How far will they go?


By Jenni Frazer
June 25, 2010
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Two unlovely human beings, Michael Heaton and Trevor Hannington, have just been convicted at Liverpool Crown Court for a series of racially inciting posts on the internet, on their own warm and cosy Aryan Strike Force website.
Among their choicer comments: "They will always be scum, destroy 'em with whatever it takes" and "I would encourage any religion or race that wants to destroy the Jews, I hate them with a passion."
And: "Kill the Jew, Kill the Jew, Burn down a synagogue today! ... Burn the scum."
By anyone's standards these are inflammatory sentiments. And yet the pair got sentences of just two years, and two years and six months.
Call me cruel and unfeeling but in my opinion it's not enough. Not nearly enough. The jury agreed that they were not guilty of soliciting murder, which seems a moot point, but no-one would argue that Heaton and Hannington were anything but rabid antisemites. Apparently, however, although the judge could have given them sentences ranging from seven to 10 years, saying unspeakable things about Jews carries the prison equivalent of a smack on the wrist.
Almost certainly they will be out in a year to 15 months, still seething with hatred and no better disposed. Quite what do you have to do in this country to get a serious, meaningful custodial sentence for flagrant antisemitism?

COMMENTS

Nigel Blumenthal

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 19:54

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The real problem here is that antisemitism per se isn't seen as a major crime. Even what we see as "hate crime" isn't necessarily seen as particularly evil in the UK; most European and North American jurisdictions take hate speech and hate crimes far more seriously than the UK does.

You might ask whether the same words posted about Muslims would get a longer or shorter sentence. And how about similar text relating to Christians?

The UK has always had an ambivalent attitude towards its Jews - what I've heard called "a healthy low level of anti-semitism". But if these same people had tied a placard with "I'm a Jew" on it, around the neck of a dog, and then kicked the dog, then you'd see a more significant custodial sentence! Cruelty to animals? Lock 'em up for life!


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 22:16

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Jenni,
It is an extremely difficult one to call. What is the appropriate sentence for hate speech?

A long custodial sentence would turn them into martyrs and, on balance ,I would be most reluctant to advocate it, particularly if this was their first offence.

However, if they had, for example, previously desecrated Jewish cemeteries, then the court should impose a longer sentence.

Worth bearing in mind that Geert Wilders has been charged with hate speech in Holland, for suggesting that the Koran should be banned on the grounds that it is antisemitic.


Jenni Frazer

Mon, 06/28/2010 - 16:31

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UPDATE: Five hotel workers in South Africa have been found guilty of stealing from the England team. They took £500 and some players' underwear. For these crimes, they were fined 6,000 rand (about £525) and got THREE YEARS IN PRISON. Let us meditate on a fine world in which meddling with a footballer's underwear gets you a longer prison sentence than being abusive to Jews.


Blacklisted Dictator

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 08:12

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Jenni,

I wonder how much per day the hotel workers were being paid. Much less than the cost of John Terry's pants!

As far as I am aware, hate speech in South Africa is not a criminal offence. Julius Malema, for example, has been singing " Kill The Farmer, Kill The Boer" and is not in jail.

But what do you think about the case against Geert Wilders? Why don't you discuss it in your next blog?


Joshua18

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 09:48

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"Let us meditate on a fine world in which meddling with a footballer's underwear gets you a longer prison sentence than being abusive to Jews."

And in some places in the world you'd be executed for flirting with Stephen Pollard. If you want to argue your case effectively, at least compare apples with apples.

For my part, I think the BBC, Guardian and Independent are far more dangerous than this pair of clowns. If you are going to have jail sentences for this kind of thing, two years is probably about right.

I'd like to see a piece by Jonathan Goldberg on this.


Blacklisted Dictator

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 12:24

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Jenni,

If I was being Mr Cynical, I would conclude that your "get tough on anti-semites", is a vain attempt to gain some support/credibilty after your misguided jibes at Elie Wiesel re Jerusalem. Actually, I would put money on it.


Jenni Frazer

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 11:42

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-1 points

Then you'd lose your bet.


Blacklisted Dictator

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 12:15

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Win some, lose some.

But let's discuss your views. Do you believe that anti-semitic "hate speech" should be treated more harshly by the courts than the actual desecration of a Jewish cemetery or a physical racist attack?


Blacklisted Dictator

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 12:20

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Jenni,
Should people also be imprisoned for "Islamophobic" hate-speech?


Jenni Frazer

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 17:05

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Unlike BD I have a life and can't spend all day on the blogs asking (or answering) damnfool questions.


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Wed, 06/30/2010 - 17:08

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Wed, 06/30/2010 - 21:35

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Wed, 06/30/2010 - 21:48

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Thu, 07/01/2010 - 00:50

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