Alex Massie

Department of Law Enforcement

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Via Johnson, a remarkable statute in Victoria which criminalises:

Any person who in or near a public place or within the view or hearing of any person being or passing therein or thereon-

sings an obscene song or ballad;

writes or draws exhibits or displays an indecent or obscene word figure or representation;

uses profane indecent or obscene language or threatening abusive or insulting words; or

behaves in a riotous indecent offensive or insulting manner-

shall be guilty of an offence.

Penalty: 10 penalty units or imprisonment for two months; For a second offence-15 penalty units or imprisonment for three months; For a third or subsequent offence-25 penalty units or imprisonment for six months.

Strewth! How on earth did Shane Warne avoid racking up the penalty units? Shame, for English batsmen, he weren't carted off to chokey. Ditto almost every other Australian test cricketer.  Even more oddly, it seems that far from moth-balling the law, the state authorities have decided it's time to enforce it.

Then again, who are we to scoff when Alex Salmond wants to criminalise speech in Scotland too?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.