Stop arresting people who tweet daft things – the public deal with them better

 

Members of ISIS, and the people who sympathise with them, are absolutely and unequivocally deranged. They are a death cult who believe in a prophecy predicting that the end of world is nigh. That doomsday will be initiated by an apocalyptic battle that will take place close to the ISIS held Syrian town of Dabiq. A war to end all wars fought between the army of the chosen and the army of the infidel.

While not preparing for the final reckoning, they get along with expanding their self declared and universally unrecognised caliphate, a barbarous state run by a legion of dispossessed psychopaths. If you are wondering what is the point of nation building in the face of Armageddon, then it is part of the prophecy. Without a caliphate there is no End of Days. And who wouldn’t want that.

One of the main things that sets the caliphate apart from the UK and any other mature democracy is that the caliphate does not have much time for freedom of speech. Don’t get me wrong, you can say what you want in ISIS controlled regions, but if what you are saying is not in tune with a fundamental, cruel, medieval and completely insane interpretation of Islam, you are not going to be saying it for much longer. No, you will be unceremoniously put to death. Although if you get lucky your grotesque demise at the hands of a raving lunatic may live on in perpetuity by being disseminated on YouTube for the viewing pleasure of thousands of gibbering, brainwashed losers.

With the exception of snuff videos, it used to be a bit more sadistic here in the UK. However, sometime between the Magna Carta and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we chilled out a bit and a basic tenant of liberal democracy took hold in the collective imagination. We slowly decided that it is better to allow people to say what they want than to allow the establishment to decide what is permissible, even if what a lot of people say is reprehensible. The reason for this is that, in a well educated free society, the utterances of fools can normally be countered by the majority of sensible minded people. Whereas, the power to outlaw free speech on the grounds that it is in some way potentially dangerous, is a power that can be abused by authority. So we allow free speech here with a small number of exceptions.

Why is it then whenever we are attacked by the crazy followers of an oppressive ideology do we always respond by unnecessarily acting a bit more like the attackers. The perfect example occurred this week with the arrest of Matthew P Doyle who sent the following tweet:

meally mouthed

Don’t get me wrong, I think this tweet and a few others on his timeline prove that this chap is an out of touch imbecile with no capacity for any sort of nuanced critical thought.  However, the twittersphere dealt with his stupidity with intelligence and humour. He said something completely unacceptable and he was publicly ridiculed for it.  He has most likely lost friends and business from being such a plonker and he has definitely lost a lot of respect. That is exactly how freedom of speech should work in a mature country.

He was defeated but then the police got involved, arrested him and thus  gave him a shot at salvation.

It turns out he has now been released and the charges against him have been withdrawn. As described in the Guardian they didn’t have the legal power to charge him under Section 19 of the public order act.

The CPS guidance on its website about racist and religious crime states that a charge under the act can only be prosecuted with consent of the attorney general and requires a referral to the counter-terrorism division to be dealt with by a specialist prosecutor. The offence carries a maximum jail term of seven years.

However, what the police have managed to do in the course of 48 hours is turn a man who was a focus of ridicule into martyr for the cause of narrow minded bigotry. They have given a sense of vindication to one who was almost universally derided. As soon as Mr Doyle was released he was able to say the following:

For the Met to bow to social media rows, it is not only foolish of them but I will be making a complaint against them and [claiming for] damages for trashing my flat, taking all my electronic stuff from my flat and forcing me to leave London.

In order to keep us safe from what is a very small and overblown risk we acquiesce to one of the main aims of the attacker: we disrupt our own far more civilised way of life. While this sordid affair is not as worrying as the plethora of new laws we have historically introduced to ‘keep us safe’, which in fact only crack down on our civil liberties, the arrest of the daft tweeter is a prime example of how we so often get our reaction to terrorism badly wrong.

We should rejoice we live in a country that is unlike the self proclaimed caliphate, a place where a man is able to express bigoted viewpoints and we are allowed to peacefully point out that he is wrong.

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