Rod Liddle Rod Liddle

All theatrical bigots should be equal in the eyes of the law

What, to your mind, constitutes a ‘hate crime’? I’ve been wondering about this since reading the comments of Paul Marshall, of the Cumbria CID.

What, to your mind, constitutes a ‘hate crime’? I’ve been wondering about this since reading the comments of Paul Marshall, of the Cumbria CID.

What, to your mind, constitutes a ‘hate crime’? I’ve been wondering about this since reading the comments of Paul Marshall, of the Cumbria CID. Paul had been expressing his great satisfaction that a shaven-headed lumpenprole idiot called Andrew Ryan had been sentenced to 70 days in prison for burning a copy of the Koran in public. Speaking in the manner of a Premier League football club manager, Marshall said: ‘Today’s result shows how seriously we take hate crime.’ And he added: ‘The incident was highly unusual for Cumbria in that we have such low levels of hate crime in the county.’

Really? Well, how about Derek Bird? Derek, if you remember, wandered around Cumbria shooting people in the head, leaving a total of 12 people dead. Perhaps Marshall thinks he did this out of a misplaced sense of love and affection. Or perhaps because Bird shot people in the head in an inclusive and non-discriminatory manner, rather than singling out, say, Zoroastrians or Welshmen, the crime was rather less serious than would otherwise be the case. Bird was not committing a hate crime, but was simply somewhat annoyed. Had he not shot himself in the head at the end of it all one supposes that a judge would have had to take this into account and be slightly more lenient in his sentencing. He may have shot all those people, but at least he didn’t do so for horrible reasons.

Marshall’s comments were just one of the minor pleasures to be gleaned from the Andrew Ryan case. Ryan, who apparently had a history of violence, had stolen a copy of the Koran from a public library in Carlisle and tried to set it on fire near a mosque, with the presumed purpose of annoying Muslims.

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