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World & Current Events > The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal Defense (and the future of the Antagonist)

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message 1: by Graeme (last edited Aug 07, 2020 07:17PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan A little background...
“A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.” - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


H/t to Douglas Adams, may he long rest in peace.

I'm coining a term (if we can get this used in 5 separate publications it'll qualify for inclusion in the OED...)

"The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal Defense." - The notion that if you can't see a threat, it can't harm you.

Now with that out of the way, apparently the Scottish parliament has a new bill being introduce to address the noble goal of reducing hatred, named "Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill."


Of note are the following sections, my bold.
Offences of stirring up hatred
(1) A person commits an offence if—
(a) the person—
(i) behaves in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner, or
(ii) communicates threatening, abusive or insulting material to another person,
(b) either—
(i) in doing so, the person intends to stir up hatred against a group of persons
based on the group being defined by reference to race, colour, nationality
(including citizenship), or ethnic or national origins, or
5 (ii) as a result, it is likely that hatred will be stirred up against such a group.
(2) A person commits an offence if—
(a) the person—
(i) behaves in a threatening or abusive manner, or
(ii) communicates threatening or abusive material to another person, and
10 (b) either—
(i) in doing so, the person intends to stir up hatred against a group of persons
based on the group being defined by reference to a characteristic mentioned
in subsection (3), or
(ii) as a result, it is likely that hatred will be stirred up against such a group.

Culpability where offence committed during public performance of play
(1) This section applies where—
(a) an offence under section 3 is committed during a public performance of a play by
a person who is a performer in the play, and

(b) the commission of the offence—
(i) involves consent or connivance on the part of a person who presents or
directs the performance, or
(ii) is attributable to neglect on the part of such a person.
(2) The person mentioned in subsection (1)(b) (as well as the performer) commits the offence.
(3) For the purposes of this section, a person is to be taken to have directed a performance
of a play given under the person’s direction even if the person was not present during
the performance.
(4) In this section, “play” and “public performance” have the same meanings as in the Theatres Act 1968.

From section three, a defense is defined.
It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to show that the
behaviour or the communication of the material was, in the particular circumstances,
25 (5) For the purposes of subsection (4), it is shown that the behaviour or the communication
of the material was, in the particular circumstances, reasonable if—
(a) evidence adduced is enough to raise an issue as to whether that is the case, and
(b) the prosecution does not prove beyond reasonable doubt that it is not the case

Given the above, if I write a play where a young, idealistic, devoutly muslim man of African parents is a public defender and is assigned to defend a religious zealot and racist bigot and then has to wrestle with his own conscience while he defends a man who hates him. During the course of the play, the racist bigot character expresses his own views on multiple occasions.

[1] Could such a play be performed in Scotland without the Author, Producer, and Actor all being fined and potentially imprisoned?

[2] Are the authors of this Bill expressing a "Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal Defense." - Whereby, if no one can see "Bigotry," then bigotry will be rendered harmless?

[3] Does anyone ask if a proposed strategy (bill) to achieve a specific goal will 'in fact,' achieve that goal or not? Has anyone 'red teamed,' this bill to test it's fitness for purpose?

[4] How many famous works of film, theater, and literature will fail this test?

[5] Is the proposed 'defense,' in section 3, part (4) open to interpretation by judges, and prosecutors allowing for ad-hoc determinations of guilt?

[6] Is the Bible, the Koran, and the noted works of all the worlds major faiths at risk of being 'inflammatory,' under this bill?

and finally...

[7] Can we write stories if Antagonists are not allowed to speak?


message 2: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 0 comments Most things Douglas Adams proposes I tend to be in agreement with including the role of Vogon poetry which any speech from a politician can be used as a substitute.

As for the "Hate Bill" its proposed by the Scottish Nationalist Party (currently in power in Scotland). Scotland has a different legal system from rest of UK. This law is similar to other laws already enacted in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are other laws in place that would counter suppression of free speech and the courts (judges and juries) will rule on the "reasonableness" clauses and innocent until proven guilty remains in place.

Then there are other laws protecting free speech including ECHR and the possibility that the whole legislation fails in the courts.

I' don;t like the theatre implications which go further than other laws in UK, but nor do I like racist fanatics inciting violence using the theatre to get their message over with impunity.

As for The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal Defense - OED all for it

message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15177 comments In the States free speech and guns elevated to a constitutional level therefore they enjoy a broader protection, but even there there are limits, if Wikipedia summarizes it correctly:
" The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees free speech, and the degree to which incitement is protected speech is determined by the imminent lawless action test introduced by the 1969 Supreme Court decision in the case Brandenburg v. Ohio. The court ruled that incitement of events in the indefinite future was protected, but encouragement of "imminent" illegal acts was not protected. This "view reflects longstanding law and is shared by the Federalist Society, the ACLU, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the vast majority of Americans, including most staunch free-speech advocates."[19]

Incitement to riot is illegal under U.S. federal law."
If I attempt to interpret it, it might be Ok to communicate "banks should be robbed", but not Ok to suggest to rob a specific bank at a specific time.
Other countries while cherishing personal freedoms adopt different limitations, more substantial than those in the US.
And yes - under Anglo-American law system the courts have a much broader discretion than under a continental, more codified one, which leaves a narrower leeway for interpretation.
So, I guess if a play is designed to stir up hatred towards a specific group or a person, the participants risk criminal liability, but if it presents complicated issues of racial or other discrimination, it shouldn't be problematic. The courts shall decide. I guess some refer their stuff for legal clearance anyway before airing.
As a side notice surprised that blasphemy is still mentioned as an offence, proposed to be abolished.
I don't think insults or threats are so valuable as to need a legal umbrella.
And thanks for reminding Douglass's pearls :)

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