Don't Mention the War:

This is going to be hard to explain to supporters of Free Expression.

GERMAN cops will use sweeping powers to collar England fans doing Basil Fawlty-style Hitler impressions at the World Cup. Yobs will be instantly banged up for TWO WEEKS if they goose-step like John Cleese in his most famous Fawlty Towers scene.

And hard core louts who give Nazi salutes — like the one jokingly made by Michael Barrymore in Celebrity Big Brother — could be hauled before a judge within 24 hours.

If convicted of inciting hatred they will face jail terms of up to THREE YEARS.

Wearing joke German helmets or any offensive insignia will also result in a stretch behind bars.
While such humor would be both crude and offensive -- three years? Because the joke wasn't funny?

It's just this sort of thing that gives critics of the Western position real ammunition. Politeness and circumspection, and sensitivity to the feelings of others, all these are important and worthy virtues. I encourage all of you to practice them, and not to give offense without cause.

Yet we must also give some thought to how to react to offenses others try to give us. (And believe me, as a proud native son of the great state of Georgia, I understand what it's like to have to live with inappropriate jibes made by people who think they are being clever.)

I think the model has to be the one I've suggested in the past: that a gentleman duels only with equals, and people who behave this way are demonstrably not that. They ought, therefore, to be ignored to the greatest degree possible. Sometimes the best way to deal with an insult is with an air of silent superiority.

If there's a serious point to be made, engage the argument politely but firmly, says I; but if they're just expressing mindless wrath or jackassery, it's best to ignore them. Only if it goes beyond jokes, to the point that life or limb is endangered by bad behavior (quite possible with soccery "yobs") is a stronger response appropriate.

In that case, the case in which the uncivilized pose a real threat to you or to innocents around you, I hope you've been exercising your other human rights. A gentleman duels only with equals; but every free citizen has a duty to help uphold the common peace.

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