#FreeSpeech #America #Britain #Law
One of the greatest achievements of America’s Founders is their voting into law the First Amendment to the Constitution. For people outside the USA who do not know, this is the one that states " Congress shall make no Law…….. abridging Freedom of Speech." It has often been said by American commentators, that fat clown michael Moore prominent among them, that we here within the British Isles have such a protection.
First thing to remember is we do not have a nice, brief doculment outlinging our constitution, mainly because our constitution goes back to the reign of the Saxon king Alfred The Great (born 849, reigned 871 - 899) whose law, The Liber Judicialis, created the right to trial by jury and the presumption of innocence until proved guilty. The bill, a combination of Roman and Athenial law and Germanic tribal laws, created The Common Law which has become the basis for the legal codices of most modern nations.Out of Alfred's great law, the right to free speech within certain boundaries was taken as read.
Though many people in internet threads labour under the misapprehension that "free speech" means we can say anything we like, that has never been the case. Sedition - campaigning to undermine the government, has always been frowned on as has conspiracy to murder. Libel, telling lies about people or organisations with the intention of damaging their reputation is excluded from definitions of free speech, as is spreading malicious gossip to get people into trouble.
Britain's fragmented laws protecting free speech are mostly concerned with religious freedom, or freedom of worship. While the wise men who drafted the US Constitution foresaw a time when people would be well enough informed to discuss and argue against government policy, British reformers, over a hundred years earlier were more concerned with establishing the right to question the truth of transubstantiation, the miracle of the mass, (bread and wine turning into the flesh and blood ofChrist in the communicant's mouth) during the communion service. Crimes such as questioning this and blasphemies were classed as heresy, and if the outcome was the separation of the blashphemers head from his or her body the offender was lkuckt (look up Anne Askew if you don't believe me.)
I should perhaps mention that while the Anglican Church is often presumed to be protestant it is in fact historically The Reformed Catholic Church Of England and anyone questioning its dogma would find themselves in big trouble. Brave campaigners such as Freeborn John Lilburn and Richard Overton, foundrs of The Levellers, Thomas Helwys a founding theologian of the Baptist movement and George Fox, first leader of the Quaker movement put their lives at risk to argue for the freedom to think for themselves. Their campaign was not quite as simple as the American constitution's declaration that Congress could make no law restrictiong freedom of worship, The Church Of England, until the nineteenth centruy, had an important role in the administration of the nation's social structre.
Eventually however, by a somewhat circuitous route, British citizens, like their American counterparts enjoyed both free speech and the freedom to worship (or not worship) as they wished.
Unfortunately those precious freedoms are coming under legal threat from the ruling elite because the thin-lipped and -skinned politically correct power junkies who have infiltrated government and the public services are unwilling to concede that people have the right to question their non-racist, non - sexist, homophiliac, Islamophiliac, 'liberal' authoritarian orthodoxies .
As mentioned above we used to have, in the English speaking nations, a total assumption that the accused is innocent until found by fair trial to be guilty. Not any more. The politically correct farrago which now takes the place of that fundamental principle of justice is self-evident in the statement from the the UK's Crown Prosecution Service. which said:-
The definition of hate crime, recognised by the CPS and police, is “any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice” towards the personal characteristics mentioned above. Of course, different types of offences have differing consequences and, as online abuse by its nature cannot cause direct physical harm to a victim, it can never be considered or sentenced in the same way. But we know online hate crime has devastating effects.”
Many Judges, Attornies General, Lawyer and politicians in the USA, Canada and Australia have made similar statements. Note the phrase which goes against every former legal ordinance, every statute, every legal document laid before the elected representatives of our respective populations, which clearly states that the accused must be proven guilty; either by evidence laid before and scrutinised by a magistrate or judge and jury; or by an admission of guilt. The phrase “by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice” turns centuries of legal precedent upon its head” means that the accuser has already been found guilty; by either ‘his accuser’, or ‘any other person’.This is a return to the justice of medieval witch trials. The medieval era was a turbulent time and King Alfred's good intentions were not always honoured. At various times some of the dodgy types who managed to usurp our country's throne chose to ride roughshod over legal precedent, and for several hundred years after the conquest, while "innocent until proven guilty," was honoured, a judicial system that accepted "the word of a gentleman" as sufficient evidence on which to hang someone, (because gentlemen would never lie, would they?)
The vicious authoritarian streak which many commentaors, bloggers and freethinkers have considered one of least pleasant traits of the plague of politically correct liberalism is coming out ever more; government has become so big and unweildy that increasingly unelected bureaucrats are ignoring limitations on the scope of their power; under their dictatorial rule the new legal principle, guilty of being accused may soon have The Politically Correct Thought Police coming for me, or you, or the girl who likes to wear a showy, bejewelled gold cross around her neck (because it might offend Muslims,) the old Jewish guy who recites passeges from Leviticus as he shuffles around the streets (homophobic), the drunks who sing bawdy songs on the late night bus (sexist) and that bloke who lives down at the bend in the road and who on Sunday mornings gets on a soapbox in the park and rants about the corruption in government.