Yesterday I saw my newsagent friend, and apparently the police are now saying the matter is closed. Which is big of them. I also read this in the local paper on Thursday, where they denied they had asked him to take down any signs. (So where are they? He doesn't have them.)
They still have to tell him in writing he faces no threat of legal action in regard to this matter, but have warned him that should he put up other signs which cause offence to someone who complains the whole debacle can start all over again. Apparently (PU, perhaps you can put me right on this, because it sounds horribly depressing if it's true), if my friend for example were to write something derogatory about me, say (Local Author Makes It All Up), and I don't give a hoot (all good publicity say I), but a passerby who loves my books is offended on my behalf, he/she is entitled to make a complaint. Which strikes me as bloody silly, and more evidence of the looking glass world we inhabit.
Hilariously a barrister has offered to defend him for nothing should he need it - I say hilariously, because the barrister in question is black, although the solicitor who's volunteered the same is white. Yesterday when I was in his shop it was full of white people joshing him about his incipient racism. This is what we should all be big enough and ugly enough to be able to do.
So now my friend is in a catch-22 situation - can he resume his humorous posting about the news, or will he forever live under the shadow of risking another visit from the boys in blue for causing a myopic, one legged bandit from Mars offence for mentioning that men are from Mars and women are from Venus - given that calling a Martian a human is the worst insult on Mars?
In a world where apparently Basil Brush is being castigated for making a truly awful (all BB's jokes are truly awful and always were) joke about gypsies, anything can happen.
Personally I think we should all lighten up and learn not to take offence so readily.
And take a leaf out of my friend's book.
A notice now proudly proclaims that the IR are imposing a 25% laughter tax on anyone entering the shop, and another politely suggests that if you are likely to be offended by anything you read in the shop window, you might perhaps like to shop elsewhere....