Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 21/04/18

A (C)rap Judgement

I had honestly thought that we had left behind the extended silly season of some five to ten years ago which saw massive over-reach by police, prosecutors and the more wacko members of the minor judiciary when it came to the things people wrote and posted online.

Those were the days when, for example, people were given prison sentences of four years for setting up Facebook pages calling for riots which never actually took place (nor were likely to); when a young man was locked up for three months for reposting someone else's bad-taste joke on the same 'social media platform'; and when others were put on trial for their liberty for posting things on Twitter to which someone, somewhere in a position of power objected.

I was wrong, hopelessly wrong. I can only apologise for my na´vety in thinking that the three categories of State-controlled ninnies I referred to in the first paragraph would easily relinquish their capacity to create new outrages against freedom of expression.

So, I give you Exhibit A:

"Woman who posted rap lyrics as tribute on Instagram guilty of sending offensive message"

Let's drive a little further into this thicket of judicial thickery:

Trigger Warning, as I believe they say on all the very best faux-liberal/progressive websites nowadays: I am now going to type the word which made Constable Walker blench. Read on at your own risk; if you don't, you're a pussy:

(Are we nearly there yet?)


Back from your lattes now, dahlings? OK, I'll press on.

So, to sum up: someone quoting someone else's words, which have appeared online in various places without any action being taken against either those posting them or their author, is landed with a criminal record (with all that that implies for her future prospects in a society as famously tolerant as ours) and having her name dragged through the media because someone claimed to be 'offended' by them. That 'someone' being anonymous, a copper was brought in to be officially offended by proxy, whilst claiming to be outraged on behalf of all of us (a word to Constable Walker: don't ever presume to speak for anyone but yourself, dearie; especially under oath). Your feelings, your emotional spasms, your totally and irretrievably subjective view (or anyone else's) should never be admissible as evidence in a court of law in cases such as this.

That it could be thus is entirely down to the 2003 Communications Act - one of those pieces of parliamentary group-think which marked the high-sewage-mark of New Labour's illiberalism - and in particular the by-now notorious Section 127 thereof, which enables utterly subjective matters to be adduced in evidence. The long tail of Blairism continues to flail.

Some basic principles need to be re-stated here because it seems, sadly, to be necessary once again:

Given that Englishandwelsh law is based on precedent, does that now mean that any use of 'the n-word' (however spelled) is liable to criminal sanction? If so, can someone warn the managers of all branches of all bookshops and the people who run whatever public libraries which may be left that they now have to take off their shelves all copies of The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, all copies of Gone With The Wind, indeed all copies of any work of fiction set south of the Manson-Nixon Line, just in case ScousePlod comes a-callin'?

Probably not. Such laws are never aimed at shackling the reading classes; they're only intended to hammer people such as teenage girls from Croxteth or those of other characteristics deemed 'undesirable' by our lords and masters.

This case has given us an essential reminder that ninnyism in the pursuit of illiberalism and conformity has not gone away, and that great vigilance is still needed.