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Man Arrested For Photo of Burning Poppy On Facebook 534

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticks-and-stones dept.
Barence writes "A British man has been arrested for posting a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook. The poppy is a symbol of remembrance for those who died in war, and the arrest was made on Remembrance Sunday. 'A man from Aylesham has tonight been arrested on suspicion of malicious telecommunications,' Kent police said in a statement after the arrest. 'This follows a posting on a social network site of a burning poppy. He is currently in police custody awaiting interview.' The arrest has been criticized by legal experts. 'What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by @Kent_police for burning a poppy?' tweeted David Allen Green, who helped clear the British man who was prosecuted for a joke tweet threatening to blow up an airport."
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Man Arrested For Photo of Burning Poppy On Facebook

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  • by slim (1652) <john@hart n u p.net> on Monday November 12, 2012 @10:25AM (#41956447) Homepage

    As well as the picture, he published the words "How about that you squadey cunts". (A squaddie being British slang for a low-ranking soldier). This at a time when emotions are heightened with the Remembrance Day.

    The Criminal Justice Act says:

    (1) A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he— (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.

    So that's the legal justification for arresting him.

    I think it's an unjust law -- I believe in free speech -- but it's the police's job to uphold the law as it's written, not how it *should* be written.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @10:29AM (#41956491)

    Most UK subjects do not realize that we don't actually have it. Speech is not protected in the UK and that won't get fixed until the people in the UK realize that, because of the cultural cross-contamination from the US most UK subjects think we have the same protected speech as you fellows across the pond.

  • Re:But! (Score:3, Informative)

    by RaceProUK (1137575) on Monday November 12, 2012 @10:42AM (#41956631)
    The UK has been trying to be America for some time now. We're like that scrawny kid who leans out from behind the bully, pathetically supporting everything the bully does.
  • by sunking2 (521698) on Monday November 12, 2012 @10:49AM (#41956723)
    It's about what was written in reference to it. The picture was fine, the words associated with it were deemed offensive. Debate all you want the worthiness of that, but at least report it like it is.
  • by Dupple (1016592) on Monday November 12, 2012 @10:51AM (#41956753)

    Not freedom of speech as such but we do have the European Convention's article 10 guaranteeing freedom of expression in our Human Rights Act. There are some exceptions to this, however

  • Re:What's a poppy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Monday November 12, 2012 @10:55AM (#41956815)

    Why is there no mention for those of us not in the UK what the symbolism of the poppy is. Is it like burning a flag? And why has nobody made the joke "Looks like the inmates are running the Aylesham"? Come on, it's easy.

    The poppy is the symbol of remembrance of soldiers who have died in war [wikipedia.org]. Burning the poppy is probably equivalent of the Westboro baptists "Thank God for dead soldiers" [msn.com] posters in terms of disrespect, upset to service family members, etc. In my view not nice but should not be criminalised

  • by Bogtha (906264) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:02AM (#41956907)

    Most UK subjects

    That's "citizen", not "subject". Since 1983, practically nobody qualifies as a subject any more.

    Speech is not protected in the UK

    Yes, it is, through EU membership. Common law probably has a fair bit to say on the matter as well.

    because of the cultural cross-contamination from the US most UK subjects think we have the same protected speech as you fellows across the pond.

    Both the UK and the USA have limitations on the protection of speech. Lots of people fetishise the protection in the USA though, which is worrying because a belief that they have absolute freedom of speech results in an Orwellian redefining of unprotected speech as some kind of "unspeech".

  • Not exactly correct (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:06AM (#41956949)
    We are part of the EU and we follow EU law on human rights (much as the Conservatives would like to repeal it). Article 19 of the UDHR says "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." So you are wrong.

    Where we differ from the US, and I personally support this difference, is that we do not recognise that everybody has a right to insult or defame other people. As the Dean of my college remarked, many years ago, "We have people in this college of violently opposed opinions, we have Communists and capitalists, we have atheists and religious people. We expect them to discuss their differences in a civilised manner."

    On Sunday last our SOF Meeting took place when the Remembrance Day procession was taking place in town. Nobody wore a poppy, and after the meeting we heard from someone who had been brought up among the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. We are not likely to have problems with the police.

  • Mary Whitehouse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:10AM (#41956987)
    Your argument is weakened because Mary Whitehouse was a national joke. If she complained about a TV programme, the head of the BBC used to send the producer a congratulatory memo. We in the UK are suffering from idiocy being stirred up by the gutter press.
  • Re:What's a poppy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:40AM (#41957345) Homepage Journal

    Burning the poppy is probably equivalent of the Westboro baptists "Thank God for dead soldiers" posters in terms of disrespect, upset to service family members, etc

    How about burning a yellow ribbon? anyone ever get arrested for that in the USA? (answer, yes [google.com] (first result))

  • Re:What's a poppy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jittles (1613415) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:09PM (#41957739)

    Burning the poppy is probably equivalent of the Westboro baptists "Thank God for dead soldiers" posters in terms of disrespect, upset to service family members, etc

    How about burning a yellow ribbon? anyone ever get arrested for that in the USA? (answer, yes [google.com] (first result))

    I don't believe they were arrested for burning the yellow ribbon, I believe they were arrested for chucking a burning object at a stage. If they had burned it safely, I don't think there would have been any issue. And by burn it safely, I don't mean burn it in a crowd of people either.

  • Re:better yet (Score:5, Informative)

    by cusco (717999) <brian...bixby@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:15PM (#41957829)
    Molotov. The Molotov Cocktail was invented and named in Finland when the USSR invaded that country. Without any antitank weapons the Fins quickly learned how to take out a Soviet tank with gasoline bombs. Finland up to that point had been neutral, but seeing how Germany had dealt with other nominally neutral countries in the past they decided that they needed to secure that strategically important flank. Molotov apparently tried his best to get Finland to ally with them but eventually the Kremlin got tired of waiting and invaded. He got the blame, as he was still assuring the Fins that the USSR would never invade them while tanks were rolling across the border. Very likely if the Kremlin had waited a few weeks the Germans would have done the same thing and Finland would have been on their side. The Finnish people put up an incredible resistance to the 800 pound gorilla before bowing to the inevitable.
  • by oPless (63249) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:27PM (#41957947) Journal

    *BUZZ* Wrong. We do ... but it's not the same as "free speech" in the States.

    From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_by_country#United_Kingdom [wikipedia.org]

    In 1998, the United Kingdom incorporated the European Convention, and the guarantee of freedom of expression it contains in Article 10, into its domestic law under the Human Rights Act. However there is a broad sweep of exceptions including threatening, abusive, or insulting speech or behavior likely to cause a breach of the peace (which has been used to prohibit racist speech targeted at individuals),[61][62] incitement,[63] incitement to racial hatred,[64] incitement to religious hatred, incitement to terrorism including encouragement of terrorism and dissemination of terrorist publications,[63][65] glorifying terrorism,[66][67] collection or possession of information likely to be of use to a terrorist,[68][69] treason including imagining the death of the monarch,[70] sedition,[70] obscenity, indecency including corruption of public morals and outraging public decency,[71] defamation,[72] prior restraint, restrictions on court reporting including names of victims and evidence and prejudicing or interfering with court proceedings,[73][74] prohibition of post-trial interviews with jurors,[74] scandalising the court by criticising or murmuring judges,[74][75] time, manner, and place restrictions,[76] harassment, privileged communications, trade secrets, classified material, copyright, patents, military conduct, and limitations on commercial speech such as advertising

  • Re:better yet (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeremi (14640) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:30PM (#41957985) Homepage

    Enjoy your legally mandated return the 16th century, UK!

    If you're expecting everyone to go back to using wood for fuel, I think the Druids are going to have something to say about that...

  • Precedent (Score:4, Informative)

    by cpm99352 (939350) on Monday November 12, 2012 @01:05PM (#41958411)
    Apparently this was done last year, too. A £50 fine:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/07/muslim-extremist-fined-for-poppy-burning [guardian.co.uk]
  • Re:Not exactly (Score:5, Informative)

    by NotSanguine (1917456) on Monday November 12, 2012 @01:48PM (#41958847) Journal

    With Naziism a resurgent threat in Greece and trying to expand all across Europe, with American Republicans who express ideas as right wing and bonkers as those of Hitler, it's nice to know that the Kent police are so on top of things that they can find someone to deal with these serious hate crimes.

    I'll assume this is a troll -- on a thread about the suppression of free speech, a bit of flamebait to goad others to attack your "hate speech". I'd have to say, it's a nice bit of ironic trolling.

    Perhaps not so much. We know that many prominent Americans shared Hitler's anti-semitism (T.J. Watson, Charles Lindbergh and even F.D.R). We also know that I.B.M. [wikipedia.org] and other US corporations actively assisted Nazi Germany, with a mixture of fascistic, profit and anti-semitic motives.

    As an American, I find it distasteful to harp on this, but the truth is the truth. Better we have it out in the open rather than let it fester in the wings. Just sayin'.

  • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Monday November 12, 2012 @02:08PM (#41959069) Homepage

    Like the GP said, with so many exceptions, the UK effectively has no legal recognition of the right to free speech. What it has is "free speech so long as it's speech we approve of".

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