Tuesday, April 10, 2012

No freedom of speech in the UK

On March 8, British teenager Azhar Ahmed posted the following to his Facebook account:

People gassin about the deaths of soldiers! What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed.. The women who have been raped.. The children who have been sliced up..! Your enemy’s were the Taliban not innocent harmless familys. All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL! THE LOWLIFE FOKKIN SCUM! gotta problem go cry at your soliders grave & wish him hell because that where he is going..
For posting this, he was arrested and charged with a "racially aggravated public order offence". That charge was dropped when he appeared in court - perhaps because even the Yorkshire police could understand that "British soldiers" are not a racial group - and instead substituted with one of using a telecommunications network to send a grossly offensive message. He will face trial in July, and it is unclear what sentence he may face.

The British government considers Ahmed's message to be offensive. But it is also clearly political, objecting against his country's continued presence in Afghanistan and the civilian casualties it is causing. That is something people should be able to say, and say strongly, in a democracy. But thanks to the UK's participation in America's "war on terror", those doing so now face the risk of arrest and prosecution. So much for the myth that those soldiers are "defending freedom"...