Free speech

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I am mystified that Liam Stacey has been sentenced to 56 days in jail for his utterly tasteless comments about Fabrice Muamba.

Only shortly before that, SNP party member, Thomas Ball tweeted utterly vile comments about British soldiers, yet the SNP did not even throw him out of the party.

It strikes me that there is an uneven playing field here and, counter-intuitively, I think that Scotland would seem to have the edge over England in this matter.

Both commentators wrote tweets that were ignorant, execrable remarks that showed just how debased some people can be.

However, the only people who were damaged by this were themselves and those with whom they are associated and who showed themselves (at least in the case of Thomas Ball) to have little interest in distancing themselves from his poisonous bile.

That can be seen as a clear reflection of the views of a number of party members and office-bearers of the SNP, several of whom have also accused those who do not support their separatist vision of being anti-Scottish.

However, there is a principle here. It is that of free speech. However disgusting and utterly reprehensible the comments of Ball, Stacey and various separatist cheerleaders were, they must be allowed to say what they wish.

It is a matter of which, in Britain, we once could be proud.

That principle is one of free speech. As Voltaire said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” In England at least, it seems, that principle has been forgotten.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive