Which is in itself a thought provoking question. Or is it the Crown Prosecution Service, which decides upon charges to be brought, which is determined to be the catalyst for unrest?
We have here two incidents, both designed to provoke outrage – one is instigator, one an entirely predictable response.
One offence committed apropos of nothing in particular, by a professional agitator; one committed by a man who had every reason to be personally offended.
Emdadur Choudhury, professional agitator, decided to insult his ‘enemies’ – shorthand for non-muslims in a Christian country – by burning Poppies, that enduring image of remembrance of fallen soldiers, whilst chanting ‘British soldiers burn in Hell’ during the two minute silence – on Armistice Day of all days. He was arrested under public order offences and convicted of causing alarm and distress. He is fined £50. A derisory sentence, but we are urged to show restraint in the name of freedom of expression….
Two days later, Simon Parkes, an ex-soldier, is outraged, and with a friend, ties a pig’s head outside a mosque in Cheltenham in the dead of night – not during a public ceremony. He is also convicted of causing alarm and distress. He is jailed for four months. The Judge says: “Freedom of expression is a much-cherished privilege but it carries with it responsibilities, the principal responsibility being to act within the law.”
Both offences were prosecuted on the grounds of the danger to ‘Public Order’ – am I alone in thinking that the disparate sentences pose a greater risk to public order?