Orwell's 2012: London Olympics Fans Arrested for 'Verbal Abuse'

Benedict By Benedict, 3rd Aug 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Politics

Notwithstanding the exaggeration of comparing 21st century Britain to George Orwell's '1984', the growth of 'speech' crimes in the last decade is bordering on the insane. Merely offending someone nowadays seems sufficient cause for the 'perpetrator' being criminally tried and convicted. Not only are such measures becoming draconian, they are also arbitrary and depend on highly subjective and hypocritical conceptions of offence and 'abuse'.

Over the Top?

A quick glance at the following story about the family members of an Australian Olympian being mocked is a cause for grave concern:

"Fairfax has been told that the vision Nine captured while trying to interview Karen and Ken shows the couple being repeatedly mocked because Meares and McCulloch only managed third in an event they ruled as world champions for three consecutive years (Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/olympics/cycling-london-2012/aussie-cyclists-parents-verbally-abused-by-brits-20120803-23kut.html#ixzz22Vf700fU).

Inasmuch as the alleged behaviour represents childish bullying and callousness, especially when athletes have achieved a bronze medal at the Olympics, to arrest those involved is excessive. Understandably, facts may later emerge in cases such as these that suggest the activity was far more sinister than it first appears. Even so, my overall point is valid. People are being arrested across the UK for exchanges where the words said are just as innocuous as the ones seemingly used to taunt in this particular case. I say innocuous not because the words are either fair or warranted but because they are just not worthy of arresting someone.

If we really wanted to criminalise such antics, surely British police would be arresting two million people a week! I mean, does anything think this kind of behaviour isn't equalled or often surpassed by tens of thousands of late-night weekend revellers in Soho alone?

Arbitrary Distinctions

Being, say, black or otherwise coloured is not in and of itself the social impediment it used to be. Racism, though it still exists, is a shadow of its former self, at least in the Western world. Whilst that does not change the offensiveness of words such as 'nigger', it puts the insult into some much needed perspective. Most people do not harbour racial prejudices. Yet race is often sequestered into a world of its own, whereby anything with racial connotations, whether a perceived insult or action, is 1,000 times more serious and criticism-worthy than other things just as offensive and derogatory. In fact, as the case of Liam Stacey, jailed for 56 days for a horrendous Tweet about heart attack-suffering black football player Fabrice Muamba proves, racial taunting is now often criminalised. But other forms of equally tasteless bullying is (generally) not.

Being overweight, for example, despite its frequent occurrence in today's society, is a condition where abuse and taunts can often undermine one's self-esteem and mental well-being - to the point of self-harm and suicide. This is not to say this does not happen to victims of racial, religious or other commonly prosecuted forms of verbal abuse. Yet the general acceptance of divergent cultural and demographic groups has not flowed to those people society deems unattractive or ugly. It is a telling omission in our community which continues to undermine the right of all people to levels of respect and non-interference.

Sexism against women is another area which is heavily 'policed' by the public. Nonetheless, where is the commensurate attention paid to issues affecting men, just as homelessness, suicide (young men suicide at four times the rate of their female counterparts), 'male' cancers (prostate, testicular) or domestic violence (20% of victims are not female)?

Free Speech, Not Political Correctness

Consider the relationship between free speech and political correctness as like a Venn diagram - sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don't. When they don't coincide, criminalisation only narrows the ability for rightful discussion and critical thought.


Free Speech, Nanny State, Police State, Political Correctness

Meet the author

author avatar Benedict
I'm an unconventional young man with a predilection for saying and doing what I feel.

I seek adventure and abhor most forms of political correctness.

I crave travel, debate politics and love life.

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author avatar Robb714
23rd Oct 2012 (#)

Nice article B, if I lived in England, I would spend all my time in jail because I just love my freedom of speech way to much. It's the biggest part of what makes the US so exceptional and we better not forget it.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
26th Oct 2012 (#)

For me the joke is always on the perpetrator. I feel sorry for those who have to get high by insulting or looking down on others. Thanks for a frank share, Benedict - siva

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