Apparently we are not to be prosecuted for what we say over the dinner table:
Offensive dinner table comments made in private will not be classed as hate crimes, with law reform chiefs abandoning plans to extend the offence into homes.
The Law Commission had proposed that the crime of stirring up division over race, religion or sexual orientation should extend to private dwellings. That would have meant controversial dinner table conversations could have led to the hosts or guests facing a police probe and a potential prison sentence.
However, the commissioners have now decided against change and are looking at “alternative ways” in which the law might be reformed which would not criminalise private comments in a person’s home.
The correct reform is to abolish the very idea of a hate crime in the first place.
There was, for example, the case of a young gay man who was tied to the bumper of a pick up truck by some redneck yahoos and dragged to his death over some miles of rough roadway. There was considerable debate over whether this should be prosecuted as a hate crime or not.
It was clearly murder and at the time the death penalty – in that state at least – still existed. Saying that they did it because of hate doesn’t change the fact that they’d, righteously, spend some decades in solitary before quivering under the approaching needle.
It’s like wondering whether Tim McVeigh should have been prosecuted as a terrorist or just as a murderer. Why bother? The end result is going to be the same.
This applies to everything else that gets classified, currently, as a hate crime. We already have perfectly good laws to deal with anything that actually causes a problem. Everything from behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace up to incitement to riot and beyond. We don’t in fact need anything other than that.
Hate crime as an idea leading to the following sort of nonsense:
Football is to stage its most united stand against social media trolls after emergency crisis talks between powerbrokers over a tidal wave of online abuse.
The Premier League, English Football League and the Football Association are understood to be throwing their weight behind a call to action over online hate against players and match officials.
An open letter from the governing bodies, as well as Kick It Out and the Professional Footballers’ Association, is being issued after a week in which men and women players, as well as referees, were targeted.
The message will intensify pressure on Government to deliver on its recent pledge to introduce new powers to tackle the upsurge in online abuse and racism.
We already have perfectly good ways of dealing with all of that. The private companies can ban whoever they like for whatever. If they decide they don;t want to do so then we also have the ability not to use their services. That back and forth between what attracts and repels us leads to the amount of such things that we, societally – and in revealed preferences, not expressed – desire.
Where matters become illegal under extant law – from behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace up to incitement to riot and beyond – we don’t in fact need anything other than that.
Or, as we might put it, when in buggery did we decide to use the law to protect the fragile egos of football players? Let alone anyone having the temerity to try to regulate what we can say over the dinner table?