So Pastor McConnell has been acquitted by the High Court along with what looks like almost a rebuke for the bringing of the case in the first place. On Twitter Alan highlighted the point the judge wished to make clear about the core ro9le of the courts in such matters:
The question left behind is where is the dividing line between offence and grossly offensive?
However it would never have been an offence of any description under the law had the LAD video of him (cribbed from the Church’s official recording) saying what he did say since the grossly offensive charge comes under the heading of Communications Offences’.
Whatever he says now, I suspect that the Pastor will be a little more careful of what he says in future.
But this is not the first case of alleged offence to hit to soft sands after a long bout of social media outrage and the deliberation of the DDP’s office, which at the very least suggests there is a substantial difference between public understanding and the law itself.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty