Limits to freedom of speech

From Wikipedia:

“A Speakers’ Corner is an area where open-air public speaking, debate, and discussion are allowed. The original and best known is in the northeast corner of Hyde Park in London, England. Historically there were a number of other areas designated as Speakers’ Corners in other parks in London, such as Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Finsbury Park, Clapham Common, Kennington Park, and Victoria Park. Areas for Speakers’ Corners have been established in other countries and elsewhere in the UK.

Speakers here may talk on any subject, as long as the police consider their speeches lawful, although this right is not restricted to Speakers’ Corner only. Contrary to popular belief, there is no immunity from the law, nor are any subjects proscribed, but in practice the police intervene only when they receive a complaint…

Speakers’ Corner is often held up to demonstrate freedom of speech, as anyone can turn up unannounced and talk on almost any subject, although always at the risk of being heckled by regulars. The corner was frequented by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, George Orwell, C. L. R. James, Walter Rodney, Ben Tillett, Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, and William Morris.”

Extracts from A night in the cells | Review: Holborn Police Station, London, by Stephen Unwin, writing on 23.3.16: at

“…Holborn’s quite cool now, though. As central London neighbourhoods go, it has been neither mickle nor muckle for the longest time, but is edging towards muckle. Pronounced only without the “l” if you’re a Tube announcer, it’s ten minutes either way to Soho or Clerkenwell or Kings Cross, and is fringed by lovely Bloomsbury. There’s now one of the best hotels in the world in Holborn – the Rosewood – and really great little restaurants like the slightly mad Ciao Bella, and great little cafés like The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs on Chancery Lane, and this patch of olde worlde called Lincoln’s Inn Fields that’s so gorgeous you may need to change your pants.

There are also these people – narrow-shouldered, one suspects, who pronounce ASAP as two syllables – being paid to change the name of Holborn and its immediate environs to “Midtown”…And good luck trying to get a Londoner to use the name of Manhattan’s most anodyne district to describe an area that existed way before America was even a twinkle in the Puritans’ eyes.

…So here’s the back story: Me and chums had left a celeb-packed party to pop into Soho, go-cup of booze in hand. We were waiting patiently for a black cab, bons mots all over the shop and, after lots of minutes, one pulled up. There we are, just about to open the door and get in…

…So, dear reader, as any law-abiding victim of a hate crime would do…

…Our assailant had already given her statement, some squish-squish nonsense…

…A story even my interviewer – a professional when it comes to this sort of thing – wasn’t buying for ready money. Oh, and if anyone’s all het up about the moral injustice of all of the above, it was explained quickly, like sex ed, that me and my fellow victims of hate crime (other cells, down the corridor) had been kept inside (it’s mad how quickly you pick up the lingo!) not because of our vigilante bigot-drenching but because we were pissed and the police aren’t allowed to knowingly release drunk people into the wild.

You should probably make a note of that.

“She did report one more thing,” said my nice lady in our little room, reading her piece of paper with a growing smirk. “She said one of your party told her she has, and I quote, ‘Really bad hair’.”

“Yes, that would’ve been me,” I said. “Is that a crime now?” “

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s