Free speech appears to be dead in the decidedly non-independent Scotland, where police have threatened to arrest anyone who tweets anything they deem to be offensive.
Earlier this week, police in Sunderland, an English town relatively close to the border with Scotland, arrested a man after he sent out a bad taste joke on twitter making light of a tragic accident where a garbage truck ploughed into people on a sidewalk.
Northumbria police arrested Ross Loraine on charges of “malicious communication” under The Communications Act after he tweeted “So a bin lorry has apparently driven in 100 people in Glasgow eh, probably the most trash it’s picked up in one day”.
The tweet was undoubtedly tasteless, but was it really criminal? No, obviously not. The man is 19 years old and clearly did not think far enough ahead about how his quip would upset others. But the last time I checked sarcasm was not a criminal offense.
Criminalizing something based on it being deemed offensive is a slippery slope toward censorship, given that what could be offensive to one person or group is completely subjective. Criminalizing words, especially in a forum such as Twitter, is a violation of free speech.
However, this has not prevented Scottish police from issuing a blanket threat to ‘Investigate’ any ‘Offensive Comments’ made on social media sites.
Essentially, police are saying free speech no longer exists and they can arrest anyone who they see fit if someone makes a complaint.
The Twitter responses have been predictably hilarious:
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.