Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Iris' remarks were disgraceful, but they weren't a crime.

When Iris Robinson made objectionable statements about homosexuals, I remarked,

“It is not her right to express these views which should be attacked, but her suitability to hold public office, or to represent the public, part of which she volubly accuses of being ‘disgusting’, ‘loathsome’ and so on.”

I am puzzled as to why gay rights campaigners are protesting against an entirely justifiable decision by the PSNI not to press charges against the MP.

It is possible to hear outdated, offensive remarks on almost any talk radio programme on a daily basis. No-one would suggest that contributors to the Nolan Show etc. should be routinely prosecuted.

Mrs Robinson is a public representative, of course, and we are entitled to expect more from her. That is a matter which pertains to her employment, however, and not to criminal law.

Her comments were undoubtedly wrong, but they were never likely to constitute ‘incitement’ and an offence before the law. Protests against the content of Robinson’s remarks are legitimate, protests demanding that she be prosecuted for expressing an opinion, however ‘vile’ that opinion might be, certainly are not.

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