How Free Is Our Speech?
Are laws designed to protect individuals and minority groups from offence and harassment, inhibiting free speech?
Clive Anderson and his guests discuss whether cases such as the conviction of a woman for telling David Cameron he had "blood on his hands" and the arrest of a man for calling a police horse "gay" are bringing the law into disrepute.
Barristers Ivan Hare and Neil Addison call for the repeal of some public order laws and for reform of law relating to the incitement of hatred on the grounds or race, religion or sexual orientation.
But Chief Constable Andrew Trotter argues that such laws are essential tools in the police armoury for maintaining public order. He says minority groups and individuals deserve protection from abusive language.
Legal academic Gavin Phillipson suggests that hate speech laws should be restricted to preventing language which fundamentally questions other people's right to exist or that attempts to relegate them to lower class citizens.
Producer: Brian King
An Above The Title production for BBC Radio 4.