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Old 02-21-2008, 08:34 PM   #1
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A "very serious" Homophobic Crime?

Police send four police officers to tackle boy, 11, who called schoolmate 'gay'

By LIZ HULL Last updated at 10:44am on 2nd April 2007


When two policemen turned up unannounced at Alan Rawlinson's home asking to speak to his young son, the company director feared something serious had happened.
So he was astounded when the officers detailed 11-year-old George's apparent crime - calling one of his schoolfriends 'gay'.
They said primary school pupil, George, was being investigated for a 'very serious' homophobic crime after using the comment in an e-mail to a 10-year-old classmate.
But now his parents have hit out at the police, who they accused of being heavy-handed and pandering to political correctness.
"It is completely ridiculous," Mr Rawlinson said.
"I thought the officers were joking at first, but they told me they considered it a very serious offence.
"The politically correct brigade are taking over. This seemed like a huge waste of resources for something so trivial as a playground spat."
Cheshire police launched the investigation last month after a complaint from the parents of the 10-year-old younger boy who received George's e-mail.
They said their son had been called a 'gay boy' and were concerned that there was more to the comment than playground banter and that their child was being bullied.
As a consequence, two officers were sent to the boys' school, Farnworth Primary, in Widnes, Cheshire, to speak to the headteacher who directed them to the Rawlinsons' home in nearby St Helens, Merseyside.
George told his parents that the comment was in no way meant to be homophobic and that he had simply been using the word gay instead of 'stupid'.
Mr Rawlinson, 41, who runs his own business, and whose wife, Gaynor, also 41, is a magistrate, said his son was terrified when the police arrived at their home.
He feared he was going to be arrested and locked up in a cell because of it, he added. "I feel very aggrieved about this," Mr Rawlinson, who has lodged a formal complaint against the police, said.
"We are law-abiding citizens who have paid taxes all our lives.
"I've constantly contacted police about break-ins at my business and never get a suitable response.
"George was really upset, he thought he was going to be locked up. This just seemed like a huge waste of resources for something so trivial."
Inspector Nick Bailey, of Cheshire police, said no further action would be taken against George. However, he said the force had been obliged to record the incident as a crime and that they had dealt with it in a 'proportionate' manner.
"The parents of the boy believed it was more sinister that just a schoolyard prank," Inspector Bailey said.
"We were obliged to record the matter as a crime and took a proportionate and maybe old fashioned view.
"Going to the boy's house was a reasonable course of action to take. This e-mail message was part of some behaviour which had been on going.
"The use of the word 'gay' would imply that it was homophobic, but we would be hard pushed to say it was a homophobic crime.
"This boy has not been treated as an offender."
This is a latest in a series of incidents where police have been accused of heavy handedness for interviewing or threatening children with prosecution for seemingly trivial crimes.
Last October the Daily Mail revealed how 14-year-old Codie Scott was arrested and thrown in a police cell for almost four hours after she was accused of racism for refusing to sit next to a group of Asian pupils in her class.
Teachers reported the youngster, from Harrop Fold High School in Worsley, Greater Manchester, after she claimed it was impossible for her to get involved in the class 'discussion' because only one of the Asian pupils spoke English.
She had her fingerprints and DNA taken but was eventually released without charge.
The incident followed that of a 15-year-old boy from Burnley, Lancashire, who was arrested, thrown in a police cell, hauled before the courts and landed with a criminal record simply for throwing a snowball at a car.
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was prosecuted under a little used 160-year-old law last March, and fined £100 in a case which provoked a public outcry.
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Old 02-21-2008, 08:54 PM   #2
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They said their son had been called a 'gay boy' and were concerned that there was more to the comment than playground banter and that their child was being bullied.
Crying "political correctness" appears to be the last refuge of tyrants.

That aside, hate speech is illegal in the U.K., Canada, and much of Europe--although, generally speaking, these laws are often enforced based on context. In the U.K., at least, I get the sense that they have been more heavy-handed on minor crimes, as of late, but I also know that, interestingly enough, some British officials were quite inspired by the example set by Giuliani's tenure as NYC mayor, where he claimed his success in lowering overall crime came from prosecuting minor crimes that were otherwise swept aside. His reasoning was that those who committed more serious crimes were often guilty of minor crimes earlier in their lives. Maybe these kinds of arrests stem from that admiration.

But I see what you're doing yourself here. I'm guessing you posted this to rile up conservatives into think that this is what's going to happen to America if we let "the gays" have rights, yes? I think that's a reasonable inference, considering that you chose to fixate on "homophobic crime" in your title, rather than the latter part of the article, where the U.K. police arrested someone for racism and another person for throwing a snowball. If that was your intent, then I hope you can guess why anti-hate speech laws were created in the first place; someone always has to look for a scapegoat.
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon



But I see what you're doing yourself here. I'm guessing you posted this to rile up conservatives into think that this is what's going to happen to America if we let "the gays" have rights, yes? I think that's a reasonable inference, considering that you chose to fixate on "homophobic crime" in your title, rather than the latter part of the article, where the U.K. police arrested someone for racism and another person for throwing a snowball. If that was your intent, then I hope you can guess why anti-hate speech laws were created in the first place; someone always has to look for a scapegoat.
Melon, I wish you would answer the question, rather than think you know why I have posted the story. I just want an answer, nothing more sinister than that.
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:12 PM   #4
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As far as it goes, police investigation of the situation--I can't see from the article where they actually "tackled" anyone--would be appropriate, under the sexual orientation regulations of UK equality law. I think it's the case that once such complaints are made they're obliged to investigate them, and that in theory emails intentionally taunting someone for their real or perceived sexual orientation could be construed as illegal harassment, even coming from a minor (one of our UK posters can correct me if I'm wrong here).
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:16 PM   #5
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I thought Melon answered the article very well, especially considering you didn't really ask a question.
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:17 PM   #6
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Hmm Well the title of the thread was a question, was it not?
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:22 PM   #7
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Ah, that's true, I just looked in your post and saw none.

Still, I think he gave good insight with the background on where the UK police is coming from, don't you think? I think his answer was that the UK has been taking minor crimes more seriously lately.
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:29 PM   #8
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The boy wasn't charged as an offender anyway, it was just an investigation.
Quote:
Inspector Nick Bailey, of Cheshire police, said no further action would be taken against George. However, he said the force had been obliged to record the incident as a crime and that they had dealt with it in a 'proportionate' manner.

"The parents of the boy believed it was more sinister that just a schoolyard prank," Inspector Bailey said. "We were obliged to record the matter as a crime and took a proportionate and maybe old fashioned view. Going to the boy's house was a reasonable course of action to take. This e-mail message was part of some behaviour which had been on going. The use of the word 'gay' would imply that it was homophobic, but we would be hard pushed to say it was a homophobic crime. This boy has not been treated as an offender."
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
I can't see from the article where they actually "tackled" anyone
I initially thought of that same usage for the word when I read it too, but after reading the article I see it being used in the "I have to tackle this report now" way. I do think it's very possible tackle was intentionally used to build outrage though when question or investigate would have been much more accurate and appropriate.

I also don't see where four policemen ever talked to the boy. Two went to his house and two had gone to the school and were directed to the child's home. I got the impression they were the same two who talked to the boy. That sounds as if there were ever only two officers "tackling" the case to me.

I don't get the impression a hell of a lot of time or energy was spent on this by the police. They had a complaint and they investigated. That's what they are supposed to do.

It seems to me the only over-reaction came from the paper (was it from a paper? It would be nice to have a link or something). They seem to have done some good old fashioned rabble-rousing.
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:48 PM   #10
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It's from the Daily Mail, which is very much a tabloid, yes.

I see what you're saying about "tackle," that makes sense.
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Old 02-21-2008, 10:20 PM   #11
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Originally posted by Abomb-baby
Melon, I wish you would answer the question, rather than think you know why I have posted the story. I just want an answer, nothing more sinister than that.
Then how about you answer a couple of questions of mine:

1) Out of all the news stories and injustices around the world that you could have chosen to post here, why "this" article?

2) What is your answer to "the question"?
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Old 02-22-2008, 10:54 AM   #12
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It wasn't four officers, but just two, who first went to the school, and then to the boy's home.

I'm rather questioning why the parents didn't try to contact George's parents before calling the police, and I think this way it just has worsened the relationship between the two boys.
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Old 02-22-2008, 11:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon


Then how about you answer a couple of questions of mine:

1) Out of all the news stories and injustices around the world that you could have chosen to post here, why "this" article?

2) What is your answer to "the question"?
1. I thought this forum was here to discuss any topic that anyone felt was pertinent, interesting or just plain curious. I didn't realize that I had to explain why I chose to post a particular topic. Many here post whatever they want, including YOU, and are never asked the same question. I will tell you that I'm interested in knowing what people's feelings are regarding police involvement in this "hate crime" issue. I'm not very knowledgeable on the laws regarding this in the UK. Also wondering if it would have been dealt the same way if the boy would have called the other one FAT or UGLY instead?

2. My personal opinion is that this is PC gone to far. These are kids, first off. I don't agree with name calling in any form. I believe that if we don't learn how to handle ourselves as children, we will never learn to handle ourselves as adults. I was teased in school. I think most everyone probably was. The real world is harsh. Kids can be brutal to one another. But adults can be worse. I don't think police involvement was warranted or necessary.
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Old 02-22-2008, 11:29 AM   #14
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Originally posted by Abomb-baby
Also wondering if it would have been dealt the same way if the boy would have called the other one FAT or UGLY instead?


what if the boy would have called the other one N*GGER or PAKI?
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Old 02-22-2008, 12:25 PM   #15
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Edit: Irvine's post makes the point better.
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