Man fined 2,000 pounds for making joke in the UK in a show trial; freedom of speech under assault like never before, by Brendan O’Neill. Footballer Paul Gascoigne made the following joke at a show about a black security guard assigned to protect him during An Evening With Gazza: Gazza asked the black security guard
Can you smile please, because I can’t see you?
For this he was fined 2,000 pounds because it was considered “humiliating”, “threatening” and “abusive.” Comments Brendan O’Neill:
[A] court case? A criminal record? A fine? For cracking a joke? The precedent set by this case is terrifying.
The horrendous nature of the Gazza case … is summed up in the judge’s arrogant comments. In his slamming of Gazza, District Judge Graham Wilkinson decreed ‘it is not acceptable to laugh words like this off as some form of joke’. Wait, what? Judges, agents of the state, now get to decide what people may laugh at? To determine what sort of jokes it’s acceptable to tell? … A country in which a judge can rule that certain forms of humour are ‘not acceptable’, and punish you for dabbling in them, is not a free country.
Wilkinson went on to tell Gazza: ‘We live in the 21st century — grow up with it or keep your mouth closed.’ This captures the tyrannical essence of the state’s clampdown on hate speech. What is being said here is that if you have not fully imbibed today’s mainstream moral outlook — in this case that it’s bad to tell racial jokes, in other cases that you shouldn’t mock Islam, make offensive gags on Twitter, or even engage in ‘uninvited verbal contact’ with a woman — then you should not speak publicly. You should STFU, keep your warped ideas and humour and morality to yourself, thanks. And if you don’t, then expect a knock on the door from the cops, a fine, and maybe jail.
This is profoundly illiberal. Under the cover of tackling ‘hate speech’, everything from people’s humour to their moral attitudes to our everyday conversation is being intensively policed and sometimes punished. The seemingly PC war on racist, sexist and Islamophobic language has opened the door to state monitoring of thought, speech and behaviour.
Perhaps the worst thing said by Wilkinson as he passed judgement on Gazza was this: ‘A message needs to be sent that in the 21st century… such words will not be tolerated.’ So was this a show trial? A man was dragged to court to ‘send a message’ to society at large?
Did the Soviets win the cold war?