Peter Hoskin


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With anti-Heathrow-expansion protestors scaling the roof of Parliament - and sparking all kind of security concerns in the process - it's worth asking when & whether protests cross the line of decency.

It's a question that Benedict Brogan's certainly tackling over at his excellent blog.  He takes a hard-line on the matter.  Brian Haw and his ilk were yesterday described as "a disgusting bunch" whose public profanity is (technically) illegal.  And now today's protestors are dismissed as "idiots".

But does that mean we should clamp down on such protestors?  Or can we pardon their methods on the basis that they're not doing any particular harm? The answers aren't obvious, but  - whatever they are - I suspect their application should be equal in all cases.  

Put it this way: I have no doubt that I Want a Referendum's mass-lobby of Parliament today will be nothing less than a decorous affair, but should a few voices be raised in anger - and, even, a few swearwords uttered - I don't think I'll be on the phone to the police. It would be hypocritical - and perhaps even antidemocratic - of me to act differently in the case of protests I'm not sympathetic to. 

What do CoffeeHousers think?