Since I have repeated the "offending" words below, it will be interesting to see if the British try to extradite me to their nasty little police state. This post will presumably be read in Britain so they could have grounds.
I would certainly be rash to visit Britain again. The British have in the past dragged an Australian (Toben) off a plane at a British airport for things he said in Australia. A nasty little police state indeed -- made even nastier by the fact that what Toben was arrested for was eventually found in the courts not to be a crime in Britain -- and he was acquitted of any offence and released -- but released only after a considerable, prolonged and expensive ordeal. So he was in effect punished for a non-existent crime
Anyone in the UK prone to ranting on Facebook should be afraid. Given a case earlier this week, it now seems that simply posting offensive comments is enough to have you arrested and forced to pay regular visits to a police station.
The comments posted by the co-leader of the English Defence League (EDL), Kevin Carroll, will certainly offend some people. Responding to an article about a ritual slaughter of cattle for the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival, complete with pictures of a dozen cows lying in pools of blood in an arena, Carroll wrote in block capitals: ‘They are all fucking backward savages, a devil-spawned death cult worshipping all that is unholy and barbaric, pure evil.’
Such a rant, while certainly distasteful, is hardly uncommon on Facebook or other types of social media. In this case, much the same sentiment could have been uttered by an animal-rights activist expressing his distaste about the Halal method of slaughtering cattle. It seems, however, that one of Carroll’s so-called Facebook ‘friends’ took offence and sent a screengrab of the comments to police. And, according to the British Freedom Party (BFP) - which Carroll has recently become chairman of - the police deemed these comments sufficient to have him arrested in dramatic fashion on his way to a meeting in Luton last Saturday. As Carroll describes: ‘They swooped down on me, blues flashing and sirens wailing - you would have thought I was a serial killer or something. Right in the middle of the town centre.’
According to Bedfordshire police, Carroll was arrested for ‘display[ing] threatening abusive / insulting written material with intent / likely to stir up racial hatred’. Racial hatred? While certainly Carroll’s comments could be seen to be offensive to Muslims, such a charge appears to overlook the fact that Islam is a religion, not a race. Indeed, to make the odd assumption that Islam only has an appeal to a particular race speaks volumes about the prejudices of those making such an assumption. Islam is no more a race than Christianity or Buddhism.
Equally, the Koran itself is hardly averse to expressing disdain for those who hold differing beliefs. Take for example this quote from ‘The Cow’ by Dawood: ‘God’s curse be upon the infidels! Evil is that for which they have bartered away their souls… They have incurred God’s most inexorable wrath. An ignominious punishment awaits the unbelievers.’ Should Muslims also be concerned that if they post excerpts from the Koran, they too will be arrested for stirring up hatred against those who worship religions other than Islam?
But this raises the question: why should anyone be arrested for expressing their views, regardless of how offensive? You don’t have to be an EDL supporter – which certainly I am not – to be chilled by the fact that you can be arrested for saying what’s on your mind.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).