Do you feel offended by this statement? If so, I beg your forgiveness, even though I was simply stating a fact. So please don’t call the police to have me arrested for ‘racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.’
I’m not being crazy – our world is, and I know you’ve heard me say so before. Well, you’ll hear me say it many times again.
For Paul Griffith, 75, was arrested by armed police on that very charge for uttering the phrase in the title.
Going through airport security at Stansted, Mr Griffith was asked to remove his shoes. He complied, but in the process uttered the offensive, nay criminal, sentence above.
The security chap (whose religion isn’t specified in the news reports) felt mortally and racially offended, which I hope you weren’t when I said the same thing.
The uncharacteristically lackadaisical policemen turned up armed to the teeth, but allowed the pensioner to go on his trip. When he returned, they were lying in wait.
Mr Griffith was kept in airport detention for six hours, had his fingerprints and an oral DNA swab taken and was told to report to his local police station.
When he did so the next day, he was told that he had been charged with an offence under the Crime and Disorder Act. To be fair, Mr Griffith was then magnanimously offered to accept a caution, which is to say a criminal record.
When the wrongdoer refused, claiming he had done nothing wrong, the charge was made official and Mr Griffith was given a court date for a trial.
I’m with him on this one: he did nothing wrong. Mr Griffith simply denied any adherence to Islam, and his statement was factually correct.
Then of course he was charged not with lying but with a racial offence. Since we’ve already agreed that the phrase ‘I’m not a Muslim’ is semantically inoffensive, it must have been deemed criminal contextually.
In that context the phrase ‘I’m not a Muslim’ really meant something more than just a statement of religious disassociation.
In effect Mr Griffith was saying that, since he manifestly wasn’t a Muslim, he was statistically unlikely either to hijack or to blow up his flight to Malaga.
Implicitly he was thereby suggesting that this statistical probability was somewhat higher for Muslim passengers, as opposed to, say, Buddhist ones.
Otherwise he would have said, ‘I’m not a Buddhist’ or, for that matter, ‘…Taoist’, ‘…Zoroastrian’ or ‘…Presbyterian’.
Now if that’s what he really meant, as seems likely, then his contextual statement seems as factually correct as the textual one.
To verify this, I opened an appropriate Google page and scanned the headlines of the articles cited. Here they are, in the right order with none left out:
“Muslim Terrorist Who Detonated Bomb on Pan Am Flight 830 Freed from Prison”
“Canada: Muslim arrested after flight escorted back to Toronto – said on plane, ‘I just want to bomb Canada’.”
“Three British Muslims have been convicted of planning a series of co-ordinates suicide bomb attacks on transatlantic airliners, which could have killed up to 10,000 people.”
“British Muslims ‘planned to kill thousands by bringing down SEVEN transatlantic airliners in one go with liquid bombs’.”
“Three guilty of airline bomb plot: Tanvir Hussain, Abdulla Ahmed ali and Assad Sarwar”
“F-16 jets escort Toronto-Panama plane after Mohammadan ali Shahi bomb threat”
Then of course, bygones be bygones and all that, but it’s hard to forget it was Muslims who flew airliners into those tall New York buildings, killing 3,000.
And – you’ll never know how it pains me to say this – it was Muslims who on 7 July, 2005 conducted a series of coordinated bombings on London public transport, killing 52 and crippling God knows how many more.
Muslims. Not Buddhists, Taoists, Zoroastrians – nor even Presbyterians, Lutherans or Ultramontane Catholics.
Hence Mr Griffith made a statement correct in every possibly way, explicit or implicit. Neither did it contain any rude words, threats or a general assessment of the Muslims’ moral character. It was purely factual, if ill-advised.
Yet he barely escaped a criminal sentence, possibly even a custodial one. In fact, the case didn’t get as far as the trial. Twenty-four hours before the gavel was to fall, the CPO dropped all charges, if with clearly perceptible regret.
Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor Frank Ferguson said: “In order to successfully prosecute a charge of racially or religiously aggravated disorderly conduct, we first have to show that the language used was threatening or abusive and in these particular circumstances we could not show that to the high criminal standard required.”
Don’t worry, Frank, you’ll get your man next time or, if not him specifically, someone like him.
After all, most mental disorders, including the one our society is suffering from, are degenerative, meaning they get worse with the passage of time.
Even a paltry 10 years ago an airport security man wouldn’t have called the cops under similar circumstances, nor would the cops have arrested the transgressor.
Ten years from now, and I’m being optimistic, a man like Mr Griffiths will be sent down, to spend a few years in the company of murderers.
Meanwhile, this lunacy has done little to endear the authorities, or indeed Muslims, to the rest of us. Quite the opposite, I dare say – but please don’t report me to the police.