Free Minds & Free Markets

Britain Turns Offensive Speech Into a Police Matter: New at Reason

The nation that gave the world John Milton and his cry for the “liberty to utter” is now at the forefront of shutting speech down.

|||Flynt/ Flynt/Dreamstime.comWhich country's police force just called on its citizens to report offensive speech? Not libelous speech or death-threat speech, just plain old insulting speech. Speech that is merely hurtful or hateful. Which nation's cops instructed the citizenry to snitch on haters?

North Korea? China? Maybe Turkey?

It was Britain. Yes, Britain has become a nation in which offensive speech can become a police matter. Where, in April this year, a 19-year-old woman was convicted of sending a "grossly offensive" message after she posted rap lyrics that included the N-word on her Instagram page. Where, also in April, a Scottish shitposter was found guilty of a hate crime for teaching a pug to do a Nazi salute and posting the footage on YouTube. Where in recent years individuals have been arrested and in some cases imprisoned for making racist comments or just cracking tasteless jokes on Twitter.

This birthplace of John Stuart Mill, this nation that gave the world John Milton and his Areopagitica, still one of the greatest cries for the "liberty to utter," is now at the forefront of shutting speech down, writes Brendan O'Neill in his latest piece for Reason.

Photo Credit: Flynt/


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