new - and indeed worked with the then MP for Manchester Wythenshawe, Fred Sylvester, who proposed a bill to protect free speech in Universities and institutions of Higher and Further education not dissimilar to the rules the present government is putting in place.

I supported the successful "Feel Free to insult me" campaign to remove from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, words which made it illegal to insult anybody.

I'm not an absolutist on this - words have consequences, so it is right that we have laws concerning libel and slander, and it that incitement to commit crimes, particularly acts of violence or hatred, are and should be illegal. And obviously, although I will often allow comments to be posted here on this blog which I disagree with, I don't accept comments which I consider abusive or offensive.

But laws need to be drawn up carefully to respect the balance between the need to protect the vulnerable from incitement to hatred and the need to allow freedom of expression.

A lot of people are concerned about whether the Hate Speech legislation which comes into effect in Scotland on Monday achieves that balance.

Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neill has written an article on the subject. This is what he had to say:



Anonymous said…
Chris Whiteside said…
If you are commenting on behalf of The Kentucky Association of Professional African American Women ( I would be fascinated to know their take on this.

If not perhaps you would please be kind enough to explain what that word or acronym means.

Popular posts from this blog

Nick Herbert on his visit to flood hit areas of Cumbria

Quotes of the day 19th August 2020

Quote of the day 24th July 2020