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Anorak | Police investigate Rod Liddle for ‘language hate’

Police investigate Rod Liddle for ‘language hate’

by | 17th, April 2018

Ever hear of “language hate”? Rod Liddle has been accused of committing this new crime. In his Sunday Times column on plans to rename the second Severn crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge, Liddle quipped: “The Welsh, or some of them, are moaning that a motorway bridge linking their rain-sodden valleys with the First World is to be renamed. They would prefer it to be called something indecipherable with no real vowels, such as Ysgythysgymlngwchgwch Bryggy. Let them have their way. So long as it allows people to get out of the place pronto, should we worry about what it is called?”

Liz Saville Roberts MP, of Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru (PC), asked, “What legal defence we have in situations like this?”  She says Liddle’s words amount to “prejudice”. Given a platform on Radio Cymru’s Post Cyntaf programme, Roberts opined: “The two things in particular which incensed me were his attempts to belittle the Welsh language, and to compare poverty in Wales with England’s wealth as a first world nation as something amusing… We have to ask when we should put up with this and whether or not the Sunday Times cares about readers here in Wales. It is disheartening… it also begs the question what legal defence we have in situations like this. Whether you describe this as racist or not, it is prejudice and is being used against us as Welsh people.”

Nineteen people have complained about Liddle to the newspaper regulator IPSO.

And that’s not all.

 

free speech

‘Hello. Bridge hotline…Press 1 for Bunting; 2 for Police; 3 for Holocaust’

 

 

Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws, tells us: “While it is important that we respect freedom of expression on different topics, the increase in the offensive comments about Wales, the Welsh language and its speakers is a cause for concern. Over recent months we have seen a number of situations where people have been insulted – and this is totally unacceptable. A few months ago, I joined with others to declare that action is needed to stop these comments, and stated that legislation is needed to protect rights and to prevent language hate. I will now call a meeting with interested individuals and groups to discuss the matter further and think of ways to move the agenda forward.”

And then the police got involved.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said Liddle’s words were “offensive and irresponsible”.  “The people who’ve contacted me come from across the political divide,” said Jones. “Whatever their party allegiances, they are saying with one voice that if this article had been written in relation to Jewish people, or any other race, it would quite rightly be deemed to be totally unacceptable. For some reason, the sneering classes in London believe that Wales is fair game. I agree his shock jock approach to journalism is offensive and irresponsible.”

I’m pretty offended that a weak joke about a bridge is linked so lazily to the murderous persecution of Jews and the rise of violent anti-Semitism, a hatred now woven into the fabric of the Labour Party. If Jones needs to co-opt anti-Jewish hate to make his point about a journalist’s to-deadline comment on a Welsh bridge’s name, he needs to read more. He should also consider that free speech is all about being “irresponsible” and not seeking approval from anyone, least of all the police. When the police get involved in what things can be and cannot be said, we should all worry – whatever our prejudices.

 



Posted: 17th, April 2018 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink