The Sentencing Council for England and Wales has proposed stringent new guidelines for those who cause “racial hatred.”
“Part 3 of the Public Order Act prohibits activities intended or likely to stir up racial hatred.” according to the draft of changes. “All offences carry a 7 year statutory maximum sentence.”
The guidelines are not specifically geared towards protecting Islam, but there will likely be few white Protestants gaining protection under the new proposal.
“[A]n offence may involve low level threats of violence that do not cause a victim a high degree of fear, but a high level of racial aggravation may be present which is deeply upsetting for the victim,” the report says.
The Orwellian proposal lacks a necessary element of intent, meaning that the offender’s conduct need not be intentional, but only “likely” to cause racial hatred, which is a purely subjective assessment.
The law applies when “racial or religious aggravation was the predominant motivation for the offence, the offender was a member of, or was associated with, a group promoting hostility based on race or religion, aggravated nature of the offence caused severe distress to the victim or the victim’s family, or the aggravated nature of the offence caused serious fear and distress throughout local community or more widely.”
“The essence of each offence is the intention to stir up hatred, the proposal says. “However, the offences contain an important distinction in that the racial hatred offences can include use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, while the offences relating to hatred against persons on religious grounds provide for threatening words or behaviour only, and do not extend to activity which is abusive or insulting.”
Even if the offender does not successfully “stir up hatred,” he or she can still be prosecuted for saying mean things.
There are several “aggravating factors” which are likely to lengthen the sentence of an offender, including “timing of incident – particularly sensitive social climate,” “vulnerable/impressionable audience,” and “use of multiple social media platforms to reach a wider audience.”
The overarching law is the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). The PSED creates a “legal duty which requires public authorities to have ‘due regard’ to three “needs” or ‘limbs’ when considering a new policy or operational proposal.”
The three needs are:
- the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other prohibited conduct
- the need to advance equality of opportunity between those who share a “protected characteristic” and those who do not
- the need to foster good relations between those who share a “protected characteristic” and those who do not
The new proposal is the nail in the coffin for freedom of expression in the U.K. The authorities are broadening the scope with which they can use force against those who criticize a religious group in public or on social media.
There is a valuable lesson for Americans in the U.K.’s proposal: “Hate speech” codes which are creeping into American society are a slippery slope, and are sure to erode our First Amendment rights.
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