“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” the childhood chant that says everything one needs to know about free speech, got a boost in the UK recently.
In the case of a radical feminist who colorfully referred to a transgender man (pretending to be a woman) as a “pig in a wig,” two judges have declared that freedom of speech includes the “right to offend” other people. The landmark ruling could help to turn the tables on “woke” attacks on people for things they say, according to DailyMail.com.
In the Court of Appeal case, Lord Justice Bean and Justice Warby said: “Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.”
They added that “free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another.” The judgment from these two senior jurists sets a precedent for cases involving freedom of speech from now on.
The ruling was in favor of mother-of-two Kate Scottow, found guilty under the 2003 Communications Act earlier in the year. Scottow was accused of describing Stephanie Hayden, a man pretending to be a woman, as a man, a “racist” and a “pig in the wig.” Miss Hayden, 47, reported the online remarks to police.
Scottow was arrested by three police officers in 2019 at her home in Pirton near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in front of her daughter, 10, and son, 20 months.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson later called it an abuse of power.
In February Scottow, 40, was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £1,000, with district judge Margaret Dodds telling her: “Your comments contributed nothing to a debate. We teach children to be kind to each other and not to call each other names in the playground.”
Overturning that decision, Justice Warby explained that the relevant parts of the Communications Act “were not intended by Parliament to criminalize forms of expression, the content of which is no worse than annoying or inconvenient in nature.”