SOUTH YORKSHIRE, England September 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A tweet from the police force of South Yorkshire (SYP) is raising new concerns about the logic of “hate crimes” being used to crack down on free speech.
On September 9, the South Yorkshire Police’s official Twitter account called on residents to “report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing,” in “addition to” reporting actual crimes. “Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it.”
A follow-up tweet said that non-criminal incidents “can feel like crimes to those affected,” as well as “escalate into crimes, which we (alongside partners) want to prevent.”
In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it #HateHurtsSY pic.twitter.com/p2xf6OLoQZ
— SouthYorkshirePolice (@syptweet) September 9, 2018
Hi both, we encourage reporting of hate incidents as they can feel like crimes to those affected. They can also escalate into crimes, which we (alongside partners) want to prevent. Further clarification is on our website: https://t.co/yJGyHXT7LM
— SouthYorkshirePolice (@syptweet) September 10, 2018
The tweet directed followers to a web page that defines hate “crimes” as offenses that are “perceived to be motivated by prejudice or hostility” to someone’s race, religion, disability, sexual attraction, or “gender identity.” It admits that “non-crime” hate “incidents,” by contrast, cannot be prosecuted, but “we also want to know about” them in order to “work with partners to try and prevent this from happening.”
The page does not identify any partners or explain what its “prevention” efforts entail.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts told the Daily Mail that the police simply “record non-crime hate incidents in the same way we record non-crime antisocial behaviour incidents and non-crime domestic abuse incidents, so we can gain a fuller understanding of actions which cause distress to people within our communities.”
But while he called this a “nationally accepted good practice,” Roberts’ answer raised an additional question, in light of the lack of an objective definition of “hate.” Pro-family voices argue that such policies conflate actual bigotry with religious views on homosexuality or good-faith criticism of gender ideology – views that could now potentially be equated with “antisocial behavior” or domestic abuse.
Twitter replies to the tweets have been overwhelmingly negative, with respondents accusing SYP of dabbling in “thought control,” predicting that “your citizens will no longer even greet one another in public for fear of reprisal,” suggesting that “you want me to phone the police when there hasn't been a crime but someone's feelings have been hurt,” and multiple invocations of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
Breitbart’s James Delingpole questioned the police force’s priorities, noting that for years South Yorkshire has been home to an epidemic of Muslim gang rapes of thousands of white and Sikh girls. An official 2015 report into authorities’ handling of the crisis faulted SYP, saying that the SYP “perpetuates the cycle of abuse and psychological distortion suffered by the victims” through a pattern in which “young people’s testimonies are ignored, victims are not offered necessary protection, and perpetrators are at liberty to continue their activities.”
The situation echoes similar concerns raised in March when London Metropolitan Police issued new “hate crime” guidelines that not only extended to merely “using offensive language” about “who you are,” but said that “[e]vidence of the hate element is not a requirement” so long as a victim, third party, or officer merely “perceive[s]” hate.