Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Section 5: Not Insulting

A year earlier, the police had tried to prosecute a student, Sam Brown, after he asked a mounted officer whether he realised his horse was gay. Even if you consider the word “gay” to be insulting (which clearly depends on both context and intent), it’s hard to imagine that the horse felt upset. Nonetheless, Brown was arrested under Section 5 of the Public Order Act: his language, the police felt, was insulting because they deemed it homophobic.
And that is, in essence, what is wrong with trying to legislate against insults. The word “gay” isn’t insulting unless it’s meant to be. Gay people refer to themselves as gay, their straight friends refer to them as gay, and no one is offended. But if the same word is spat at you by a psycho beating you up in the street, then it’s insulting and frightening. The word has the same meaning each time – in every case, the word “gay” is referring to a person’s sexuality – but it isn’t always, or even usually, an insult. 

Natalie Haynes writing for Independent Voices on the decision to drop "insulting" from Section 5 of the Public Order Act.
Concentrating on Horsegayte trivialises the issue somewhat, but it also shows how daft it was. 
Whatever, this is the fourth victory for common sense in 24 hours. 
Whatever next?

PS Please don't make my mistake and search for "gay horse" on Google Image.

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