Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Annoy

EXTRAORDINARY new powers will allow police to arrest and fine people for "causing annoyance" to World Youth Day participants and permit partial strip searches at hundreds of Sydney sites, beginning today.
The laws, which operate until the end of July, have the potential to make a crime of wearing a T-shirt with a message on it, undertaking a Chaser-style stunt, handing out condoms at protests, riding a skateboard or even playing music, critics say.
Police and volunteers from the State Emergency Service and Rural Fire Service will be able to direct people to cease engaging in conduct that "causes annoyance or inconvenience to participants in a World Youth Day event".

source: SMH Article see also No To Pope Coalition Broken Rites

Linguistics expert Nick Riemer, from the University of Sydney, said the word annoy had its origins in the french word for annoyance - ennui. The Oxford Dictionary defines 'annoy' as causing "slight anger or mental distress'', but Dr Riemer said the word was extremely ambiguous. "One person's annoyance may be another person's freedom of expression,'' he said. Dr Riemer said the wording of the new laws would be a nightmare for those tasked with enforcing the legislation. "One guess is that [the lawmakers] did it very quickly and on the run. Or it may be that they wanted to pass the laws to placate someone but make them totally meaningless when challenged,'' he said.
image: Bryony Stacey No To Pope Rally

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