Sod off and stop reading my blog. Seriously SOD OFF. Offended? It doesn’t really matter if you are, because I am free to express myself however I see fit as long as it does not intimidate, threaten or harass (for example starting a hate campaign, or victimising an individual). At the moment however, if you felt insulted by me telling you to ‘sod off’ then I would be breaking the law. Specifically, I would be breaking Section 5 of the Public Order Act (1986) which outlaws ‘insulting’ words and behaviour.
This is why I strongly welcome this government’s consultation to remove the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5. The current law can be abused to criminalise almost any words or actions. This law, as it stands, has been used against Christian streetpreachers who have condemned homosexuality, without them acting in an aggressive or threatening way. What they preach is insulting, but it should not be illegal. Equally it has been used against LGBT activists who have ‘insulted’ religious groups. This position is madness. Freedom of speech is a benchmark of a civilised society. We have to protect it, but we also understand its limitations.
It is right and proper that ‘threatening’ behaviour should be outlawed. We all hold the right to live without fear or intimidation. This has to be legally separated however from being ‘insulted’. On this occasion I am in the strange situation of backing the Christian Institute over the LGBT charity Stonewall.
I am happy to insult and indeed be insulted. So, if you are still reading this, Sod off!