Malaysian Opposition is expected to make prominent British comedian Rowan Atkinson, famed by comedy series such as ‘Not the 9 O’Clock News’, ‘Blackadder’, ‘Mr Bean’ and ‘The Thin Blue Line’ as their idol and icon. This is because Atkinson is championing the right to insult others.
Rowan Atkinson: we must be allowed to insult each other
Rowan Atkinson has launched a campaign for a change in the law that bans “insulting words and behaviour”.Rowan Atkinson Photo: REX FEATURES
7:53AM BST 18 Oct 2012
The Blackadder and Mr Bean star attacked the “creeping culture of censoriousness” which has resulted in the arrest of a Christian preacher, a critic of Scientology and even a student making a joke, it was reported.
He criticised the “new intolerance” as he called for part of it the Public Order Act to be repealed, saying it was having a “chilling effect on free expression and free protest”.
Mr Atkinson said: “The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult.”
Police and prosecutors are accused of being over-zealous in their interpretation of Section 5 of the Act, which outlaws threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour, the Daily Mail reported.
What constitutes “insulting” is not clear. It has resulted in a string of controversial arrests.
They include a 16-year-old boy being held for peacefully holding a placard reading “Scientology is a dangerous cult”, and gay rights campaigners from the group Outrage! detained when they protested against Islamic fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir over its stance on gays, Jews and women.
Mr Atkinson said he hoped the repeal of Section 5 would pave the way for a move to “rewind the culture of censoriousness” and take on the “outrage industry – self-appointed arbiters of the public good encouraging outrage to which the police feel under terrible pressure to react”.
Speaking at the Westminster launch of the campaign, he added: “The law should not be aiding and abetting the new intolerance.”
He was joined by Lord Dear, former chief constable of West Midlands Police, and former shadow home secretary David Davis.
Mr Davis said: “The simple truth is that in a free society, there is no right not to be offended. For centuries, freedom of speech has been a vital part of British life, and repealing this law will reinstate that right.”
The campaign has united an unlikely coalition of support including The Christian Institute and The National Secular Society as well as Big Brother Watch, The Freedom Association and The Peter Tatchell Foundation.
The Opposition should be supportive of Atkinson’s campaign and take the same campaign to Malaysian shores.
In their strategy of ‘Politics of Hatred’, they have constantly insulted the Police, including PAS Deputy President calling them as ‘British Lackey’. They also insulted the Bench, whenever the judgment did not suit their agenda. Like in the case where Federal Court decided that HRH Paduka Seri Sultan Perak acted according to the Perak State Constitution when he dismissed the DAP-puppet Perak MB Nizar Jamaluddin in February 2009.
They constantly insulted Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak so much so that even a student Adam Adli brought down a flag with the Prime Minister’s photo and a model stepped on a Prime Minister’s photo, on the eve of the 55th celebration of Merdeka.
They also insulted and degraded HRH Malay Rulers. The most recent is when sacked DAP-puppet MB Perak Nizar Jamaluddin insulted HRH Sultan of Johor for the latter’s tender for the plate number ‘WWW 1’ and before that, DAP Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on the Johor issue.
Recently, Lembah Pantai MP dan PKR Vice President Nurul Izzah insulted the Federal Constitution when she questioned in a church do in Subang, why Malay-Muslims are not free to choose their own religion.
In his zest to express himself, Atkinson clearly insulted every authority or institution in a person’s life; a teacher, policeman, vicar, royalty and even God. Bad enough that Atkinson finds it sporting to attack the integrity of the values and value system of the society he belong. Now, he wants to formalise the right for all these insults.
How would these over-the-top insults of institutions that are supposed to be protected for the preservation of everything what the nation stood for, make the society better?
Hence, what Atkinson is fighting in the United Kingdom should be an inspiration if not the icon for the Malaysian Opposition. It is not surprised if they were to invite Atkinson to come to Malaysia and give a talk, about the ‘Freedom to insult everyone and anyone’.
Should we in Malaysia allow for the likes of Atkinsons-nisation or preserve status quo?