Next Meetup

Underground Discussion Group: Free Speech
Skeptics Underground is a structured and moderated discussion group where all are welcome to contribute their views in a respectful and fair manner. We chose a subject each month for a round-table discussion. Are there limits to free speech or is nothing off limits? If there are limits, where do we set them? Is blasphemy OK? What about sexist or even racist comments? In order to maintain a civilised and functioning society should the state curb our ability to offend, denigrate and verbally abuse others? Or is our ability to do so necessary to maintain democracy? Come along to the discussion group and air your thoughts. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 has recently been repealed following a successful campaign by Fans Against Criminalisation: The Public Order Act 1986 Section 5(1)(a) used to include the word "insulting" until it was redacted. "A person is guilty of an offence if he uses threatening [or abusive] words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour": Rowan Atkinson helped lead the movement to change the Public Order Act and remove the word "insulting". "The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult.": Mark Meechan was recently found guilty of making a "grossly offensive" joke under the Commications Act 2003: "A person is guilty of an offence if he sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive": Many public figures including Ricky Gervais have since defended the right to tell grossly offensive jokes. "A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed "grossly offensive". If you don't believe in a person's right to say things that you might find "grossly offensive", then you don't believe in Freedom of Speech.": Scotland still has a blasphemy law. The last person to be hanged under this law was Thomas Aikenhead in 1697. The last person to be jailed under this law was Thomas Paterson in 1843: The last person to be jailed in England for blasphemy was John William Gott in 1922 when he compared Jesus to a circus clown: Free speech, what do?

Jeremiah's Taproom

7-8 Elm Row EH7 4AA · Edinburgh

What we're about

Public Group

Edinburgh Skeptics Society promotes science, reason and critical thinking in Edinburgh and Scotland. We have recently launched a Podcast ( if you are further afield.

Come along if you enjoy thought-provoking talks and discussions and friendly social meets. We have several events each month, as well during the Edinburgh Science Festival and Fringe ( Most events are free, but we ask for donations to cover costs (like this meetup group) and speakers' travel and accommodation. We Respect People and Challenge Ideas (

Please RSVP - it helps us estimate numbers. Unfortunately space is limited, so if you are late we may not be able to hold your place.

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