Earlier this month, things got hairy as UK Police released a photo of a fugitive in hopes that they could get some public assistance with bringing him back in. However, this backfired as the internet does what it does: trolling.
The man’s hairline sat far back and so humorous comments abounded. One user wrote, “he was last seen in town; police are combing the area” and another said, “that hairline been pushed back more times than Brexit.” It was all fun and games until the cops showed up.
“Please remember that harassing, threatening and abusing people on social media can be against the law,” the police commented. If you ask me, I’d say that’s the real joke of all this. I mean, come on, they’re just jokes. I thought this was America? Oh right, it’s not America, and that’s exactly why the police are reminding UK citizens that “if you say something about someone which is grossly offensive or is of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, then you could be investigated by the police.”
This, of course, isn’t the first time the UK cracked down on the freedom of expression for stupid things. Last year, the South Yorkshire Police tweeted, urging their citizens to “report non-crime hate incidents” in addition to hate crimes. They said this includes things like “offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing.”
To reiterate, the UK police urged their citizens to monitor online and in-person conversations and subsequently report people to the police if they say something offensive. Not just hate crimes but non-crimes. Why does Big Brother need to watch you when he can get your fellow citizens to do it for him?
Unless it presents a clear and present danger, the police have no business investigating social media trolling or people’s in-person conversations. Regardless, they’ve been doing this for a while, as the piece states further. Reason reported that “in 2016, 3,300 people were detained and questioned for things they said online. In some parts of Britain, the arrest rate for offensive speech has risen by nearly 900% in recent years.”
This is absurd, frightening, and oppressive. I’m glad our great forefathers rebelled so we aren’t the ones dealing with this insufferable infringement upon the freedom of speech. Conservatives aren’t wrong in their dogged defense of the right of free expression. The implications of this type of thought-policing are real and an Orwellian future isn’t entirely unrealistic if things continue like this.
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