Ericka Tazi – Case Closed


At the end of September, you may remember reading of the Vogelenzangs. They were a pair of Christian hoteliers in Aintree who had been charged with ‘religiously-aggravated threatening behaviour’ towards a guest, Ericka Tazi. Ms Tazi claimed at the time ‘they all but called [her] a terrorist’, getting nasty and ‘yobbish’, though the publicised insults from the event seemed only to be that they had called Mohammed a warlord and said that the hijab kept women in bondage.

Anyway, the case has been dropped.

The judge threw it out, suggesting (from to the Times)

that Mrs Tazi’s account could not be relied upon and that she was not quite the religious person that she presented herself as in the witness box.

Ouch.

I wouldn’t put that on her character reference.

The couple’s counsel, Hugh Tomlinson, QC, expressed the super-important, not-to-be-missed point in a handy, sound-bite sized sentence – perfect for being remembered and repeated by generations of lawyers to come:

“The fact that someone is upset or offended is not a reason for criminalising the speech used by the other person,”

Remember that!

Anyway, at the time, I expressed hope that

the case will be quickly dropped and fogotten about.

And now that it’s dropped, I suppose we should try to forget it. Apart from that handy line from Hugh Tomlinson, there isn’t much more to say.

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  1. #1 by Orang Putih on December 16, 2009 - 12:35

    Here in Indonesia there has been an interesting – though secular – case. A woman criticised a hospital on her blog and the hospital sued for defamation. I forget the woman’s name, but she is not well off, and there has been a coin collection for her. Quite a good idea, spell out her name in huge letters made by contributions of small change. There has been such an outcry that there is a good chance the hospital will back down or the case will be dropped.
    Another case that hit the news here was an old lady charged with stealing 3 cocoa pods worth…. about 5p. But that was theft plain and simple. Like scrumping.
    Use of the law to suppress freedom of speech, libel laws and anti-terrorism law, is a serious issue. We expect it in places with oppressive and corrupt governments but not in our western democracies. I read earlier about a student arrested in London for filming certain buildings. Aren’t almost all the buildings in Central London suitable targets for terrorism?
    This might not seem to have much to do with skepticism but I feel there is a very close connection between rational, sceptical though and freedom of speech and action.

  2. #2 by Orang Putih on December 16, 2009 - 12:36

    Here in Indonesia there has been an interesting – though secular – case. A woman criticised a hospital on her blog and the hospital sued for defamation. I forget the woman’s name, but she is not well off, and there has been a coin collection for her. Quite a good idea, spell out her name in huge letters made by contributions of small change. There has been such an outcry that there is a good chance the hospital will back down or the case will be dropped.
    Another case that hit the news here was an old lady charged with stealing 3 cocoa pods worth…. about 5p. But that was theft plain and simple. Like scrumping.
    Use of the law to suppress freedom of speech, libel laws and anti-terrorism law, is a serious issue. We expect it in places with oppressive and corrupt governments but not in our western democracies. I read earlier about a student arrested in London for filming certain buildings. Aren’t almost all the buildings in Central London suitable targets for terrorism?
    This might not seem to have much to do with skepticism but I feel there is a very close connection between rational, sceptical thought and freedom of speech and action.

  3. #3 by Dionigi on December 23, 2009 - 11:34

    I would think that hoteliers who do not know when to keep their mouth shut would quickly lose guests anyway regardless of religion.

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