I have been spouting about Catholics, protesting the broadcast of a scatalogical little cartoon of little merit or redeeming feature.
How many of us have heard of "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005"? Say what???
How many have heard the name Maya Evans, or Mark Wallace.
OK, I knew nowt o' this until this morning.
From Telegraph -
In five weeks' time, Milan Rai is to be prosecuted for organising a remembrance ceremony without a permit. He was arrested at the Cenotaph in Whitehall last year with Maya Evans, a fellow anti-war campaigner, under security legislation designed to protect politicians.
Evans has already been prosecuted, convicted and fined for reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq.
Maya Evans, who was arrested for protesting in Parliament Square, says the law is in a muddle.
But Rai's own criminal record has been longer coming, because his organisational role in the peaceful protest was greater, and required the attentions of the Crown Prosecution Service.
He has been told to appear at Bow Street magistrates' court, central London, on March 16, and faces a three-month prison sentence or a fine.
[... Taken out relates to Muslim protests at Danish Embassy ...]
"The police made no attempt at all to move us on, whereas last year when there were only two of us we were prosecuted. What is the point of this legislation?"
Meanwhile Rai, a 40-year-old author and campaigner for the group Justice Not Vengeance, said: "There is a lot of inconsistency going on and the police have been put in a very awkward position.
"We were arrested because we refused to apply for police authorisation to hold a ceremony of remembrance for the soldiers killed in Iraq.
Mark Wallace, a campaigner with the lobby group The Freedom Association, is less charitable. He was stopped by police under counter-terrorism laws in Brighton last autumn after asking passers-by to sign a petition against ID cards. He was filmed and questioned under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and told that his details would be kept on file indefinitely.
Now, after I have (intentionally) left out the vinaigrette we are left with two small vignetes which directly relate to the right to free speech.
It is not legal to read aloud the names of British servicemen and Iraqi civilians killed in the war in Iraq at the War Memorial outside Britain's parliament - without Police authorisation.
It is not legal to collect signatures on a petition opposing the introduction of identity cards - it is considered (apparently) an act of terrorism.
I can not blame the Police - as is pointed out in some of the snips I have removed from the Telegraph article their responsibility (onerous it must be too) is limited to appropriate enforcement.
And note too the name of the law that creates this illegality...
Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
This too, from Guardian
...We are now called upon to defend the civil liberties of small and unpopular minorities: those accused of terrorist crimes, those seeking asylum, those seeking to avoid deportation. But remember that all of us are minorities at one time or another. All of us could be wrongly accused. All of us could express views or do things the government does not like. We all of us sometimes do unpopular things. We all of us need the protection that the rule of law gives us.
That is why we must not just oppose the illiberal measures that this government is bringing forward, notably this week the ID cards bill and the terrorism bill. We must also roll back Mr Blair's previous incursions, such as section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, used to harass demonstrators such as Walter Wolfgang at Labour's conference, or the restrictions on protest near parliament under which Maya Evans was convicted for reading a list of the war dead in Iraq.
Some Labour and Tory MPs now regret the protection that the Human Rights Act 1998 provides. But everyone needs such protection. With so few checks and balances on the government - elected with just a third of the votes - every constraint on what Lord Hailsham called our "elective dictatorship" is now essential. Our freedoms are at stake.
Now, in case you think that there is effective opposition to this policy stream, here is the Conservative Party attitude...
Conservatives have called on the police and prosecuting authorities to ensure that the law is upheld, following the way Muslim extremist demonstrators backed terrorist acts and glorified the July 7 bombings.
While fully supporting the traditional right to peaceful protest, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis warned that Friday's demonstration in London "crossed the line", and amounted to a direct incitement to violence.
And he stressed that failure to respond firmly would signal that Britain is willing to tolerate anything, would show the law to be inconsistent, and would make it more difficult for moderate Muslims to give a lead to their communities.
While Home Secretary Charles Clarke told MPs that legal action against those taking part in the Friday protest over foreign cartoons satirising the Islamic religion was a matter for the police, Mr Davis declared in the Commons: "It would have been entirely proper for those offended by these cartoons to have mounted a peaceful demonstration against their publication. The right to demonstrate is an extremely important night for British citizens. But it is a right with clear limits.
"It does not include the right to violence. Neither does it include the right to incite violence. That, too, is outside the law. Placards carrying slogans calling for people who insult Islam to be "beheaded" or "massacred" or "annihilated" are direct incitements to violence.
"Slogans like 'Europe your 9/11 will come', or 'Europe you will pay, Fantastic 4 are on their way' are at best indirect incitements to violence, as is dressing up as a suicide bomber."
Mr Davis said he was not criticising the police for not making immediate arrests at the demonstration itself. "Public order decisions are very difficult, and should not be second-guessed on a minute by minute basis," he declared.
However, action should be taken against those who have clearly incited violence, and taken soon, "because it is vital that we make it very clear that incitement to violence has no place in the political life of this country", he added.
Now I agree that is a "fair and measured" response. It is! But it misses one very important fact.
One would think that the mouthpiece of a political party would happily quote its own people in full and accurately. Right?
Why then, when calling for "the traditional right to peaceful protest" is the Hon shadow home secretary David Davis not questioning the application of the Act to Evans and Wallace?
Yes. We should be concerned...