A British man has been arrested for “malicious telecommunications,” after posting a picture online of him burning a poppy. From Aylesham, in Kent, the man was said on Sunday to be in custody awaiting interview. It's unknown at this time whether he will be officially charged.
The announcement came as part of a short press release on the Kent police website, stating that they were alerted to the man's post by a member of the public on mid-Sunday afternoon. According to the release, the picture was apparently accompanied by an, “offensive comment.”
This isn't the first time that this has happened however. In the past few years, several people have been arrested for tweeting or posting things that haven't been taken in the correct context or were considered offensive. One man was arrested for tweeting a joke that if staff didn't hurry up he would blow up an airport. This ultimately led to many comedians defending the man, with Stephen Fry offering to pay his legal fees. It was so infamous that it became known as the Twitter Joke Trial and should have set a precedent for this sort of thing.
The judge's conclusion was that: “a message which does not create fear or apprehension in those to whom it is communicated, or who may reasonably be expected to see it, falls outside this provision [of the 2003 Communications Act]”.
In this instance, Tim Minchin announced his displeasure at the arrest. While he said he wouldn't burn a poppy, he explained that ultimately the man has a right to burn as many fake flowers as he wants
KitGuru Says: Nobody is saying that burning a poppy doesn't make him a insensitive person, but: 1. There's no law against burning a poppy. It shouldn't become illegal just because he told some people about doing it. 2: Just because something offends you, doesn't mean that whoever did so should be arrested or be forced to stop what they're doing. You do not have the right to not be offended.
Simply don't read the man's twitter. Unfollow him or defriend him. Then you never have to be offended again.
I'm not the only one who believes this right? Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing and it's something that defines country's like ours as free. If we continue punishing people for saying something – especially when it was clearly designed to get us riled up in the first place – we're going to find ourselves in an increasingly censored society. Today it might be something someone else is saying, but tomorrow it'll be what you're saying.