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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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  • better yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fche (36607) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:19AM (#41956385)

    Arrest the arresting officer on suspicion of stupidity.

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

      by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:26AM (#41956465) Homepage

      At the risk of invoking a Godwin so early in the discussion it is rather ironic how the police are now insulting the memory of all those who died to protect our freedom.

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

        by Xest (935314) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:48AM (#41956715)

        This is in part, part of the West's battle with Islam, and is not the first time this has been done.

        The government introduced a law some time ago against inciting religious hatred and so forth to prevent people burning Korans and starting a riot amongst muslims in the UK as a result.

        The problem is then that some of the Islamic extremists in the UK started burning things like poppies on remembrance day, and burning the British flag and so forth. Obviously a lot of people were pissed off at the hypocrisy of this, so the Police then started enforcing the law against this sort of burning too.

        Whether the guy in this case is an Islamic extremist or just a general dick who knows, but that's why we're at the point were at.

        Honestly, the lesson is that this is why we can't create laws against burning the Koran - because it is fucking hypocritical for there to be protection against burning something one group holds sacred, but not things other groups hold sacred and having people hence burn them. This really is a case of the slippery slope in action - what started out as a noble plan to prevent anger in UK's Islamic population over the burning of a Koran, has now created awareness of assholes everywhere burning all sorts of different things due to it getting in the news and resulted in a complete waste of police time, time and time again.

        I don't blame the police, they're simply enforcing the law fairly and making it clear that it's a two way street. The problem is that in this case, the law shouldn't exist at all whether it's for the Koran, a flag, or a poppy, but fundamentally it's got to be one or the other, either you can burn poppies, flags, and Korans, or you can burn none of them. Currently it's the latter case, so at least the law is being applied consistently and fairly which is more than can be said for a lot of laws.

        • by EGenius007 (1125395) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:17PM (#41957081)
          Hey guys, in my religion we have three sacred elements (conveniently a solid, liquid, and gas): coal, petroleum, and natural gas. It is strictly forbidden to burn them except in specially controlled religious ways, and it would be blasphemy for people to burn them for any other reason.

          Enjoy your legally mandated return the 16th century, UK!
        • by Trepidity (597)

          You have your chronology backwards: prohibitions on desecrating British symbols weren't created after those on desecrating Muslim symbols, but, rather, the former predate the latter. Traditionally burning the UK flag was prosecuted under various treason and sedition statutes. As those fell into disuse in the 20th century, by the latter part of the century the government used general "breach of the peace" statutes to prosecute people (mostly socialists and communists) who burnt the UK flag, or otherwise dese

        • The problem is that in this case, the law shouldn't exist at all whether it's for the Koran, a flag, or a poppy, but fundamentally it's got to be one or the other, either you can burn poppies, flags, and Korans, or you can burn none of them

          Well I, for one, hold as Sacred the following: Wood, Natural Gas and Coal. Have fun heating/powering your home without burning anything!

          • Ah, someone below beat me to it.... Well, I knew there had to be more than one of us! See this is a legitimate religion! Protect us!
        • by Jawnn (445279)

          This is in part, part of the West's battle with Islam, and is not the first time this has been done.

          The government introduced a law some time ago against inciting religious hatred and so forth to prevent people burning Korans and starting a riot amongst muslims in the UK as a result.

          The problem is then that some of the Islamic extremists in the UK started burning things like poppies on remembrance day, and burning the British flag and so forth. Obviously a lot of people were pissed off at the hypocrisy of this, so the Police then started enforcing the law against this sort of burning too.

          Which should server to more than amply illustrate the folly of the notion of protecting people from being offended by harmless expressions (verbal, visual, etc.). Don't like my little stick figure of The Prophet here... 0-(-- ...too damn bad. Don't look at it. Don't like pictures of burning poppies? Too damn bad. Get over it. Making, and enforcing, laws that attempt to protect/prevent people from "offensive" things must, of necessity, involve an arbitrary judgement of "offensiveness". Laws like that are inv

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

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:14PM (#41957035) Journal

        Exactly, one of the last conversations I had with my grandfather who fought in EU during WWII was about the Illinois Nazis, it was during the time they were suing for the right to march. I asked him if that pissed him off and he said " I support their right to march, even if I don't believe in what they are marching for. The reason we fought against the Nazis was for the right to speak your mind, even if those words are rude or hateful. True freedom isn't just protecting people saying nice things but protecting even the hateful and ignorant".

        I'm sure you could power most of the UK off the revolutions of the soldiers spinning in their grave, of course they've been spinning like tops for several years now, what with the UK heading more and more towards a classic Big Brother style police state. Ironic that they disbanded the pre war British Fascist society because it looks like they were simply ahead of their time sadly.

  • The point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Meneth (872868) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:21AM (#41956405)

    What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by @Kent_police for burning a poppy?

    The point was that from 1945 to ~2010, they could not be so casually arrested.

    Liberty is not static; it must periodically be re-conquered from those who would deny us.

  • by slim (1652) <john@ha[ ]up.net ['rtn' in gap]> on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:25AM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zocalo (252965)
      Probably also worth pointing out that, unlike the US etc., the UK has no legal recognition of the right to free speech. Stupid acts like this, especially coming so soon after the recent case of offensive postings to Facebook etc. in the case of the missing April Jones, are not going to help convince politicians that maybe this is something that needs changing.
      • by oPless (63249) on Monday November 12, 2012 @01:27PM (#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

    • 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.

      How about the police upholding the European Convention on human rights [wikipedia.org] which IIRC sits above UK law. Article 10 grants freedom of expression except in limited, and sensible circumstances and "insulting someone else" is not one of those. In fact if this law really is as written MPs had better watch what they say outside of the commons because they seem to spend a good deal of their time being insulting and attempting to cause MPs in other parties distress.

      The ironic thing is that these same human rights

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:29AM (#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.

    • by Dupple (1016592) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:51AM (#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

    • by Bogtha (906264) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:02PM (#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 @12:06PM (#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.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:32PM (#41957269)

        This difference is a real problem. If you do not have the right to insult then the accuser can claim that they find anything you say insulting. If you make offending someone illegal (Which we practically have) you have the same problem as exists with blasphemy laws.

        Basically if you don't like someone you can claim that some arbitrary view of theirs that they have published somewhere has deeply offended you, if you can add a racial or religious slant to the perceived offense then all the better. You can now get any one you don't like arrested on the grounds that they have violated the criminal justice act.

      • by Cederic (9623)

        I personally support this difference, is that we do not recognise that everybody has a right to insult or defame other people

        It's not possible to discuss differences of opinion without insulting people.

        I'm an atheist. When I say "there is no god" many theists take offence. They believe I've insulted that in which I do not believe.

        I reserve the right to offend, and fuck the law if it disagrees.

        On Sunday last our SOF Meeting

        SOF?

    • by Martin S. (98249)

      Not true, you do have freedom of expression under the Human Rights Act. However that's doesn't extend to doing harm to others with Grossly Offensive words intended to incite violence.

  • by ratbag (65209) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:40AM (#41956605)

    Somebody brought this to the police's attention - they don't actively "police" facebook, looking for this kind of stuff.

    We in the UK have a glorious (sarcasm alert) tradition of being offended and/or taking things personally at the drop of a hat - eg Mary Whitehouse' organisation, or the braying mobs demanding "death to all paediatrics" (sic) whenever a kiddie is murdered (most often by a member of the child's family, it seems, so why aren't they calling for "death to all relatives"?).

    I suspect someone, maybe a member of the armed forces or somebody close to them, has seen the poppy burning and rather than thinking "idiot, let's not give them the oxygen of publicity", has instead gone off the deep end and started "shouting the odds", stating that "I'll swing for him, I will", "death's too good for them", "I didn't fight a war for the likes of them" etc. and called the police. Notwithstanding the fact that they would normally the sort of person who decries the wasting of police team and the fact you "never see a bobby on the street these days" and "the streets aren't safe for our kids anymore".

    Unsubstantiated hearsay, I know. I'm just blowing off steam.

    • Mary Whitehouse (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:10PM (#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:Mary Whitehouse (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ratbag (65209) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:35PM (#41957295)

        Not disagreeing about the idiocy of the gutter press and sadly almost every newspaper splashes around in the gutter from time-to-time.

        But whether MW was a joke or not (to you and I she was, but my erstwhile evangelical friends thought she had a serious point), she did represent something in our psyche - a puritanical, prudish slant to life.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:48AM (#41956713)
    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.
    • Re:What's a poppy? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chrisq (894406) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:55AM (#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

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

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:40PM (#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 @01:09PM (#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.

    • by slim (1652)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_poppy [wikipedia.org]

      Quite what it's meaning is, is a bit ambiguous. Is it an expression of pride in our war dead, or an expression of tragic sadness and desire it should never happen again? It means different things to different people.

      Astonishingly, British prime minister David Cameron went on a jaunt to the Middle East to promote the British arms industry, while wearing a remembrance poppy. The same politicians who merrily continue to send cannon fodder on various foreign adventu

  • by sunking2 (521698) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:49AM (#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.
  • Half to laugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:57AM (#41956827)

    I laugh every year about remembrance day controversies. In Canada there was a big stink this year about how school children should be allowed to opt out of remembrance ceremonies held at school. Someone gets arrested for burning a poppy.

    Last I checked these men and women fought for our freedoms. While burning a poppy, speaking negatively about veterans, or skipping remembrance ceremonies because you rather sleep in makes you a dick, these men and women fought for the right and freedom to be a dick. Forcing someone to behave a certain way, or forcing people to participate in a ceremony is counter-intuitive to what veterans have fought for.

    Freedom is not a give in, but people being dicks is a certainty.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:57AM (#41956829) Homepage

    The players in the system are people who are often prevented from exercising their better sense and judgement by their regulations and policied. "Failure to act" generally leads to being fired. Here's a good case in point.

    In many of my commentaries, I have shared the fact that I spent some time as a TSA screener. I have been faced with some rather unenviable duties both as a passenger screener and as a baggage screener. For the first two+ years of TSA's existance, I knew the system pretty well. (I don't think much has changed since then) Among these duties, I had to screen people who ... were not typical. While screening people, I had to do a manual patdown of a person with only one leg.

    Though it seems unseemly, I actually did pat around the area where there was no leg. Something was in his pocket in that vicinity and had him pull things from his pockets. Among the items was a small bag of marijuana. I attempted to exercise my sense of better judgement and IGNORED the pot. (Oh, how I wished he told me "oh, it's green tea." because I could have easily had an out on the matter... in fact, I wish I had thought to say "oh! This must be green tea. I hear it is very healthy" giving HIM the idea...) But I attempted to ignore it. Another screener noticed it and started to report it. I had to fall into place or risk problems to myself.

    The guy was held, then eventually wheeled away my police. Later, the police said "people, for such small amounts, please don't bother us?!" Policy actually changed to reflect better sense. But the fact was, there was no clear instruction at the time.

    But we see policies and procedures often get in the way of better sense and judgement everywhere we go. From law enforcement to public education, we see stupid crap all day long. Are people REALLY that stupid or are we playing "CYA" too much to the point that things are simply ridiculous? I favor the second while I recognize that SOME people are not capable of particularly rational judgement.

  • Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:58AM (#41956847)
    Why is this man in trouble, the poppy is a symbol of the worst mass killings to ever take place, which is infact all war is. Lets face it, the point of war is to kill, just kill for no real reason. The difference between a serial killer and a war vet is that the war vet was told to kill by the bully at school ( The Government ) and the serial killer took it into his own hands. I have absolutely 0 respect for any solder, war vet or anyone who plays a hand in hurting humans in an act of war. This goes for both sides!

    People talk about a solder as a symbol of devotion and courage, my question is why? If the government hands me a gun and tells me to shoot someone, why should that make me a symbol for my country? I think the real symbols for a country are the people who progress science, technology and medicine. They are the people who we should respect, not the guy who grabs a gun and kills in the name of his country because he doesn't question them.

    You always hear saying like "You wouldn't be here if they didn't fight" or "They protected your freedom", bull crap. War happens because people can't think of non hostel ways to settle issues. How about instead of getting hundreds of thousands of your own people killed you sit down and think before you act. I'm not saying that no one has to die but not the insane number of people who do. If you have to kill even 1 innocence person for 10 bad guys then the cost isn't worth it.
    • by u38cg (607297)
      Start with Aquinas and work forwards to six million Jews. Hell, take in Sophie Scholl on the way. Then come back here and try again.
    • Lets face it, the point of war is to kill, just kill for no real reason.

      You can face what you want, however stupid that may be. (yay for free speech)

      Are you honestly claiming that the response to Hitler was a war to "kill for no real reason"?

      Do you think that the UK should just have waited for the inevitable?

      I have absolutely 0 respect for any solder, war vet or anyone who plays a hand in hurting humans in an act of war. This goes for both sides!

      Oh to live in such a simple black and white world.

      The real wor

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:35PM (#41957291)

    What the hell is going on in Britain these days? Is it time to officially change the name to Airstrip One?

  • by alexo (9335) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:58PM (#41957581) Journal

    'What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by @Kent_police for burning a poppy?'

    The point of winning most wars is not to rid the world of tyranny, it is to decide who gets to be the tyrant.

  • by Martin S. (98249) <Martin.Spamer@nosPAM.gmail.com> on Monday November 12, 2012 @01:17PM (#41957845) Homepage Journal

    In UK Law (Communications Act [legislation.gov.uk]) it is an offence to send a offensive messages over a communications network this is the same law that makes offensive phone calls illegal and is proportionate.

  • Precedent (Score:4, Informative)

    by cpm99352 (939350) on Monday November 12, 2012 @02:05PM (#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]
  • by Builder (103701) on Monday November 12, 2012 @02:14PM (#41958513)

    An arrest in the UK is a big deal. Regardless of a conviction, it shows up on background checks in the future and limits the jobs you can get. The police get to keep youru DNA and your fingerprints for a number of years.

    It also means that you can no longer visit certain countries on vacation or for work (including the USA) without going through an expensive and time consuming visa application process.

    It's a big deal and it sucks that we're arresting so many people under these laws. Mr. Bean is right - section 5 of the public order act needs to go!

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