A 2009 poll found that more than a third of British teenagers couldn’t identify some of Winston Churchill’s most famous words. Now it turns out that this deficit just might save them from jail.
In a shocking application of hate-speech law, Paul Weston (shown), co-founder and leader of the Liberty GB party and candidate for member of the European Parliament, was arrested on Saturday and now faces a possible two years in prison. His crime?
He quoted one of the 20th century’s most famous Englishmen, that WWII hero Churchill.
As Liberty GB reported at its website:
Mr Weston, a candidate in the 22 May European Elections in the South East, was arrested on 26 April in front of Winchester Guildhall for quoting in public a passage critical of Islam written by Winston Churchill, using a megaphone.
He spent several hours in a cell at Winchester Police Station, after which the original charge of breaching a Section 27 Dispersal Notice was dropped and Mr Weston was "re-arrested" for a Racially Aggravated Crime, under Section 4 of the Public Order Act, which carries a potential prison sentence of 2 years.
He was then fingerprinted and obliged to submit to DNA sampling, following which he was bailed with a return date to Winchester Police on May 24th.
Had the woman who complained to the police made an official statement, Mr Weston would not have been released last night, but fortunately for him she did not.
The case is now being presented to the Crown Prosecution Service. If the CPS decides to prosecute, then Mr Weston will be arrested, awaiting trial, when he presents himself to the police on May 24th.
The “offending” words were taken from Churchill’s book The River War, penned in 1899 while he served as a British army officer in Sudan. It is a passage oft-quoted on the Internet:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property — either as a child, a wife, or a concubine — must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.
Yet publicly voicing such sentiments in Britain is now often viewed as “racial or religious harassment.” What this means is that were Churchill alive today he could, conceivably, be arrested by the U.K. government simply for espousing his beliefs.
Some may assume Churchill’s fame would save him, but it was no shield for Paul Weston. Nor has it helped talk-show host Michael Savage, the most well-known American victim of British hate-speech law. In 2009, Dr. Savage was placed on a list of people banned from entering the U.K. along with hardened criminals and terrorists. The British government extended this ban in 2011, saying the commentator had not “provided any acceptable evidence to show his repudiation of those unacceptable behaviours.” Note that these “behaviours” amounted to simply voicing opinion.
As for opinion, Liberty GB finds itself an outlier in U.K. politics, describing its ideology as overriding “the conventional dichotomy (and terminology) of Left and Right,” as it rejects “the notion of Britain as a global no-man's land upon which any of the world's teeming millions may lay claim” and espouses “Christian ethics and Western civilization” but also is progressive “in areas such as women's equality and animal welfare.”
But it’s questioning how wide-scale Muslim immigration affects English welfare that can really get you in trouble in today’s U.K. As to this, columnist Mark Steyn recently wrote, recalling how, a decade earlier, he began a piece “with a reader's recollection of the first weeks of the Salman Rushdie fatwa” (hat tip: American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson):
A couple of years back, I mentioned the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and received a flurry of lively e-mails. It was Valentine's Day 1989, you'll recall, when the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his extraterritorial summary judgment on a British subject, and shortly thereafter large numbers of British Muslims were marching through English cities openly calling for Rushdie to be killed.
A reader in Bradford recalled asking a West Yorkshire officer on the street that day why the various "Muslim community leaders" weren't being arrested for incitement to murder. The officer said they'd been told to "play it cool". The calls for blood got more raucous. My correspondent asked his question again. The policeman told him to "F--- off, or I'll arrest you."
In his recent piece, Steyn added:
And so it has gone, ever more openly, across the ensuing quarter-century. Point out problematic aspects of Islam, and the British state's response is "F--- off, or I'll arrest you." Her Majesty's Constabulary do not yet police their charges quite as strictly as the Saudi mutaween, but they're getting there: The day after Drummer Lee Rigby was hacked to death in broad daylight on the streets of London, a march in support of the "Help for Heroes" military charity led to a five-hour standoff between marchers and police, ending with the arrest of Lee Cousins for "mocking the Islamic prayer ritual" by getting down on his hands and knees outside the pub. He was fined 600 pounds.
When was the last time someone was fined 600 quid for mocking any bit of Christian ritual?
And British citizens are noticing this double standard, though not many dare voice opposition too publicly. As a poster going by the name “John” wrote under the Liberty GB article about Weston’s arrest:
How many times did the racist who butchered Lee Rigby violate these [hate-speech] laws without fear of arrest? He was even involved in a scuffle with the police. People who pretend these "efforts" [at enforcement] are neutral are racist liars. These are in fact classic laws of racist colonialism, where the natives are forbidden to criticize the occupying power.
Even the supposed anonymity of the Internet may not offer protection for long, however. Swedes who criticized immigration on the Web were recently tracked down via their IP addresses and persecuted, while the Swedish government has just enacted a new law making it easier to prosecute “net haters.” And now two Democrat legislators in the United States have proposed the “Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014,” which would empower the federal government to scour the Internet for “hate speech.”
Photo: Paul Weston being arrested