Forget about the moral police in downtown Riyadh or Tehran, they are alive and well on the Gold Coast.

Last week, a 16-year-old boy was minding his own business walking down a Gold Coast street when suddenly he was swooped upon by a police officer. And why? Not because this young man was heading off to burgle a house, grabby an old granny and run off with her handbag, or let down the tyres on a parked car. But simply because he was wearing a T-Shirt with a slogan and picture which this morally challenged police officer found offensive.

The T-Shirt read “Jesus is a c-nt” and showed a nun m-sturbating. The poor unsuspecting lad now faces court charged with offensive behaviour.

And why is taxpayers’ money being wasted — yes wasted — on charging and prosecuting this kid? Because, copper Aaron Ottaway told the media, “I’m not religious but that’s just offensive.”

So Sergeant Ottaway, no doubt in your job you see lots of offensive objects, hear lots of offensive words, and read lots of offensive scribblings. You must have to work 24/7 arresting and charging all this offensiveness. In fact, if Sergeant Ottaway was to do a little checking, he would find that the “Jesus is a c-nt” T-shirt is freely available around the world, as has been the case for some years.

Those who wear T-shirts like “Jesus is a c-nt” no doubt do it to attract negative reaction from others, and this was probably the motivation of the young man in question. But should the law, which is generally a sledgehammer, be used to criminalise such conduct, given there is no victim in question, and no loss to society? The answer is surely, in this day and age, no.

There is also another important issue here — we should not fall into the trap of thinking that the c-word is used it is inherently offensive to do so.

There are many women, feminists and lesbians in particular, who think that to find the word “c-nt” offensive is to discriminate against women.

Inga Muscio, an American writer, wrote a best seller in 1998 called “C-nt: A Declaration of Independence.” She argued that the word c-nt was once a symbol of the power of women, and therefore women should not fear using the word.

And young British journalist Kate Allen wrote in 2003 that:

…really “c-nt” is no different to “d-ck” or “pr-ck” — its taboo comes simply from its origin as a “naughty” s-x-related word. Opposing the use of “c-nt” is itself s-xist, because it grants more respected status to a woman’s g-nitals than to a man’s. The extra level of offensiveness that many people perceive the word to carry implies squeamishness about women’s bits — this attitude is in itself s-xist or even misogynist!

This tale of moral policing from the Gold Coast is yet another unfortunate reminder that the nanny state is making a spectacular comeback in Australia. Not a week goes by without some moralist whinging about swearing on television, young people getting hammered, or raunchy images being shown on kid’s TV.

In fact, so absurd are the actions of the Gold Coast police that they have been noticed by scientist and leading crusader for rational thought Richard Dawkins, who has publicised the Gold Coast case on his website.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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