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UK: Police apologize after chilling anti-free-speech message

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A police department in the UK has apologized following backlash over the chilling slogan it posted to social media – “Being offensive is an offence.”

The Merseyside Police Department put the controversial slogan on a mobile billboard and also posted it on Twitter. The ad, which also featured the rainbow flag, caused backlash on social media. Many viewed the slogan as an attack on the freedom of expression.

“Is it really? It’s usually unnecessary to be offensive, and it might be considered unpleasant, but I wasn’t aware that it’s actually against the law,” a Twitter user wrote.

“Still, on the plus side, the crisis in Police numbers must be over if they have time for this,” they concluded, spiting the police for focusing on hate speech instead of real crime.

“Utterly chilling. In a free society the right to be offensive is fundamental. This isn’t North Korea!” another Twitter user said.
Today, the Merseyside Police Superintendent apologized for the wrong wording in the slogan.

“We would like to clarify that ”being offensive” is not in itself an offence,” Superintendent Martin Earl said in a statement.

“A message on an ad van and social media this weekend by the Local Policing Team on the Wirral to encourage people to report hate crime although well-intentioned was incorrect and we apologise for any confusion this may have caused.

“Hate crime is an offence and will not be tolerated. Hate crime can come in various guises that can include assault, criminal damage, verbal and written online abuse.

“Our Hate Crime Coordinators draw on a wealth of experience and expertise to provide effective and above all sensitive and appropriate support for victims.”

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