With the conviction of Abu Hamza, there’s a few things that have sprung to mind:

1st, that it seems existing legislation is sufficient to deal with this sort of situation. Didn’t even, at the end of the day, need the law against incitement of racial hatred (a law that I think sets a dangerous precedent). Good old incitement to violence laws were enough.

2nd, I’m intrigued by the convinction on possesing tapes with the intention of distributing to stir up racial hatred. The way it’s worded makes it sound like a pre-crime (maybe conspiracy to distribute material intended to stir up racial hatred would be better) as I’m not what his actual possesion of the tapes has to do with anything.

To me part of that is a question of whether speech made in private is more or less free than speech made in public. To me it seems natural that it should be. However, that raises the question of what distinguishes a private utterance from a public one.

Take one of these tapes for example and say I was the one who made it and said something to the effect of “Asians are evil” (just suspend your disbelief for a minute here 😉 ).

Now I’m pretty sure I could say that in person to a friend who visits me at my house (or I at his house, although he may well ask me to leave). However, if I give this same friend a tape with the exact same words on, is that still considered a private utterance? What if he plays that tape to another friend in his house? In his back garden? At the next meeting of Hugaholics Anonymous, held at his house? someone else’s house? and gave out copies? What about a transcript? Does the chosen medium affect the public-ness of speech?

The problem with the term ‘private speech’ is that it’s not actually accurate. It’s not talking to yourself, but to other people, but yet it’s not public…or something.

Confused yet? I am…

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