The short answer: We’re all about to find out. Five men are being charged under Britain’s new hate speech laws for mailing and distributing a pamphlet entitled “The Death Penalty?” (Can’t you just picture the little flourish on the end from the question mark? It’s like, “The Death Penal-TEEEE?”)
Razwan Javed, 30, Kabir Ahmed, 27, Ahjaz Ali, 41, Umer Javed, 37 and Mehboob Hassain, 44 are each charged with distributing threatening material intended to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Sue Hemming said: “This is the first ever prosecution for this offence and it is the result of close working between the Crown Prosecution Service and Derbyshire Police.
A statement from the police added, “Following complaints from the public, Derbyshire Police mounted a thorough investigation. We have carefully reviewed the evidence provided by the police and are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge these men.”
Hmm. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Anyone who’s ever been to the gay bars on Bourbon Street in New Orleans knows about the “preacher” in the sandwich board squawking about gays going to Hell. Heck, these types of people regularly show up to gay pride celebrations around the world, and they often hand out pamphlets just like the ones in question here that inevitably wind up littered all over the ground. Are they a public nuisance? Yes. Is much of their argument inflammatory and offensive? Absolutely. Should they go to jail for this? I tend to think not.
It’s a slippery slope dictating just what our government is allowed to punish us for saying, and I’m not quite sure this merits opening up that can of worms. At the same time, assuming someone actually received one of these pamphlets and then went out and killed someone – then all of the involved parties should be prosecuted for murder. I’m stuck on a Hmm here.
What do you think? Should these men be jailed for handing out material calling for the killing of homosexuals?