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December 13, 2005

Lynette Burrows

This Lynette Burrows thing, where she got reported for a "homophobic incident" over comments on a radio show.

Terry Cooper emails in with a lovely idea. Report the complainant for the crime of wasting police time.

This might cause endless iterations of the same charge of course but an idea that would certainly be fun, eh?

Mark Steyn is also fun about this this morning.

December 13, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink

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Comments

But it's 'policy for community safety units to investigate homophobic, racist and domestic incidents because these are "priority crimes"'
On the other hand, wasting police time is probably a "high-priority crime".
Just so long as they don't have to tackle any actual criminals...

Posted by: neil | Dec 13, 2005 6:28:52 AM

Tim, Mark Steyn is never "fun". He's always an idiot but that's not the same thing.

In any case, this doesn't seem particularly stupid to me. We had a riot in Birmingham not so long ago which was largely started by people saying on a radio show that Asians were child abusers. There is a law on incitement for exactly that reason; I seem to remember that we had mobs outside people's houses not so long ago on paedophilia scares, so the throwing around of frivolous paedophilia accusations is entirely the sort of thing that the law ought to take an interest in. As it happens, the law on incitement to hatred doesn't cover the gays as comprehensively as it covers racial groups, but you can hardly blame a radio listener for not knowing that.

Since there was no prosecution or even threat thereof (presumably because the officer whose job it was decided that she hadn't really accused specific people of paedophilia in a way that might have got them a mob outside their house), all that has happened here is that a rather nasty and rude woman has been informed that it isn't really on to claim that gay men aren't safe with children. She'd be told the same if she said it to their faces so why should Radio 4 be any different?

This crap about "tackling real crimes" is even more asinine, btw. What has happened here is that the police have taken a phone call from a member of the public, and then made a courtesy phone call to the person accused. It is part of the police's job to take phone calls from the public, and a good thing rather than a bad thing to make courtesy phone calls. This ought to be clear to everyone except the kind of Daily Mail reading mugwump who believes that the only thing police should ever do is walk round in circles.

Tim adds: With you all the way up to the accusation that I read the Daily Mail. That really is a low blow.

Posted by: dsquared | Dec 13, 2005 7:42:28 AM

I withdraw and apologise for that remark; although many TW commenters do believe that walking in circles (sorry "neighbourhood policing", "bobbies on the beat" or some such similar) is the best way to use the time of quite well-paid professional law enforcement officers, I don't think I've ever seen this view expressed on the main site, and in any case, there are probably as many Guardian readers who are in lve with the idea of making policemen walk in circles as Mail readers.

Posted by: dsquared | Dec 13, 2005 9:22:50 AM

So saying mean things is criminal, but rioting when somebody else says mean things is somehow not so bad... I mean, the guy talking nonsense is the only one being blamed for anything here, right? The rioters, well, that's just the way they are. They can't help themselves. It's like poking a dog with a stick, you know.

This is what they call "opposition" to racism. Apparently.

Yes, and it's perfectly appropriate for the police to pay you a little "courtesy call" if they don't like your opinions. How kind of them, to let you know what you shouldn't be thinking! If dsquared's equally goofy views won him a "courtesy call", that would be very different, of course. That would be intimidation.

Posted by: P. Froward | Dec 14, 2005 2:26:40 AM

So saying mean things is criminal

RTFA. If the police say "this is not criminal", the word "not" is unlikely to be purely decorative

dsquared's equally goofy views won him a "courtesy call", that would be very different, of course. That would be intimidation.

Trying to win arguments by putting words in other people's mouth is like pissing yourself in order to keep warm; it may give you a warm feeling, but as far as everyone else is concerned, you've pissed yourself.

Tim adds:
Should that last read: "is like pissing yourself in order to keep warm; it may give you a warm feeling, but as far as everyone else is concerned, you’re a smelly so nyah , nyah, nyah"?

Posted by: dsquared | Dec 14, 2005 6:06:26 AM

dsquared, are you seriouly claiming that you wouldn't find it ominous or weird if the police contacted you to have a little talk about your political views not being "really on"? Maybe I gave you more credit for common sense than you deserve.

The bit about rioting being a lesser offense than saying dumb things was a reference to the bit in your second pararaph about the riot in Birmingham, where you bizarrely suggest that the riot was "started" by people who said dumb things on the radio, rather than by the actual people who actually started the actual riot. Saying dumb things is where you make noises with your mouth; rioting is where you break stuff and hit people. It's a subtle distinction, I know, but they do differ.

Posted by: P. Froward | Dec 15, 2005 10:16:39 PM

Saying dumb things is where you make noises with your mouth; rioting is where you break stuff and hit people. It's a subtle distinction, I know, but they do differ.

And the ad hoc war crimes tribunal in Rwanda thanks you for making it. Are you Alan Jones?

Posted by: ahem | Dec 16, 2005 1:58:05 AM

"ahem" (if that is your real name), if this woman had said "meet me at Elton John's house at 8:00 pm tomorrow and we'll break his legs", you might have a point. Assuming anybody showed up. But then the problem wouldn't be her opinions. The problem would be, like, that she organized a party to break somebody's legs. If a mobster tells his goons to kill you, it's not a freedom-of-speech issue. It's a conspiracy-to-commit-murder issue. And the idiot who actually pulls the trigger is still the actual murderer, regardless of who suggested it.

A lot of things can go wrong in this world. Putting a government in charge of telling you what you're allowed to think may possibly mitigate a few, but it's like blowing your head off to cure acne. That's because one fine day, the government may decide that the queers really are all child-molesters, and then they'll have a problem with you if you think otherwise. I won't waste any time asking you to imagine that people you disagree with have rights too, but can you at least get your head around the possibility that the monster you create may turn on you and interfere with your own rights?

This is serious. The laws you pass today will still be around in fifty or a hundred years. Think it through. You have absolutely no idea what strange notions will be fashionable then. Far worse things can happen to a country than the occasional riot.

Anyhow, if your public can't be trusted not to riot when some knucklehead says something dumb on the radio, get more knuckleheads on the radio. It'll dilute the effect.

Posted by: P. Froward | Dec 16, 2005 4:51:35 AM

dsquared said, Tim, Mark Steyn is never "fun". He's always an idiot but that's not the same thing.

and...

...all that has happened here is that a rather nasty and rude woman has been informed that it isn't really on to claim that gay men aren't safe with children.

You're quite damning in your language. Maybe the police need to investigate you because your language "isn't really on".

You call Mark Steyn the "idiot", and yet you're the one who is okay with this incident.

Posted by: likwidshoe | Jan 23, 2007 6:35:35 AM