The question-and-answer session had started in unremarkable fashion.
As the 50 members of the public at the police liaison meeting were handed their electronic handsets to take part in a survey, an official told them: 'Let's start with an easy question to get us going.
'Press A if you're male or B if you're female.'
But it seems nothing is ever that simple. Someone asked: 'What if you're transgendered?'
'You could press A and B together,' quipped Conservative councillor Jonathan Yardley.
Not exactly incendiary humour, is it? If this is all it takes to get in trouble with the police, then free speech in England really is taking a battering.
Here is a more detailed description of what happened to the councillor:
He was then contacted by Tettenhall sergeant Mark Evans, who asked him to attend a meeting at the village’s police station with city centre Inspector John Smith.
Councillor Yardley said: “They put me through the mill and asked me to confirm what I’d said and told me that a complaint had been made and I could be prosecuted. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. They explained the legal process and what had happened and how the complaint had been made and they said I could be subject to a civil prosecution.”
How could this happen? I'm assuming (I could be wrong) that the councillor was threatened under "hate speech" legislation passed only last year:
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 amended Part 3A of the Public Order Act 1986. The amended Part 3A adds, for England and Wales, the offence of inciting hatred on the ground of sexual orientation ...
In the circumstances of hatred based on religious belief or on sexual orientation, the relevant act (namely, words, behaviour, written material, or recordings, or programme) must be threatening and not just abusive or insulting.
If this is the relevant legislation, then consider how quickly it has been used as an instrument to drive a political agenda, rather than to deal with anything remotely "threatening". The legislation was only passed last year, but already it is apparently being used by the police to intimidate someone responding to a situation in a normal, light-hearted way.
Such laws are instruments of social engineering and should be repealed.