Taking care what you write on social media, when is free speech actually free?

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#1
Having seen the recent Chablaz case head into court, there is actually a case going through the General Dental Council's Fitness to Practice process at present.

The dentist in question posted various comments on a thread shortly after the Manchester Arena Bombing

https://gdcolrlive.blob.core.windows.net/annotationspublic/751765bc-655e-e811-8133-e0071b66a0a1

“That being registered as a dentist xxxxx xxxx fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct.

In that: 1. Between 23 May 2017 and 25 May 2017 you posted messages as per Schedule 1, including the following on the GDPUK website;
a. Continue with this appeasing woolly approach and soon we will see Sharia Law recognised, a majority of Muslim MP’s and say goodbye to the country;
b. Its time these sewers of towns were cleansed.
2. The language used in 1 above was: a. Offensive (alternative to below) b. Racially and/or religiously offensive; c. Inappropriate; d. Unprofessional.”

Now various arise out of this, in that in fact the dentist in question has retired since the comments were made. However the GDC have refused to remove his name from the register as would normally happen even though he has not paid his annual retention fee for the year ( a vast sum of money dentists have to pay to be registered to work, £890) So effectively they are sanctioning a man who has already retired from dentistry.

the other irksome part is that his FtP is taking 4 days, yes 4 days to determine whether what he posted was unprofessional or not at a cost of 70-80K. Luckily enough this is not tax payers money but will come out the money that dentists pay each year (the ARF). So we are paying our regulatory body the money with which then use to investigate our conduct (fair enough) but they then use it to try and convict us.

The bottom line is, we all need to be careful what we post and where we post it, if we are subject t a regulatory body of any kind.
 
#2
Interesting, thanks Fang. It's the gentleman's second alleged remark "Its time these sewers of towns were cleansed" which I suspect is his biggest problem, the first quote merely giving it context.
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#7
Good grief - So these days you are not allowed an opinion?
Were we ever allowed an opinion?

Free speech, to me, is a binary thing, either we have it or we don't. If there are levels of censorship and punishment for saying something then it is no longer free speech in the true meaning of the phrase.

(various Muslim clerics, far right speakers, Holocaust deniers and Chablaz all spring to mind)

So evidently at some point, a line is drawn. But by drawing that line we limit what can be said and there is no long free speech.
 
#8
Defamation (in all it's legal guises) has always been there, what is different is that there are now more places to (cough) practice it.
 
#10
Aye it's serious stuff if your pixels offend certain bedwetters, never mind the amount of early released rapists and murderers, and constant offending petty criminals that just get a slap on the wrist. That's OK.
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#11
Interesting, thanks Fang. It's the gentleman's second alleged remark "Its time these sewers of towns were cleansed" which I suspect is his biggest problem, the first quote merely giving it context.
There are several elements to this which are interesting.

The prosecution through a fitness to practice process of someone who has since retired (actually not uncommon, have been various cases ver last couple of years, D'Mellio a dentist who had allegedly poor hygiene practice, a lecturer who was having a loud affair in an office next door to a complainant!)

We also have the situation where the dentist's indemnity organisation has declined to represent him. Again this has occurred in numerous occasions in the past. So this dentist is facing a barrister and solicitor with no legal representation.

There is a focus of attention on the dentist who registered the complaint with the GDC, as this was said on a private forum, where one has to log in to post. (strangely enough one uses a nick name to log in but all posts are recorded under your own name. To me the issue of who has reported him is immaterial.
 
#12
Or think about consequences
There were no true consequences for him as he retired
He is entitled to say what he wants, others are entitled to be offended, professional bodies, employers, forums, Facebook etc are entitled to have their standards and policies
 
#13
Do we really have a free speech culture?

I'm sure I'm not the only one that can't point to the relevant legislation that protects it.

No such thing as free speech in this country for us mere mortals. Unless you're sat in a nice palace in Westminster and have been afforded parliamentary privilege.
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#14
Am I correct in thinking that no decision has been reached on his fitness to practise given that it only kicked off yesterday?
 
#15
You are Harry, just as long as it doesn’t offend someone!

MB
Someone, somewhere, will make a point of being offended, whatever the comment.

One could come out with the old

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To get to the other side.

and someone will be offended just because they can.

There is a word that describes these sorts of people but this being current affairs I shan't state it here but I think you all know what I mean.
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#16
Defamation (in all it's legal guises) has always been there, what is different is that there are now more places to (cough) practice it.
Interestingly enough the Met Police were informed at the time and a complaint lodged there but they dismissed it after investigation, in their view "they are in the normal wide range of public comment and do not breach discrimination or other laws, nor have any prospects of a conviction, even though discrimination laws are very sensitive about such matters"
(from a statement on social media)
 
#17
Am I correct in thinking that no decision has been reached on his fitness to practise given that it only kicked off yesterday?
Since when has that ever stopped the pack baying? I have a shiny shilling for the first man to say 'political correctness gone mad' 'SJW' or 'Snowfake' double (two bob) if a muslamic angle can be shoehorned in
 
#18
Interestingly enough the Met Police were informed at the time and a complaint lodged there but they dismissed it after investigation, in their view "they are in the normal wide range of public comment and do not breach discrimination or other laws, nor have any prospects of a conviction, even though discrimination laws are very sensitive about such matters"
(from a statement on social media)
Fair enough but defamation is a civil complaint I believe. Perhaps your governing body is frightened of being dragged through a civil lawsuit because of one of their members?
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#19
Or think about consequences
There were no true consequences for him as he retired
He is entitled to say what he wants, others are entitled to be offended, professional bodies, employers, forums, Facebook etc are entitled to have their standards and policies
Herein lies one of the issues, he was still a practicing dentist at the time. Therefore the GDC have decided to take him to task. (it can take a long time to get through a Fitness to Practice process, average is 18 months.
But he is now a citizen not a dentist.
GDC rationale is this stops him him registering or going to work in another country.

Kind of goes against many other organistaions whereby one can get many a hook by retiring, on time or early.
 
#20
The present mrs works in government (CDN) and had to take an HR course about social media and her responsibilities. She cannot say or do anything that will cause unease to anyone on social media or she will be warned first, then terminated if it happens again. The part I found so unsettling was the term -unease to others-, it’s casts an unbelievably wide net to put it mildly.
 

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