UK takes next step towards jailing people for thought crime — Analysis
A former police officer was sent to prison for posting George Floyd memes on a private messaging group.
This is the excuse “it was only a joke” will no longer fly in British courtrooms. For sharing memes that mocked George Floyd’s passing, an ex-member of West Mercia Police received a sentence of 20 weeks.
The memes, which were shared in a private WhatsApp group with his friends, included pictures depicting George Floyd’s death, such as one featuring him as George of the Jungle, and another with a Muslim kneeling on him where a prayer mat ought to be, according to Sky News.
Former constable James Watts, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sending a grossly offensive or menacing message by public communication network, was initially ordered to pay measly compensation of £75 to the complainant, alongside a victim surcharge and a small court fee. Tanveer, the judge in chief, decided to take a stand against Watts.
Ikram delivered the sentence of 20 weeks imprisonment and declared the ex-police officer “undermined confidence the public has in the police,”His behavior led to discredit for the company.
It’s enough time for anyone to think things over – but perhaps not in the way that Ikram might expect. Instead of being apologetic one could be stubborn and determined in face injustice. After all, it is not the judge’s job to make an example of anyone. It is his job to enforce and uphold the law.
For a joke, the bottom line is that an officer of police, or a member in good standing, was sentenced to a prolonged prison term. Or 10 memes, in Watts’ instance.
Watts didn’t share his jokes on a public platform – he did so in the privacy of a closed WhatsApp group. The jokes were not shared with anyone else in the WhatsApp group. It’d be a whole different story if Watts used a Twitter account to harass supporters of George Floyd online. When he posted his memes, there was an expectation that he would keep them private.
The magistrate’s claim that Watts violated Britain’s Communications Decency Act of 2003 sets a worrying precedent that all future jokes, told in private or otherwise, could conceivably be treated as imprisonable offenses – even if they’re among friends and family.
Watts displayed a gross lack of professionalism, because a man who treats people differently on the basis of race cannot be expected to enforce the law fairly – and it rightly cost him the ability to work in any policing role for life. While he did expose himself to be a racist and should not have been sentenced for that, the fact of being racist is not enough.
Britain has a long and colorful history of telling jokes – especially dark ones. No one can deny humor and no career criminal has a lengthy history of violence is immune to criticism. Indeed, one of Britain’s most notoriously offensive comedians, Frankie Boyle, hosts his own show on BBC Two. Frankie Boyle is now trying to help his viewers become more sensitive and awake. He was famous for telling jokes about deceased children and disabled people. Had Boyle made the same jokes as former PC Watts, he would’ve been let off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, just as he’s gotten away for years by joking about Madeleine McCann and other murdered and abducted children.
Watts was an easy target. A judge made Watts an example because he didn’t have any celebrities to his credit.
Britain’s liberal classical values have been slowly eroded over the last two decades. It’s no longer the bastion of free speech it once was. While it tries to educate other countries about democracy and liberalism its freedoms for British citizens have become tepid at best.
In Scotland, YouTuber and comedian Mark Meechan was convicted for making a joke about Nazis with his girlfriend’s pet pug. Meechan was taken into custody and fined for the obvious misunderstanding. On the ground that his girlfriend was not a subscriber to his channel, Meechan’s defense was dismissed by the court.
Former Scottish justice minister Humza Yousaf, who still remains in the SNP’s cabinet, introduced the Hate Crime Bill in 2018, which was the boldest (or really, worst) effort yet to police speech in Scottish households. Yousaf demanded that all laws that allow individuals to use language that’s illegal in public be repealed. Such conversations should take place at the dinner table. “must be prosecuted.”
Canada’s Trudeau government has made similar efforts in Canada to counter hate speech. It amended Canada’s Criminal Code and Canadian Human Rights Act, to define hate speech over the Internet.
Just as it’s being applied in the United Kingdom, Canada’s speech laws define “hate speech”Anything that degrades, shames, or disparages an individual or group based on a protected basis for discrimination. This includes race, disability and gender. You could be sent to prison for any non-sensical comment about George Floyd, once the law is passed.
Britain and Canada are in a spiral of Orwellian horror as the so-called “Orwellian” crisis. “liberal”Big Tech’s allies and governments are determined to thwart freedom speech, claiming that they want to fight against it. “hate speech”And “disinformation” – vague terms that can be used to justify prosecutions of anyone opposed to the establishment.
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