Mr. Bean: We Must Be Allowed To Insult Each Other
from the yes,-that dept
We’ve been documenting a rather troubling trend in the UK of criminalizing comments that are insulting or in bad taste. Thankfully, some people are speaking out against such things, including comedian Rowan Atkinson — best-known internationally as Mr. Bean, but famous in the UK for characters (especially Edmund Blackadder) built on caustic wit and elaborate insults. Atkinson has stepped up and argued for the freedom to insult each other in the UK.
He criticised the “new intolerance” as he called for part of it the Public Order Act to be repealed, saying it was having a “chilling effect on free expression and free protest”.
Mr Atkinson said: “The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult.”
These statements came as part of a campaign to roll back laws that have allowed this to happen, with a former government official, David Davis, pointing out the key thing — you have no right not to be offended:
“The simple truth is that in a free society, there is no right not to be offended. For centuries, freedom of speech has been a vital part of British life, and repealing this law will reinstate that right.”