A Judge Ruled That It’s Not Actually Offensive To Call Tony Abbott A “Cunt”

Sydney residents are probably familiar with Danny Lim, a man you would recognise from his fave activity of wandering about town wearing sandwich boards covered in political and social messages.

Occasionally this can get him into trouble, as it did a couple of years ago when he was convicted for ‘offensive behaviour’ after being busted standing outside Edgecliff station in August 2015 wearing a sandwich board that targeted then PM Tony Abbott.

The sign called Abbott a liar, heartless, and cruel, but the bit that got Lim into strife was the part that read “Peace Smile, People can Change, Tony You Can’t”, but in a tricksy trickster move, the ‘a’ in the final word was flipped upside down, which made it read as if he was calling Abbott a cunt.

In Feb last year a magistrate recognised the play on words aspect, but still deemed it be offensive, and Lim had to pay a fine (which crowd-funding helped cover).

But in good news for Lim, and also many, many, many Australians, an appeal against the $500 fine was victorious.

NSW District Court Judge Andrew Scotting overturned the magistrate’s original decision, saying that he wording alone could not be classified as offensive behaviour.

While the conduct was inappropriate and in poor taste, I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt it was offensive. The front of the sandwich board was capable of being construed as being clever or light hearted while also capable of being read as the word ‘can’t’. The language used was clearly a play on words.

He also said that the word is less offensive in Australia than in other English speaking countries, which is true. But also, when weighing up if the ordinary Australian finds the word ‘cunt’ offensive, we wonder if he took into consideration who the word was aimed at, and if it was absolutely fitting in this instance? It is not for us to speculate on. Who can say.

As per The Sydney Morning Herald, Scotting went on to say that pollies are often criticised, and it’s all just a part of a democracy.

This is an essential and accepted part of any democracy. That criticism can often extend to personal denigration or perhaps even ridicule, but still maintain its essential character as political comment. There is no reason to conclude that the prime minister, as the leader of the federal government, should be treated any differently to any other person who holds or seeks political office.

Now we obviously aren’t encouraging anyone to go out there and start swearing at politicians, but just equip yourself with this knowledge and go forth and live your lives.