Free Speech Under Attack: Police Arrest Man For Nelson Mandela Joke
IN the UK you can be arrested for a tweet or a Facebook comment. You can be jailed, too. Liam Stacey (above) was imprisoned for saying that critically ill black footballer Fabrice Muamba should die on the Spurs pitch. But the law is not equal because people who said Emma West should be murdered were not arrested. Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, were jailed for four years jail for using Facebook to plan a riot. No-one responded to their online call. Like The Clash, they triggered no riot.
Stacey’s tweets were revolting. The Facebook duo are pillocks. Equally twattish is Leicester City footballer Michael Ball. He was fined £6,000 by the FA for tweeting this about Antony Cotton, a gay actor on Coronation Street: ”That f**king queer. Get back to your sewing machine in Corrie, you moaning bastard.”
Azhar Ahmed was arrested for saying that British soldiers should “die and go to hell”. Ahmed was fined £300 at Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court and ordered to perform 240 hours of community service over a two-year period. Blogger Lionheart and “lyrical terrorist” Samina Malik were also pursued by the police for thinking things.
You see, they’d caused offence. And that, apparently, is a crime.
Now the Daily Star reports on Neil Phillips, who “said he was fingerprinted, DNA-swabbed and had his computers seized. The 44-year-old was held after posting: ‘My PC takes so long to shut down I’ve decided to call it Nelson Mandela.’ Another read: ‘Free Mandela – switch the power off.’”
Prattish stuff. But criminal? Jimmy Carr never did get arrested for the line: “What’s the difference between football and rape? Women don’t like football.” When comic Frankie Boyle said ”A bomb went off in Kandahar today, killing two British servicemen, three UN relief workers and a whole bunch of Pakis”, he said it was satirical. Those offensive jokes in public can land you in trouble. But you don’t get arrested. Not yet.
Back to Phillips, who says:
“It was an awful experience. I was fingerprinted, they took DNA and my computer. It was a couple of jokes, Bernard Manning type. There was no hatred. What happened to freedom of speech? I think they over-reacted massively.”
Why was he arrested?
Mr Phillips, who runs Crumbs sandwich shop in Rugeley, Staffs, was arrested after complaints by Cllr Tim Jones about the one-liners, aired when the anti-apartheid hero was critically ill.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police confirmed the arrest and added: “When he answered bail on September 30, he was informed that there would be no further action based on CPS decision of there being insufficient evidence to support a prosecution.”
The Daily Mail says:
Mr Phillips admitted to once being a member of the far-right BNP, but quit 25 years ago.
So? Is he not afforded the right to free speech because he was once a member of the Bloody Nasty Party? Is there a panel that approves free speech? Are some people barred? Who gets to pick the panelists? Liberals?
The Birmingham Mail has more, adding news of an ongoing spat between Mr Phillips and the aforesaid Coun. Jones. Again, so what? You don’t have to agree with Phillip, let along laugh at his crap attempts at humour, to wonder at the state of free speech in this country. You are either for it or you are not. Liberals – oh, the irony – can hound the racists or homophobic and demand their arrest, but if the police think that acting on is worthwhile, it’s dangerous place to be.
The last words are supplied by Judge Charles who in sending the aforesaid Stacey down said: “At the moment not just the footballer’s family…, but the whole world were literally praying for his life, your comments aggravated the situation. I have no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you’ve done.”
We’re outraged by the judge who sent a man to prison for a bigoted and stupid tweet. Send the man down.