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Comment: Should the law protect us from insults?

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  1. Spanner1960 20 Dec 2011, 3:32pm

    OK Stu, as you really want to bring this one to the fore, I’ll have a quick say:

    Take two examples, a boy that is hounded and harangued in the schoolyard for being different; he may be gay, ethnic, disabled, spotty, or just plain different. – this ultimately results in him taking his own life.

    Example two: many people have been arrested or even “disappeared” for speaking out against governments, rulers or lawmakers who feel that condemnation of their actions is not in the public interest, or simply they do not wish to accept criticism. Current cases in point include the demonstrations in Egypt and Syria.

    My point is where does one draw the line in what is, and is not acceptable?

    There are always going to be people that disagree with your point of view, and equally there are many, who for one reason or other, seem to relish in upsetting other people, usually anonymously – or as we prefer to call them “Trolls”.

    The way I see it is these people are in the main much like flies: harmless, if rather irritating. I do not see that they fit into either category, they are neither direct and personal enough to genuinely hurt somebody, yet equally are a nuisance that needs to be controlled, usually by banning IP addresses or using memberships.

    As for those homophobes, Bible-bashers and general riff-raff that seem to wander in here off the street, they will certainly receive as good as they give from the regulars on here, so I for one quite enjoy ripping these people into small tatters.

    I think in the main, although your heart is in the right place, you are making far too big an issue about a very trivial matter, and it is far easier for people to simply shrug off insults than it is to try and use law to enforce or prevent it happening.

    1. @Spanner1960

      In both the examples you give – the disappearing and the suicide – I would contend that this goes beyond being insulting. Indeed you mentioned harassing and haranguing which is a criminal offence in England & Wales. Ideally, we would want measures to be in place to prevent the suicide by supporting the boy who is being harangued – and that may include punishment for bullying. Bullying is not acceptable. In terms of the whistle blowing etc then thats a difficult one to practically resolve but I am sure most decent people would feel people “disappearing” is immoral.

      As Flapjack says below (and as I tried to say in the article) its about balance – but where do we draw the line, and that was the point of my article – to spark the debate of where the line should be …

      I have my opinions on this but I don’t have an answer …

      1. Spanner1960 20 Dec 2011, 4:23pm

        As a Thai citizen, try dropping an insult about the King and your feet wouldn’t touch the ground. You would likely be sentenced between life and death. All that for saying he had a bad haircut. Or maybe drop a little jibe about Mohammed in an Islamic state.
        Some people don’t seem to have a sense of humour.

        1. humour when it isn’t targeted at people hdd groups us is totally different to bigotry

  2. I’m always in two minds on this debate. It would be a worrying development if gratuitous insults were flat out illegal but then at what stage do you draw the line?
    Hatespeech is always a bone of contention. I think John Stuart Mill’s approach seems the most practical the basic jist is that you should be free to say anything no matter how obnoxious up to the point at which it causes harm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_speech#Limitations
    but then establishing that line in the sand is a whole other can of worms.
    Sustained internet trolling?
    In theory you could insult and harass someone and send them into a downward depressive spiral leading to suicide, all within the bounds of free speech.
    What about Westbero Baptists picketing funerals of people they’ve never met and harassing relatives?
    Technically [at the risk of bringing Godwin to the debate this early on] the Nuremberg rally was only a speech.
    I don’t think it’s as clear cut as the old Voltaire line “I disagree with what you say but defend to the death your right to say it”.
    The one thing that does balance it out is you’re free to say what you want, but you’re not free to choose how everyone else will react.

    1. Spanner1960 20 Dec 2011, 4:17pm

      My personal stance on hate speech is it is a red herring and totally superfluous. The act is the act, and the fact someone is attacked for being gay as opposed to being a little old lady should have no bearing on the sentence.

      I think the comedian Steve Hughes got the whole thing in a nutshell about being offended. People should take a step back and re-evaluate how much insults really matter.
      “How do you make it an offence to offend people? Being offended is subjective; it has everything to do with you as an individual, or a collective, or a group, or a society, your community, your moral conditioning, your religious beliefs – What offends me may not offend you, and you want to make laws about this?”

      1. I think you do make a valid point in so much as it’s sometimes tempting to start curbing free speech when someone is insulting your vested interests or social group, but if that someone turns it back on you and tells you that you’ve insulted them, it becomes a political stalemate.
        And nobody wins if free speech is totally stamped out for the sake of a few insults.
        The evangelical rights versus gay rights type of debate always ploughs up this type of “If I insult you it’s free speech, if you insult me it’s hatespeech” double-standard. You can’t have one rule for them and one rule for us.
        In that sense I can see why Peter Tatchell is defending the free speech of the Manchester Housing officer who posted that homophobic stuff on facebook.
        So within reason I take it on the chin unless it’s a sustained campaign of gratuitous offensive mudslinging bordering on harrassment/ bullying.
        But as you say it’s a very subjective thing and bringing the law to bear on it is usually taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
        That said, I haven’t entirely decided where I stand on this…

        1. @Flapjack

          A very thoughtful comment. I agree when it is insulting comments many people will be able to just laugh it off and walk away. However, what about repeated insults, what about those people who are psychologically distressed.
          When is it an insult? When is it hatespeech?
          I take a firm view on the case of Adrian Smith that it is not about insulting speech or hate speech or opinion. Its about a simplistic breach of code of conduct. If it were not for this breach and it had been about his comments – I would disagree with the comments he made but support his right to say them.
          It is a subjective area, but sometimes a stance needs to be taken and a line in the sand drawn – but where do we draw that line?

          1. BTW enjoying your article… I like a juicy debate!
            And nice to finally put a face to the name.

          2. When the same person repeatedly disrupts the threads with insults, and carries on day after day, I think we are looking at someone who has no sense of the responsibilities that come with freedom of speech.

            One of those responsibilities is to be informed about the topic.

            For example, surely the fact that same-sex behavior has been proven to be one of several perfectly normal and natural sexual orientations deserves respect.

            If an ignorant religious extremist barges onto the threads here and proceeds to insult all of us, then that person’s time would be better spent reading up on the recent and tremendous scientific discoveries concerning sexuality.

            With things moving as fast as they do today, we all have the responsibly to educate ourselves throughout our lives.

          3. True, Jonpol. I question the motivation of any commenter here who just makes offensive comments, derails threads and goads other people. That’s not a person wishing to state their opinion, which may be different from the majority here, it’s a person setting out to disrupt, provoke and hurt.

          4. @Flpajack

            Thanks. Its an interesting debate and although I err to the side of retaining insulting within the law, I do have misgivings about it too. I think if everyone behaved responsibily then we would not need that law (or any sort of monitoring of internet discussions) – unfortunately not everyone is responsible.

            I often wonder what people I chat with look like (whether online or by phone). I’m often wrong!

      2. @Spanner1960

        Somehow my mind has been taken to this song:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbud8rLejLM

        particularly the line “doesnt mean we go around commiting hate crimes …”

  3. I say if you insult me I should be allowed to respond with violence if I choose. If I can’t beat you over the head with a baseball bat then you can’t insult me

    1. @James!

      Whilst I wouldnt perhaps phrase it in the same way that you choose to, for once, I pretty much agree with you

      1. Is that you in the pic?

        1. Thats me

          1. Ahh

            i thought you’d look more uptight

          2. And congratulation on your first article

          3. Spanner1960 20 Dec 2011, 4:25pm

            Maybe I should have a go.
            I’d make Jeremy Clarkson look like Archbishop Tutu. ;)

          4. @James!

            I might sound uptight in some of my comments from time to time, but people who know me well will reassure I am anything but uptight!

            Thanks for the feedback!

    2. Spanner1960 20 Dec 2011, 4:05pm

      Just remember to bring a stepladder if you want to try it with me.

      1. I didn’t say which head

      2. Always knew you were a freakshow, oh i know from your earlier comment ,you’ll shrug that off.

    3. Interesting… I’ll take a thin end of the wedge argument here… If i can’t take a gun and shoot your loved ones you can’t beat me over the head with a baseball bat for insulting you.

      1. fak off

  4. Surely one of the functions of our courts is to ‘draw the line’. That is to say, to consider the matter in context and decide whether a given event was ‘fair comment’ or an insult. If my partner observing me making a foolish mistake joshingly calls me a ‘silly old queen’ and gives me a peck on the cheek that’s quite a different matter from a stranger weilding a weapon and screaming at me calling me an ‘old queen’. It’s that sort of context that allows a court to decide.

    I feel it’s important to keep the principle that insulting people is generally wrong. Debate about important issues is not stifled by laws prohibiting insults; we should all be able to put forward our point of view without insulting others. The courts are not perfect, but they are as good a way as we are going to get to decide each case on its merits.

    1. @Red Kiwi

      This tends to be my view. We should be able to communicate disagreement and variance of opinion without resorting to insult.

      Insult should be instinctively wrong, in my opinion (although I do accept that some people are insulted when this is not intentional – depending on the circumstances, that may be something that can be ignored or may be something that the police and/or a court need to be involved with).

      I do think dropping the word “insulting” from the law will cause more problems than it is perceived it will solve.

      I do think that insults and repeated harassment on discussion forums like these is unacceptable.

  5. Depends on the context really.

    If a football fans is chanting ‘faggot; faggor; faggot’ at a particular player then he is engaging in harassment and intimidation, and he should be arrested. If on the other hand the same fan goes to a bar with his friend after the match and says ‘Player A is a stupid faggot’ then it’s insulting and ignorant but not criminal

    Likewise if I am commenting on a Pink News story about a religious group or person who uses the bible to argue that I am evil because I am gay then I will call them ‘moronic, brainwashed, braindead cuitist who supports a genocidal sky-fairy’ then I am engaging on a reasonable level with them.

    If however I call a poster a ‘moronic, brainwashed, braindead cuitist who supports a genocidal sky-fairy’ for a comment he makes about Lady Gaga’s latest song; then clearly I am engaging in deliberate harassment and my comment should be deleted

    1. Galadriel1010 22 Dec 2011, 9:59pm

      I broadly agree with you. I do think that some of your comments cross the line (as you’ll probably have realised) because you don’t restrict it to just the group in question. Fine, call the Christian Institute or the group in question “moronic, brainwashed, braindead cuitist who supports a genocidal sky-fairy”, but it’s when you include me and my many tolerant christian friends (and my mum) in the group that I feel I have to protest.

  6. Stu, when you say that you do not want to live in a society where hate crime is tolerated because of freedom of expression, I take it to mean that you expect a better morality than that offered by religions.

    I agree, and I would add that a secular morality based on the well-being of all according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a step forward in drawing the line between colorful communication and insults.

    1. @Jonpol

      Yes, I guess you could portray it that way. I wouldnt necessarily expect that morality – but I seek it. A morality of consistency where mutual well being (and difference) is respected

  7. For me (as a gay person) I would just like everyone to behave decently toward each other with no words of hatred used.

    My mental health has been badly affected over the years by outright bullying and not being treated respectfully in some of my workplaces. In some cases I’ve even been dismissed for no other reason than for being gay. I did my job very well – customers were happy – they paid their bills yet the company had an attitude toward me.

    I’ve no problem with their personal opinions of me but they should keep them to themselves and just judge me on my performance at work.

    Everyone should be civilised to each other.

    1. You seem like you needed one. 20 Dec 2011, 8:04pm

      Hug.

  8. As one who has been on the receiving end of insults since I started contributing here I have found the level of commentry very dis-heartening, and there are some commentators who’s default position is to launch into presonal attack when robustly challenged.

    There is nothing wrong with robust debate, but when it becomes personal it is a different story.

    All postings here are moderated after the event, but no matter how personal some of the comments get, these postings never seem to be removed, and it becomes a free for all in terms of exchanging insults.

    I moderate on an HIV forum and insults are not tolerated, they are removed and the individual is notified as why their posting has been removed. We have managed to develop a forum which is respectful & does not encourage insulting remarks, yet we still have robust debate when required.

    PN needs to take more action I beleive to moderate the comments made here as I have been quite shocked by the level of personal insults.

    1. We do have the option of reporting a comment that we find offensive.

      Maybe twenty or thirty reports would be less subjective collectively than just one or two.

      Still, I wonder why hate speech is handled differently Scotland.

      1. Whilst the report option is available, it seems to be without “teeth”, I have come across some very unsavoury comments yet they remain and the person posting them is allowed to continue – so there seems to be no moderation happening.

      2. @Jonpol

        Aside from the difference between Scotland and England & Wales being that they have different legal systems … the interesting point is that the law in England & Wales arguably protects LGBT people more than in Scotland. That said, there appears to be a better understanding of LGBT issues from many of the Scottish police services.

      3. @Jonpol

        Alas, we had the option of reporting a comment … it has been taken away – without rhyme or reason given as to why …

    2. You have a raw nerve W6, that’s for sure. “Ugly”? “Vile”? “Village idiot”? To name a few of the visious attack words in your, albeit limited, vocabulary…

      1. You were crowned the village idiot by another contributer – and yes I will admit to calling you vile because your views about stigma are vile. If you think those words are vicious you have led a very sheltered life indeed!

  9. Yes the law should protect us from insults. You are right. I don’t see why you don’t just delete them because you know they come from evil people who are most likely Christians or Catholics or one of those Christian religions who say stone gays to death. Those people are insane animals and need to be deleted to keep from spreading their poison and sickness. Remove the insulting cancer from Pinknews we do not want to hear see their hate and insanity over and over here because we see it enough everywhere else.

    1. Exactly.

      Also, insults not only disrupt out forums, they also prevent sensible readers from participating in the debate or simply giving their point of view.

    2. 1) your use of the words ‘evil, poison, sickness, cancer and insanity’ here are insults and are in fact a brilliant exaple of the HUGE hypocracy that exists in some sectors of the LGBT community… Your use of insults contradicts the very argument you are making. Is it okay to use one hand to throw insults, such as the ones you have used, at Christians while with the other we say they cannot retaliate? (i’m not saying that homosexuals always start arguments like that but i think there is a tendancy to assume all Christians are homophobic, i have many Christian friends, they do not agree with my way of life and believe it to be sinful. And they have said so to me. I respect their opinion but i respectfully tell them that i do not believe in their God or agree with their moral values.)
      Also as a side note, Christianity is not the only homophobic religion and I have no heard of any Christians stoning gays to death.

    3. There’s several levels here. I don’t think many people would argue with the notion that comments threads can be moderated and offensive posts can be deleted according to rules set down by the moderators.
      On some comments pages repeat offenders are blocked.
      That’s at the low jeopardy end of the free speech spectrum – or at least a generally accepted practice on online forums.
      At the point where you seek to get dissenters arrested or political opponents silenced you’re in very murky territory and that’s where things can quickly flip round and bite you in the ass.
      It only takes one political seachange and suddenly you’re the one being gagged.
      Remember that the same free speech laws that protect them may one day protect you.
      Ideally we’d all respect each other without having our arms twisted.

      1. @Flapjack

        I agree – and thats the battle that goes on inside my head and heart. There must be a balance that can be achieved – I think that is partly by individuals recognising and exercising responsibility. I suspect this in itself is not enough …

    4. Spanner1960 20 Dec 2011, 10:37pm

      I disagree. If all the hatemongers, trolls and general loonies were filtered out, this forum would become just a bland and banal bunch of yes mean nodding and agreeing with each other.

      However much you may dislike some of these people, it not only provides good debate and a Devil’s advocate point of view, but I think it also keeps a lot of people that may infrequently wander on here aware of the fact that LGBT rights may have come a long way, but the fight is far from over and there are many out there that would like to pull us down.

  10. Homophobia and racism should be on an equal footing since both are ignorant opinions.
    Racism isnt allowed, why should homophobia be?

    Should it be ok to say to children in schools that their gay parents are evil and going to hell? No!

    And surprise surprise, Peter Tatchell supports removing the right for us to be protected from hate speech.

  11. I will not be able to express my thoughts on this topic more articulately than the human rights campaigner Maryam Namazie, so I won’t.

    Freedom of speech. No if’s and but’s.

    In Iran, Tehran bus workers demanding their rights have been arrested, including their wives and children, and some tortured.
    * In Afghanistan, teachers defending the right of girls to an education are threatened with death.
    * In Iraq, women’s rights activists are threatened for demanding equality and freedom.
    * In Iran, journalists who published a satirical article comparing the advent of Khomeini to AIDS are languishing in prison…
    * In Yemen, Mohammad Al Asadi, an editor, is facing execution for recounting how Mohammad approved of the killing of a woman who had insulted him.

    The list is endless…

    Too many more nameless, faceless human beings across the globe are maimed, threatened, killed, bound and gagged for speaking out and expressing themselves.

    And it’s not just ‘over there’, but right here…

    * A website in Sweden publishing the Mohammad caricatures is shut down.
    * Editors are fired in France.
    * The Behzti play is shut down after Sikhs are offended by it.
    * A Scottish cancer charity is intimidated into not accepting money raised by Jerry Springer the Opera.
    * Writers living and writing here, including myself, are threatened with death on threads of umma.net.
    * People are arrested and summoned to court for carrying placards or flyers with the Mohammad caricatures on them [in fact Reza Moradi was told he will be summoned to court for ‘offending’ someone because he carried a placard with the Mohammad caricatures at the March 25 free speech rally – more on this later].

    Clearly, free speech and expression are not luxuries or western values. They are essential for people everywhere.

    And what more and more people are standing up and saying after government upon government and organisation upon organisation demanded apologies for the Mohammad caricatures and gave them on all our behalves is that they are not up for sale.

    We know better.

    Any limits on free speech & expression are really attempts by those in power or vying for power to limit our rights and the rights of the population at large.

    Don’t be duped into thinking otherwise.

    And that is why the defence of free speech and expression are so intrinsically linked to the defence of other rights. You cannot defend one without the others. You cannot defend one without also defending the right to asylum, the right to strike and organisation, labour rights, women’s and children’s rights, the right to live in a secular society, the right to equality and freedom, universal rights, the right to religion and atheism and belief as a private matter, the right to live lives worthy of 21st century humanity and of course vice versa. You cannot defend humanity without defending its right to speak and express itself…

    For this, nothing can be deemed sacred except the human being.

    Defining certain expressions and speech as sacred is merely a tool for the suppression of society; saying speech and expression offends is in fact an attempt to restrict it.

    And of course what is held most sacred and deemed to offend the most especially in this New World Order is criticism and ridiculing of religion and its representatives of earth.

    Why do it if it offends? Because it must be done.

    Because ridiculing is a form of criticism, is a form of resistance, is a serious form of opposing reaction!

    Whilst we may all be sometimes offended by some things, it is religion and the religious that are offended all of the time. They alone seem to have a monopoly on being offended, saying their beliefs are a no go area, and silencing all those who offend.

    And don’t think this reactionary rightwing political Islamic movement is only offended by a criticism of Islam or Mohammad. [I am focusing on this because it is a movement in power.] It is offended if you hold hands on the streets, have sex outside of marriage; it is offended if you are unveiled or improperly veiled; it is offended if you listen to certain music or if you teach evolution and science or if you dare to teach girls; it is offended if you are gay; if you are a woman; – many of which are by the way punishable by death or at the very least flogging and imprisonment in many countries under the rule of Islam….

    It is interesting how the political Islamic movement kills, it maims, it humiliates – with Islam as its banner – and we are not even allowed to ridicule and criticise it.

    Religion considers a woman as worth half a man, gays as perversions, sex outside of marriage as sinful, and so on and so forth but it is a few caricatures that are offensive!

    Offensive or not, sacred or not – religion and superstition – Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Scientology and so on – must be open to all forms of criticism and ridicule.

    It must be first and foremost because religion is not something from eras past but because it is as a political movement wreaking havoc across the world. Not a second passes without some atrocity being committed by it. It hangs people from cranes and lamp posts, it stones people to death – in the 21 century – with the law even specifying the size of the stone to be used, it amputates and decapitates.

    It must be criticised and ridiculed because that is how throughout history reaction was pushed back.

    That is how throughout history society has managed to advance and progress.

    Why this should be seen as an attack on Muslims or Christians or Sikhs or Scientologists per se is beyond me. Is an attack on the belief and practice of Female Genital Mutilation an attack on girls who have been mutilated? Is the criticism of Israeli state terrorism an attack on Jews? Is an attack on the BNP that promotes Christian culture or the Christian Council of Britain it has recently established, or the ridiculing of Jesus racism against Christians? No of course not. And the same applies to the Muslim Council of Britain, Hamas, the Islamic Regime in Iran and the Mohammad caricatures.

    Islamophobia – and now by the way the Church has asked that Christianity-phobia also be included in UN rights terminology – none are racism because criticisms of a religion, idea, a belief and even the practices that result from beliefs – even a phobia and hatred against beliefs have nothing to do with racism against real live human beings.

    Saying it is so is merely part of the effort to make it such in order to silence criticism of religion and the political movement that holds it up as its banner.

    The world is today threatened and taken hostage by two poles of terrorism. The state terrorism led by the United States on the one hand and the political Islamic movement on the other share a lot more than they let on. After all they were former friends and many of them still are. Both use religion to attack the gains made by humanity in centuries past. Both defend religion and use it.

    Freedom of speech and expression are one of the few means at the disposal of many to resist this terrorism and its attack on universal values and norms.

    We must defend it unconditionally. There can be no ifs and buts.

    The above was Maryam Namazie’s speech at a free speech march in Trafalgar Square in London on March 25, 2006.

    1. I agree freedom of speech is an important human right …

      However, if we believe that this right is of paramount value above other rights – then how do we tackle racism, harassment, bullying etc?

    2. As admirable as her speech is, it is strange that Maryam Namazie does not mention the responsibilities that come with freedom of speech.

    3. I couldn’t agree more if I tried. Naturally, I have been insulted and offended during the course of my life – just like everyone else – but I don’t, and can’t, agree with those who wish to make insulting me, or anyone else, and offending me, or anyone else, a criminal, or civil, offence.

      I do NOT believe that I have some sort of right that states that I must never be insulted or offended by someone else or by some organisation or institution. I DO believe that the best way to protect free speech (something, incidentally, that we don’t have in the UK, and have never had in the UK for there is no defense that one can use in a court whereby you can claim that you were exercising your right to free speech and there never has been such a defense) is to make it absolute and unconditional – one may say what one wants to, or about, anyone who one wants to or about any organisation or institution one wants to, without the let or hindrance of any law excepting that of libel.

      I believe, further, that the UK is in desperate need of some sort of constitutional act similar to the first amendment to the constitution of the USA which reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

      The nibbling away of our freedoms in this country is becoming intolerable and this is where I take a stand – absolute freedom of speech and opinion with no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. I don’t care, or mind, if that means that I have to tolerate insults and become offended by what is said to me – at least I will be able to reply.

      1. Even ine supposed stronghold of freedom of speech, that is the USA – there still is NOT fully transparent and free speech. There are hate crimes in the USA for example.

        The fact is that insulting someone in England & Wales currently can be a criminal offence. That may or may not change depending on the home office consultation.

        1. Chris McCoy 21 Dec 2011, 12:02am

          Stu, Hate crimes have nothing to do with free speech. No one in the USA can be arrested and charged with a hate crime for saying something.

          A Hate Crime is an enhanced penalty to an already existing crime. The person must have done something that was already a crime to begin with.

          1. I am willing to be corrected on the context of hate crime in the US. Its my perception that usually something is said accompanying a crime (eg assault) which aggravates the crime. The words indicate some motivation which is deemed to be hate inspired (homophobic, racist, anti-religious etc) and thus the aggravated offence is taken to court. Therefore – the words are clearly a significant factor in the crime. Its not free speech – if they had not said those words and carried out the same crime, they would have been charged with a lower offence and received a less harsh penalty.

            Even if my view here is not accurate in the US – there are plenty of scenarios where speech is not free in the USA

          2. Spanner1960 22 Dec 2011, 9:58am

            I really don’t see why the motive of the crime should affect the outcome. The result is the same.

    4. This article should have been given a +5 or more.

      Freedom of speech is being eroded every day now. We are being policed world wide.

      Funny that the church and religions are biggest murderers of this so called free world.

      One of the ten commandments is: thou shall not kill. Yet religions and the church have been getting away with these atrocities for centuries. Not just Christianity, also Islam. just look to the Middle east of late and countries like China, North Korea where human rights does not exist.

      There is so much more we would could all talk about on this subject. Being constructive helps the debate.

      We must all stand united in the protection of free speech

    5. Should Aidan Burley MP and his friends be able to exercise their freedom of speech and conduct themselves in such an offensive and insulting manner?

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-16299035

      I would contend that this is an example of the level of irresponsibility that is lacking …

  12. Helen Wilson 20 Dec 2011, 7:16pm

    I have always thought you are free to say anything…BUT…you must be prepared to stand behind what you have said. So freedom of speech can not be used as a cover for using hate speech in real life or on-line. Directing bible passages on a group you know will be offended by them must constitute a hate crime. We may be free to walk into a synagogue and read out loud from Mine Kamp to its congregation, however common sense and basic human empathy means we police our own actions and that would never happen. if it did happen it must constitute a crime because the offender has sought out the victims.

    We only have to look at the trouble the England football captain is in for allegedly using racist language against another player. Why should it be any different when the language is homophobic or transphobic? Should a racist be allowed to point toward the text in racist literature and say what he/she is saying is a belief based on that text therefore they are immune from prosecution?

    1. @Helen

      I entirely agree. There is a clear difference between what we are able to do and what we should do.

      The law has identified a number of protected characteristics – race, sex, gender, orientation, etc etc – and its really based on common sense and human compassion, we may believe something, but out of humanity and reasonableness one does not deliberately seek out to offend – particualrly in an arena where its obvious that this will happen.

      I went to a church with a friend a couple of years back. I don;t share their beliefs – but for complex reasons it was something that my friend had to do to help them move on. It would have been incredibly damaging to my friend and disrespectful to those in the church if I had voiced my views on some of the issues that were discussed in the sermon (fortunately LGBT issues were not raised!). Out of compassion, particularly but not solely towards my friend, I held back on my views. My friend and I discussed them at a later date.

    2. “We may be free to walk into a synagogue and read out loud from Mine Kamp to its congregation, however common sense and basic human empathy means we police our own actions and that would never happen. if it did happen it must constitute a crime because the offender has sought out the victims.”

      Excellent comment. I completely agree with that. Free speech is one thing but we don’t have the right to seek out people to insult and knowingly hurt them. In that case, it’s not stating an opinion, it’s bullying.

    3. “We may be free to walk into a synagogue and read out loud from Mine Kamp to its congregation…”
      Did you mean Mein Kampf?
      I can see this turning into one of those ‘gaystapo’ style memes. Mine Kamp conjures up this…

    4. Anti-gay Christians usually misquote Bible scripture in their attacks on LGBT’s , it doesn’t sound so impressive to yell what is actually written in Leviticus through a megaphone “a male with another male may not lay lyings of a woman”
      If you remember Iris Robinson used to say homosexuality is an abomination while claiming to be quoting the Bible as the word of God.

      Junk Bible translations include blatantly anti-gay interpretations of scripture, these are the versions of the Bible that may be compared to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the Christo-fascists who quote from them do so expressly to spread hatred of gays that has created near holocaust conditions for LGBT’s in countries like Uganda and Ghana.

      The comparison between the anti-gay Bible translations used by extreme evangelical Christians and Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a fair one.

  13. So the face of the goody goody Stu is revealed.

    No, the law should no protect anyone from insults.

    You say in you opinion, many comments have been deliberately provocative, that’s your view and opinion, which your entitled to. Just as those wanting to express their view of homosexuals are.

    So what they insult you, big deal, get over it.

    Lets hope the Act is modified, for the freedom of others. Just because someone has a view that you do not agree with, or disagree with homosexuals always use the homophobia card. It is not incitement to hatred.

    PS; Did you actually write the article, or have you just put your name to it, as its a bit too intelligent.

    1. Oh and if you have found my comment, insulting and offensive, then that’s not my problem, too much pussy footing around, I say it as it is. I can take insults, I don’t run off whinging or grassing to the police just because someone doesn’t agree with me and call me a faggot or some other word.
      Homosexuals need to toughen up and stop being do dam weak and playing the victim all the time.

      1. @Neal

        If I do choose to get authorities in to deal with issues, its not because I am particularly upset. I have dealt with far more serious emotional and frighteneing experiences than anything you could ever say to me.

        I make complaints because I recognise that bigotry has no place in a moral society and out of my inate sense of community to my fellow citizens (gay or not).

      2. There is only so much one man can take. We seem to be treating people they way we want, not how they deserve. Surely we can all agree we are part of something greater than ourselves and that we ourselves are nothing without the human kindness, affection and interaction we experience on a daily basis.

        I think a point Stuart was trying to make, is although several people who comment on this site may disagree with what they perceive as homosexuality, they seem to use a rather vile and hateful rhetoric which has no place in reasoned debate. It is also fair to point out that sometimes we respond in kind, which is no less wrong despite being used with the best intention.

        We all just need to slow down, think more and try and reach a greater understanding when it comes to all points of disagreement.

        1. Clappity

          That was a significant part of my views that I was trying to express!

          Thank you!

      3. Neal

        Your comments are the ones that should be challenged by a moderator, as the are far too personal and combative in nature – the playground words do nothing to help debate and they do not contribute in a constructive manner.

        It seems you are here to deliberately offend people!

      4. While you’re perefctly entitled to hold a different opinion, Neal. I don’t get why you’d want to make personal insults. Whether it’s legal or not, it’s something that surely reflects badly on you or anyone else who randonly throws out insults rather than trying to state their case in an adult, controlled manner.

    2. Yet again, Neal demonstrates his level of argument “goody, goody” and throwing laughable insults in …

      The article is all my own work. I can even write in joined up writing now …

      The law already does protect people from insults. Repeated insults are harassing which is also protected in other ways.

      You seem keen to exercise rights – but show no willingness to understand the responsibilities that exercising those rights require.

      Its a shame rights end up being restricted by law, because of people like you who choose (yes choose) not to understand the responsibilities that come with rights.

      As for seeing my face … yes, its there … happy, out and proud. Strange you always hide behind anonymity.

  14. No sensible case can be made for Section 5, and the sooner it goes the better.

    I don’t care about your feelings. If someone is harrassed, or suffers homophobic abuse and threats in public, those would come under Section 4 in any case.

    And if I want to dispose of a holy book, that belkongs to me, then I should have the right to do as I wish with my property.

    It would be nice to wave a magic wand and magic away the david skinners or christian institutes, wouldn’t it? Well, just give as good as you get, when they claim to know the mind of God or whatever. Ridicule their beliefs. Ridicule their faith if needs be. And if they come back quoting AnswersInGenesis, or NARTH websites – fine. It’s only when they respond by saying ‘I know where you live’ that you or similar threats that you resport to the police.

    Stuart’s case is a call to halt free speech. I don’t buy it.

    1. @Adrian

      I disagree with you (unsurprisingly!) :-)

      Some homophobia or harassment may come under section 4, other may come under section 4a – but not all … (although it may be that this aspect of the law needs clarifying) …

      I was particularly careful to say that the Home Office are right to review the Public Order Act. If protection from harassment, alarm and distress through threatening and abusive behaviour – that does not necessarily legalise all forms of insult – then I am more than happy to engage with new law. I don’t think we should jump to a reaction to change the law by amendment of the protection of freedoms bill due to a desire to permit some religious people to insult others. It should be carefully considered and more thoughtful than that and based on what is best for the entire population, not just one interest group. To continue with the amendment jeopardises other important aspects of the bill and this could be adequately dealt with by Home Office consultation.

    2. I certainly do not set out a case to limit free speech – I call a case to exercise responsibility. If that can not be done, then we need to consider how we ensure people exercise responisbility.

      I dont give answers. Its a very subjective area and I am torn in what I feel (personally) is appropriate

      1. Well this country is strangled by red tape, libel laws, a whole series of unnecessary hate speech laws – layers and layers of rubbish. So bad are the libel laws that scientists (to wit, Simon Singh), can get sued if they refute pseudoscience in a scientific peer reviewed journal.
        It doesn’t exorcise prejudice from society – with all these laws, homophobic prejudice, racism are still rife and the BNP got 16% of the vote in numerous towns in northern England 2 years ago.

        Freedom of speech also means the freedom to listen, to expose and interrogate flawed opinions, and only by this means, the freedom to change one’s opinion. To allow that to happen, unfortunately there is a bit of rough and tumble to be experienced along the way.

        1. I don’t see libel being relevant to a debate on insult, of course its relevant to freedom of speech.

          If there were not public order laws that gave the police the power to deal with people who are insulting and provoking public disorder when continuing despite being warned – then the experience of prejudice, racism etc etc may well have been even worse …

          I agree with your comments re freedom to lsiten, change opinion etc etc and I agree that sometimes debate will lead to a robust exchange of views. It is not beyond the wit of man to communicate responsibly, explaining their views in a manner which is civil but demonstrates with clarity the variance in views. Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but insulting comments are the weakest form of debate. Repeated insults (to my mind) become abuse especially when insults are requested to stop especially from someone in authority.

          1. On libel – I think the fact that chiropractors could run up £100,000 costs (they lost in the end) against a scientist – shows British law’s contempt for freedom of expression.

            Repeated insults – well, it’s true. It isn’t debate. When someone resorts to that, they have lost the argument.

            Bear in mind, when some extremists come one here and tell us that ‘WW2 fighters would have joined the Japs if they knew they’d secure the freedom for queers’ – well, these comments are like gold-dust: if such a person ever gained media adulation for a moral crusade at some point in time, we have a record of what they really think. It’s important for the general public to know about who we are dealing with.

            The law I think is quite clear between freedom of speech and harrassment. If someone in the street starts harrassing a particular member of the public, with insults, etc, there is clearly a case.

          2. @AdrianT

            The problem is that on threads such as PN the issue of repeated insults (which we both agree is not debate!) come from both sides of the argument. Although I do accept that those I find most reprehensible are the anti LGBT ones like those you mention.

            Can you name any cases where the law on insulting words or behaviour has been used inappropriately (where the police, CPS or courts have not acted as appropriate scrutiny) – where rights were not respected by any of the criminal justice system? Sometimes the police will get it wrong but there are checks and balances already in place …

  15. The link to the consultation is

    https://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/v.asp?i=41428bwhlr – ends on the 13th Jan!

    Here is one of the questions – Do you think there is a clear difference between ‘insulting’ words and behaviour and ‘abusive’ words and behaviour? Please give examples. and so on

    – insults may actually be nastier, since they can be done very calmly and if done in the wrong crowd can be provocative eg a street preacher giving a lecture to readers of the CI won’t insult his audience but a street preacher making comments about homosexuality in a crowd of gays can be insulting and provocative and can cause a public order offence.

    Offensive language surely is just shouting and swearing in a nasty way to cause a public order offence,

    – surely this all has to be taken in context with a public order offence, does it really cover insulting comments on PN ?

    1. If there is a difference between abusive and insulting then it needs to be clear in law otherwise if the amendment is made it is going to tie up a lot of appeal court time and be expensive to the state.

      1. It’s impossible to cover every type of “insult” or “abusive” language. They overlap, it depends on the crowd involved, it depends perhpas on the way they are said. You can only provide examples and better training to police to improve their judgement. That’s happenning we’re told. The police want to keep this law as it is, again the committee meetings have said that.

        The law isn’t there simply to protect us from insults but to allow the police to intervene before things get nasty. Do we really want riots on the streets of the UK.

        1. @John

          Yeah I accept that not every situation can be detailed in law, but more clarity and direction can be given.

          I certainly don’t want riots on the streets again (and whilst section 5 is not the answer to that problem – it may arrest the lack of responsibility that some people seem to have).

          As I say in my article, there are checks and balances in place (review by investigating officer, police supervisor, CPS and court being 4 stages of assessment of the appropriateness of charge). All of the cases the CI bring as examples of potential excessive use of the law were stopped at some stage (some CPS, some court) – thus the checks and balances work. Surely, thats an important issue in a functioning, effective and responsible criminal justice system

  16. Surely the purpose of the law is not in itself to protect us from being insulted but to help the police prevent public disorder. I think it originated when there was a lot of trouble between rival gangs of footie fans waiting outside grounds and slinging insults at each other to provake a punch up.

    Thus, if a street preacher is saying things that may be so provoking that the average reasonable LGBT person is likely to lose their cool, the police can stop him doing so.

    I think it is a good law as it gives people pause for thought that they should not go too far. As has been said above, the courts are there to draw the line. And in the cases which the disingenuous Edward Leigh states as being unfair to christians the courts have in fact found in their favour – so his argument is not valid

    1. Absolutely, Benji

      Its about sensible application of the law by police.

    2. “Thus, if a street preacher is saying things that may be so provoking that the average reasonable LGBT person is likely to lose their cool, the police can stop him doing so.”

      That’s the same rationale that many governments (Moscow comes immediately to mind) use to ban GLBT pride events.

      Free speech must be protected, period. Barring a few well-established exceptions (issues of public safety, i.e., “Fire” in a crowded theater, slander/libel, etc.) I can think of no instance of problematically “abusive or insulting” speech that wouldn’t be guilty of some other truly actionable offense. That street preacher? He’s fine until he’s truly & deliberately inciting a riot. That jerk swearing at the cop? Chances are he’s resisting arrest. The jackass yelling at me as I walk out of the gay bar? I’m going to ignore him until I feel like he’s about to attack me, at which point I’ll have him arrested for assault.

      1. The person who is “resisting arrest” that you mention – what was he being arrested for initially?

  17. Presumably, Miss Leigh and Miss Huppert and evangelical Christians. Probably closets to boot.

  18. Where does one draw the line? What about religious cults who denigrate us and whose words could be construed as incitement to hate and commit violent acts against us or worse, murder. What abour those cults who say we should be discriminated against in the form of a ban on our marrying? It may not be hate speech per se, but it is calling for just one group of people to be discriminated against. If they wish to denigrate or insult us, we should have the right to give it right back. No exemptions for religious cults whatosever no matter what their belief system may be.

    1. @Robert

      Whilst I don’t think your language is helpful … I do agree with your point of where do we draw the line … thats the difficult point – and thus I suspect its not the law that is wrong, nor its application (although better guidance could be offered) … its a specious argument that the law is wrong because all the issues of complaints that the law has been abused have not resulted in conviction – so the legal safeguards have worked.

  19. We DO have freedom of speech on all sides at the moment in the UK. But when this happens in conjunction with a pblic order offence then this law cuts in!

    Does it really have anything to do with just insulting people on website , forums , schools etc.

    The consultation is titled “Consultation on police powers to promote and maintain public order” and covers curfews and removing face coverings. Doesn’t that give you a clue when this law would be used. It not about protecting the over senstive ones amonst us from being insulted which the likes of PT or Edward Leigh are saying….That’s a red herring! The important part of it is to stop a public order offence.

    The words insulting and abusive are different , remove insult and you’ve lost your controlling power in a public place.

    1. @John

      In terms of public order, I agree the police need powers where they can maintain the public peace (for the benefit of all) – that might or might not require a law that criminalises insulting behaviour in some circumstances (and the fact there needs to be a warning before the arrest occurs seems reasonable to me).

      The reason for the comparison between online insults and public order was threefold:
      1) why should public behaviour be different from online behaviour?
      2) the review of public order is current as is offensive conduct on this site
      3) there are other offences that can be used to control (in certain scenarios) activity online, if appropriate and desired

      I remain unsure where the line should be drawn, as I believe failing to tackle insulting behaviour can lead to more sinister events. However, I do not wish to dilute freedom of speech.

      1. If there is a difference between abusvie and insulting language, yet both create similar affect on the public peace and you remove one part of that from the law ie the exmaples around the word insulting then you are immedaitely not covered by that word. You’ve lost your power. You’re only covered for abusvie language which is different. Everyone has been clear that more guidance is going to be given. Tha’t already been accepted.

        Look I think the language and abuse that comes on this website sometimes is totally unacceptable but unlike other websites PN doesn’t apear to have any checks themselves, They don’t review comments. You don’t sign up to comment (I know I didn’t). etc etc. There should be some control within PN to reject comments. Simply having a report button or not displaying the comments if it has sufficient ticks on the bad comment button obviously isn’t good enough.

  20. It really worries me that we are thinking of removing the word insulting and only leaving the word abusve in the public order Act.

    “Abusive” implies an element of irrationality and that they may be shouted out. “Insult” suggests something quieter but perhaps more insidious.

    “Insulting” words may, perhaps, be more provoking because they may pretend to be based on rational argument. It may in fact be easier for a victim to laugh off and to walk from “abuse” whereas it may be harder not to react to a studied “insult”. If allowed I think they may both, in certain cases, be likely to lead to a breach of the peace.

    Who needs, or should want, to insult another person in public in order to express themselves freely? S.5 does not prevent anyone from making positive suggestions or proposals.I don’t believe there is any passage in the Bible which if read out in public would constitute an insult to anyone. It would only be through adding their own commentary and personal interpretation and judgement of others that a preacher could find scope to “insult” others.

    For an open society to function smoothly and peacefully the principle of always publicly showing respect for each other is important.

    This law should NOT be changed.

    1. Dr Robin Guthrie 21 Dec 2011, 2:45am

      Precisely, in my opinion.

      A civil society can only function when all aspects of that society
      functions together in all of their disparate roles.

      I would personally be very happy to let all good and bad religiously minded people believe whatever they like.

      My objection, is when they attempt to alter civil law to suit their particular doctrine which they do continuously.

      Their “right” to religious freedom as they want it would give them the right to insult me, my parents and my very existence.

      “Hate the sin, love the sinner” these people say.

      Well I spit their bile back in their face and say,

      “They are the sinners” of their own belief.

      “Judge Not, Lest Ye Not Be Judged”

      If these people truly are deeply religious then they would know that.

      And in answer STU. YES.

      The law should protect us from these types of insults.

  21. essexgirlbecky 21 Dec 2011, 3:01am

    Stuart, I do think you have misrepresented the issue. Section 5 is about the likely audience as it is about words and action. It’s not enough that what is done or said is insulting, it has to take place in the presence of someone who is likely to be alarmed, harassed or distressed. On that, section 5(1) is explicitly clear. You also omitted any reference to the statutory defence under 5(3)(c) that the comments or behaviour were reasonable; it is there to ensure freedom of speech is protected.

    Nor do I accept that the difference between threatening/abusive and insulting is semantic. You alluded to the prosecution of Emdadur Choudhury who was convicted under section 5 for burning poppies on armistice day and of Mohammed Hasnath who was convicted for posting gay free zone stickers on the DLR. Neither of these were held to be threatening or abusive; they were clearly done to foment community tensions, to provoke the far right into action against muslims and to radicalise muslim youth.

    1. @Becky

      I had no intention to misrepresent. I could have written a lot more about this, but with the limitations on space for the article I had to try and express myself without necessarily saying everything that I thought or every aspect that could be commented on. I thought I had balanced the facts reasonably well considering. I’m sorry you disagree.
      I was commenting on section 5 with an assumption that we were talking about enforcement of the law, thus, there either had to be a complaint (and thus an audience affected or a police officer present who formed the opinion that they themselves or other persons present were impacted by the abusive, insulting or threatening words or disorderly behaviour. That may not have been clear. I did not allude to the defence in section 5(3)(c) but I did allude to scrutiny from supervisory officers, CPS and courts which could all consider the viability of the statutory defence.
      I agree there is a difference between threatening and abusive; …

      1. essexgirlbecky 21 Dec 2011, 10:46am

        I am grateful to you for highlighting the wider issue. It’s important we discuss it. I’m quite sure you didn’t intend to misprepresent but I don’t believe that it’s possible to properly discuss the Harvey case without addressing more fully the meaning of “likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress”. I accept the question is “Should the law protect us from insults?” but if you are inviting responses that will inevitably focus upon the restriction of free speech, for the sake of context at the very least, existing safeguards need to be covered. I think maybe you tried to do too much with this article, I found the background material about readers comments confusing and would happily have seen that excised to allow you to look more at the law as it stood. However I was very impressed by the level of research you had done. Please don’t let my comments put you off further writings. I hope you also replied to the consultation. B x

        1. @Becky

          Thanks. Its always good to get feedback. If/when I do write more then I will try and learn from it.
          I have responded to the consultation and I hope others will too.
          Thanks again

    2. … and between threatening and insulting which is not semantic. I would contend that the difference between insulting and abusive can be semantic and would lead to defence challenge where prosecution was brought under section due to abusive behaviour if insulting was dropped from the act, with a claim that the behaviour was abusive but was insulting (therefore no longer prohibited).
      I agree that the actions of Endadur Choudhury and Mohammed Hasnath fomented community tension (arguably could have been to be inciting hatred). I certaining think their actions were insulting – I would argue they were also abusive and also probably a more heinous crime than section 5, That said, given that the other offences that may have been considered were not used, its a reinforcement to me that the law should not be amended.
      I agree with your thoughts on the probable motivation of Edward Leigh.

      1. essexgirlbecky 21 Dec 2011, 10:58am

        Stu – guidance was sought on the stickers as to whether they incited hatred. However general consensus was that they failed at the first hurdle; they weren’t “threatening” which is a key element of an offence under section 29. There were also issues over “intent”. As I recall it at the time, the prosecution of Hasnath was supported on the basis that it was insulting rather than abusive or threatening. However at the time, many people said that they believed the stickers carried the threat of physical exclusion from public spaces, possibly with violence.

  22. essexgirlbecky 21 Dec 2011, 3:21am

    …./Continued

    If section 5 is amended as proposed, it’s extremely unlikely that conduct like that could be prosecuted in future.

    Is that a bad thing? On balance I say yes. I respect freedom of religious expression, but there is a difference between “Our book says that homosexuality is evil and you will be damned” and “We do not believe that you should be allowed to walk our streets. We want to deny you your rights.”

    It may seem like a small thing, but we see all to often how behaviour, if unchecked, can escalate from violent words into violent deeds. Taken to its eventual conclusion, this is how riots begin.

    It comes as no surprise to hear Edward Leigh is behind this. He has consistently opposed legislation in support of LGBT rights. His position is disingenuous; reasonable comment is allowed and no-one is looking to ban bible quotes. He’s just looking to secure more scope to promote religious intolerance of homosexuality.

    1. Bravo! …and spot on in my opinion…I really hope you respond to the consultation due on the 13th!!

  23. Spanner1960 21 Dec 2011, 10:48am

    In the UK, it is illegal to threaten to kill somebody, yet how many parents have said “If you do that again I’m going to kill you”?

    The point as has been said many times before is not the content, but the motive and intent. OK, so we are all a bunch of fags on here, and I’m sure nobody would be offended in me as a gay man saying it, but if it was a herd of yobs in the street on a Saturday night, that might be an entirely different matter.

    Trying to enforce such a thing, let alone judge it is an almost impossible task, and I really don’t think it is worth the attempt for the cost of time, money and the limited resources we have.

    1. We have been managing it pretty well since 1986 when the public order act was used – with good scrutiny (some of which I have advanced in the article, and some of which becky takes further in her comments above).

  24. Spanner1960 21 Dec 2011, 10:56am

    Oh, and while we are on the subject of free speech, why is it this rag insists on blocking words and phrases for the most bizarre reasons? We are all adults, and know what they mean, so what is wrong with mentioning N@zis? Oh yes, the publisher is Je*ish, so they get offended, apparently.

    Bunch of stuck-up cnuts should get their heads out of their arses.

  25. Spanner1960 21 Dec 2011, 10:56am

    Oh, and while we are on the subject of free speech, why is it this rag insists on blocking words and phrases for the most bizarre reasons? We are all adults, and know what they mean, so what is wrong with mentioning N@_zis? Oh yes, the publisher is Je*ish, so they get offended, apparently.

    Bunch of stuck-up cnuts should get their heads out of their arses.

  26. Spanner1960 21 Dec 2011, 10:57am

    Oh, and while we are on the subject of free speech, why is it this rag insists on blocking words and phrases for the most bizarre reasons? We are all adults, and know what they mean, so what is wrong with mentioning N@_zis? Oh yes, the publisher is Je*ish, so they get offended, apparently.

    Bunch of stuck-up tossers should get their heads out of their arses.

  27. Spanner1960 21 Dec 2011, 10:59am

    Oh nuts. Now look what I’ve gone and done.
    This crap wouldnt happen if we were allowed to say what we think.

  28. I agree with Stu on this. Hate speech should not be protected as free speech. And the idea that this is going to lead to a downward spiral into a fascist dictatorship is pure looniness.

    Think of the sheer number of court cases where convictions are based on the courts having to interpret the motivations of a defendant. This isn’t some scary new world, it’s pretty much the entire bloody point of courts since they were first invented.

    If you believe that banning hate speech is going to lead to enemies of the state being locked up, then why not campaign to get rid of attempted murder? Think about it: you don’t need to kill or even hurt someone to be charged with that! Why, you could slap someone on the back and find yourself in jail for the next decade! Yes, let’s do away with every law that could concievably be misused! What a safe country it would be then!

  29. Frankly, no, it shouldn’t be made illegal. As someone who has been dealing with bullying, both online and in ‘the playground’ to the degree where I have become suicidal and have had to leave school due to my anxieties, I can simply say that if you are on the computer and someone is harassing you so much that you feel suicidal, you turn the damn thing off and go find something else to do. I’m not saying it’s an acceptable thing but you can’t act like the victim if you keep coming back to whatever it is people are harassing you on. If someone is emailing you and actually threatening you, report that. But if it’s just someone saying “lol fag” or something similar? Buck up, sonny, and welcome to the real world. Not everyone is nice and especially not people on the internet. Like someone already mentioned, it is up to the courts to decide if someone is taking things too far, but in a lot of situations, you just need to switch it off, block them or just ignore it.

  30. I think near enough all contributors to this thread (so far) do themselves proud for having debated and articulated their sometimes opposing views in a reasoned, restrained, compelling and concisive manner.

    In fact I would go further and say that this thread should stand as a model of how such discussions should be conducted from this point on, and pointed to when subsequent debates do start to get out of hand and the temptation to hurl insults – of which I hold my hand up to as others who have posted here must also – as an example of how to apply one’s thoughts and opinions in an intellectual and absorbing way.

    Well done everyone, Happy Christmas, and let the debate continue!

    1. Merry Christmas to you too, Samuel

      I have enjoyed most of the comments on here (even those I have disagreed with) … I would like to think the comments can be a more welcoming place – yet still be able to debate robustly.

    2. @ Samuel

      As someone who has been on the receiving end of your unfounded name calling since I have been contributing to this comments forum, I think the remarks you make in your posting are paying lip service to problem relating to causing offence. You have described me in the most unreasonable terms, and have made very inaccurate statements about me personally

      Yes I have retaliated, but certainly not to the degree of personal unfounded remarks you have used. I find your posting disingenuous and patronising and I await to see if a leopard can change his spots (my inclination is NO).

      1. Perhaps if you were able to debate intelligently and in a restrained manner taking into consideration and respecting opposing viewpoints our conversations wouldn’t descend into mud-slinging, W6. It takes two to tango, and you give at least as good as you get, arguably far more.

        I recently entered into simultaneous conversations with you and Stu, the author of this well-structured article, with regard to the state of HIV prevention in the UK. Why is it that Stu and I articulated our points clearly and concisely and whilst not agreeing conclusively with the other we nonetheless ended up respecting each others’ viewpoint, ending our conversation on a friendly, upbeat note.

        By contrast, you and I descended into a slanging match which is in fact quite unbecoming of me, as those who have followed my PN postings would testify. You’re a newcomer, W6, so if anyone is in need of learning online etiqutte, at least where PN is concerned, it is you.

        Nonetheless, Merry Xmas & a “Peaceful” 2012.

        1. Respect is earned & I note that you are not particularly respected on this site – you have been referred to by other commentators in not so complimentary terms, yet you have always taken issue with me in a very personal way. I can only conclude that you discriminate against individuals who are HIV+. Why is it that every article about HIV is your cue to launch into unfounded attacks HIV charities & me personally, you have never explained why in a coherent way, perhaps I would have more respect for you if you did! I have read many of your postings prior to my contributions here, and your tone is the same when it comes to HIV – histryonic & sensationalist!

          I didnt realist that this site was an elite club where one has to start at the bottom & gain the approval of people like yourself, I dont think you will find me bowing and scraping for your approval any time soon.

          Don’t be false in wishing me “Merry Xmas & a Peaceful 2012″ it doesnt wash!

        2. ……………apparently this is what passes for inteligent and restrained debate in your view Samuel!

          Delirious? Tick
          Ranting? Tick
          Disingenuous? Tick
          Irrational? Tick
          Deluded? Tick
          Paranoid? Tick?

          These are just a few of the insults you have thrown my way, together with “PC HIV Zelaot”, ” HIV Disinformation Shill”, “You’re one extraordinarily angry, frightened man, W6, and that anger makes you appear inarticulate and incoherent most of the time”

          If this is debate then it is very sad! Now find some examples where I have been so hostile towards you Samuel!

          1. Why are you trying to detract from the purpose of this thread and change it into yet another personal crusade against me, W6? This has been an extremely chilled debate up until now.

            You do yourself no favours in always wading in like a bull in a China shop, and believe it or not the words I ticked (above) were not intended to insult; they were what I believed to be accurate summations of your increasingly hysterical rants against my views and opinions that I coherently expressed against the HIV sector.

            If you do not agree with them that is your right, but instead of countering with your opinion and stopping at that you set out to bait and provoke me into a slanging match every time. I have no intention of reproducing the evidence of your hostility and insults here; this is Stu’s time to shine, so let it go.

            I for one have no intention of lowering myself to your level and hijacking and detracting from Stu’s debate with your childish provocation, W6.

          2. You admit to hosting an HIV forum elsewhere, and have indepth knowledge of how the HIV sector works and the way it is funded, etc. The only way you could be so informed is if you were in some way connected with the sector.

            Furthermore, a lot of your rhetoric is delivered through the rose-tinted spectacles of PC, which you are unable to detach yourself from and so your opinion and reality is clouded from the realities that many posters apart from myself repeat again and again in an effort to make you consider the validity of the opposing viewpoint, such as the need for harder-hitting HIV campaigns.

            So the description of yourself as a disinformation shill for the sector is not an insult by any means; it is an accurate summation of who you are and your purpose in involving yourself with all HIV-related threads. It is your purpose to put the PC approach to HIV prevention across regardless of how it impacts on conversion rates.

            And you do it all while hiding behind a ridiculous moniker!

          3. All I can say is that any sensible person would view the words you have used to wrongly describe me are pure insults, and reflect badly on you as an individual. You are a complete stranger to me yet you presume to know me and think it is ok to cause insult. That is partly what this article is about insulting words and consistent attacks.

            You have the nerve to try any cosy up to Stu, who you have in the past treated very badly with your offensive words towards him. You are such a hypocrite, yet you can’t see it.

          4. I will explain yet again about your obsession with me being “planted” here by the HIV charities. “you admit to hosting an HIV forum” – you make that sound so sinister, yes I am a member of an HIV forum, but I do not host it (by hosting you are implying I am therefore affiliated to an HIV charity – another incorrect assumption). I am an unpaid community moderator, yes I do things for nothing to help others, wow that must be something alien to you Samuel.

            I read the THT trustee report fully and the funding streams are clear for all to see. This is the crux of your problem Samuel you have no depth of understanding and don’t research your arguments. You call me a disinformation shill, this is utter rubbish, I have provided more accurate info on HIV than you can understand, or begin to understand. Robust debate is putting a credible argument forward, until you do this then I will continue to hold you in contempt.

            “See you on the ice” and do come prepared!

          5. “I am an unpaid community moderator, yes I do things for nothing to help others, wow that must be something alien to you Samuel.”

            W6, why do you always shout about your role in the community and its supposed benefit to others while assuming that I serve no purpose? You have no idea who I am or what I have achieved for the betterment of our community. The difference between you and I is that at every opportunity you must remind everyone what a saviour you are. Humble people, meanwhile, go about their voluntary work quietly and are not so insecure that they need to shout their philanthropy from the rooftops!!

            Tell me, W6, when all of your postings are read back to back, which of the following words can you honestly say do not apply to how you come across:

            Delirious
            Ranting
            Disingenuous
            Irrational
            Deluded
            Paranoid

            Again I repeat, these are not insults but observations based on the character you present in your postings. Ditto my observation that you are an HIV shill…

          6. seemingly desperate not to let the other side of the argument with regard to HIV prevention be heard.

            You lash out and accuse me of being anti-people with HIV based on no evidence whatsoever safe for my putting the argument for the rtight of HIV-negaive men TO REMAIN NEGATIVE!!!

            Your modus operandi, as a positive man with strong views on HIV stigma and its alleged impact on the lives of positive people, is to prevent any form of HIV prevention work that may actually work on the baseless grounds that it may hurt the sensibilities of pos people when this is anything but the case!

            All the evidence points to harder-hitting campaigns working; where is your evidence that they don’t? And most positive gay men themselves who are not selfish or self-centred WANT to see such campaigns if only to prevent others needlessly succumbing to HIV and an uncertain life on toxic meds.

            Oh, but then you say the meds are a ride in the park and that they now afford normal lifespans, flying in the face…

          7. of documented evidence that not only do they knock an average 15 years off a normal lifespan, but that by the time a 25 year old with HIV reaches 50 his body will function like that of an 85 year old, such is the toll HIV meds inflict on the body’s defence system!

            You might even want to consult your mate Jock S Trap, who at least has the sense and decency to remind people from time to time that the drugs CAN reap such nasty consequences.

            So why your efforts to suggest otherwise? Unless you really don’t give a damn about lulling young gay men into a false sense of security about HIV, throwing caution to the wind and contracting the virus…

            And you have the nerve to suggest I am anti-positive people? How bloody well dare you?!!

          8. Well we can agree on one thing and that is we do not know each other and therefore are unable to form accurate opinions as you seem to want to demonstrate with your most recent angry words.

            I have asked you many times what you did to promote WAD or HIV awareness but you never reply, how can I form an opinion when you never answer questions posed to you, so like you I make assumptions based on your rants or silence.

            I have asked you what “harder hitting” means to you, you never reply, so I am totally in the dark about what you want other than to continue your crusade against many HIV charities. Remember these charities have more than one role to fulfill, something you seem to forget all to often.

          9. Wow you are an angry little man – now who is loosing his cool? I do not recognise the statistics you quote in relation to how HIV infection impacts on people receiving prompt treatment in the UK. As well as research I spend much time discussing all sorts of aspects about HIV with those that have the infection, so I get first hand information, perceptions of how +ve people up and down the country manage their infection.

            I only use trusted HIV information sites used by experts in the field and there is a great deal of optimism about treatment as prevention right now, and how it can be applied throughout the world. Meds work, and the ones that caused horrible metabolic side effects are no longer used today, or even in the last 5 to 8 years.

            Yes people taking the early meds have much worst outcomes both physically and emotionally through disfigurement due to metabolic syndrome, this no longer happens with the meds and very close monitoring that is at the heart of modern HIV treatment…

          10. The reason “I dare” suggest you are anti HIV positive people is because this is how you come across to me and others, I am not alone in my criticsism of you with regard to this, you have been referred to as “HIV-phobic, homophobic, the village idiot, stigmatising” all by other commentators, so I have formed my opinion based on the evidence of others……if you are none of these then you have a presentational difficulty, as it is not just my perceptions I have used to gauge your entrenched out of date views.

          11. You are incorrect when you say that I am concerned only about the effect of stigma on positive individuals lives….stigma has a huge effect on testing rates, disclosure and beng open about HIV, all these areas have a bearing on forward transmission rates. The HoL report which is a very good document highlights stigma as a barrier to prevention methods, I know because I have read the report several times, and often refer back to it.

          12. The upshot of all this Samuel is that we will never agree on the best prevention methods, if you are on twitter I suggest you look at a tweet I received from Dr Christian Jenssen, someone who you have said believes in your approach, this was the reply I got from him today:

            ” I THINK THEY THEY DID FOR A BUT NOT ANY MORE RT @W6_bloke: @DoctorChristian do you think scare tactics work in relation to changing attitudes to sexual health risk taking behaviours?” Go and check as you are very untrusting if me.

            I have stated many times what I think is needed, I have asked you many times what your campaigns would look like, but I never get an answer, so if you want to be taken seriously put forward some up to date informed opinion for me and others to consider.

            It is easy to criticise me and others but harder to come up with a credible approach to HIV prevention as it involves behaviour change, personal risk assessment and choice. Something neither you I or anyone else can easily influence.

          13. I just have to remind you of this posting Samuel:

            “These dreadfully blunt, insensitive posters are incendiary and provocative to those with homophobic urges. Whoever decided they would be a good idea plastered all over the tube and young offenders’ institutions needs to be in the dole queue. No wonder homophobic attacks have been on the increase since these posters started appearing. It is almost an open invitation for thugs with pea-sized brains to go “gay bashing”.” not a very popular comment was it?

            I guess “gay bashing” is something you are fearful about, and because it may have or already sadly had an impact on you, the above comment clearly demonstrates your duplicity and selfish point of view.

            Your only reason to want to stigmatise HIV is because you live in constant fear of infection and have failed to educate yourself appropriately to reduce this fear, that is what I perceive from your postings, something you have never denied, there are worst diseases than HIV out there!

          14. I find it very insulting when people like W6_Bloke claim that the current meds are harmless when my body cant handle them and constantly rejects them. Perhaps I would be hiv-neg today had I not been taken in by confidence tricksters like yourself and led to believe that hiv really is no big deal. Your flippant remark that there are more serious conditions than hiv really takes the biscuit for it trivializes the most serious condition that has afflicted gays for over 3 decades. I daresay their are more serious conditions than lung cancer but that does not…or should not…detract from the very serious condition that lung cancer remains. I find your bullying rants and outbursts in the face of reasoned counter-arguments to be insulting bordering on the offensive…far more than any individual words could be. I think you should take a break from this forum and learn how to compose yourself and return when you have learned how to debate calmly and rationally and without causing offence.

          15. Hi there Jon
            I am not sure how stating that today’s HIV medication it tolerable and effective could be offensive, but if my comments have caused offence then I do apologise. When you say your body rejects the meds, could I ask what meds you are taking?

            As for me being a “confidence trickster” I really do not understand what you mean by this. I have always advocated condom use and regular testing. It is risky behaviour that results in HIV infection, not the argument that HIV is a treatable condition. I have never suggested that having HIV is not a “big deal” but maintain that HIV is a treatable condition, as have other commentators. No one wants to suffer with a long term condition, but there are many more debilitating illnesses that people have to endure; I stand by my view that people who are diagnosed early and receive appropriate care & treatment can expect good long term outcomes.
            I am only stating what HIV specialists and research confirms, I have no other agenda here.

          16. Very well said Jon, well done!

            Well well, even at Christmas time the mystical W6 can’t resist trolling these boards to deliver his pious sermons about all things HIV. Well, from his slanted, PC-indoctrinated viewpoint, that is.

            Perhaps you don’t work for the HIV sector after all, W6, as you seem to operate equally efficiently as a pharma lobbyist, so intent are you on deceiving everyone that modern day HIV meds are harmless to the functioning of the body and will guarantee you immortality. Well, let’s just see what your stable mate Jock S Trap has said about the effect these meds have on him in recent threads:

            “You make it sounds like HIV is easy… let me tell you it isn’t!! The treatments might help the lifespan but most do have mild to horrific side effects and most have to deal with it.”

            “…a lot of people have sertious side effects from the ‘treatable’ side of medication. You make it sounds like living with HIV is purely an easy affair.
            For some maybe but not for many!”

            Hmm…

          17. You are a joke Samuel! I really am not sure what you mean by “stable mate” perhaps you would like to clarify what you mean? If there are any stable mates around I don’t need to look very far to identify a style of writing that certainly comes from the same stable.

            As you have no credible arguments of your own you have just reproduced the comments of others. You clearly have no first hand experience of HIV medications and the possible side effects. Whilst I may not agree with all commentators on this subject I happen to be very optimistic about treatment as it is constantly improving all the time.

            There is a world of difference between your perception of HIV medications and the view of health professionals, who are now proposing that treatment offers a very important part of any prevention campaign. All I am doing here is putting forward many well understood concepts in modern HIV treatment and care in the UK. You may not like what I write here but it is in the main accurate.

          18. “There is a world of difference between your perception of HIV medications and the view of health professionals, who are now proposing that treatment offers a very important part of any prevention campaign.”

            Yes, and like such health professionals aren’t corruptible and don’t allow themselves to be bought by the pharmaceutical companies and coached by lobbyists into indirectly promoting their drugs by effectively being told what to say about certain conditions. Get real, W6. Greed and corruption are the rot at the core of the HIV industry today, and which collude to prevent any real progress being made to reduce tranbsmissions rates. Pharmas are inthe business of delivering profits to their shareholders, and will do whatever they can to sustain and boost the demand for their drugs.

            ” I THINK THEY THEY DID FOR A BUT NOT ANY MORE RT @W6_bloke: @DoctorChristian

            Do you mind interpreting exactly what Dr Chris is saying there, as it makes no intelligable sense to me. His stance has…

          19. …consistently been to advocate for harder hitting HIV camnpaigns as a means to reducing transmission rates, yet you seize on an incomprehensible piece of Twitter feed and interpret it to mean he has made a 360 degree about turn and changed his opinion overnight – and as if Doctor Chris is the final word on the matter!

            What utter desperation, W6. You do yourself absolutely no favours as you scramble to uphold your tainted, narrow-minded and, dare I say, insane stance on all things HIV.

            I, and it seems many others on these related threads who have thumbs-downed your nonsensical rantings, agree with Jon in that you should take some time off from trolling these threads, calm down, put the kettle on, take a few deep breaths, and then return to this thread to debate with – and not to constantly attack – all those who views are not in alingment with your own.

            You need to develop a maturity and humility that will allow your views to be properly considered and taken seriously…

          20. As it is, you have dug a hole for yourself in that people automatically see your ridiculous postcode name and their brains automatically interpret whatever you write as yet another rant lashing out at the “fools” who dare question your “facts”, which you insist are gospel as they are derived from peer-reviewd acamedical studies.

            Excuse me? When did academia, which only ever considers problems theoretically, ever have a final word on the plight of human suffering? HIV prevention worked so effectively in the 1980s because people from all spectrums of society were pulled together and had to act intuitively to stop the spread of the virus, at a time when science knew nothing about the disease. And they succeeded.

            Today science – and academics – think they have the solutions for everything and the HIV sector cling to their every word (hands up Sigma Research), and hey presto, HIV infection rates are at their highest ever.

            Strange that.

          21. Having waded through all the hot air and hyperbole of your last postings, I conclude that anyone who either happens to be HIV positive, or is connected with the care, treatment and support of those who are HIV positive are all conspiring together to maintain the profits of the pharma companies?

            To be clear – all the HIV consultants, health advisors, pharmacists up and down the country are corrupt, as are all the researchers that are working on new and better medications and vaccine development? Are all the HIV charities which you have complained about (THT, GMFA, NAT, EJAF) are all part of this big conspiracy? Does this extend to the UK Government and the Lords, whose recent report on HIV Prevention in the UK you hold in high regard (or just the selective quote you cherry pick to suit your argument)?

            With this in mind are we to assume the same conspiracy theory for all drugs that are used to manage chronic long term conditions, or does this conspiracy just apply to HIV????

          22. Sticking with the HoL theme (as I note you hold this report in high regard – but I am not convinced you have read it fully) this is one of the recommendations made in said report:

            115. People living with HIV need to be empowered to become advocates for understanding of the condition, in order to help to address stigma. We understand the importance of peer support networks and voluntary organisations in supporting this work, and recommend that local authorities and other public sector funders acknowledge the importance of this work in their future funding decisions.

            The first sentance of this recommendation sums up my reason for entering into debate on this site Samuel – I and other commentators have come across far too much incorrect information regarding HIV, and I consider it very important that this poor information is corrected. I do not beleive that I have knowingly posted inaccurate information about HIV or its treatment, and if I have I am very sure someone will correct me.

          23. Another point raised in the recommendation section of the HoL report says this:

            342. Discrimination against those affected by HIV is based, at best, on ignorance and, at worst, on prejudice, and we unreservedly condemn it. This underlines the need for a general public awareness campaign on HIV.

            Again this sums up anothe reason why I engage in HIV debates – too many +ve individuals suffer discrimination through ignorance and prejudice – this is not acceptable & as I have stated on many occasions I will always challenge ignorance, poor information & half truths peddled as “facts or documented evidence”. I guess for all future debates I will have to provide references to back up my postings, which I am more than happy to do. You can beleive in conspiracy theories if you like Samuel, but this will not reduce the high levels of new HIV infections – only sexual behaviour change will do that & this is where the focus should be, not creating fear, stigma and perpetuating ignorance!

          24. Once again W6 you are getting way out of your depth with your hurled insults, insinuations and accusations that I am anti-people with HIV.

            As I have reiterated on these threads before, I more than anyone deplore this cult of apartheid, otherwise known as serosorting, that attempts to convince us that only neg men have sex with neg men and pos men with pos men, notwithstanding the risks of neg men lying anout their status or not knowing what their status is, and pos men spreading variant strains of HIV among each other, thereby affecting the regime of drugs they are being prescribed.

            I find myself having to reassure pos men I sleep with that their status is not an issue with me because I only ever practise safe sex, as they have previously been hurt by the ignorance of others who simply wouldn’t choose to sleep with a pos person, period, regardless of whether they intend to practise safe sex. If I fell in love with a pos person why would I let a virus get in a way of that when…

          25. …it is so easily avoided?

            W6 writes:

            “I also note from many threads that you use the phrase “the right of HIV-negaive men TO REMAIN NEGATIVE!!! This would suggest that you think people with HIV do not have the same rights as HIV negative individuals?”

            Thsi is the comment I take most offence at, and demonstrates to a tea that everything W6 reads goes through a selective filter that processes and interprets data to suit his agenda; either that or he suffers from extreme cognitive dissonance.

            FACT: HIV charities were originally set up to prevent the spread of HIV. True or false?

            Over time, as more and more men began contracting the virus, management of the HIV population and a safeguard around their rights was a necessity, which these charities took on. True or false?

            In the mid-1990s as combination therapies arrived, that was around the time the balance between preventing negative men becoming infected and positive men being serviced tipped towards the latter. True or false?…

          26. …Eve since, the rights of pos men have been put above all else, to the point where it could be argued that because most of those in the HIV sector pushing through those rights are HIV themselves, give little or no consideration to the right of gay men who are still negative to receive the level of effective and informative information they require about HIV, what it is, how it is transmitted and how best to avoid infection. True or false?

            Is W6 seriously arguing that neg men no longer have the human right to be properly and fully informed of potentially health and life-endangering diseases so that they can make the best possible choices to avoid infection?

            In recent years HIV charities have fought tooth and nail for the right of pos men to infect others without the risk of prosecation; for the right of pos men to meet in clubs advertised in club mags where condoms are anathema; and have even promoted extremely risky sex acts that are key facilitators of HIV transmission on a THT…

          27. web site. They are often to be found in THT-approved saunas and lurking in cruise site chat rooms where many of the clientele are already likely to be positive. Where is their outreach work being targeted at negative men, pray?

            It seems there is an element within the HIV sector today that is on a concerted mission to keep gay men uninformed. We may gasp and deplore the constant annual increases in HIV transmission rates, but looked at another way the charities are just hitting the targets set by the pharmas to sell more and more HIV drugs.

            s there a conspiracy? Who knows? But one thing I do know is that after years and years of blatantly absurb and ineffective HIV prevention campaigning which have seen figures going through the roof, the HIV sector is now seemingly on a constant drive to get men tested.

            Why is that do you think? One option you would have to be blind or just in plain denial to consider is that they have created a problem for which they are now offering the solution.

          28. “His response was: ”I THINK THEY THEY DID FOR A BUT NOT ANY MORE RT @W6_bloke:”

            Again, W6, kindly offer a translation of this garbled Tweet. They did for WHAT, exactly? What is RT to the non-Twitterati who have more important things to do with their lives and who are bright enough to partake in conversations comprising more than 140 letters?

            If the good Doctor has indeed done a complete 180 degree u-turn and polarised his often stated opinion that we need to return to scare tactics in HIV prevention campaigning – a stance that has made him a key public enemy of the HIV sector – wouldn’t it be more prudent to find out what evidence has suddenly emerged to him change his mind?

            Unless the Doc has put one million pounds of his own money into an independent study to prove that scare tactics in prevention campaigning do not work, then frankly I don’t buy this one jot, as the only other possible explanation is he has been leaned on in some way or “persuaded” to change his stance.

          29. You are very talented I have to say Samuel, a new description for me – cognitive dissonance. Now you profer to suggest that I harbour uncomfortable tension because of two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time…………I have no idea where this can be demonstrated in any of my postings, please provide examples!

            What you don’t know you make up, which is why I take issue with much of your poor arguments – there is often no substance, just out of date information & perceptions. Where you do provide substance you are so intent on getting your view across that the point is often lost in all the noise you generate.

            I know my subject Samuel, so I think it is you that are out of your depth not me. If you care to review any of my postings with regard to HIV and its treatment I think you will find all the information accurate and very much in line with current expert thinking (of course you will dispute “current expert thinking” because it suits you to).

          30. I find it quite amazing that at last you are able to post some comments that show a degree of humility towards +ve individuals – unfortunately I do not think they are sincere and you are just playing to the gallery (I don’t imagine many people are interested in this thread by now).

            So to the HIV charities. THT was set up by friends of Terry Higgins who started the Trust to raise funds for research as a way of preventing suffering due to AIDS. This was the original remit Samuel, with prevention becoming an important focus as more information became known about HIV. Gay Men Fighting Aids (GMFA ) was set up in 1992 by Peter Scott and others as like today it was perceived that gay men needed a charity that solely focuses on gay men. GMFA changed its name in 2002 to become Gay Men’s Health Charity, with a remit to include all health issues which disproportionately affect gay men.

            I think you will find Samuel, that prevention is part of an all encompassing strategy to meet this remit.

          31. “Remember these charities have more than one role to fulfill, something you seem to forget all to often.”

            Yes, W6, but isn’t this the problem that has also been pointed out by others on recent HIV-related discussions here, and as disseminated by my pin-pointing how the reduction of HIV stigma and conversion rates BY THE SAME ORGANISATIONS are mutually incompatible, with at least one – in the case of the HIV sector, prevention – being doomed to failure?

            “I do not recognise the statistics you quote in relation to how HIV infection impacts on people receiving prompt treatment in the UK.”

            OK, with regards to life expectancy, this article from 2009 on aidsmap about pos Americans having a 21 year decreased life expectancy:

            http://www.aidsmap.com/People-with-HIV-have-21-year-reduction-in-life-expectancy-in-US/page/1435924/

            With regards to the ageing effect of HIV drugs ont he body, including dementia, from the esteemed New Yorker magazine in 2009:

            http://nymag.com/health/features/61740/

          32. “I only use trusted HIV information sites used by experts in the field and there is a great deal of optimism about treatment as prevention right now.”

            It does seem that the information you cull from such sites is, if not highly selective, then largely contentious, as the information does not marry up with the US experience of HIV infection, which is several years ahead of us.

            Furthermore, whatever information is published, be it peer reviewed academia or otherwise, can never be 100 per cent conclusive, however much you may profess it to be, because there are still only 30 years into the epidemic and there are still so many unknowns.

            The only occasion when we will have full control of the situation is if and when an across the board cure ever becomes available and HIV is wiped out. And that, as we know, is unlikely ever to happen whe there are so many vested interests in seeing the disease persist.

          33. “The HoL report…highlights stigma as a barrier to prevention methods, I know because I have read the report several times, and often refer back to it.”

            W6, what conclusive evidence does the HoL report produce to categorically prove once and for all that stigma remains a barrier to prevention methods and is not simply a continuation of the very real situation from the dark days of the 1980s when gay men were genuinely scared of coming forward to be tested as little was known about AIDS and the press were having a field day demonising gay people?

            Just as it would be ridiculous to suggest going back to ice bergs and tombstones in HIV campaigns today, it is equally ridiculous to suggest we still live in times when gay men fear being tested because of a perceived stigma that exists, at least to the same degree.

            Stigma is being used today as a convenient stick with which to beat all arguments for harder hitting HIV campaigns, nothing more, nothing less.

            IT IS AN ILLUSION! A MYTH!

          34. As I said I am done with this thread and your ridiculous comparisons, you note in the quote that I am specific to HIV in the UK not the US where even in the Aidsmap article clearly states the US healthcare system is very different to that of the UK, and also their demographics are different, nice try but you are not comparing like with like!

            And how long did it take you to come up with these links, this just shows you don’t know the subject – it would take me a matter if minutes to counter any claims you make. We live in the UK where we say HIV as opposed to AIDS, that should tell you something about the way the US sensationalise most HIV related information.

            That’s me donebn this thread, you continue if you want, no one is interested any more, including me.

          35. So I get to have the last word after all! If you seriously think that the UK healthcare system is ahead of the US’s where HIV is concerned, W6, you are seriously deluded.

            The main difference between the two is that US healthcare is predominantly private and therefore not hostage to the vagaries, machinations and hidden agendas of PC that all UK government-funded institutions have become conditionally tied to.

            At least the US is speaking openly and honestly about the potentially dire effects of ingesting toxic drugs over several decades, and is not pretending that those who acquire HIV can expect to live a normal and healthy lifespan.

            Strange, these are not too dissimilar to the warnings that Jock and others give whenever a PC numbskull dares to present a false picture – LIE – of a life on synthetic meds, and I am pretty damn sure Jock is a Brit!!!

            Ahhh, at least I can rest assurred that this truth won’t be attacked by yet another shovel load of b*llsh*t care of yours truly…

          36. Congratulations Samuel for so convincingly winning the argument and knocking W6_Blockhead into submission. I and I am sure many others are outraged at his statement of fact that XXL is a sex club replete with dark rooms and Status were therefore wrong to receive its fundraising. As an XXL-er of some years standing I am grossly insulted. I go to the club to dance and socialize and many orthers will testify that XXL is one of the few attitude-free places that gay men can still enjoy themselves of a night out…
            And what a rank hypocrit this shrilling troll W6 proves himself to be in his defense of HIV enablers like GMFA. From the 12/1/12 edition of QX:
            IT’S A LUCKY FRIDAY 13TH FOR GMFA WHEN THE UK’S BIGGEST NAKED DISCO, NUDITY, HOLDS A FUNDRAISING EVENT FOR THE WORTHWHILE [SIC] ORGANISATION… THE USUAL NAKED GAY DISCO ABANDON WILL BE ON OFFER FOR THE NIGHT WITH TOP TUNES PLUS THE USUAL DARK NOOKS AND CRANNIES TO RELIEVE THE TENSION BETWEEN TUNES…
            Yep, the same outfit that legitimizes bareback sex because it refuses to come down on bareback porn. You want vile W6? Well that’s not just vile, its obscene!

        3. Again using your often used half truth method of posting let me explain the comment Dr Christian Jenssen made on Twitter in repsonse to my question which was this:

          “@DoctorChristian do you think scare tactics work in relation to changing attitudes to sexual health risk taking behaviours?”

          His response was: ”I THINK THEY THEY DID FOR A BUT NOT ANY MORE RT @W6_bloke:”

          Perhaps you are not used to using Twitter but why did you only quote part of my posting on this subject? The said Dr has been quoted by you as being in agreement with your point of view – it seems not, if unsure why not ask the same question yourself?

          Only good tabloid journalists and those who are not sure of their argument resort to using half truths or taking quotes out of context to make their sensationalist point of view.

          1. I also note from many threads that you use the phrase “the right of HIV-negaive men TO REMAIN NEGATIVE!!! This would suggest that you think people with HIV do not have the same rights as HIV negative individuals? Why would anyone think such a thing I wonder, perhaps you can explain this point to me?

            Becoming infected with HIV (or any STI) is for the majority of gay men about the choices they make if they engage in risky sexual behaviour & has nothing to do with rights!!!! Your approach here is very cynical and just perpetuates your views on HIV positive people. As far as I am concerned HIV status does not define a person and therefore as a gay man with HIV I have the same rights as a gay man without HIV, what are your thoughts on this point Samuel?

        4. You are very clearly confusing “rights” with responsibilities – we all have a responsibility to protect out own health & the health of others, this is a very simple concept Samuel & as you note it is easy to prevent onward transmission of HIV by using a condom. So where is the problem?

          The problem is all about risky sexual behaviours , which requires more than just using scare tactics in prevention campaigns. It requires behavioural science to be used in prevention campaigns and to make gay men realise that HIV is concentrated in the gay population, ergo a much higher risk of infection exists. If you smoke you are more likley to get lung cancer, if you are a gay man who is sexually active then HIV poses a higher risk to you. This is not difficult stuff to understand, but until gay men make going for 6 monthly STI check ups then HIV will continue to be a problem.

          1. Testing today is so easy so straight forward, yet the undiagnosed positive population has remained roughly the same for 10 years. Despite your comments on reckless transmission, it is unlikely that most new infections come from diagnosed +ve gay men who are in the main on successful treatment, it is the 26% of undiagnosed individuals that pose the greatest risk, because of high viral load.

            You seem to have lost the plot Samuel, your comments about criminalisation and HIV are quite frankly ridiculous and again highlight your irrational thinking, which is driven by fear.

            I will not waste anymore time feeding you and your irrational fears, as I said before ” see you on the ice and come prepared”!

          2. “The problem is all about risky sexual behaviours , which requires more than just using scare tactics in prevention campaigns.”

            Oh, so you DO agree that scare tactics should be one of the weapons in the armoury to fight HIV infection? Maybe we are getting somewhere at last…

        5. You are very clearly confusing “rights” with responsibilities – we all have a responsibility to protect out own health & the health of others, this is a very simple concept Samuel & as you note it is easy to prevent onward transmission of HIV by using a condom. So where is the problem?

          The problem is all about risky sexual behaviours , which requires more than just using scare tactics in prevention campaigns. It requires behavioural science to be used in prevention campaigns and to make gay men realise that HIV is concentrated in the gay population, ergo a much higher risk of infection exists. If you smoke you are more likley to get lung cancer, if you are a gay man who is sexually active then HIV poses a higher risk to you. This is not difficult stuff to understand, but until gay men make going for 6 monthly STI check ups then HIV will continue to be a problem.

    3. @W6-Bloke and Samuel

      Guys, guys, guys …

      You both know my position on HIV (and I agree much more with w6 on those issues – for the sake of clarity) …

      To be fair, I think we all know each others views after discussions over the past few months …

      That does not mean that there are aspects of each one of us that are either wrong or not appropriate in every situation …

      Personally, I have tried to stay out of your disagreement on this thread because of the nature of the article … but guys – save the high blood pressure for the debates on HIV, eh? and then try and take a deep breath before losing it with each other? It is possible to find middle ground on some issues and to agree to disagree on other issues …
      without resorting to abuse etc

      1. I think you are right here Stu – I will leave this discussion, even the thread seems to have given up (duplicate postings in the wrong place).

        If I am guilty of anything it is to protect my reputation as a very well informed HIV positive gay man, who believes that if we are going to discuss HIV let us discuss it in a balanced way that reflects current thinking. If I have ever posted incorrect factual information then I would invite anyone to correct me. I have strong views about stigma, discrimination and the marginalisation of HIV +ve people, and as most will know I will not rest until these things are dealt with by gay men. This does not mean that by default I am not also passionate about prevention – no one should have to endure a chronic illness if it can be avoided, esp if it is easily avoided

        This is me signing out on this one – I am sure Samuel will profer the notion that somehow I have knobbled Stu, I know when I am flogging a dead horse………..

      2. “If I am guilty of anything it is to protect my reputation as a very well informed HIV positive gay man…”

        Says he who hurls insults while hiding behind an absurd pen name. Says it all, really.

        But you are right, Stu. It is impossible argue a point with someone like W6 without it degenerating into a schoolgirl cat fight. So much more stimulating and rewarding debating with an intellectual and/or someone with your level of intelligence, where we can agree to differ or disagree while respecting each others’ viewpoint and our right to hold it.

        So sorry your debate became ambushed and hijacked, Stu. Well done for a thought-provoking debate, which I did not necessarily agree with – I believe freedom of speech must be preserved at all costs, lest we commence on the path to facism and tyranny – but the point this perfectly illustrates, and from which W6 can learn, is that people CAN have opposing viewpoints and be civil and respectful to one another while debating them.

        1. Such a hypocrite Samuel, nothing you post in here is sincere, just playing t the gallery but sadly no one is watching. Perhaps whilst you are offering an apology for hijacking debates, you may want to think about how you ambush every HIV article with your rants about HIV charities, particularly the ones you attacked on WAD, which believe it or not is about HIV awareness, something you fail to acknowledge.

          You are a nasty, insincere and irrational individual Samuel as several other commentators have noted, you should be the one learning a lesson no one else. You have a presentation difficulty that will never do you any favours, which means you will never be taken seriously and always viewed as the “Village idiot” not my words but those of another commentator……….

        2. Er, hel-lo? I posted on this thread to congratulate the tone of the debate and you invade it with an iron fist in an egotistical display of one-upmanship in an effort to hijack my point. Unbelievable!

          Looking over the various HIV threads to date, if my opinion is the minority one then WHY have my comments been flagged up while yours have been almost unanimously thumbed-down and agreed with by more people that the usual suspects such as Jock?

          At least I do not resort to creating false aliases with equally absurd sounding names (Danlad72? Oh really!) to make it appear you have an army of supporters.

          And to think I actually held my breath in thinking you might do the right thing for once and be man enough to stick to your word and “leave the discussion”, but oh no, you must always have the last word.

          I won’t resort to cheap insults (nasty, insincere…) as you hang yourself by your own petard. This forum has become a less pleasurable place to visit since you reared your ugly head…

          1. Well get used to it because I intend to continue commentating on Pinknews, and as you believe freedom of speech without responsibility is very important then you have no recourse to prevent me from doing so.

            As we all know Samuel comments posting and indeed voting on PN is not secure so if you want to believe I use differing aliases then let your paranoia take over – if anyone likes to use underhand tactics it is you Samuel. I do not post here to be popular, but do so to try and counterbalance your rediculous theories and out of date information. Your views are dangerous and loathsome.

            You hijack every HIV thread, even those written on WAD and make unjust comments about all HIV charities – you are the one who is obsessed not me – now go and find another pissing contest to gatecrash, I have had enough of your bitterness and utter crap, you are a vile individual and you should be ashamed if yourself.

          2. I will not be bullied by you Samuel, as this seems to be your tactic when people do not agree with you – if the information I am posting is inaccurate or deceitful in anyway then I would hold my hands up to your sensationalist accusations and name calling.

            Just answer one question which I have asked many many many times what does “hard hitting” mean or look like to you? You use the term all the time but I for one do not know what you mean.

            Why are you so keen on knowing my identity I wonder? Anyone with half a brain can work out who I am if they really wanted to, but they are not interested because they are not paranoid like you clearly are!

          3. “…now go and find another pissing contest to gatecrash, I have had enough of your bitterness and utter crap, you are a vile individual and you should be ashamed if yourself.” – W6

            So, back to Stu’s debate, and should those who cause unnecessary offence and and who insult and abuse others be banned from this site and even criminalised?

            While I uphold freedom of speech to be a vital benchmark of a true democracy, I would nevertheless, in the case of rabid, foul-mouthed opinionators such as W6, suggest neutering, or at best a once count rule where they can say what they have to say once and once only instead of repeating the same insults and obuse over and over.

            Alternatively, the accumulation of, say, 100 red arrows red arrows should render this site automatically inaccessible. In which case in the short space of time that W6 has wailed and whined and foul-mouthed those he disagrees with, he would by now have been unable to access PN at least ten times over.

          4. Lol I bet you have counted the red arrows Samuel and probably have a chart to see who has the most green or reds – as I say I am not here to make friends, but I have made it my mission here to counter every incorrect, bigoted and vile undermining comments you make about HIV charities, HIV treatments and the advances that have been made to date.

            If you are prepared to waste time and energy peddling your crap then I will match you every time with interest to provide the necessary balance.

            Go and join that outfit Status, you will fit in there perfectly, and be prepared to engage me via email if and when they manage to produce anything to comment on!

            May 2012 bring all you deserve!

          5. I ventured to suggest you suffer from cognitive dissonance bercause you are a mass of contradictions, not least your staunch denial of having any connection or agenda connected with the HIV sector.

            Furthermore, as I have stated previously, you have a selective filter that hears only what you want to believe and you blast hell, fire and damnation at all opposing viewpoints.

            For the final – and I mean final – time, W6, I will pinpoint precisely what I mean by harder-hitting, and why the HIV sector works around a central policy which is directly and de,onstrably correlated to increasing HIV infection rates:

            The central doctrine of the HIV sector is to, commendably, improve the lives of those with HIV, and a central tenet of that doctrine is reducing stigma as much as possible. Nobody could possibly argue with that.

            However, in their zeal to eradicate stigma – in part driven by the fact that many within the sector are pos themselves – the HIV sector has gone to lengths in recent…

          6. years – no, scrap that, DESPERATE lengths – to persuade people that HIV is no longer a serious condition still to be avoided at all costs, but that it is in fact totally manageable and everyone contracting HIV today will live to a healthy and ripe old age.

            Yet try telling that to someone with HIV. Anyone with the virus is going to tell you that they would prefer to be negative, and most pos people will proffer at least two reasons why that is.

            It is these reasons that the HIV sector have a policy of never publicising in their campaigns as deterent factors, and by harder hitting I mean campaigns and awareness programs that focus on these reasons, or consequences.

            Notwithstanding the fact that HIV stigma itself is as good a reason as any to avoid the virus. Indeed, I would use stigma as one of several themes around a series of “harder hitting” campaigns under the umbrella title HIV. IS IT WORTH IT?

            Other themes would highlight the problems that some people can and do experience…

          7. using the meds, either from complications arising from the drugs’ toxicity or failure to adhere to a regime of daily pill popping, not to mention the fact that the real long-term consequences of using these drugs is still not fully known. What is known is that despite their benefits in the short term, they will eventually pose an enormous burden on an already compromised immune system in time.

            Let’s face it, these drugs are synthetic compounds and so highly toxic that in the US where they are allowed to be generally advertised, the ads themselves require three additional pages of dense type warning of the potential hazards, which you are in abject denial of.

            Some HIV pos people I know resent the burden their condition inflicts on the public purse, so another campaign would highlight the cost to society of a rising populace of people contracting HIV, and the fact that the most costly and effective drugs are not an entitlement and could be withdrawn, like life-saving cancer…

          8. drugs are being withdrawn and sufferers who could have extended lives are instead dying.

            Other themes would include… Hell, you know what? It’s New Years Eve and I do not feel I need to justify myself to W6 or succumb to his bait. It is time to get ready and join the celebrations in the company of friends, neg and pos.

            Perhaps W6 needs to get out a bit more and interract with those he professes to know so well instead of indiscriminately absorbing data off the internet ad nauseum and endlessly citing the pontifications of academics who profess to know everything about everything but when push comes to shove have zero life experience.

            One final thought before I bow out. It has been suggested that the zeal to reduce stigma within the HIV sector has become such a major central tenet that it subliminally works on the basis that the more gay men become infected with HIV, the more normalised and less stigmatised the condition becomes.

            Clearly, the central work of the HIV sector…

          9. therefore – to reduce stigma at all costs – is in direct conflict with the need to reduce HIV rates. Both aims are mutually incompatible, yet we have the insane situation where both needs have long been – and are still being – addressed by the same minds.

            While the HIV sector continues to be awarded prevention funds, there is only one direction HIV rates can go – upwards – because the need to protect the sensibilities of those with the virus far outweighs the HIV sector’s intent, or lack thereof, to disseminate information and campaigns around the harder hitting realities of what living with HIV today means for many people.

            W6 will argue that HIV affects different people in different ways so how can a hard hitting campaign be representative of everyone’s experience? But that, surely, is the biggest reason of all to avoid HIV!

            HIV is an unknown, a lottery. It’s impossible to know how it might affect affect you in the long term so WHY RISK IT IN THE FIRST PLACE??!!!

            HAPPY NEW YEAR!

          10. Your prevention messages are truely inspiring, taken directly from the operational manuel of Status, and that highly respected man (the guy who has made shed loads of money out of HIV and finds himself isolated and marginalised) Peter Scott. I note there is no mention of other important issues such as reducing the 26% of undiagnosed HIV positive guys who are in the main responsible for forward transmission of HIV, behavioural change and trying to work with the most at risk individuals who repeatedly present with STI’s time and again. These are the areas that I consider important together with a National Campaign.

            I would write to your MP if I were you and lobby as much as you can on that agenda as it really is a very all emcompassing style of prevention.

            Good luck with your efforts, lets see what the New Year brings

          11. I guess I should at least take heart that you find my prevention message “inspiring”, W6, and that for once you haven’t attempted to demolish any of the points I make, not least the simple observation that there is a direct conflict of interests in allowing the same mindsets to reduce HIV stigma and HIV conversion rates simultaneously.

            I also take heart at being compared to someone of the stature of Peter Scott, who founded the GMFA 20 years ago as a direct response to the many failings of the THT – he must be disheartened to see how GMFA has been subverted over the years to become an equally inept, agenda-driven THT puppet.

            And no, I haven’t read Peter Scott’s manual on HIV prevention. My observations, like Peter’s and many others’, derive from common sense extrapolated from simple truth, that’s all. We are not working to any agenda other than to see common sense and the most effective aproaches return to the forefront of gay men’s health, unobstructed by any PC-driven agendas.

          12. @ Samuel
            So pleased that you see yourself just like Peter Scott, isolated & marginalised from the very organisations he helped set up. THT, NAM, GMFA – seems very odd to me that one individual can suddenly come out of the shadows and openly criticise these HIV charities with such zeal……..as someone who has made a career out of HIV one has to wonder what his motives are? Could it be the fact that the CHAPS contract with THT ends this year and he has his eye on the prize, or that his consultancy company will bid for the new evaluation set up, as I am sure the DoH will put this work out to tender!

            Status do not have infrastructure to manage a national campaign such as CHAPS or it’s replacement, so perhaps the organisation who gets the replacement contract will consider Status as a partner organisation to carry out local prevention, if this is to happen Peter Scott needs to stop criticising and work with others to help the situation.

          13. Samuel B. 5 Jan 2012, 9:23pm

            Your ignorance and blinkered thinking is truly astounding, W6. Peter Scott’s vision of how to achieve a healthy and empowered gay community never changed.

            No, it was the PC-indoctrinated system-servers that followed – who poisoned Scott’s vision with upside down thinking which conspired above all to use HIV stigma as a convenient excuse to neglect their duty to effectively and sufficiently protect gay men’s health collectively – who contaminated, corrupted and perverted a sector he helped build.

            I applaud Scott for speaking out and acting against the complacency and dereliction of duty that has festered within the HIV sector and enabled thousands of our gay brothers to be saddled with a debilitating disease due to lack of effective campaigning, and for little if any recompense.

            If Scott had no soul he would have remained tight-lipped about the sector’s betrayal and collusion with the pharmas and would be a THT executive on a gold-plated pension driving a high end company car.

          14. Samuel B. 5 Jan 2012, 9:33pm

            Peter Scott is a crusader for truth in gay men’s health, nothing more, nothing less, and judging by the green and red arrows being awarded to this debate it is clear that popular opinion is and always has been on his side.

            Lest we forget, over 90 per cent of Pink News readers voted for harder hitting campaigns a while back, while an independent survey revealed some truly disturbing data about young gay men’s ignorance around HIV and the incentivising effect of today’s HIV campaigns TO INDULGE in unsafe sex!

            If Peter’s approach is so ridiculous and wrong as you suggest, why were the London news media all over him when he launched Status a year ago and appeared on both BBC and ITV regional news programmes?

            THT’s Nick Partridge, interviewed at the same time, by comparison stuttered all over the place as he desperately sought to defend policies that are so transparently doomed to failure that he looked like the proverbial rabbit caught in the glare of the headlights.

            The truth is out.

          15. Peter Scott may have good intentions BUT he has a big presentation problem as his interaction with others often appears paranoid and combative. During 2011 Stauts promised a great deal and delivered very little, only to surface at key points to either trawl himself around the TV studios at the time of the HPA announcements and then to ask for money around WAD.

            If his campaign is around keeping negative gay men negative, then why use WAD to either launch an organisation and then ask for donations – some of which came from XXL night club, which hosts a dark room / playroom which you Samuel have often been highly critical of. It smacks of opportunism and double standards to me.

            Again you resort to referring to me as being “ignorant & PC indocterated” you cannot resist making personal remarks can you Samuel – and you say I am unable to debate in a civil manner, look a yourself first matey!

          16. Samuel B. 6 Jan 2012, 9:10pm

            “…as someone who has made a career out of HIV one has to wonder what [Peter Scott’s] motives are? Could it be the fact that the CHAPS contract with THT ends this year and he has his eye on the prize?…”

            Well, W6, since you bring the CHAPS partnership into the mix, let’s have a reality check about what this incestuous consortium of narrow-minded “charities” stands for, shall we?

            CHAPS is a network of organisations who collude, sorry, share an interest in managing HIV UK, and pretences to reducing HIV infection. Sounds like a worthwhile meeting of minds, until one realises that it is a closed shop to free thinkers and open-minds – ie:- those not riddled with the cancer of political correctness.

            Their modus operandi/survival mechanism is to close ranks and defend one another when under attack; to cosy up and favourably evaluate each others’ work; and to misrepresent and/or embellishing data and survey findings so as to give the impression that their policies and practices are…

          17. Samuel B. 6 Jan 2012, 9:21pm

            working when really they are not.

            When their world view is challenged they’ll stop at nothing to hammer home the PC line, or target their enemies with campaigns of bullying, intimidation and harrassment:- the most obvious tactic used being the deployment of trolls and disinformation shills on forums like this using public funds.

            They have publicly hurled insults at the likes of Dr Chris Jessen and anyone else who has dared criticise their HIV prevention methods. It is even on public record that they went so far as to invite a gay press journalist who had dared criticise their HIV campaigns to a CHAPS conference to put forward the case for harder hitting campaigns.

            In the event, the poor guy could barely get a word in as he was heckled, jeered and spat at by a sleazy ragbag outfit of HIV sector personnel comprising the usual suspects. Indeed, their efforts to silence his opinions and rubbish his views can be likened to the tactics employed by YOU, W6…

          18. Samuel B. 6 Jan 2012, 9:29pm

            towards myself. I have striven to make my points clearly and eloquently, and have answered your questions over and over as concisely as possible.

            Yet rather than hear the truth or even admit that I have made the point you demanded, you then go off at a completely different tangent and throw an obscure piece of statistical data in as something else that could also be behind rising HIV rates.

            You want your cake and you want to eat it too, W6. The most obvious tactic of the shill is to beat the opponent into submission by repeating the same old nonsense over and over without actually responding to the points the opponent makes in the hope that he will go away.

            In other words to engage in a campaign of bullying, intimidation, harrassment and veiled threats, and in your case in particular, W6, throwing all of your toys out of the pram.

            It is interesting that this is all part of Stu’s wider debate on whether the law should protect us from insults and abuse…

          19. Samuel B. 6 Jan 2012, 9:36pm

            Nevertheless, despite all the names you have called me and your efforts to intimidate me into submission, the last thing I would consider doing would be running to anyone else and asking them to fight my battles for me.

            I have to accept that some people are ignorant to a lesser or greater extent and shoot from the hip without first of all thinking what they are going to say or how they are going to react.

            When I read your postings, W6, all I hear is a frightened ego clinging on to his perception of reality and terrified that his worldview may not really be quite what he has been programmed to believe.

            I make an allowance for peoples’ ignorance and understand that resorting to name calling and abuse is a sign that they are cornered and have lost the argument but are to insecure and fearful within themselves to admit defeat.

            Because that is all bullies are at the end of the day; frightened, insecure people who get off trying to bring others’ down to their level…

          20. Samuel B. 6 Jan 2012, 9:47pm

            If more gay people realised that that is what bullies are, and how easy it is to gain the upper hand by not surrendering power to them and choosing instead to be victims, we would have none of this talk about resorting to the law to fight our battles.

            Freedom of speech is the benchmark of a democratic and free society. Our freedoms are already being eroded by the day with heightened surveillance and increases in police powers in the name of fighting terrorism, yet the same powers are also being used to check peoples’ bins and encouraging neighbours to snoop on one another.

            Where does it all end? What may seem like a harmless law implemented today to protect us from insults and abuse will, if or when abused further down the line, be used to suppress all thinking that doesn’t conform with what is desired by the authorities.

            Demanding the implementation of such laws is the top of a slippery slope into authoritarianism and fascism, and the gay community is, ironically, its cheerleader.

          21. I think the comments you direct to me about bullying, being frightened and have an ego to satisfy perfectly describe you Samuel. Your ramblings about terrorist laws etc just show that you are quite unhinged.

            You have made up your mind about me, which is your perogative – in your analysis you have made many many incorrect assumptions, yet you claim that your impression of me is accurate, you are so wrong. I will never let you discredit my knowledge and good name.

            No other commentators have referred to me as “the village idiot, bigoted, histrionic” etc as they have with you………and no I do not have multiple usernames, which you recently had to apologise to another commentator for your assumption and poor judgement.

            You remind me of a typical Daily Wail reader, you love the overblown sensationalism but never look below the surface to form your own opinion, your arguments are superficial & show very poor understanding.

            You rants get are desperate – you are the bully not me!!!

          22. Please provide a list of names that I have called you, prove that you are the innocent party here – there have been times when I have made personal remarks about you but nothing on the scale you have.

            Who else is fighting my battles? Please provide your evidence for this – for the record you will note that Stu clarified his point of view with regard to his stance on HIV prevention, he did this based on what I write, nothing else. What is your answer to that Samuel. It is you that keeps commenting about reds & greens, whereas I’m not bothered by such a primitive method of evaluation……I am not here to make friends, but you are clearly my enemy, you are isolated in this – there are few commentators that have openly made derogatory remarks about me, this is in contrast to you.

            Take a look at yourself because the persona you project is not pleasant & portrays you as a nasty, uncaring, paranoid, frightened little man.

            Others may tolerate you but you made this personal from day one

          23. “Demanding the implementation of such laws is the top of a slippery slope into authoritarianism and fascism, and the gay community is, ironically, its cheerleader.”

            Sorry, I should have referred to “radical and extreme elements of the gay community are, ironically, its cheerleaders”.

            W6, I have no problem whatsoever with being called “the village idiot” and such-like by such extreme elements who fester on these boards because they lack the necessary social skills to participate in normal human interaction, and feel powerful hiding behind laughable screennames as they hurl insults.

            Do you really need reminding of some of the abuse you have hurled my way? “Vile”, “ugly” and a plethora of insults that are truly offensive and shocking.

            Anything I aim at you is based purely on how you come across in your ramblings, above all DISINGENUOUS because each time I answer a question you pose, instead of acknowledging it you then throw some theoretical data in as a smokescreen to hide behind!!!

          24. What you are seeming to suggest in your last posting is that you are better than many other people, you are the superior contributer, and that your voice only is the one that should be heard – that is my interpretation of the words you have used to describe other PN readers who also find you rude and offensive.

            You like to categorise people like the way you categorise myself and Jock “from the same stable” meaning as we are both HIV positive then we somehow must have a lot in common and therefore have a natural dislike for you – this is your way of thinking which does you no favours at all. Yes I would like to be reminded of the words I have used to describe you – I certainly would not of used the word “ugly” because I have no idea what you look like. I deal in facts from which I then form an opinion – they are quite distinct yet you seen to form opinions based on what exactly?? Your opinions then become facts in your view. You are entitled to your opinion as we all are……

          25. …….but for the sake of good debate at least get some facts about the subject matter to base your opinion on.You have made assumptions about me with regard to HIV charities as it has somehow suited you to do this, probably because I am HIV positive & very optimistic about my future & that of other positive individuals. This does not suit your opinion that HIV is a dreadful disease and must be avoided at all costs. No one wants to get a chronic serious illness, especially one that can be so easily avoided, but many people do and they manage thier lives around that illness, so why is HIV any different??

            You lay the blame of rising infection rates squarly at the door of all the major HIV charities, yet it is risky behaviours that cause the rise in transmission rates – undiagnosed gay men are the sub-group who are responsible for passing on the virus, perhaps you are one of these people who has never tested, yet could be harbouring the virus……..

          26. …yet you consider yourself to be HIV negative. If you want a hard hitting message about HIV then use the one I have on my gaydar profile “NO HIV test = no self respect = no respect for others”.

            Your whole argument with me is based on your assumption I am an HIV / pharma company sector shill & paid to do this – this is totally ridiculous, but you prefer not to accept my assertions that I am just a well clued up positive guy who wants to reduce stigma & fear around HIV for those with the illness, & to say to those undiagnosed people get tested, & if the worst happens, there is life after HIV, what is so wrong with that approach?

            We cannot be prescriptive in the lives of other gay men so that they stay safe, there is plenty of good information available these days about HIV. Gay men have to accept that there is a high concentration of HIV witihn their community that it is their responsibility to get tested on a frequent basis, seek care & treatment where appropriate…..

          27. You talk about the “rights of negative gay men to stay neg” – but it is gay men who identify as neg that are passing on HIV, not the diagnosed gay men on treatment. Even those who have detectable virus tend to change thier sexual behaviours, which usually involves then only having sex with other +ve guys. So if we are talking about rights which I do not think is helpful, is it not the right of +ve gay men to have a healthy & happy sex life without being stigmatised & discriminated against? You of all people should agree with this given your comments, yet this same level of concern does not come out in your argument, which I suspect is all to do with THT / GMFA for what ever personal reason. That should not give you carte blanche to discredit me as an HIV positive individual. HIV debates are not the place to air your views on THT / GMFA / EJAF / NAT, take it to them directly or become an activist to help prevent the spread of HIV – use your energy and do something!

          28. “You lay the blame of rising infection rates squarly at the door of all the major HIV charities, yet it is risky behaviours that cause the rise in transmission rates.”

            W6, you always to see the contradiction in your own words. Why are gay men taking more and more sexual risks? Because they are NOT being properly educated about HIV, and what campaigns there are are serving to incentivise as much as to prevent unsafe sex!

            I am absolutely delighted that you are optimistic about life with HIV, but that doesn’t make the virus any more desirable. I applaud you for involving yourself in the lives of fellow pos men, but your shrill insistence that everyone should be told HIV is a picnic in the park makes you and others like you wholly unsuitable for any involvement in the formation of HIV campaigns AIMED AT NEGATIVE MEN!

            And by saying you and Jock are in the same camp, I mean for harbouring the same, unprogressive PC views – NOT that you are HIV, as I suspect you state just to wind me up.

          29. I think you ask a very good question as to why gay men, and other groups take risks, but it is not because they do not know about HIV and other STI’s . Behaviour is complex and about the thrill or risk, low seft esteem, thinking it will never happen to me.

            A horny young gay guy who takes drugs and uses alcohol is not gong to think about the health effects of HIV when he wants sex – he may think about risk after the event, and even then dismiss it by thinking he is invincible – this is life the world over, and gay men are no different to anyone else in this respect.

            You seem to think gay men are unable to think for themselves, make decisions and take risks if they want to. Levels of risk taking is personal to us all surely you accept that? If this is what you call PC thinking, I think you are wrong, it s human nature for us all to make choices in life and not be dictated to on the type of sex we have, who we have it with and so on.

          30. I do not accept your idea that telling the truth about living with HIV makes it attractive – yes there are some gay guys who want to be “in the club” to coin a phrase, but these guys are a minority and are hard to reach as far as prevention goes, so we must identify them & give them intensive help & support which includes using treatment as prevention, something you do not see the value in at all.

            Prevention today has to be guided by effective marketing coupled with the right messages, and as others have said ths is not always easy to get right. You seem to selectively look back on old campaigns and fail to acknowledge what is happening now, again this is something I don’t understand let’s deal with the here & now, not what’s been & it is not helpful to speculate about the future. An example of where you speculate and are way off the mark in on HIV meds, and it’s a slippery slope towards less effective treatments because of cost.

          31. You make the wrong comparisons with cancer drugs -the most expensive cancer drugs can only provide a very limited extension to life expectancy usually less than 6 months, HIV meds are proven to improve life expectancy & are cost effective when compared to the costs of treating a very ill patient in hospital. There is the public health aspect relating to HIV meds, they help contain the virus & therefore reduce new infections, again something will refuse to acknowledge.

            If all the undiagnosed positive gay men got tested & started treatment, infection rates would drop like a stone, treatment has been proven to work in this way, but when I say this, you dismiss me for being a pharma shill because that’s what you want to beleive.

            I still do not understand why you cannot accept that I am genuinely & personally interested in HIV prevention better sexual health – if it is because I dont take the “nanny state” approach then call me PC. I beleive in personal responsibility & choice.

          32. As for me winding you up let’s face it this is not too difficult is it? But you have to shoulder a great amount of the responsibility here as you make ambiguous comments as a way of providing yourself with an escape route when challenged, I see this time & again. Going back to the Jock example being +ve is the only fact I know we have in common so I think I am correct in my analysis, it just suits you to use that ambiguity as your alternative argument.

            I am very bored with this thread & you, we are just going over the same stuff, I will concede not to challenge your poorly developed opinions in future, but will always question you “facts” when they are plain wrong, inaccurate or misleading half truths – on that note that really is it from me on this thread.

          33. “If all the undiagnosed positive gay men got tested & started treatment, infection rates would drop like a stone…”

            Do you really believe that is ever going to happen? The clamour for all gay men to get tested – and the consequential waste of vital HIV funds in doing so – is futile cos it ain’t ever going to happen. Sorry Big Pharma!!

            In one breath you claim that stigma prevents gay men coming forward to be tested, and in the other you state that all gay men coming forward to be tested is more effective than graphic HIV campaigns. Which is it to be, W6? You hang yourself by your cognitive dissonance!

            Hasn’t it occurred to you that denial plays a key role in men not being tested? And if all gay men were to come forward for testing, your solution would be to administer HIV drugs to all those who test pos, end of story. Do you not appreciate the absurdness of your words?

            No. The ONLY surefire way to reduce HIV infection rates is effective sand properly targetted prevention, period.

          34. Kudos Samuel for so convincingly winning the argument and knocking W6_Blockhead into submission. I and I am sure many others are outraged at his statement of fact that XXL is a sex club replete with dark rooms and Status were therefore wrong to receive its fundraising. As an XXL-er of some years standing I am grossly insulted. I go to the club to dance and socialize and many orthers will testify that XXL is one of the few attitude-free places that gay men can still enjoy themselves of a night out…
            And what a rank hypocrit this shrilling troll W6 proves himself to be in his defense of HIV enablers like GMFA. From the 12/1/12 edition of QX:
            IT’S A LUCKY FRIDAY 13TH FOR GMFA WHEN THE UK’S BIGGEST NAKED DISCO, NUDITY, HOLDS A FUNDRAISING EVENT FOR THE WORTHWHILE [SIC] ORGANISATION… THE USUAL NAKED GAY DISCO ABANDON WILL BE ON OFFER FOR THE NIGHT WITH TOP TUNES PLUS THE USUAL DARK NOOKS AND CRANNIES TO RELIEVE THE TENSION BETWEEN TUNES…
            That’s not just vile, it’s OBSCENE!

          35. Did you run out of ideas Paulo that you had to cut n paste from a previous comment – if anyone is trolling here it is you, joining this debate at such a late stage in the game. XXL has a dark room – this is fact is it not???? What happens in dark rooms I wonder – could it possibily be bareback sex I wonder? Surely not if you go there with your high moral tone!!!

            The point I was making to Samuel is that he supports the outfit fronted by Peter Scott yet has condemned “sex clubs”. Surely if a venue has a dark room then people go there for sex do they not? Double standards in my view on the one hand saying sex clubs should not be promoted and then supporting an organisation that has clearly proffited from donations from a venue with a dark room………………does that make sense?

        3. @ Samuel – how dare you!! My profile name is the same at the ones on Gaydar, Grindr, BBRT, I live in TW3 not W6 next time you want to make accusations get your facts right, you ignorant tosser.

          Big off back to your cave and let the rest of us enjoy reading PN comments. Danlad72 just to remind you I am a real person!

          1. Samuel B. 3 Jan 2012, 8:23pm

            There there, keep your cool Dan. I was just going by the similar style of prose, lack of intellect and gutteral language you both adopt to hammer home a point or to attack anything you disagree with. A simple mistake to make, afterall, for which I owe you and W6 my apologies.

        4. It amazes me that you have a very cynical and critical point of view to the HIV charities, yet you seem to firmly beleive that Peter Scott has no personal agenda, I think you are blinkered by his rhetoric.

          It remains to be seen what will happen during 2012, but I for one am very optimistic that we will see further improvements in prevention campaigns that embrace several methods including treatment as prevention as an important aspect & not just focus on stigma & fear.

          I also remain very optimistic about advances in HIV treatment & care in the UK, there are several new drugs on the horizon which will help simplify the drug regimens and make them more tolerable. I look to the future not to the past and out of date thinking.

          1. “I for one am very optimistic that we will see further improvements in prevention campaigns that embrace several methods including treatment as prevention as an important aspect & not just focus on stigma & fear.

            I also remain very optimistic about advances in HIV treatment & care in the UK, there are several new drugs on the horizon which will help simplify the drug regimens and make them more tolerable. I look to the future not to the past and out of date thinking.”

            The Chief Executive,
            GSK Corporation Inc.

            cc. “Sir” Nichola Pratridge

          2. As you have no credible argument you just copy and paste and then show your playground tactics, leopards and spots spring to mind…..I wonder which role you will imagine I take up next?

            If I was as cynical as you seem to be Samuel then I would suggest that you have been planted here by Status to peddle their out if date and simplistic views on HIV prevention.

            It is interesting that your view that HIV should be stigmatised in order to give negative men a reason to remain negative, yet most forward transmissions come from undiagnosed individuals that identify as “negative gay men”. Positive gay men on successful treatment, and are STI free pose virtually no risk of forward transmission, yet you seem to think it is acceptable to perpetuate stigma, fear and inequality towards this group of gay men – it really is a backward thinking approach and will not help reduce new infection rates.

          3. GSK have a relatively small market share of the ARV’s used in the UK today. I wouldn’t expect you to know this as you have no depthwow knowledge with regard to HIV and it’s treatment today. You rely on out if date thinking & sound bites from the US for your very poor analysis which does not reflect the situation in the UK.

            If you were current & had well thought out arguments I would have more respect for your point of view, but as you desperately cling to your out of date views, there is no point trying to debate with you.

            Your aim is to discredit my knowledge & throw personal insults at me in the vain hope they will stick. You have an agenda to discredit me as an HIV positive gay man; this speaks volumes & confirms your ever present irrational fear about HIV.

            Your life must be blighted by the constant fear of getting a positive result, some people who “play safe” sadly become infected – you wouldn’t cope because you appear weak, ill informed & out of touch with HIV care.

    4. I have to say, whilst interesting, I am not sure this was the place to have the lengthy debate on HIV prevention and how that should be arranged.

      If we take out the 70 or so comments on here on this, the vast majority of comments on this discussion have been constructive and (even if disagreeing with others) tolerant of other view points …

      The agitation is this section has been palpable and disappointing.

      I do agree strongly with an aspect of W6’s argument (although this does not mean I agree with everything he has said!) – that it is crucial in combatting HIV to both ensure people are tested and aware of their risk (untested people are highly unlikely to be aware of risk) and to reduce stigma …

      That does not mean that Samuel B’s point about some hard hitting factual and honest campaigns do not have their place. They certainly do. They have to be imaginative and carefully thought through. They have to be challenging AND complement other health promotion approaches. How …

      1. … the proportions of what is challenging/conforntational and what is stigman reducing and how they are arranged to both compliment (and not dilute) and support other strands of education is clearly a matter for the professionals to determine.

        How that related to the law on insults … I am not sure …

        I do enjoy your arguments and debates … sometimes wish you would count to 10 before you commit to comment …

        1. “… the proportions of what is challenging/conforntational and what is stigman reducing and how they are arranged to both compliment (and not dilute) and support other strands of education is clearly a matter for the professionals to determine.”

          But Stu, as I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to emphasise the point, “professionals” have been debating for over 30 years now and they STILL haven’t got it right!

          Do you not accept even a grain of truth in my observation that the work of reducing HIV stigma and HIV prevention are mutually incompatible and the latter is failing because the same people working to reduce the former are also funded for the latter?

          These two areas need to be broken up and those involved on each focused only on the objective in hand, unemcumbered by any personal agendas or conflicts of interest.

          Even if that means all pos people working to fight stigma and all neg people working to prevent the spread among other neg people, I would be for that.

          1. Samuel you do not understand the workings of statutory funding in the HIV charity sector – funding is allocated based on what is commissioned (which in london we know is very poorly commissioned). So as an examople if there is x £ statutary funding for small media promotional campaigns then that is what will be allocated to a particular charity, & this money has to be spent on that work stream. Statutory funding for prevention is not used to support people with HIV directly – although there is some funding given to promote effective drug treamtment & PEP as these are seen as prevention methods – you may not like this but this is how it is.

            You have critisiced PEP but if the HIV cahrities have been funded to provide small media campaigns on PEP then that is what they will do with that funding. If you read the full PanLondon commissioning report, which on the whole makes sense to me, you will realise the complexities of prevention & the many work streams it involved.

          2. I am not criticising PEP at all!! No, I am criticising the way the HIV charities have packaged and sold these drugs as the solution to preparing for unsafe sex as opposed to being prescribed only as a failsafe procedure when accidental condom breakages occur.

            The relentless deluge of adverts for PEP as a preventive measure for pre-meditated unsafe sex is just about the most irresponsible action the HIV sector has taken to date, and that is saying something, especially when PEP is known not to be 100 per cent effective.

            The correlation with the mass marketing of PEP in the gay media can be in part correlated to the increases in HIV infection over the same period, just as irresponsible prevention ads that encourage bareback sex – on the ridiciculous assumption that you will pull out before cumming – can also be blamed for today’s sky high HIV rates, and just as the charities’ refusal not to take a stand against bareback porn can be argued to have done likewise…

          3. You are obviously not aware of the PrEP studies which are currently being trialled in Europe where individuals that engage in high risk behaviour are being given Pre Exposure Profalaxis which involves taking Truvada prior to and after sexual activity. Both Pep and PrEP are now considered as a technological method to help prevent HIV transmission, as will treatment as prevention in the future.

            http://www.aidsmap.com/HIV-treatment-as-prevention/page/2182221/
            http://www.aidsmap.com/Pre-exposure-prophylaxis/page/1065825/

            Please provide the reference where “the correlation with the mass marketing of PEP in the gay media can be in part correlated to the increases in HIV infection over the same period”.Has there been a study to confirm this as fact?
            Where is your evidence to support this comment “just as irresponsible prevention ads that encourage bareback sex – on the ridiciculous assumption that you will pull out before cumming – can also be blamed for today’s sky high HIV rates”.

          4. @Samuel

            I think you could argue a potential for conflict …

            I think you supply theory on what the cause of your perceived lack of success of some campaigning is – without evidence that your theory on cause is true and you malign the professionalism of many clinicians to separate their responsibilities under one auspice with responsibilities elsewhere …

            As a paramedic, I am responsible to my patient, the general public (society), my employer, my regulator and myself …

            Sometimes there are conflicting requirements from some – I am professional enough to balance those competing needs and make appropriate judgements (usually correctly) …

            I suspect most competant healt professionals are also able to balance their thoughts, processes and allegiances appropriately …

            I think its a horrifying idea to leave destigmatisation to positive people – that sends the message that HIV ONLY matters to those who have it and propagates stigma.

            You are wrong in that approach

      2. The problem is Stu I do not beleive that SamB’s harder hitting campaigns want to include factual & honest information, it seems to be all about stigma and fear, & quoting studies completed in the US that do not directly relate to the treatment & prognosis as it stands here in the UK is not helpful. He simply is not comparing like with like.

        Whilst I agree that the agitation is disappointing I have been wrongly accused of being a paid HIV and Pharma shill, & subjected to very personal remarks from very early on when I started contributing to PN – when I first joined I could not beleive how combative many of the comments on here sometimes are – particularly in relation to HIV. I will not accept the tactics used by Samuel to discredit me, & whilst we are as bad as each other more or less from day one he has been gunning for me.

        I appologise for causing this thread to degenerate. In furture I do not intend to enter into any debates with SamB unless it is to correct poor information!

        1. On your demands, W6, I have provided robust evidence to back up all of the claims I have made to the point where you were unable to counter my claims any further and backed off and, finally, disappeared (or claimed to).

          We have established that as a pos man with a remarkable imnsight into the working’s of the HIV sector you have an ulterior motive, or agenda, at play in wanting HIV to be seen as something that is really no big deal today instead of gay men being warned loudly and clearly that it remains a chronic disease that is and always has been best avoided at all costs, period.

          People like you are dangerous and deluded because you wield the power in gay men’s health and have let PC and NLP techniques diminish the voice of reason in gay men’s health and obliterated common sense from the equation, but the problem for you is your type are becoming more and more transparent as the truth breaks through for all to see.

          That is the reality, now get over it!

          1. I will only engage with you to correct your innaccurate & poor information. With this in mind, on what basis do you conclude that “people like you are dangerous & deluded because you wield the power in gay men’s health & have let PC & NLP?? techniques diminish the voice of reason in gay men’s health”.
            In your answer to Stu you say the proffessionals are wrong – who do you mean by proffessionals Samuel? Have you read the full report on the PAN London HIV prevention program, not just the BBC article. I think you will find that there are many proffessionals at fault other than the HIV charities you so dislike.
            You might just want to note as you are against corruption & vested interests that the Pan London report was produced by a company called ERGO Consulting. Guess who is 1 of 4 consultant working for Ergo – Peter Scott of Status Prevention fame. How on earth can this be transparent when he has a vested interest? I am pursuing this as it seems inapproriate to say the least!

          2. “…Guess who is 1 of 4 consultant working for Ergo – Peter Scott of Status Prevention fame. ”

            So we have Peter Scott to thank as a pivotal figure in exposing the rot and corruption in the awarding of HIV prevention contracts these last few years, have we? Well all I can say is about time too.

            How on earth can you suggest Peter has a self-interest when his only interest is to bring these repeated failures into the public eye and to demand changes that will reverse unacceptable rates of HIV infection? How much do you think he is earning for this?!!

            Stu made reference to the “professionals” who have been guiding HIV prevention policy for the past 30 years. I was merely pointing out the fact that we are where we are at thanks to them. You know, W6. The definition of the word “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time.

            Are you really advocating insanity as the solution, because that’s exactly what your hollow arguments are suggesting…

          3. Just to be clear here Samuel – you do not see any conflict of interest with Ergo ( employing Peter Scott) as a Consultant commissioned to investigate & report on the Pan London HIV Commissining Process & him setting up a new HIV prevention organisation in 2010? Have you bothered to read the full report? Nowhere in that report does it state that “harder hitting” messages are the way forward, infact the report identifies that stigma and fear are not considered particularly effective.

            I would agree that the report is very good for the most part, and it seems Mr Scott makes a very good analysis of the problems that exist. I still have my reservations about a conflict of interest between Ergo Consulting & Status Prevention as a service provider, & I intend to find out exactly how much Ergo were paid for the final report, which took 3 years to compile – I am sure that Ergo Consulting were paid a very hansome sum of money which probably came out of the prevention budget.

        2. @W6

          I am unclear what Samuel would place in a hard hitting campaign … in order to be fair to both people it is targetted at (to prevent onward transmission of HIV) and those who it could potentially stigmatise, the information contained needs to be honest, accurate and up to date … to ensure this there needs to be clinical oversight of the content …

          The agiitation is disappointing. I agree there has been an ongoing battle of minds between you and Samuel since I first noticed either of you on here. There is certainly agitation from both sides but I do accept that both of you have produced factual and fair information – sometimes the information in response is not necessarily comparable with that it seeks to retort!

          I wholly agree with responding to inaccuracies and flagrant attempts to discredit (particularly where the information is either wrong or speculative) …

          I predominantly agree with your approach of reducing stigma, but accept this is not the only option.

          1. Stu
            I have in the past asked SamB what “harder hitting” means, and it seems that perpetuating stigma would be the basis from which he would develop media campaigns.

            The other aspect he is keen to develop is that HIV meds are not safe and are highly toxic, I do not beleive this is correct with the advances that have been made in treatment, and side effects are very individual and can in most cases be dealt with effectively.

            He is also keen to use examples of outcomes seen in the US to perpetuate fear, but he does not accept that HIV treatment in the UK is very different and therefore there are vastly different outcomes.

            He asserts that HIV charities are in the main run by +ve people and therefore anything that is produced by these charities are self serving and what he terms PC.

            Unless he can confirm different the impression I get is that he wants to perpetuate stigma, fear, and discredit HIV treatment advances and care in the UK. He wants to scare not educate!

          2. Stu
            I have in the past asked SamB what “harder hitting” means, and it seems that perpetuating stigma would be the basis from which he would develop media campaigns.

            The other aspect he is keen to develop is that HIV meds are not safe and are highly toxic, I do not beleive this is correct with the advances that have been made in treatment, and side effects are very individual and can in most cases be dealt with effectively.

            He is also keen to use examples of outcomes seen in the US to perpetuate fear, but he does not accept that HIV treatment in the UK is very different and therefore there are vastly different outcomes.

            He asserts that HIV charities are in the main run by +ve people and therefore anything that is produced by these charities are self serving and what he terms PC.

            Unless he can confirm different the impression I get is that he wants to perpetuate stigma, fear, and discredit HIV treatment advances and care in the UK. He wants to scare not educate

          3. To cloud the issue and create diversions he has often suggested I am paid by both the HIV charities and the pharma companies to discredit his views – I am unclear why he thinks this – I can only assume that he views my knowledge as threatening, so wants to discredit this.

            He has also suggested I have somehow “glamourised” HIV & have deliberately played down the serious nature of a chronic disease. What I have openly said is please be upto date & factual about the prognosis of an individual being diagnosed today in 2012.

            Because I am optimistic about the future of HIV treatment & care he twists this to say that I have my head in the sand & I am highly selective in my readings; this despite the fact I am +ve and engage with clinicians and many many +ve individuals, so I beleive I am well placed to make valid opinions from my research & first hand experience.

            I beleive he dismisses all this because I am +ve and therefore have a vested interest in reducing stigma for my own end!

          4. In my work as an HIV forum moderator I see daily the effect an HIV diagnosis has on people from all population groups, and there are two common themes that always feature in their postings: stigma, discrimination and fear is the main one, followed by the concern about taking meds, often at the expense in their own health, that is many are so concerned about side effects they would rather wait until their immune system is severely damaged.

            There is also a trend of people being diagnosed when they have been hospitalised with PCP, Lymphoma and just recently a case of KS. This should not be happening in 2012 but it is and it is extremely worrying.

            When I see the things SamB writes here I feel angry that there could be people who may access help early but are put off by his assertions.

            It is plain wrong that we are still seeing CD4 cell counts in single figures, KS and PCP in the UK today in 2012….we must educate not stigmatise & get people testing & looking after their sexual health.

          5. If my approach is wrong then so be it, but I am of the clear opinion that most HIV clinicians would broadly support my views, but sadly SamuelB also seems to want to discredit charities & clinicians alike.

          6. If you have a moment Stu please read the account SamB gives about a “friend” and his experience of testing and subsequent care in the LA porn condom story……his account is just plain wrong, the way he describes things just would not happen and I have pointed this out.

            This is why is why I take issue with SamB because he makes wildly inaccurate statements which now go as far as to undermine HIV testing and care. He has no shame or integrity.

  31. Everyone should be allowed to, like, dislike and even hate who they want and say it, shout it from the roof tops, if that person or persons takes offense, then quite frankly that is there problem if your feelings are hurt.

    The UK is becoming a nanny state, and the public order act certainly does need to be modified a great deal.

    I’m sure all homosexuals are big boys and all Lesbians big girls now and can take comments and the fact that people don’t like them, just as other hate people hate other people.

    If I want to hate and tell you, that is my right to do so, and I couldn’t care what the law days, the law my friend is an ass, and you worked for it!

    1. So you prefer anarchy, Matthew?

      or a place were rights and individuals are respected?

      1. Spanner1960 21 Dec 2011, 1:55pm

        There is a very wide piece of ground between a dictatorship and complete anarchy.
        The law is an ass, but it is better than none at all. It is up to the rest of us to ensure it remains fair, just and protects the majority of people.

        1. @Spanner1960

          I think we would probably draw the line in different places (and probably in different situations too) but I agree it is better to have law than no law. It is best to try and protect all and succeed in protecting many than not to try at all.

          1. Id rather have no law, and have anarchy and let people sort it out for themselves by having a fight.

          2. That says it all, Matthew …

            Did they teach you that in prison?

  32. Second phase of world domination… the more you rise, the more you fall…
    What a distorted worldview… Fail totally….
    Some moles are trying to set up a gestapo like system to divide the gay community… so they go around especulating and asking peeps to denounce each other, while blindly and willingly ignoring, and many times supporting, all the corrosive and corrupted system at the very top of our government. Stumping on small people … Fail miserably….

    1. The Gaysteapo are doing a fine job on their own both dividing themselves, and also creating more hostility towards themselves, as homosexuals.

  33. Gay Tories and their supporters
    —-> Duhhhhhhhhhhhh

    1. Where does party politics have anything to do with this?

      1. Spanner1960 21 Dec 2011, 1:56pm

        Did someone mention a party? :)

        1. Only if I can come too! lol

        2. Galadriel1010 22 Dec 2011, 10:07pm

          Drinks all around! I’ll bring the cake(s)

  34. I don’t think the word ‘insulting’ should be removed because I don’t think it needs to be as long as the law/Courts function in a sensible manner and only allow insult when their genuinely is one.

    I know someone’s going to say “But how do you decide?” but that’s what the Courts do every day – interpret the Law. I was thinking about the law regarding attacks v. self-defence. That’s not always clear cut – eg in recent cases regarding householders who’ve fought back against burglars.

    So, I agree with Stu. I’d say leave the law as it is, but ensure it’s properly applied. I doubt many people would bring trivial or spurious cases anyway, but if they did the Court could disallow them.

    Free speech is very important, but I can’t see the UK being somewhere where somebody making a genuine statement of disagreement would be locked up. We should all be allowed to state our opinions, even if they’re minority ones, but not in an unnecessarily abusive manner or a way designed to hurt another.

    1. @Iris

      I can see where the concerns about the use of the word insulting in law come from … but I see the checks and balances as already being in place … thus, I contend that the application is disingenuous and is from some who seek to take advantage of being able to insult (maybe they are not capable of intelligent debate and they can only summon up insults)

      1. I wholly agree. I just feel very uneasy about this. It’s seeking permission to say something unpleasant, and then saying ‘Tough luck – it’s not against the law’. It seems a retrograde step to me.

        I also find it slightly depressing. I spend hours teaching children to be nice to one another and act in a considered manner, and now an insult might be OK? Sorry, but just because you CAN say something, doesn’t mean you should.

        I don’t feel any better for being informed that if some religious homophobe were to insult me, I could insult them back. I don’t WANT to… It’s childish, serves no purpose and does nothing to change the mind of the person who has a different opinion from mine. I’d like to stick to courteous disagreement and reasonably polite discussion. That doesn’t mean boring and bland – it can still be empassioned and energising.

        1. Absolutely … surely one of the most natural instincts of a human is to try and respect each other … thats why we teach children to act in a respectful and honourable manner

          Its perfectly possible to politely disagree – even robustly …

          I hope society continues to be respectful and does not believe being insulting is a right the law should permit

  35. So if a pig is homophobic should I be allowed to grunt or swear at him?

    1. and we were having such an intelligent and friendly debate … and then jamesh decided to start throwing insults around – disappointing …

      A clear demonstration (to me) of the lack of responsibility that I have been alluding to …

      The lack of self control and respect for others and wider society …

      Disappointing

    2. And to clarify I do not feel that homophobia should ever be regarded as acceptable … but nor should immature and insulting behaviour such as that suggested by jamesh

      1. Homophobia should be allowed, as its a form of expression, ‘Homophobia’ This is a made up word by the homosexual political agenda. Homophobia, it actually means, fear of things that are the same, if you look at the basic meanings of its Greek roots: Homo=same Phobos=fear

        The word homophobia is a neologism first coined by psychologist George Weinberg in his book Society and the Healthy Homosexual in 1972. It can be broken down into the Greek words homo meaning “the same” and phobia which means “fear”.

        But in everyday usage means: fear of homosexuals, or, possibly: condition where one person has the same fears as someone else
        With his homophobia, he can’t look at a bunch of paperclips or go to a prep school without freaking out.

        My homophobia restricts me from watching most home improvement TV shows.

        1. Spanner1960 22 Dec 2011, 10:07am

          Matthew: “My homophobia restricts me from watching most home improvement TV shows.”

          Well no sad loss there then, eh?

          “Homophobia” is a poor word, but I have yet to see a better equivalent, unless you wish to try “homosexualism”. Either way, whinging on about semantics merely deflects the fact you are a homophobic troll that just enjoys saying things for effect. You are the sort of prat that bemoans the loss of the word “gay” as happy and carefree, when you would have never used it in the first place. Seriously, try to get a life, I’m sure there’s one out there, even for you.

          1. @Spanner1960

            Whilst I agree (for the most part) that it wouldnt be a significant loss to not be able to watch home improvement shows – perhaps if Matthew finds his homophobia a barrier – then he should get some counselling or psychological help to overcome it …

          2. Spanner1960 22 Dec 2011, 4:39pm

            @Stu: As usual, your liberal attitude does you a disservice.
            There’s nothing a good smack in the gob wouldn’t fix in this case.

          3. @Spanner1960

            I wouldnt necessarily disagree with you on that …

  36. Nameo Obum 21 Dec 2011, 4:50pm

    The Law should make it possible for Homosexuals to insult, malign and harass others just as Peter Tatchell is known to do but the Law must never allow anybody to insult a gay person. In fact, Heterosexuals should be made to drop petals of flowers and bow down as a gay walks down the street.

    That’s what I call fairness.

    1. What a hysterical remark. The law simply requires that you leave people be. Is Peter Tatchell known to do this? Where? When? To whom? If you look at the Christian Insitute’s page this week, you will note that Mr. Tatchell is defending an evangelical Christian’s right to free expression. Get your facts right.

      1. @adrianT

        Whilst we do not agree on the bigger aspect of this argument (nor I suspect on the Adrian Smith issue) … its completely laughable and bogus to suggest that Peter Tatchell seeks to malign, insult or harass. Its utterly despicable the way that some people will seek to maliciously and dishonestly malign some people.

    2. There was a time in Europe when homosexuals were strangled or burnt alive in town squares while crowds of christians jeered.

      That’s what I call unfair.

      Today we have the same human rights as you do. That’s what I call fair.

      Get on the right side of history.

    3. For all I care you can stuff your rose petals where the sun don’t shine, I’m not interested in being treated like a visiting ambassador – social equality would be a nice change.
      Try not resorting to hysterical hyperbole just because we have slighlty more equal rights than we did this time last year.

  37. I had the following response to the article from a friend
    “I wish people WOULD address these problems regarding insulting behaviour, but I think it is naive to assume that anything will be done and with too many people having the mindset of the person who feels gay men should just “toughen up”, being prevalent, your hard work to construct your article may not be sufficient. I don’t use insulting language in a public context and I’ve never been even tempted to use it online. It is the weakest form of reaction, usually highlighting a mental deficiency or lack of self control, but also I’d add that online forums of debate and discussion have to be more careful as to the scale and scope of such language. Plenty of times, on seemingly innocuous websites, such insulting and offensive language has “slipped through” and been allowed to mutate the course of the discussion into an online “slagging match” or at the very least a spew of (Predictably) vulgar and unnecessarily disgusting …

    1. … expletives from one source or more against others. It shouldn’t be tolerated and it shouldn’t be considerated acceptable. It isn’t a freedom of expression or even just “someone else’s view”, it is vindictive, offensive language used for the purpose of not only attention-seeking shock value, but to cause distress to the reader, which in a civilised society shouldn’t be allowed. In context, filthy use of language can be provocative and run hand-in-hand with the surrounding atmosphere, but generally and under normal situations, this should be totally unacceptable and websites have to not only take a more responsible approach, but should realise the damage that is caused by allowing such primitive, narrow-minded and childish behaviour to be perpetuated. Of course the “buck” ends with the person who posts such words, but the websites should take a moral obligation as well. Modern society is now a far more complex place. The diference between what is unacceptable and what should NOT …

    2. … be censored has got to be clearly defined and upheld. I hope others will read your article and encourage them to voice their opinions (Good and bad), but thoughtfully! Whether your article is read by a narrow-minded person or not is an unfortunate reality, it seems.”

      I agree with most of this – although predominantly I think responsibility is with the person who makes unacceptable comments … but it gave me pause for thought reading this response.

      1. I firmly believe that gay men should “toughen up” and stop being so wet.

        1. Yet another weak reaction from you, Matthew

        2. Spanner1960 22 Dec 2011, 4:37pm

          I totally agree. Maybe we should send the massed congregation of the Coleherne round to your house and give you a right good dressing-down.

          I bet you wouldn’t call any of them poofs to their faces.

  38. Raymond A. Weaver 21 Dec 2011, 6:40pm

    There are negative comments and then there are NEGATIVE comments. Personally, I prefer knowing WHO my enemies are. Censoring speech makes that difficult, if not impossible

    1. @Raymond

      There is censoring and CENSORING though …

  39. I personally think that we have to be careful when it come anything that makes it illegal to offend, as offence is very subjective.
    It can’t be left down to the police to be judges either. Anyone who thinks that the judgement of the police on the street will always err on the side of fairness and equality for all is living in cloud cuckoo land.
    Unless it is speech that is threatening, that puts one in fear of going about ones business without fear of assault or intimidation, then we get into dangerous territory with vague and subjective terms like insult and offence. How many times have gay people been held to a different standard that heterosexuals? Any expression of affection in a public place can still bring down opprobrium, with claims that you are flaunting your sexuality. Being the minority, it is we who could be told to cease what we are doing, so as not to insult the sensibilities of others, of being a danger to public order.

    1. Spanner1960 22 Dec 2011, 4:35pm

      I find your tone offensive, Sir!

      ;)

  40. Wonder what Peter Tatchell makes of the CPS decision to charge John Terry!!! Awaiting a press release from the PTF criticizing them for stifling free speech :/

  41. Thanks Stu for this thought provoking piece. It has made me think twice about whether or not I support a change to the law.

    E.g. the thought that some toe rag can swear at a police officer who is simply doing his/her job and getting away with it makes me angry.

    My worry, as I have said before, is how do we decide if someone has insulted in such a way the law is rightly deemed to have been broken?

    The case of a gay man who felt he was “insulted” and reported a street preacher to the police, who had declared a view about homosexuality, based on the Bible , who was then arrested as a result, is an example of where the law was misapplied.

    I agree folk should be protected and not harassed or intimidated and the law, specifically the one you refer to, is an imperfect vehicle for doing this.

    I suppose I am old fashioned and see being insulted as going with the territory (not sure I could survive PN comments if that were not the case :-) ) but equally in a fair and just society people should not be insulted without right cause and they certainly should not be the object of abuse – verbally or otherwise.

    1. btw: I have just been going though the comments and am impressed that several are very well thought through and presented, including by those (dare I say it) who could be accused of throwing the odd insult or two.

      Besides recognising that some folk on PN will feel insulted when they read my views (which are never intended to insult), I feel a sense of balance and proportion is needed and what we should be seeking to eradicate is malicious intent that could or does result in harm. My worry is how to produce a law that states this in a way that is clear to all.

    2. @JohnB

      Thanks for your considered response.

      I suspect you do not intend to offend in your comments on here, although sometimes I think some people are offended… equally, I think you are insulted by some on here (sometimes deliberately) …

      There clearly is a balance to be achieved between protecting the important right to freedom of expression and protecting others from harassment, distress etc etc

      I think your comments on malicious intent are appropriate – but clearly in some instances arrests will be made where that intent is merely suspected but during investigation that intent may or may not be proven … in the same way that people may be arrested on suspicion of many things but the investigation exonerates them – that exoneration does not mean that the arrest was inappropriate, unlawful or wrong … nor would it be the case for insulting words … checks and balances remain, and whilst the law may not be perfect – the removal of the word insulting would not help ….

    3. … it would not resolve the situation and could tie courts up for years with a innumerable set of cases where debate was to be had as to whether the actions, words etc were abusive or insulting (which is arguably semantic) … what is needed is better law, if the law is wrong, not amended unhelpful law… so the Home Office consultation is the best place for that to happen – review whether the checks and balances (as I suspect) have been sufficient in the current law, and therefore there is no need for change – or if there has been insufficient protection of the freedom of expression – does that require new law, amended law or better police guidance … Otherwise this is an argument about semantics confusing necessary law about terrorist charge periods, official surveillance etc etc … It seems its taking advantage of a situation by certain religious extremists seeking to make their voice heard – not about rights and responsibilities.

  42. No one has the right to not be offended, everyone will be offended by something, the day we start legislating intellectual laws is the day i leave the country.

    When it comes to people with backward and bigoted points of views, we must aim to change their point of view and not prosecute them, simply prosecuting them will just fuel their hate.

    We live in a so-called free society, though one of our only freedoms that is left intact is the one to free thought, just because we do not like someones thoughts does not give us a right to punish them.

  43. hi im new here im interested in so called freedom of speech in england . people with dissabilaties ,gay people and ethnic minorities have the full weight of the law to protect them and thats great , but if they have that protection what about being fat having ginger hair or weaing glasses ,they are also minoritiey groups and can be deeply affected even suicadal surly we should have as much protection as these other groups . not 1 rule for 1 and another rule for another comments

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