As usual I find myself in a state of confusion over the law and its ramifications, particularly the law regarding the use of racial epithets. For example, if I call a Negro ‘a black bastard’ am I likely to be charged with using the word ‘black’, a specific and impeccably accurate adjective; or for saying ‘bastard’, a term of insult and abuse? I can see no harm in the former which is merely descriptive but, if said loudly in a public place, even in this day and age, such a mild epithet might cause someone somewhere to be offended. (Of course, if in fact it does turn out that the target of my language actually is a bastard, then how does the law stand then? All I have done is tell the truth!)
I gather also from the media that a young man has been sentenced to 56 days in jail for using racial abuse in a series of ‘tweets’. In other words, they were not said face-to-face and therefore were unlikely to cause a breach of the peace, although given the state of British streets on a Friday and Saturday night another breach of the peace is unlikely to register on the police radar! I thought Kenneth Clarke had laid down that prison sentences were to be confined to hardened criminals only, so why a twit of a ‘tweeter’ should end up being housed and fed at my expense I do not know, particularly when the number of burglars getting off scot free so-called ‘Community Service Orders’ is steadily rising.
Finally, we have the brave Guardian publishing the recorded comments of a copper allegedly using ‘racist language’ to a young man he was arresting. This was reported at the time and all the facts were studied by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Independent Police Complaints Authority who decided that no prosecution was warranted. Now, however, The Guardian is bellowing from the rooftops and every black loudmouth in the land is on TV demanding a trial. If it turns out that one or both of the authorities change their minds, not on the grounds that fresh evidence has arisen but because they are under public pressure, how can a judge do anything other than throw the case out? Unless of course, the authorities, to use the current jargon, ‘name and shame’ – and fire – the officials within their bounds who made the mistake. Do not hold your breath!