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Shocking, If True:

There may well be other facts -- threats, face-to-face insults that seemed likely to start an imminent fight, or some such -- that would make the story different, and the quote from Dr. Edkins suggests some such might be present (though the rest of the story seems to suggest otherwise). But if the claim that the schoolgirl was arrested for refusing to sit with the Asian students (published in the Daily Mail (U.K.)) is fairly accurate and complete, then it's quite stunning:

A teenage schoolgirl was arrested by police for racism after refusing to sit with a group of Asian students because some of them did not speak English....

The 14-year-old [Codie Stott] - who was released without charge - said it had been a simple matter of commonsense and accused the school and police of an over-the-top reaction....

Codie was attending a GCSE science class at Harrop Fold High School in Worsley, Greater Manchester, when the incident happened.

The teenager had not been in school the day before due to a hospital appointment and had missed the start of a project, so the teacher allocated her a group to sit with.

"She said I had to sit there with five Asian pupils," said Codie yesterday.

"Only one could speak English, so she had to tell that one what to do so she could explain in their language. Then she sat me with them and said 'Discuss'."

According to Codie, the five - four boys and a girl - then began talking in a language she didn't understand, thought to be Urdu, so she went to speak to the teacher.

"I said 'I'm not being funny, but can I change groups because I can't understand them?' But she started shouting and screaming, saying 'It's racist, you're going to get done by the police'." ...

After questioning on suspicion of committing a section five racial public order offence, her mother Nicola says she was placed in a bare cell for three-and-a-half hours then released without charge....

[School insiders] say [Codie's] comments afterwards raised further concerns, for example allegedly referring to the students as "blacks" - something she denied yesterday....

Headteacher Dr Antony Edkins said: "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark by one student towards a group of Asian students new to the school and new to the country."

"We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards people and pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form." ...

Thanks to Terence Edwards for the pointer.

DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't think Ms. Stott is thinking that the school is "caring and tolerant" right now.
10.13.2006 2:00pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
The only thing about this that keeps my jaw from dropping, is that I just can't be sure, without further confirmation, that it's true. To quote Homer (Simpson), "That can't be true. If it was, I'd be terrified."
10.13.2006 2:11pm
Steve:
Heck, I've heard that in some countries, a kid can even get arrested for eating a french fry.
10.13.2006 2:21pm
another anonVCfan:
"After questioning on suspicion of committing a section five racial public order offence..."

Tell me that's not the creepiest, most impenetrably Orwellian name for an "offense" you've heard in a long time. They might as well have said she was questioned "on suspicion of crimethink".
10.13.2006 2:22pm
Joel B. (mail):
another anonVCfan-

I totally felt the same way.
10.13.2006 2:25pm
Derek Balsam (mail):
Well, that pretty much demonstrates that a new ethnic/racial upper class has been established in Britain. The dhimmi girl should never have dared to be so uppity.

By racial of course I mean "Asian", which is also an Orwellianly euphemistic term. Something tells me that Urdu-speaking Asians are not likely to be Nenets, Japanese, or Thai.
10.13.2006 2:28pm
TDPerkins (mail):

"That can't be true. If it was, I'd be terrified."


and along the same vein

"The goggles! They do nothing!"

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
10.13.2006 2:28pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Maybe some Brits misunderstood 1984... Someone should tell them the political system represented is NOT the ideal. Simple misunderstand is all.
10.13.2006 2:30pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):

By racial of course I mean "Asian", which is also an Orwellianly euphemistic term. Something tells me that Urdu-speaking Asians are not likely to be Nenets, Japanese, or Thai.

My money is on Inuits, or maybe Chukchas. Yes, definitely Chuckhas.
10.13.2006 2:52pm
Some2L:

[Codie's] comments afterwards raised further concerns, for example allegedly referring to the students as "blacks"


Is "black" a dirty word over there?
10.13.2006 2:58pm
A Guest:
"I said 'I'm not being funny, but can I change groups because I can't understand them?' But she started shouting and screaming, saying 'It's racist, you're going to get done by the police'."


OK, this just doesn't sound plausible. Something is being left out/exagerated, and that leads me to question the rest of the article.
10.13.2006 3:10pm
OXR (mail):

"Well, that pretty much demonstrates that a new ethnic/racial upper class has been established in Britain."

Alternatively, it demonstrates that poorly thought out, overbroad regulations are subject to abuse by oversensitive teachers, resulting in distressing stories like this one. Let's not get carried away here.

"By racial of course I mean "Asian", which is also an Orwellianly euphemistic term. Something tells me that Urdu-speaking Asians are not likely to be Nenets, Japanese, or Thai."

It's neither Orwellian, nor euphemistic, nor a recent innovation; it's just the word used in the UK to describe people whose heritage traces back to the Asian subcontinent. As such, "Asian" is distinct from "Oriental" - although the UK may now have followed the (relatively recent) US convention and decided that the latter is not an appropriate term.
10.13.2006 3:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
A guest.

Aside from your concern with the report of the teacher's alleged statement, what about the story is unlikely?
10.13.2006 3:13pm
Mike Keenan:
From the UK penal code:

"A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person"

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/section6/chapter_a.html

Huh? Doesn't that just make the hair on the back of your neck stand up in amazement.
10.13.2006 3:18pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):


A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person"


If that;s not the very definition of heckler's veto, I dont know what is.
10.13.2006 3:19pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
When I was a sophomore back in the Pleistocene era, we had weekly lectures in theoretical mechanics. We then attended three classes per week (with a quiz every time) on the lecture material. The lectures were way over our head plunging immediately into tensors and dyadics, so we needed the classes to make sense out of the lectures. I had two instructors one Chinese and the other was Indian. Their English was so bad that the classes were absolutely incomprehensible. I complained to the honcho giving the lectures. Initially he didn’t believe me, but he did sit in on one class. He immediately replaced one of the instructors with one who could speak English. If I did that today in the UK would I be guilty of a race crime?
10.13.2006 3:30pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
That quote is not from the UK penal code. The citation is to a manual for prosecutors. The definition "racist incident" is not per se a crime - it is one of the factors to consider in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

It looks like the UK has adoped the same system as some US states, making "racism" (in the US we usually call it "hate") an aggrevating factor if it its the motivation for another crime (eg assault).

Not that I think "hate crime" makes sense as a criminal law concept, but this part of UK law appears to be not so off-the-wall it appears to the above posters.
10.13.2006 3:30pm
SKlein:

"A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person"


This is not from the penal code, it is from a procedure manual and is used as an initial screen by prosecutors, not as an element of the offense. In other words, it appears that a prosecutor will investigate a potential "racist incident" if the victim perceives it as such.

There is still lots to criticize even as a screen, but not quite what is depicted in these comments.
10.13.2006 3:33pm
Mike Keenan:
Sorry, you are correct. Not the penal code. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 can be found here:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1998/19980037.htm

Hate crime is a slippery slope?
10.13.2006 3:40pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It appears the girl knew she was taking a risk when she asked.

"I'm not being funny...." Means she knew the request might be poorly-received.

She was almost at the point of self-censoring a perfectly reasonable request.

I guess a good many have learned their lesson now.
10.13.2006 3:55pm
Matt L. (mail):
Criticize English law all you want, but how many of you went to a school with a name as cool as "Harrop Fold High School in Worsley, Greater Manchester"?
10.13.2006 3:59pm
Joe Zwers (mail):


Here is the section five being talked about:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/section11/chapter_a.html#12


Section 5

(Stones 8-27724)

Whether behaviour can be properly categorised as disorderly is a question of fact. Disorderly behaviour does not require any element of violence, actual or threatened; and it includes conduct that is not necessarily threatening, abusive or insulting. It is not necessary to prove any feeling of insecurity, in an apprehensive sense, on the part of a member of the public: (Chambers and Edwards v DPP [1995] Crim LR 896). The following types of conduct are examples, which may at least be capable of amounting to disorderly behaviour:

* causing a disturbance in a residential area or common part of a block of flats;
* persistently shouting abuse or obscenities at passers-by;
* pestering people waiting to catch public transport or otherwise waiting in a queue;
* rowdy behaviour in a street late at night which might alarm residents or passers-by, especially those who may be vulnerable, such as the elderly or members of an ethnic minority group;
* causing a disturbance in a shopping precinct or other area to which the public have access or might otherwise gather;
* bullying.

.....

By virtue of section 31 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, section 5 is capable of being racially aggravated refer to Racially Aggravated Offences, elsewhere in this guidance. Racially aggravated section 5 is a summary only offence, with the maximum penalty being a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.



A level 4 fine is 2500 pounds.
10.13.2006 4:03pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
"A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person"

So the girl could charge the teacher and the students who didn't speak English in front of her with racism?
10.13.2006 4:08pm
Hugo:
A Denver-area man filed a lawsuit today against a member of the Secret Service for causing him to be arrested after he approached Vice President Dick Cheney in Beaver Creek this summer and criticized him for his policies concerning Iraq.

Attorney David Lane said that on June 16, Steve Howards was walking his 7-year-old son to a piano practice, when he saw Cheney surrounded by a group of people in an outdoor mall area, shaking hands and posing for pictures with several people.

According to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in Denver, Howards and his son walked to about two-to-three feet from where Cheney was standing, and said to the vice president, "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible," or words to that effect, then walked on.

Ten minutes later, according to Howards' lawsuit, he and his son were walking back through the same area, when they were approached by Secret Service agent Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr., who asked Howards if he had "assaulted" the vice president. Howards denied doing so, but was nonetheless placed in handcuffs and taken to the Eagle County Jail.

The lawsuit states that the Secret Service agent instructed that Howards should be issued a summons for harassment, but that on July 6 the Eagle County District Attorney's Office dismissed all charges against Howards.

The lawsuit filed today alleges that Howards was arrested in retaliation for having exercised his First Amendment right of free speech, and that his arrest violated his Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful seizure.

Shocking, but True!
10.13.2006 4:09pm
Justin (mail):
I'm with A Guest on this. The girl's story sounds highly implausible. We'll see more on this, but way too early to get outraged.
10.13.2006 4:21pm
buddingeconomist:
This would be totally expected in the Soviet Union.
10.13.2006 4:26pm
Appellate Attorney:
The only thing that surprises me about this incident is how many are surprised by it. Equality is a myth. It's also, in this politically correct world, the highest good. Because of true diversity (people groups aren't equally skilled or equally interested in all the same things), to achieve even the apperance of equaliy the PC police must take drastic measures, which increase over time with continued failure. The only way out is to admit that equality is a political construct of value only when counting votes in elections and to declare that, once again, ordered liberty will be the prime objective.
10.13.2006 4:31pm
s806:
I don't think this is the full story, but I don't see racial remarks as necessitating police involvement.

I would certainly hope "whites" would be a racial epithet treated on similar grounds.
10.13.2006 4:48pm
Kazinski:
Justin and Guest:
If you don't think this story is plausible then you haven't heard about this case in the UK:


A police force was caught up in a freedom of speech row after its officers arrested an anti-gay campaigner for handing out leaflets at a homosexual rally.

South Wales police admitted evangelical Christian Stephen Green was then charged purely because his pamphlets contained anti-gay quotations from the Bible.


The charges were eventually dropped, but not until several months of hue and cry. Anyone that thinks there is anything like the US concept of freedom of speech in Britain, or indeed anywhere in Europe is very much mistaken.
10.13.2006 4:50pm
ak47pundit (www):
Or indeed, if you think the girls story is implausible you haven't heard about the case where a Brit was charged with anti-social conduct when she told a gang of youths who had been continually bothering her family to "Please just F-Off".

She now faces a fine of £120 and possible jail time if she doesn't pay.
10.13.2006 5:36pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
A few years ago I would have dismissed this story as some kind of exaggeration or distortion. But now the evidence is mounting that the pernicious forces of multiculturalism have finally driven the UK off the deep end. But let’s face it, the UK politicians are pandering to minority groups who tend to vote as a block and could swing an election.
10.13.2006 6:09pm
OXR:
Kazinski:
Anyone that thinks there is anything like the US concept of freedom of speech in Britain, or indeed anywhere in Europe is very much mistaken.
Regrettably (I am British) I have to say that this is pretty much accurate. I tend to think it's a matter of (usually) well-intentioned bureaucrats passing silly laws with massive unintended consequences, rather than a precursor to the Ministry of Love - but either way, it certainly illustrates the importance of the First Amendment over here.

(Another note of caution about this particular story: it's from the Mail. By way of comparison, I presume that most of the commenters here would cast a sceptical eye on a news story in the Guardian that presented an extremely bleak picture of the Iraq war.)
10.13.2006 7:09pm
chrismn (mail):
For all of those who think we haven't heard the full story, why not fill-in-the-blank with whatever might make sense? She certainly didn't physically assualt them, or else she would have been charged with that. So assume she verbally abused the Asian students, called them idiots, foreigners who had no right to be in the country, whatever, short of physically threatening them. Then this arrest is STILL outragous.
10.13.2006 7:17pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
OXR:

Another note of caution about this particular story: it's from the Mail.


Thanks for pointing that out. I assume that the Mail is a sensationalist tabloid like the New York Post. Be clear I don’t trust the New York Times either, but for different reasons.

As I said, I’m not inclined not to believe this story on its face because I’ve always believed the British people have a good streak of common sense in them. Nevertheless things seem to be rapidly changing for the worse on both sides of the Atlantic. The idea of putting a young schoolgirl in jail for anything other than very serious misconduct is what I find so shocking. Let’s hope it didn’t really happen.
10.13.2006 7:24pm
Anthony A (mail):
I suspect what's missing in the story is the verbal escalation between "I'm not being funny, but can I change groups because I can't understand them?" and "It's racist, you're going to get done by the police."

I can easily see such an escalation happening between a native-born student and an overly-PC teacher.
10.13.2006 7:43pm
OXR:
A. Zarkov:
Thanks for pointing that out. I assume that the Mail is a sensationalist tabloid like the New York Post. Be clear I don’t trust the New York Times either, but for different reasons.
The Mail isn't a "true" tabloid like the Sun (right) or Mirror (left) or Sunday Sport (nudity), but it does have a bit of that sensibility. The axe they typically grind is the devastation being wreaked upon British society by un-British (an even more vexed categorization than "un-American") people. So they're the people you'd expect to hear this story from, and in lurid terms to boot. That's not to say it's inaccurate in any way - but a news story can be true down to the last detail and still mislead. (Similarly, I think the Guardian is an excellent paper in many respects, but whenever they start in on capitalism or the US I just nod indulgently.)

chrismn:
Then this arrest is STILL outragous.
Absolutely agreed. However:
So assume she verbally abused the Asian students, called them idiots, foreigners who had no right to be in the country, whatever...
As some commenters intimated in the early going, wouldn't this attract some administrative penalty in the US? The First Amendment is a protection against idiotic laws, but it's not a license to be an idiot, surely.
10.13.2006 7:59pm
A. Zarkov (mail):


OXR

… “wouldn't this attract some administrative penalty in the US?”

A school might discipline a student for making a racist remark, but unless it was directly threatening, it would not be a police matter. This does not include Berkeley or San Francisco California where you enter an alternate reality. See David Bernstein’s book “You Can’t Say That,” for examples.
10.13.2006 8:12pm
tsotha:
As I understand it she spent a couple of hours in jail and was released without charge. British law may not, in fact, support charges in a case like this.

Certainly that kind of thing isn't illegal in the States, but it could certainly get you fired, even if you're speaking on your own time. I'm not sure paying a fine of a couple hundred bucks is worse than losing your job.
10.13.2006 9:28pm
Anonymous888:
"As I understand it she spent a couple of hours in jail and was released without charge. British law may not, in fact, support charges in a case like this."

Long enough for her to be raped.
10.13.2006 10:16pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I tend to think it's a matter of (usually) well-intentioned bureaucrats passing silly laws with massive unintended consequences, rather than a precursor to the Ministry of Love
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
10.13.2006 10:46pm
OXR:
David Nieporent:
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
Golly, David, that hadn't occurred to me; thanks.
10.13.2006 10:59pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
There was the drunk student in the UK who got busted for telling a mounted PC, "did you know your horse is gay?"

The CPUSA platform used to include a promise to criminalize 'racisim'.

Most European countries are like this now.
10.14.2006 12:19am
John S. (mail):
OXR:

Actually, the First Amendment is exactly that: A license to be an idiot, if it comes to that. People here say all kinds of absolutely idiotic, and often reprehensible, things. And it's their God-given right to do so. Schools and businesses have the right to regulate some speech, but the Government is not allowed to do so (which is why McCain-Feingold is such a piece of rubbish).
10.14.2006 3:06am
andy (mail) (www):
"And it's their God-given right to do so."

Yup. No laws are relevant. It's just "god-given" rights that control.
10.14.2006 5:13am
Parsi (mail):
The Mail isn't the only source for this story. It was also reported in the local press
here.
10.14.2006 7:08am
lucia (mail) (www):
If you run "Codie Stott" in google news, it's reported many fairly widely including the BBC.

The ITV news includes this piece of ambiguous information:
he school is investigating what happened before deciding on what action to take against Codie.


Are they seriously considering more action?
10.14.2006 9:49am
SeaLawyer:

Are they seriously considering more action?


If they are I hope they fire the teacher, but we know that's not going to happen.
10.14.2006 11:43am
lucia (mail) (www):
I think in the US, the story would have included, "The girl's parents are considering legal action."
10.14.2006 2:24pm
Speaking the Obvious:
""As I understand it she spent a couple of hours in jail and was released without charge. British law may not, in fact, support charges in a case like this."

Long enough for her to be raped."

Oh, I'm sure that doesn't happen in British prisons...they're a very refined people, you know...
10.14.2006 2:42pm
Garet Jax (mail):
The selective outrage of this group never ceases to amaze me. Its not that everyone else doesn't do it, but you all cloak it in an intellectual haze that makes you feel so justified.

I guess a little education can be a dangerous thing.
10.14.2006 5:13pm
markm (mail):
Headteacher Dr Antony Edkins said: "...We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards people and pupils of all ethnic backgrounds" - except white and English-speaking.
10.15.2006 10:17am
MnZ (mail):
The selective outrage of this group never ceases to amaze me. Its not that everyone else doesn't do it, but you all cloak it in an intellectual haze that makes you feel so justified.


I frankly don't understand your point. People have differing opinions about things, so they would naturally become outraged by different things. The question should always be is their outrage consistent. In other words, is their outrage truly guided by their opinions?

For example, I have seen Leftists spouting the statement, "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention." Sure, it makes nice bumper stickers, but it really doesn't make a lot of sense.
10.15.2006 3:08pm
Tracy Johnson (www):
I was not particularly dismayed nor felt any chills by the news story from Friday about the girl arrested in the U.K. for the rascism allegation. I felt it was typically U.K. political correctness.

Then I was passing by the newsrack at the Seven/Eleven on my way out the door, I looked down at the headline from this Sunday's edition Newport News Daily Press which said:

WHAT IF ... THE BRITISH HAD WON?

Then I felt a chill, and wondered what our school system would have been like now?

(Apparently it is close to the 225th Anniversary of the surrender at Yorktown, hence the article.)

I didn't buy the paper but I looked up the article:

What if the British Had Won?
10.16.2006 11:38am