An Australian judge has dismissed charges of offensive language against three marriage equality protesters who were caught on camera chanting swear words. Apparently, yelling expletives into a loudspeaker on public property no longer constitutes offensive language. Good to know.
In September 2015, three protesters were charged by police for chanting swear words at a Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) protest against conservative Christian Democrat politician Fred Nile. According to the protesters, Nile was out celebrating the defeat of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill with other far-right conservatives. The offensive slogans included “fuck off” and “fuck Fred Nile”.
Originally the trio were issued with $500 penalties for offensive language in public but these fines were later dismissed. (It is against the law to distribute penalty notices at a protest.) Police then elected to bring criminal charges against them instead.
Today, following a year long court battle, all criminal charges and fines against the three have been thrown out of court. Interestingly, the judge ruled that “fuck” is now part of everyday vernacular, as proven by common, inoffensive phrases like “you fucking beauty”.
“This is a big win for free speech and the right to protest,” said Patrick Wright, co-convener of CAAH, “the police have attempted to scare marriage equality activists out of speaking up against bigotry. They have failed.”
One of the original protesters, Cat Rose, added that she will continue to fight for marriage equality and LGBTI rights and opponents could expect “a few f-bombs” along the way. Bless.
We’re curious to hear what you guys think. Has “fuck” lost its ability to offend? Should protesters be free to use any language they like during peaceful demonstrations? Or do you prefer “clean” language and censored headlines like the one above? Share your thoughts in the comments.