The Corner

Rowan Atkinson: Champion of British Free Speech

Good for you, Rowan Atkinson, long-time defender of British free speech. Per the Telegraph:

The Blackadder and Mr Bean star attacked the “creeping culture of censoriousness” which has resulted in the arrest of a Christian preacher, a critic of Scientology and even a student making a joke, it was reported.

He criticised the “new intolerance” as he called for part of it the Public Order Act to be repealed, saying it was having a “chilling effect on free expression and free protest”.

Mr Atkinson said: “The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult.”

Mr Atkinson said he hoped the repeal of Section 5 would pave the way for a move to “rewind the culture of censoriousness” and take on the “outrage industry – self-appointed arbiters of the public good encouraging outrage to which the police feel under terrible pressure to react”.

Speaking at the Westminster launch of the campaign, he added: “The law should not be aiding and abetting the new intolerance.”

He was joined by Lord Dear, former chief constable of West Midlands Police, and former shadow home secretary David Davis.

Mr Davis said: “The simple truth is that in a free society, there is no right not to be offended. For centuries, freedom of speech has been a vital part of British life, and repealing this law will reinstate that right.”

For those interested in a primer on the laws that now stand in the way of British free speech, I wrote up the issue earlier this year.

Recommended

The Latest