Australian court clears student on offensive language charge
An Australian student who called a police officer a “prick” has been cleared of verbal abuse charges after a judge ruled that the word was in “common usage” and therefore not offensive.
Henry Grech insulted the senior constable during an argument at a Sydney railway station last year but the offensive language case against him fell apart after the magistrate said the word was in common use.
“I consider the word prick is of a less derogatory nature than other words and it is in common usage in this country,” Robbie Williams, the Waverley Local Court magistrate, told the court on Monday.
It’s not very nice to call a police officer a prick, but if we had a few more test cases like these, it could be useful to linguists in finding out what’s considered offensive and what’s not. What a judge finds offensive may not reflect public opinion perfectly, but it does have the seal of officialdom.