The Judge RANTS!
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:
Let's drive a little further into this thicket of judicial thickery:
- A 13-year-old boy is killed when he is knocked off his bike. The Clown Persecution Service declines to prosecute anyone in connection with the boy's death.
- In tribute, someone posts the lyrics of a rap track to her own Instagram account.
- Someone (it is not vouchsafed from the reports - either here or on the State broadcaster's website - who) snitches to Merseyplod, which hands it on to an officer based in the farce's 'hate crime unit'.
- The officer in question is a convenient black female, who claims equally conveniently in court that she found the lyrics "offensive and upsetting". Constable Dominique Walker (for it is she) even goes so far as to insist that the defending counsel not use the word she supposedly finds so offensive in court.
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.
- Consider: never has 'the n-word' been used so often and by so many (of all colours) as in the past thirty years, thanks to the rise of rap culture. I doubt if the term (under any spelling you care to advance) was ever used as much across the Diyip Saaf during the whole of the slavery and Jim Crow eras.
- The lyrics of the Snap Dogg track in question (and we're not told which track it was, either) - whatever one may think about their 'offensiveness' or otherwise - are quite clearly widely available online. So why was Chelsea Russell the only one nabbed for posting them?
- If you go to Snap Dogg's Twitter feed you find him using the word constantly, as is his inalienable right to do (but then, he's in the US where they have something called the First Amendment; all we have is merely the 'right' to hope that those who wield power will somehow restrain themselves from being total pricks - a forlorn expectation, as we can see all too often). Does the Merseyside Constabulary intend making an extradition request to bring this uppity 'n-word' to book for his 'hate crime'? Hmm, thought not.
- In any case, spelling the word with an ending in -a rather than -er (as Snap Dogg himself and Russell and the friend from whose own Instagram account she had copied the lyrics did) places it entirely in context with its cultural usage.
- Another plod clutching his pearls in court, one Constable Jones, states that 'the n-word' was always 'racist'. What? Even if the person using the word is an 'n-word'? And even if the person who has been dragged into the dock is a fan of his music?
- The presiding carpet-head for this case is one of those judicial half-breeds nowadays called 'District Judges', but who used to be called 'Stipendiary Magistrates'. The main qualification for being a DJ is, it seems now as it did back in 2011, the ability to sound footling, pompous and self-righteous without giving a damn that it makes you look like a total twonk. The halfbreed in question this time is called Jack McGarva, who bloviates in suitable style that there was "...no place in society for language like that. The lyrics [...] are grossly offensive". There is clearly no place either for consideration of such complex notions as 'context' in his society, let alone so subtle a concept as 'common sense'. He then hands Russell a period of eight weeks under house semi-arrest, monitored by one of those electronic shackles which - if she tends to wear skirts rather than trousers - will be highly visible to anyone who sees her. Official spite and public humiliation all in the one package. Another Triumph For Englishandwelsh Justice!
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:
- NO-ONE HAS THE RIGHT NEVER TO BE OFFENDED
- NO-ONE SHOULD EXPECT OR DEMAND THAT THE STATE PROTECT THEM FROM BEING OFFENDED
- NO-ONE SHOULD SUFFER CRIMINAL SANCTION FOR ANYTHING THEY HAVE SAID OR WRITTEN UNLESS THERE IS A CLEAR INTENT TO INCITE CRIMINAL ACTIVITY IN OTHERS BY SO DOING
- NO-ONE SHOULD SUFFER PUNISHMENT THROUGH THE COURTS ON THE BASIS OF ANYONE'S SUBJECTIVE FEELINGS (WHICH THEY COULD BE MAKING UP ANYWAY)
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.