Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Feel free to insult me

On the weekend I watched this very interesting statement by Rowan Atkinson on free speech.  A little background is in order.  A campaign has been launched in the UK to reform Section 5 of the Public Order Act to remove the word "insulting".  In section 5, a person can be arrested for the use of words, behaviour or signs that are "threatening, abusive or insulting" near a person likely to be offended by them.  Those supporting the change believe the legislation unduly limits free speech and expression. 

In Australia, we have legislation being suggested by the Gillard government that would include even political opinion as grounds for offending someone else. It's not a straight-forward issue (I'm not against all forms of censorship) but I do agree with Atkinson's view that what we need for a healthy society is more speech, debate and dialogue, not less.

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