1. Between November 2018 and January 2019 the Claimant, Harry Miller, posted a number of tweets on Twitter about transgender issues. He holds gender critical views. The Claimant strongly denies being
prejudiced against transgender people. He regards himself as taking part in the ongoing debate about reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 on which the Government consulted in 2018.
2. The College of Policing is the
professional body whose purpose is to provide those working in policing with the skills and knowledge necessary for effective policing. The College publishes operational guidance for police forces in relation to hate incidents. This is called the Hate
Crime Operational Guidance (HCOG). It requires police forces to record hate incidents whether or not they are criminal. The recording is done primarily for intelligence purposes. A noncriminal hate incident in relation to transgender is defined as
Any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.
3. The Claimant's tweets were reported to Humberside Police by a transgender woman called Mrs B. Mrs B read the tweets when a friend told her about them. She regarded them as transphobic. They were recorded by the police as a
non-crime hate incident. Of all the people who read the tweets, Mrs B was the only person to complain.
[An example Twitter post was
You're a man.
You're breasts are made of silicone Your vagina goes nowhere And we can tell
the difference Even when you are not there
Your hormones are synthetic And lets just cross this bridge What you have you stupid man Is male privilege.]
4. A police officer visited the Claimant's
place of work to speak to him about his tweets. They subsequently spoke on the telephone. What was said is disputed, but in his judgment Mr Justice Julian Knowles finds that the officer left the Claimant with the impression that he might be prosecuted if
he continued to tweet. A press statement issued by an Assistant Chief Constable and a response to a complaint by the police also referred to the possibility of criminal proceedings if matters escalated, a term which was never further defined.
5. In this application for judicial review the Claimant challenged the lawfulness of HCOG. He argued that, as a policy, it violates domestic law and also Article 10 of the European
Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression. Alternatively, he argued that even if the policy is lawful, his treatment by the police was disproportionate and unlawfully interfered with his right of free speech under Article 10(1).
6. In his judgment handed down today, Mr Justice Julian Knowles concludes that HCOG is lawful as a policy both under domestic law and under Article 10. The policy draws upon many years of work on hate crime and hate incidents
which began with the 1999 Macpherson Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. The Court concludes that HCOG serves legitimate purposes and is not disproportionate.
7. However, Mr Justice Julian Knowles also finds that
the police's actions towards the Claimant disproportionately interfered with his right of freedom of expression on the particular facts of this case. The judgment emphasises the vital importance of free speech in a democracy and provides a reminder that
free speech includes not only the inoffensive, but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative, and that the freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.
Justice Julian Knowles concludes that the Claimant's tweets were lawful and that there was not the slightest risk that he would commit a criminal offence by continuing to tweet. He finds the combination of the police visiting the Claimant's place of
work, and their subsequent statements in relation to the possibility of prosecution, were a disproportionate interference with the Claimant's right to freedom of expression because of their potential chilling effect. In response to the Defendants'
submissions that any interference with the Claimant's rights was trivial and justifiable, the judge concludes that these arguments impermissibly minimise what occurred and do not properly reflect the value of free speech in a democracy. He writes: The
effect of the police turning up at [the Claimant's] place of work because of his political opinions must not be underestimated. To do so would be to undervalue a cardinal democratic freedom. In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a
Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society.
9. To that extent, Mr Justice Julian Knowles upholds the Claimant's claim.
The BBC obtained a follow up statement from the police rather showing that the police are wedded
to the Orwellian society that they are enforcing.
Deputy Chief Constable Bernie O'Reilly, of the College of Policing, said:
Policing's position is clear - we want everyone to feel able to express opinions as
passionately as they wish without breaking the law.
Hate incidents can be a precursor to these types of crimes and without recording them the police will begin to lose sight of what is happening
in their communities - and potentially lose their confidence.
Today is a good day for free speech in Britain. The High Court has ruled that it is unlawful for police officers to harass members of the public for expressing views on the internet that
some people find offensive, but are otherwise entirely legal to express. That this even had to be clarified tells us something about how far we've fallen, and how sorely this ruling was needed.
Statement: Index welcomes
ruling that police reaction to tweets was disproportionate interference
Index has long expressed concerns about the way police are handling online speech.
Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg said:
All too often speech that breaks no law is being
investigated in a way that stifles people's freedom to express themselves -- while direct and credible threats of violence go unpunished.
Index on Censorship provided a witness statement in the Miller case and in
particular noted the importance of being able to debate matters of public interest, such as the questions that arose from the government's consultation on the Gender Recognition Act. Index argued that the growing number of cases in which police were
contacting individuals about online speech that was not illegal -- and sometimes asking for posts to be removed -- was creating confusion among the wider population about what is and is not legal speech.
Offsite Comment: Unpopular Thoughts Approved In The UK
J'accuse (An Officer and a Spy) is a 2019 France / Italy historical thriller by Roman Polanski. Starring Jean Dujardin, Louis Garrel and Emmanuelle Seigner.
In 1894, French Captain Alfred Dreyfus is wrongfully convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's island.
The entire board of the César Academy, which distributes France's
equivalent of the Oscars, has resigned amid a wave of #MeToo criticism of its nomination for 12 awards for a film by Roman Polanski. The Césars had defended the nominations, saying that the body "should not take moral positions" in giving
1,500,000 French people have seen the film at French cinemas, and by all accounts, it is a remarkable film worthy of the nominations.
The decision to honour Polanski's An Officer and a Spy has angered feminist groups and led to calls
for a boycott. Hundreds of actors, producers and directors have attacked the board claiming "dysfunction" at the César Academy and opacity in its management.
A general meeting is set to be held after this month's ceremony to elect
a new board.
The Polish-French director has been wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl since the 1970s. He has since faced other accusations of sexual assault.
A pre-roll Youtube ad for Prettylittlething.com, a women's clothing retailer, seen on 29 October 2019. The ad opened with a woman wearing black vinyl, high waisted chaps-style knickers and a cut-out orange bra, dragging a neon bar and looking over her
shoulder. The ad proceeded to show women in seductive poses, wearing various lingerie style clothing and holding the neon bars.
A complainant, who believed the ad was overly sexualised and objectified women, challenged whether the
ad was offensive and irresponsible.
Prettylittlething.com Ltd stated that the ad highlighted how they supported and promoted diversity through bold and distinctive fashion of all shapes and sizes which focused on different trends.
They said they had not intended to create an ad which was deemed offensive and irresponsible. They said they worked hard to promote a positive and healthy body image that was inclusive and empowered women. Prettylittlething.com provided a mood board to
demonstrate the creative theory behind the ad and explained that the ad was inspired by their customers who seek the latest rave style clothing.
ASA Assessment: Upheld
The ASA noted that the ad began with
a woman looking over her shoulder in a seductive manner wearing black vinyl, high waisted chaps-style knickers which revealed her buttocks. A later scene depicted a woman wearing a transparent mesh bodysuit. The woman was lying on her side with her knee
bent up and with a neon bar in between her legs. The next scene showed a woman in a bikini top, holding the neon bar behind her shoulders in a highly sexualised pose which accentuated her breasts. The woman was then depicted crouched down with her legs
apart, wearing chaps-style trousers to reveal string bikini bottoms. We considered that the cumulative effect of the scenes meant that overall, the products had been presented in an overly-sexualised way that invited viewers to view the women as sexual
objects. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and was irresponsible.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Prettylittlething.com Ltd not to use advertising that was likely to
cause serious offence by objectifying women.
Offsite Comment: Is the ASA run by Mary Whitehouse?
Barnes & Noble has shelved their plans to release a collection of classic books with new culturally diverse covers following an internet backlash.
Penguin Random House and Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue had given twelve classic young adult novels
new covers, known as Diverse Editions. The books were meant hit the shelves on Feb. 5, and the books were to be on display in their massive storefront throughout the month of February.
Each title had five culturally diverse custom covers designed
to ensure the recognition, representation, and inclusion of various multiethnic backgrounds reflected across the country.
Following the news of the new covers, many Twitter users expressed their anger and disappointment over the situation. Example
Jesus. Slapping cartoon POC on books by white folks when the words within those books don't promote anything but the white narrative isn't diversity. Diversity is giving POC equal opportunity to be published
in a predominately white marketplace. Do better.
slapping Brown faces onto white stories is insulting. if #barnesandnoble wants to promote diversity, why not just promote classics written by diverse authors? they exist!
Barnes & Noble released a statement on Twitter acknowledging the concerns of the public and ultimately cancelling the release event at the store.
We acknowledge the voices who have expressed concerns about
the Diverse Editions project at our Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue store and have decided to suspend the initiative.
Diverse Editions presented new covers of classic hooks through a series of limited-edition jackets, designed by
artists hailing from different ethnicities and backgrounds. The covers are not a substitute for black voices or writers of color, whose work and voices deserve to be heard.
The booksellers who championed this initiative did so
convinced it would help drive engagement with these classic titles. It was a project inspired by our work with schools and was created in part to raise awareness and discussion during Black History Month, in which Barnes & Noble stores nationally
will continue to highlight a wide selection of books to celebrate black history and great literature from writers of color.
by Jeanine Cummins is available on 2020 Tinder Press Kindle Edition at UK Amazon
The publisher of Jeanine Cummins' new novel American Dirt has cancelled the remainder of her promotional tour as a result of a politically correct backlash.
The novel about a Mexican mother and her young son fleeing to the US border had
been praised widely before its 21 January release and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her book club.
But PC bullies who think they have the right to tell others what stories they can write have campaigned against the book for wrong think. Mexican
American writers have claimed that the book contains stereotypical depictions of Mexicans.
Julissa Arce Raya, the author of My (Underground) American Dream, argued American Dirt was not representative of her experience as an undocumented
immigrant in America. Author Celeste Ng shared a review calling Cummins' depictions of Mexico laughably inaccurate. Roxane Gay deplored Oprah's decision to elevate the novel.
Bob Miller, president of the book's publisher, Flatiron Books commented:
Jeanine Cummins spent five years of her life writing this book with the intent to shine a spotlight on tragedies facing immigrants. We are saddened that a work of fiction that was well-intentioned has led to such
Unfortunately, our concerns about safety have led us to the difficult decision to cancel the book tour.
Flatiron now plans to send Cummins to town-hall style events, where the author will be
joined by some of the groups who have raised objections to the book.
Offsite Comment: The offencerati just got a book tour cancelled
An Australian feminist campaign group, Collective Shout , have whinged about a KFC ZInger advert featuring young lads being transfixed by the cleavage of young woman checking her cheerleader like attire in the reflection of a car window.
The campaigners claimed the the ad to be:
a regression to tired and archaic stereotypes where young women were sexually objectified for male pleasure; and males were helplessly transfixed when confronted with the opportunity to ogle a woman's body.
The ad has been running on television and has also been shared on the fast food chain's YouTube channel.
KFC apologised saying:
We apologise if anyone was offended by our latest commercial. Our
intention was not to stereotype women and young boys in a negative light.
KFC has not confirmed if it will stop using the ad.
The University of Sheffield is to pay students to call out so-called microaggressions - which it describes as subtle but offensive comments. They will be trained to lead 'healthy' conversations about preventing racism on campus and in student
Vice-chancellor Koen Lamberts said the initiative wanted to change the way people think about racism.
The students will be paid £9.34 per hour as race equality champions, working between two and nine hours per week to counter
microaggressions in the university.
These are described as comments or actions which might be unintentional, but which can cause offence to a minority group. It gives examples of what it means by micro-aggression - such as:
Stop making everything a race issue
Why are you searching for things to be offended about?
Strange as these examples seem to be exactly what Sheffield University is doing.
Offsite Comment: Turning students into a woke Stasi
A friendly word of warning to black students thinking of applying to the University of Sheffield: don't. Racism is endemic at this university. You will be confronted with racist abuse everywhere -- in your accommodation, the library and the student bar.
Racism at Sheffield University is -- apparently -- so rife that the vice-chancellor has had to resort to paying students to police not just the words but also the thoughts of their peers in a bid to get to grips with it.
A TV ad for PCSpecialist, a manufacturer and seller of bespoke PC computers, was seen on 17 September 2019. It featured three men performing different activities on computers, including producing music and coding. The male voice-over stated, It's the
beginning of the end. The end of following. It's the start of freedom, individuality, choice. It's an uprising. An insurgence. For the players, the gamers, the 'I'll sleep laters', the creators, the editors, the music makers. The techies, the coders, the
illustrators. Bespoke, customised, like no other. From the specialists for the specialists. PC Specialist.
Eight complainants, who believed that the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by depicting men in roles that were
stereotypically male and implying that it was only men who were interested in technology and computers, challenged whether it breached the Code.
PCSpecialist said their customer base was 87.5%
male, aged between 15 and 35 years. Their product, branding and service had been developed for and aimed at that target audience and the characters in the ad therefore represented a cross-section of the PCSpecialist core customer base. PCSpecialist said
the characters looked into the camera as though they were using a PCSpecialist machine. They did not believe they represented negative stereotypes and were playing the roles of entrepreneurs, forward-thinkers and hard workers. They considered there was
no comparison between men and women in the ad and the ad did not imply that women were not interested in computers. They said the ad did not juxtapose men using computers with women not using computers, nor did the ad explicitly state that women did not
use computers or that the service was unsuitable for them.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The BCAP Code stated Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or
serious or widespread offence. The joint CAP and BCAP Advertising guidance on depicting gender stereotypes likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence said that gender-stereotypical characteristics included occupations or positions and also
attributes or behaviours usually associated with a specific gender. It added that ads may feature people undertaking gender-stereotypical roles but they should take care to avoid suggesting that stereotypical roles or characteristics were always uniquely
associated with one gender; were the only options available to one gender; or were never carried out or displayed by another gender. The guidance also stated that, subject to the guiding principles, neither the rule nor the guidance were intended to
prevent ads from featuring one gender only, including in ads for products developed for and aimed at one gender.
The ad began with a PC exploding and went on to state freedom, individuality and choice before referencing a number
of specialist and creative roles in quick succession, encompassing leisure pursuits and professional positions, not just limited to information technology, but in the creative and artistic industries and entertainment, namely: players/gamers, creators,
editors, music makers, techies, coders and illustrators. We considered that the voice-over and fast-paced series of scenes in the ad conveyed a sense of excitement and opportunity and implied that those depicted in the ad were innovative, highly skilled
and achieving excellence in the roles and careers mentioned and that those watching should aspire to excel in them too. However, the ad repeatedly cut to images of only men, who were both prominent and central to the ad's message of opportunity and
excellence across multiple desirable career paths. We therefore considered that the ad implied that excellence in those roles and fields would be seen as the preserve of men. Because of that, we considered that the ad went further than just featuring a
cross-section of the advertiser's core customer base and implied that only men could excel in those roles.
Although the guidance did not prohibit ads from featuring only one gender, we considered that because the ad strongly
implied only men could excel in the specialisms and roles depicted we concluded the ad presented gender stereotypes in way that was likely to cause harm and therefore breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in the form
complained about. We told PCSpecialist Ltd to ensure their advertising did not present gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm, including by suggesting that excellence in multiple career paths was uniquely associated with one gender.