British judges backed the right to offend, rather than criminalizing a leftist feminist who called a transgendered person a “pig in a wig,” according to a recently released appeal ruling.
Kate Scottow was originally convicted of improper use of a public communications network under Britain’s Communications Act which criminalizing causing “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another… [using] a public electronic network.”
She was arrested, her children removed from her custody, then sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge and to pay £1,000 in compensation for her mean tweets.
But The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Bean and The Hon. Mr. Justice Warby threw out the ruling in an appeal at the Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench, where they heard how Scottow, 39, called “Stephanie” Hayden – a male-to-female transgender person – a “pig in a wig.”
Hayden, 48, appears to spend much time on social media attempting to ban people who don’t endorse transgender ideology. Left-wing comedian Graham Linehan – inventor of the popular British sitcom Father Ted – was banned by Twitter and visited by police after Hayden complained about being called a “he.”
In the original conviction, district judge Margaret Dodds told Scottow: “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.”
But last week the judges overturned the ruling, stating:
“In short, I do not consider that under s 127(2)(c) there is an offence of posting annoying tweets. I would reach that conclusion as a matter of domestic statutory interpretation without reference to the Human Rights Act, but once one takes Article 10 into account the position is even clearer.”
Article 10 of Britain’s Human Rights Act states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”
Dismissing the original judge’s interpretation of the law, the appeal court ruled:
This is an unstructured approach that lacks the appropriate rigour. The Crown evidently did not appreciate the need to justify the prosecution, but saw it as the defendant’s task to press the free speech argument.
The prosecution argument failed entirely to acknowledge the well-established proposition that free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another.
The Judge appears to have considered that a criminal conviction was merited for acts of unkindness, and calling others names, and that such acts could only be justified if they made a contribution to a “proper debate”.
Neither prosecution nor Judge considered whether some more demanding interpretation of s 127 or addressed the question of what legitimate aim was pursued, or, more importantly, whether the conviction of this defendant on these facts was necessary: whether it was a proportionate means of responding to some pressing social need.
Throughout Scottow’s original trial, supporters gathered outside St Albans Magistrates’ Court in England, chanting “pig in a wig” and “he’s a man – go on prosecute me.”
The argument between “second wave feminists” and transgender activists continues to rage in Britain, with the acronym TERF – trans-exclusionary radical feminist – being applied to women on the political left who do not want men who claim to be women usurping their gender and associated rights.