Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Defense Strategy for Guramit Singh

One of our English contacts — known as “G-Man” when he sends us tips — happens to be a lawyer. After reading about yesterday’s arrest of Guramit Singh, G-Man sent us an outline of a possible defense strategy for the English Defence League spokesman when his case appears in court:

Hi Baron,

I saw your post about Guramit Singh, and I thought I’d give you a bit of legal analysis as to the chicanery the authorities are trying now.

Guramit SinghI assume that the report you’ve received is correct, that Guramit has been charged under “Section 4b Public Order Act, Racial Aggravation”, and that that charge relates to the BBC radio interview.

What this means is that they’re charging him with (a) an offence under S. 4, and that that offence was (b) racially aggravated.

First, the S.4 part of the alleged offence (key words highlighted by me):

4. Fear or provocation of violence.
 (1) A person is guilty of an offence if he—
  (a) uses towards another person threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or
  (b) distributes or displays to another person any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
   with intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against him or another by any person, or to provoke the immediate use of unlawful violence by that person or another, or whereby that person is likely to believe that such violence will be used or it is likely that such violence will be provoked.

4(a): Is it “threatening, abusive or insulting” to say that Mohammed was a “disgusting figure”? It is not enough simply to say that someone was insulted by it.

Nor is it enough that the words were insulting towards Mohammed — they have to be used “towards another person”. Guramit said in the interview that these were insulting words “towards Mohammed” but that doesn’t mean they were insulting towards another person. E.g. I admire Cromwell, but if you or Dymphna have Irish heritage, you may say he’s a disgusting figure. That wouldn’t be “threatening, abusive or insulting” even if I feel insulted by it, plus it wouldn’t be “used towards” me. And the justness of the statement is relevant to the question of whether it’s insulting.

4(b): This is broadly worded. It includes a situation where (1) you believe that (2) my words are likely to provoke (3) Mike Tyson to punch (4) Britney Spears immediately. Or if a British Muslim is likely to believe that Guramit’s words are likely provoke an EDL guy in Bolton to punch a Muslim neighbour immediately.

The key word is “immediate”, and I don’t think you can reasonably believe that this (pre-recorded?) BBC interview was likely to result in immediate violence.

I think what we’re seeing here is the deliberate twisting of already broadly drafted laws in order to make it impossible to criticise Mohammed. The strategy appears to be to prosecute people that the government feels are unpopular enough for them to be able to ram through a conviction, in order to establish the precedent that criticism of Mohammed is a crime.

Second, the ‘racially or religiously aggravated’ bit. Section 28 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 says:

28. Meaning of “[F1racially or religiously aggravated]”.
 (1) An offence is [F1racially or religiously aggravated] for the purposes of sections 29 to 32 below if—
  (a) at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrates towards the victim of the offence hostility based on the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of a [F2racial or religious group]; or
  (b) the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility towards members of a [F2racial or religious group] based on their membership of that group.

The prosecution will have to prove that Guramit said what he said about Mohammed because he was, at least in part, motivated by hostility to Muslims rather than Islam. They might be able to use previous statements by him where he has said “Muslims” when he meant “militant Muslims”. But again, it is quite possible to criticise Mohammed while having profound compassion for Muslims, e.g. murdered and mutilated Muslim girls. And I don’t think the prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that criticism of Mohammed is impossible without hostility to Muslims.

I think the prosecution will refer to a previous statement of Guramit at a rally where he referred to “the f’ing Muslims”, when what he says he meant to say was “the f’ing militant Muslims”. If so, then this looks like the government taking note of this statement, and waiting to be able to use it so that they can pile on the ‘religious aggravation’ bit of the offence.

So that’s the overall conclusion: governments passing broadly worded legislation, then lying in wait for people who speak out of turn, and further twisting the legislation, in order to make it a crime to condemn Islamic doctrine.

My advice would be:

  • Guramit should elect for jury trial.
  • He should bring evidence as to the nature of Mohammed, and whether he can reasonably be described as “disgusting”.
  • He should say that while his words may have been insulting towards Mohammed, they weren’t insulting towards other people.
  • He should argue the public policy need for freedom to debate religious doctrine.
  • He should also say that no immediate violence was likely as a result of this radio interview.
  • And he should say that it is quite possible for anyone to criticise Mohammed without being motivated by hostility to Muslims, even if that person is in fact hostile to Muslims.
  • He should give evidence that he has compassion for Muslims, as the people who suffer first under Islam.
  • He should argue that criticism of religious doctrine, however trenchant, is not an appropriate basis for claiming “insult” for the purposes of public order legislation. Otherwise, what qualifies as ‘religion’ and ‘insult’ are defined by the level of political pressure. Does religion include Jedis, Moonies, Scientologists, Druids, Thuggees, Rev Jim Jones, Wiccans and astrologists? If it’s only major religions, does it include different traditions within them? Does “insult” mean that denunciation of religion can only be done in academic language, so that it is OK for academics but not for ordinary people?

— G-Man

10 comments:

Nick said...

I note that 4 (1) (b) states that a person is guilty of an offence [under the Public Order Act 1986] if he 'distributes or displays to another person any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting' which is surely a condition that cannot be met during a radio interview, since that is not a visual medium.

In short, no 'writing, sign or other visible representation' can be distributed or displayed on the radio.

Therefore the charge laid against Mr. Singh is an impossibility.

Nick said...

It says on the BBC website that someone, and I assume this is the fellow in question, has been arrested and bailed because of something to do with a protest in Peterborough on the 11th of December. Here's the link.

Nick said...

It would seem that Mr. Singh has been arrested not because of the radio interview but on charges relating to a protest in Peterborough on the 11th December. Here is the relevant link.

Richard said...

This and what is happening to Tommy Robinson is like something from Kafka, Orwell or "A Clockwork Orange". All we can do is pray and continue to fight.

Anonymous said...

I signed on to make a comment and discovered Nick had already made the comment for me. I think it was the series of 'Fxxx 'em, fxxx 'em, fxxx 'em' comments directed not at Mohammed, but apparently at Muslims generally, that has caused the effect. Now, I think Mr Singh's tone and language were ill-considered, but it's a long way from shouting 'Fxxx 'em' in that context, which would simply appear to be a generally dismissive comment, than actually inciting the crowd to 'Fxxx' anyone in particular, or do any particular violent act. If someone says to me 'Fxxx you', I might feel offended, but I wouldn't feel endangered. Furthermore, the test is 'with the intent to cause' the people to feel threatened, not (praise the Lord) something that just happens to cause people to feel threatened because they choose so to feel.

peter said...

The British political courts are giving the totalitarian thought crimes a go to see if they can get away with it.Before they are dragged before the ECHR.

Man fined £200 for offensive comments about Allah only police heard

http://my.telegraph.co.uk/obadgerostripeyone11/badgerostripeyone/340/man-fined-200-for-offensive-comments-about-allah-only-police-heard/

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

You mention the ECHR. If one follows their decisions, that body it seems is not (yet) wholly corrupt.

Would it not then a sensible strategy to appeal any and all of these type of ludicrous "hate speech" convictions to the ECHR? At best have them reversed, at worst make it a known pain in the neck to the PC police charges crew.
Has the possibility been investigated? Surely there must be some lawyers willing to work pro bono, and some freedom minded sponsor available?

Green Infidel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Green Infidel said...

The "Catholicophobe" atheist Richard Dawkins talked about the "vile obscenity at the heart of Catholic theology" (4:49 in the video here, Catholic teachings being a "revolting, depraved and inhuman theory to base your life on"(5:40), and called the Catholic Pope an "enemy of humanity" (5:58))

This speech was after the Pope's visit to the UK, was greeted by shouts in British accents towards the end, and I presume was in the UK...

Why then was Richard Dawkins allowed to use "insulting" language towards the Catholic faith, and the head of the Catholic Church (a "Holy Father" to many people) - doubtless insulting many devout Catholics in the process - while Guramit Singh was arrested for using "insulting language" towards the Islamic "holy prophet" Mohammed?

It would likely be thought of as ridiculous to ever consider arresting Dawkins for the former - so surely this would serve as a proof that the equivalent words used towards the figure of another religion are equally-acceptable, even if some may find them "offensive"?

Col. B. Bunny said...

Green Infidel, great point.

The sad reality of hate speech laws like this is that they require exactly this kind of impossible contemplation of what is offensive and when can someone be justifiably offended. It's exactly the futile exercise that must be embraced because of the disgraceful assault on free speech these greasy leftist laws represent.

The truth of what is said should be immaterial and the only issue should be does the speech have a high probability of leading to immediate violence on the part of people in the immediate vicinity.

If police are present and they fail to prevent the violence that occurs that should be a complete defense to any charge. The burden where speech is concerned should be on the government, which is, or should be, society's shield for free speech. Too many nut jobs in the counter-demonstration? Police responsibility to reinforce.

Instead, you have the reality of the pansy regime, which supplies police who take sides in clashes between Muslims, are passive instead of proactive, attack the people they are supposed to protect, and force those people to engage in absurd intellectual battles over nuance, intent, sincerity, accuracy, motive, connotation, malevolence of implications, reasonableness of inferences, and the subtleties of racism and ethnicity.

The first British policeman on the scene of any demonstration should be required, with his or her vivid yellow vest, to take a position directly beside or behind any speaker, actively warn anyone working himself up into an artificial snit, deflect any blows, and arrest perpetrators for failure to obey a lawful police order and assault on an officer. (This the police will do if the demonstration is by Muslims. Witness the craven police officer who directs a member of the howling British mob, um, strike that, . . . a British spectator to cease taking photographs of the Muslim parade (4:35).)

The regime must and does attack with its full force all those who want to ask the questions of it,

"Why are these people with their repulsive, aggressive political doctrines given favored status?" and

"Why are they even here in the first place?"

God bless the EDL and courageous men like Tommy Robinson and Guramit Singh.