Was Boris right to ban the bus ads? Apparently we should ask the Courts!

My latest post on the Boris Johnson’s decision to ban the CIT ad promoting ‘cures’ for homosexuality received a response on Jacob Williamson’s blog entitled Was Boris right to ban the bus ads?, in which he defends an

“unconditional right possessed by all individuals to express whatever views they have”

founded on intuition. This is a common viewpoint, and hard to refute, except that I simply don’t share that intuition. In the context of the power imbalances present in society, I don’t share the faith in critical discussion that would enable me to accept that any message, however horrific, can be safely permitted because it will be inevitably refuted and we’ll all be the better for it.

This takes an interesting turn though. The Independent report that the Christian group in question have instructed their lawyers to sue both the Mayoral office and TfL. The Indy suggest that “it is believed” (isn’t well-cited journalism wonderful?) that Anglican Mainstream, the group behind the ads, are interested in two legal pathways: breach of contract, and the Human Rights Act.

If they pursue breach of contract, then I have little knowledge (or interest) in how likely they are to succeed. If they pursue the Human Rights Act, however, then ultimately they’re going to be challenged in court with clause 4.a.ii of section 12 of the 1998 HRA, which requires that they demonstrate that “it is, or would be, in the public interest for the material to be published”.

Even if just as a point of interest, we may thus find out who the courts agree with: me or Williamson. (Assuming their lawyers take a free expression/plurality of ideas approach to demonstrating public interest, rather than some kind of overt homophobia!)

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About Jon Robinson

Lefty ex-politics student turned med student, interested in current affairs, economics, gender politics and health issues. Occasionally pretends to understand philosophy. @jon__robinson

One response to “Was Boris right to ban the bus ads? Apparently we should ask the Courts!”

  1. jacobwilliamson says :

    Just to say, I know I call it an intuition, but that’s only because there’s only so far you can go on current affairs blog posts into your foundational beliefs. I really think I can say much more than asserting that and stopping there. I guess the part of my thesis on Kant and the value of humanity is the best I can do to explain.

    Can only see the courts ruling on my side, but hopefully for the human rather than contractual rights reasons.

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