A 52 year old man from north London was arrested after using ‘racist language’ on a train, sparking freedom of speech debate.

It had been a long time since I heard the phrase: ‘It’s political correctness gone mad!’; I thought The Daily Mail had rinsed that line of all it’s supposed worth. But after another incident of racial abuse is captured on video, I find myself having the same debate again.

It is always the same right-wing argument of: ‘we can’t say anything anymore’, which simply is not true. There is a big difference between not having the freedom to speak openly and being criticised for your choice of phrase.

The fact that the EDL are free to protest and chant Islamophobic remarks, and religious extremists that preach homophobia, are great illustrations of the freedoms we have within our country.

All the law really commands you do, is to be tactful and mindful of how you phrase things. For example, you probably would not get away with saying: ‘fuck off faggots, all queers deserve AIDS‘. However, if you feel you really must belittle and offend the gay community, you might say: ‘homosexuals will burn in hell’ – the Westboro Baptist Church are a great example of this.

Do I believe that people should be arrested for the things we say? Of course not, but if you are going to deliberately use provocative language to upset or offend a minority group, I believe there should be consequences. It is a huge leap forward in the fight for equal rights for the law to now recognise how language, as well as actions, helps to shape society.

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