BNP acquittals "a partial victory for free speech", says free market and civil liberties think tank

As I noted yesterday on Dissecting Leftism, the prosecution of two British National Party men for hate speech has failed. The jury acquitted them on some charges and failed to agree on others. It seems that you may now say critical things about Islam in private conversations in Britain. It's not much and even that limited freedom is still under attack: The British government says it is going to try the men again on the charges that the jury could not agree about. The following press release therefore has my support:

"The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today welcomes the partial acquittal of BNP Leader Nick Griffin and his colleague Mark Collett. Both men had been charged with political offences. Their probable retrial on those charges where the Jury could not agree constrains the Libertarian Alliance from saying all that it otherwise might. But their acquittal on some of the charges is unreservedly welcomed.

Moving away from matters subject to the sub iudice rule, the Libertarian Alliance calls on the British Government to repeal all laws against racial hatred and racial discrimination. Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, comments: "The rights to freedom of speech and association are fundamental to a free society. So far as these rights are diminished, that society becomes less free. I was born in a country where these rights had been enjoyed for centuries. I have reached middle age in a politically correct police state where the Government is now trying to silence its opponents through the courts. Particularly under Tony Blair, this country has become a more genteel version of Zimbabwe.

"Doubtless, there are people who take offence at the expression of certain views on race and immigration. But free speech that does not include the right to give offence is not free speech. It is the political equivalent of decaffeinated coffee.

"If people are upset by what they read or hear, let them ignore it or argue against it. There is no place in these debates for the Thought Police.

" The Libertarian Alliance believes:

* That the Race Relations Act 1976 should be repealed;
* That the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 should be repealed;
* That, pending repeal, the Race Regulations subsequent to these Acts should be withdrawn;
* That those sections of the Public Order Act 1986 dealing with speech and publication should be repealed;
* That those sections of the Criminal Justice Act 1998 dealing with "racial aggravation" of offences should be repealed;
* That the Commission for Racial Equality and all similar organisations should be abolished, and their records burned;
* That all those convicted of thought crimes under the above laws should be pardoned and, where appropriate, compensated;
* That the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill now before Parliament should be abandoned;
* That the Human Rights Act 1998 should be amended to protect the right of people to say anything they like about public issues, and to associate or not associate as they please.

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