Free speech is suffering as a result of so-called hate laws, critics have said, in the wake of bizarre action against the Home Secretary.
Amber Rudd was reported to the police for her speech at last year’s Conservative Party conference. The authorities said no offence was committed, but were required to log it as a “non-crime hate incident”.
Critics, including two national newspapers, poured scorn on the events – but warned they could be evidence of deep-rooted problems with laws on ‘hate’.
Rudd was reported to the police over comments she made about large companies and the nationalities of their employees.
Professor Joshua Silver, of the University of Oxford, reportedly said Rudd was using hate speech to push forward political aims.
West Midlands Police rejected the complaint. However, the BBC reported that national guidelines require the force to record the situation as a “non-crime hate incident”.
…the tyranny of elite liberal thinking
The Daily Telegraph
These are said to state that when anyone reports a “hate incident”, “it must be recorded regardless of whether or not they are the victim, and irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element”.
Senior Conservative MP Tim Loughton said Prof Silver should face questions about a “rather chilling attempt to undermine free speech” and wasting police time.
The Daily Telegraph warned that the episode “reveals the tyranny of elite liberal thinking which labels anything that contradicts political correctness as wicked and wrong – perhaps actionable”.
The newspaper said it hoped the action would lead the Home Secretary to “see the error of her department’s approach towards ‘hate’”.
“Hate crime rules risk – as Mr Silver showed us – becoming a tool for censorship, a way of threatening people with the law simply for their opinions. That cannot be tolerated”, it concluded.
The Daily Mail called for an end to the hate incident rules and said the Home Secretary should “tackle the political correctness which has warped the police’s priorities”.
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs, Simon Calvert, drew attention to the wider questions around ‘hate incidents’.
“Hate incidents are concerning because they require no objective element: no actual crime and no actual evidence of ‘hate’.
“The report can be entirely false and politically motivated.
“Yet the number of ‘incidents’ reported are used to govern law enforcement priorities at the national and local level.”
The Civitas think-tank said in 2010 that Christians were being unfairly targeted for hate crime prosecutions – and highlighted the Institute case of Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang.
The couple were prosecuted for a hate crime after they engaged in a breakfast debate about Islam. They faced a criminal trial, but were declared innocent.