Freedom of Speech?

Luke O’Donoughoe, a particularly brain-dead specimen of humanity if one is to go by the picture of him in the Daily Fail, has gained himself an (no doubt) unwanted footnote in history by being the first person to be banned from a football ground for life because of remarks he made on twitter.

That ban has now been followed up with a criminal record ‘for sending an offensive message by public communication network under the Communications Act 2003′ and 120 hours of community service.

His crime? In the now deleted tweet (or tweets) he referred to a recent club signing using a word beginning with ‘N’ which is deemed to be offensive. Whether the player that the remarks were about saw them is unknown but what is known is that lots of others took offense on his behalf and it is their anger which has led us to where we are now.

That the word has history is undeniable but for all of that it is still a single word – and such a small word at that, consisting as it does, of only 6 letters and two syllables. Words though convey meanings and some, such as the one O’Donoughoe used, contain a lot more information than others.

Should he be punished though for using it? Indeed should anyone be punished for using words that others may deem to be offensive – especially if the person to whom they were directed didn’t see and/or hear them? Is second-hand offensiveness now as permissable in this country as second-hand smoking?

If we are truely a society that permits freedom of speech then people should be allowed to use the words without fearing that the State will punish them for it.

And before anyone shouts at me, I am not saying that the use of them should be consequence free. As the (I presume) owners of their ground, Norwich City are perfectly within their rights to ban O’Donoughoe from their property for life and, if being banned from the home ground of the team he supports isn’t enough, the internet will undoubtedly make sure that his stupidity – or at least some reference to it – is always there for others to see.

Being ostracised by society is a far more effective punishment for your sins than anything the State can impose.


  1. WitteringWitney says:

    “Being ostracised by society is a far more effective punishment for your sins than anything the State can impose.”

    By the same reasoning, should it not be up to society to decide what language is acceptable and what is not, rather than the state – if we are to have free speech, that is?

    Just a thought………….

  2. JuliaM says:

    “Words though convey meanings and some, such as the one O’Donoughoe used, cousin meaning…”

    Unless you’re a rap star and have ‘reclaimed’ the word and given it your own special meaning, thus awarding yourself permission to use it whatever and whenever you wish…

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      Ah yes. I once worked with someone who, at a comedy night when the black comedian was talking about how no white person would dare say it to a black individual decided to take the bait. He got up, walked over to the stage and shouted the word at the comedian over the din. Said comedian was somewhat unimpressed. I’m still not sure why neither my colleague or the rest of us (it was a work do) weren’t thrown out…

  3. Christian says:

    It looks like it was working as intended, up to the point the police got involved and had to charge him with something just to stamp their authority. Its got little to do with keeping the peace, and everything to do with reinforcing control.

    He said something about a new player at a club, the club took exception and said “right, you’re barred”.

    Maybe there should be a counter-claim, the club are discriminating against him… he’s been told off by nanny and got to spend time on the naughty step (+ a “criminal” record), surely the cub banning him is excessive, cruel and unusual punishment. Did they ask permission from nanny first?

    To paraphrase Steve Hughes – you can’t legislate for being offended, its entirely subjective. When did “sticks and stones” stop being relevant?

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      If he is a die-hard supporter I would imagine that the ban dished out by the club is a lot more painful than the slap on the wrists administered by the criminal justice system.