Friday, February 24, 2006

Student fined 80 quid for swearing under the Public Order Act

One story that caught my eye this week was a piece in the Telegraph (i dont buy it - I just read it). It related to an 18 year old student and voluntary youth worker who was fined 80 quid for swearing, during a private conversation in a public park. Kurt is refusing to pay the fine claiming that swearing is a normal part of the way young people converse. Coming from the foul mouthed generation myself I am tempted to agree. In fact my own personal feeling is that people who are emotionally upset because they hear a swear word should be referred to a psyciatrist.

I recognise that not everybody feels like this, but the uncomfortability caused to some people by the word fuck is hardly a matter for policing and certainly not a matter for an £80fine - which for most students would account for two days wages.

Now here is the really interesting part. The police force in question justified the action on the basis that swearing in public is an offence under the *PUBLIC ORDER ACT*. If this is the public order act i am thinking of (and it has been updated several times) it was brought in with the declared intention of undermining Mosely's BUF. Rather relevantly, it goes to show that if we support government authoritarianism - even whe nthe ddeclared targets are people we dont particularly like - it will in the long run come back and bite us up the arse, for want of a more articulate way of putting it.



AN said...

This follows the arrest of a woman in Blackburn for breast feeding on a park bench.

In this case the problem is not the Public order Act - but the anti social behaviour legislation, where people can be punished for behaviour that is not criminal, just becasue someone else doesn't like it.

There has been suprisingly little notice given to the fact that New Labour's ASBO legislation is almost word for word the same as Himler's 1944 Gemeinschaftefremde legislation, that was actually not enacted because the German judiciary and the police both argued it was too illiberal.

as Detelev Peukert argues in "Inside nazi Germany - conformity opposition and racism in every day life": "The criteria defining community aliens could take in anyone who offended against the norms of everyday social behaviour. [the] law would thus have been a latent threat to practicaly everyone".
Which is of course exactly what ASBOs are. welcome to Blair's Britain -
(Of course the Nazis also banned smoking in public places)

Anonymous said...

"an £80 fine - which for most students would account for two days wages"

What student gets £200 a week?