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Fined for sex on a plane (and freedom of expression)

Dear Reader,

One thing which I disagree with people on a regular basis is the idea of censorship. One camp hold the view that no limits should exist on “freedom of speech” while I come from a camp which holds the view that for the good of society we should have some limits on “freedom of speech” which I understand as freedom of expression.

One good thing about freedom of expression is the fact that I should be allowed to say “the government are doing a poor job”. One example of a bad restriction on freedom of expression is the court ruling that only muslims can use the word Allah. This is deeply wrong, for example it would stop an expert on islam (who happens to not to be a muslim) from writing a book about islamic thought and reasoning.

This sort of thing is the true purpose of freedom of expression. But we should consider some of the misuses of freedom of expression.

One extreme example of how total freedom of expression could be used to harm others would be if I was to write some vile libel about you the reader of my blog. If I was to say that you were a drunk, lazy and stupid it would upset you, but if I add to the false statement that you are constantly telling lies to avoid getting into trouble becuase of your drunken, lazy and stupid nature then I think it would be libel.

I would like to make it clear that I hold the view that the people who read this blog are all sober, hardworking and very clever so we can all see why the drunken, lazy and stupid would be clearly a lie.

One even more extreme example I read about recent was a criminal court case in the USA of a man and a woman who were fined for having sex on an air plane in front of the other passengers.

I have to confess that I fly on a regular basis, I was “accused” of being a well travelled man when a UK immigration officer saw my collection of old boarding passes stuffed inside my passport holder. By the way the immigration officer was just being friendly and I treated it as a compliment.

Trust me being on a plane can be very boring, but I would rather not be exposed to the spectacle of some impromptu sex show on a passenger flight. Here I am very glad for the airline staff and the legal system to limit these two people’s freedom of expression. I would argue that my freedom to relax in peace on the flight trumps their right to express themselves through the medium of public sex.

I think that a 250 US$ fine is quite a small fine for what they have done, but it is interesting to consider the words of the man. He commented “I have made many mistakes in my life, none greater than this one” and “I have lost my job, my reputation and damaged the legacy I had worked 10 years to nurture and grow. I will learn from this and move on to the next chapter in my life.

While I do not normally give out sex advice I would like to suggest to my readers that if while on a airliner they meet someone they strongly feel the need to have sex with, that they should restrain themselves while on the plane. I would suggest that they get off the plane together and then they should ask either a customs officer, immigration officer or a randomly chosen member of the ground staff where a decent airport hotel is. You do not need to tell the person you ask why you want a private space, just say something like “Oh goodness I feel zonked, I have jet lag. Please could you do me a favour and tell me where the best airport hotel is”

I suspect that a hotel room for two will cost less than the fines and the damage to one’s reputation !

Another example of twits who want to use “freedom of expression” to harm the interests of others are two artists in Sweden. One of them faked having a serious mental illness for the sake of art. The doctor in charge of the mental health clinic where this person was taken suggested that she should get a haircut and a real job. Another one planted fake bombs in public places.

The problem I see with their “freedom of expression” is that it interferes with the rights of the ill to get the medical treatment which they need and the second case with the fake bombs interferes with the rights of members of the public to go freely about their lawful business without fear of being blown up by bombs.

I hope by now you will be able to see that in the interests of all we do need some limits on “freedom of expression”.

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