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Man Arrested For Photo of Burning Poppy On Facebook 534

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.

  • 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 fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:22AM (#41956411)
    And certainly your idea of what is useful and what is not is the correct one and should be enforced by law, right?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:23AM (#41956423)
    Slippery Slope isn't a real argument. It's a position people take when they don't have a real argument, as slipper slope can applied to pretty much anything. Try again please.
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:23AM (#41956427)

    I deem your post useless. its harmful and I think you should pay a penalty for it.

    how's a few days in the lock-up sound to you?

    but you ARGUED for this. you agree that some speech should be curbed if its not 'useful' and your post was certainly not useful to ME.

  • by SpaceWiz ( 54904 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:24AM (#41956433)

    The point of free speech to protect unpopular speech.

  • Re:The point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fche ( 36607 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:24AM (#41956439)

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

  • Re:The point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:26AM (#41956457)

    note: those who would deny us *frequently* do not speak foreign languages and do not live in some other land.

    more often than not, those who try to suppress freedom are coming at you from behind your back, not in front of your face.

    (there was an old saying; worry more about arrows that hit you in the back more than ones that might hit you in the chest.)

  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:36AM (#41956543)
    You can't be more subjective than what you are describing. What is "kharma-whoring" or "drama-queening"? Where exactly something crosses the line between "useful policy discussion", and "drama-queening" for example? Should any emotional outburst be outlawed? If a people cries while talkign about something should what he is talking about be dismissed, or better, outlawed?

    There is no such thing as conditional free speech. Any conditional free speech is no free speech at all, because there is always someone else who will be deciding what can be said and what cannot based on his own interpretations of abstract things like "emotional acts", as you so clearly showed.
  • by slim ( 1652 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:36AM (#41956559) Homepage

    This isn't subjective. It's not a question of what one person considers useful speech and another doesn't, at least unless you're trying to defend the flower-burners.

    It's on a continuum, and there must necessarily be a blurry line somewhere along it where the distinction is subjective. So in giving the judiciary the ability to make that subjective decision, you genuinely do create a slippery slope, towards the point where you have "free speech" as long as you stay within boundaries set by the Establishment.

    Also, I question the argument that "emotional gestures" aren't "useful". Sometimes a dramatic gesture is what it takes to draw attention to a worthy cause. For example, Suffragettes chaining themselves to railings.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:38AM (#41956575)

    Slippery Slope isn't a real argument. It's a position people take when they don't have a real argument, as slipper slope can applied to pretty much anything. Try again please.

    Yes and no. Properly used, it is a perfectly usable and completely valid point. Here, for instance, the point is that if they start suppressing one individual's freedom of speech, there is less of a barrier for them to start suppressing others as well. It's perfectly true, as illustrated a thousand times (at least) by history. It's an argument from induction (countless examples of human history) rather than deduction (it actually doesn't follow a priori that one action will lead to another... but in practice it usually does). As such, it does not always hold true... but it often does (and of course some people use it poorly, to argue that one thing will lead to another, unconnected thing).

    Perhaps more importantly, it can only be used in combination with some argument that the first step shouldn't be taken at all, because if that step should be taken and further steps should not, then there is no slippery slope. In this case, the argument is that freedom of speech should be protected no matter who it offends, which is a pretty reasonable argument.

  • Re:The point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:38AM (#41956591) Journal

    The problem is that, in a democracy, the tyrants could be the majority....

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:41AM (#41956621)

    The point of free speech is to protect informative discussion and analysis of policy.

    No, the point of free speech is to allow me to say whatever the hell I want without fear of government reprisal, so long as I'm not stomping on someone else's rights in the process. Whose rights are being violated by this man burning a poppy? There is no right to never, ever, ever be offended.

    Emotional gestures don't actually do that.

    Yes, they do. Some of the most important political statements in history have been emotional gestures.

    Burning flags, burning poppies, etc. express discontent but not much else. In fact, it seems to me that these events get in the way of actually having a discussion on the issue and getting closer to resolution.

    Expressing discontent with your country's leadership is one of the very, very core ideas supporting freedom of speech. Expressing discontent publicly anounces to other people who aren't happy that they are not alone, allowing movements encouraging change to grow and flourish from small groups to larger ones.

    It's more like karma-whoring than political speech.

    So what? Karma-whoring should be illegal now?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:44AM (#41956649)

    Discretion is WHY those laws that everyone breaks (on average, in the US, 3 felonies a day) exist and haven't been modified to be more precise.

    Without discretion the court system would clog up and/or most people would be in prison, leading to a country that basically bursts at the seams. Laws would be rewritten or revoked faster than you can imagine once all tax revenue dries up.

    Or we can keep letting police officers basically decide what the law is--leaving your liberty in the hands of whatever individual is wearing a badge near you. Your choice!

  • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:44AM (#41956661) Homepage
    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 hawkinspeter ( 831501 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:45AM (#41956677)
    You're right, the UK police do have a fair amount of discretion as to what action to take. Sometimes, though, if they get complaints from the public, then they'll have to be seen to do something.

    To play devil's advocate; if you allow police a lot of latitude in how to enforce various laws, you're effectively giving the police a lot of power to abuse. e.g. a racist police force may choose to always prosecute certain races, whilst allowing their own racial group to be let off with a warning most of the time.

    To my mind, most police in the UK will apply common-sense to situations, so I would guess that this case has to have some kind of external agitator.
  • Re:The point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:46AM (#41956687)

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Yes, but that's the US version. We're looking for something a little more British Empire here.

    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    @kent_police: You broke faith with those who died. They cannot sleep, though poppies burn on Facebook's files. (With apologies to John McCray)

  • by hawkinspeter ( 831501 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:48AM (#41956705)
    It's not the burning, it's the posting on Facebook that's the problem.

    By the way, please don't be frightened of saying "FUCK", especially if you're posting anonymously.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:48AM (#41956711) Homepage
    Discretion can be a tricky thing though. One of my favourites is "let's let everybody drive 20 km/h over the speed limit on the highway" thing. So 99% of the time, you are ok. But once in a while a cop will be having a bad day and decide to pull you over and give you a ticket for something that people do every day. I would much rather they set the speed limits at more reasonable levels and enforce them strictly rather than let everybody drive over the speed limit all the time and use it as a way to generate money on the day you decide to start enforcing it.
  • 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.

  • Re:The point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Minwee ( 522556 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:50AM (#41956729) Homepage
  • 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.

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

    by sribe ( 304414 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:57AM (#41956841)

    Hitler was in admiration of the British and sought an aliance prior to WWII. Our (at least) freedom could've easily be secured without a fight.

    Uhm, perhaps you should look at certain other countries and how their agreements with Hitler worked out for them, before you decide that it would have been such a grand idea to trust him ;-)

  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:01PM (#41956895)

    Also, I question the argument that "emotional gestures" aren't "useful". Sometimes a dramatic gesture is what it takes to draw attention to a worthy cause. For example, Suffragettes chaining themselves to railings.

    A single poor fruit vendor committing suicide in a very public manner...

  • Re:What's a poppy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slim ( 1652 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:07PM (#41956965) Homepage

    those who gave their lives for our freedom.

    ... or, those who were put in harm's way by our governments for no worthwhile cause, depending on how you look at it.

  • Fascist (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:09PM (#41956981)
    It seems that fascism is alive and well in Kent. Do they have a statue of Franco, Mussolini or Hitler in the central square?
  • Re:The point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by udachny ( 2454394 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:10PM (#41956989) Journal

    Democracy is tyranny. Tyranny of the majority (mobocracy) is when the majority agrees to abuse a minority and votes to do it. For good examples of it see all of the issues surrounding wealth redistribution and taxing income, progressive taxes, business regulations, all that. Because the majority are not running businesses, they are not earning large incomes, but the majority doesn't actually have a moral problem voting to tax others to subsidize themselves.

    This is why USA was not in fact established as a Democracy but as a Representative Republic by the Founders, who knew the dangers of Democracy and understood tyranny too well. So they tried their best to set up a system of government that would prevent popular public opinions from running the government!

    That's why you have electoral college (the delegates should be able to vote conscience and not party lines), that's why the Senators unlike Congressmen were supposed to be not elected, but nominated by State legislature, so that they would not be beholden to the interest of the majority voters but instead could act in a way that would protect the Constitution, the Law, regardless of what the public (and the Congress) wanted to do.

    That's why the POTUS has his veto and to override, 70% of Congressmen must vote together. That's why SCOTUS can negate laws that are unconstitutional.

    Unfortunately all of this is broken, it's borked, one man-one vote gave the mob the tyranny they wanted and they are not going to relinquish that power until that power in their own hands will destroy the economy completely (and it has already, it's just the consequences are not fully obvious yet to the majority).

  • by slim ( 1652 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:11PM (#41957001) Homepage

    I disagree with you. I think its the responsibility of any good citizen to ignore laws that are not just, fair, or in line with the Constitution, the Magna Carta, or etc. In fact, even if its legal within your constitution, it does not mean that it is just for right. If the people of the Civil Rights movement agreed with you, we would still have black people riding in the back of the bus in the US.

    Oh we should certainly ignore laws that are unjust. Then the police should arrest us. Then we should go to court. There the law should be exposed as unjust, and overturned.

    I don't think it's right to have a load of laws on the statute book which are just informally ignored. As long as they remain on the books, they retain the potential to be abused one day.

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

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT 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.

  • Not exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:18PM (#41957095)
    The opposite is true. Some of the British aristocracy, including the king who abdicated, were supporters of Hitler and wanted to introduce Naziism into the UK. Hitler hoped to conquer the East first so that Germany would be powerful enough to defeat the British Empire. The UK entered the war a little too late for a quick victory (before the defeat of Czechoslovakia, concerted effort by the democratic countries could have destroyed Hitler.) We then had to hold out until Roosevelt was able to overcome the Nazi sympathisers in his own country and enter the War.

    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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Not exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:33PM (#41957271)

    I find that last bit interesting. Exactly which Republican ideas do you consider as right wing and bonkers as those of Hitler. I ask this not in a flame attempt but out of genuine curiousity. As for the original post I find it ludicrous to arrest someone for something as harmless as posting an image of a burning poppy. I do think this is a result of the attempt to squelch free speech by labeling some speech as "hate" speech. Such things have unintended consequences. It's hard to selectively ban speech in such a way as to only allow the speech you want.

  • 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.

  • Re:better yet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xmundt ( 415364 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:35PM (#41957297)

    Just to continue the recursion - I hate people who hate other people for whatever damn-fool thing those people believe!

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

    by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:36PM (#41957305)

    Hitler was in admiration of the British and sought an aliance prior to WWII. Our (at least) freedom could've easily be secured without a fight

    And such an alliance would have been the equivalent of a deal with an alligator to eat you last.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:41PM (#41957355)

    It's a positive standard: the free speech we want to protect comes in the form of political speech that is analytical, informative and discursive, thus is useful to making policy decisions.

    Anything else would not be protected.

    I find it amusing that your current speech would not fall under that protection. It's not analytic since it ignores obvious flaws with the idea (such as who gets to decide what speech qualifies). I doubt it's "discursive" in any sense of the word due to the lack of nuance and understanding. And it is only informative in that it informs us of your profound unfitness for making policy decisions.

  • by slim ( 1652 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:42PM (#41957371) Homepage

    It's on a par with dancing on an Arlington Cemetery grave.

  • 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.

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

    by nukenerd ( 172703 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:59PM (#41957611)

    Lets not forget that hitler and stalin made a deal to split eastern europe between them..... and that hitler broke said deal. Making a deal with the devil doesn't gaurantee they won't turn on you after

    Why do people keep talking about needing a "deal" with Hitler, and Hitler needing to keep to it. You do not need a "deal". You can do nothing, but stay cautious.

    Did Switzerland do a deal with Hitler? Portugal? Argentina? China? An invasion of Britain even if Hitler had really wanted it would have been about as likely to succeed as an invasion of China, given the control Britain had over the English Channel.

    Did hitler really admire the british or did he just want us out of the way for a while so he could deal with other things? since he is dead we will never know for sure.

    Yes, he did. In a speech he made to senior German Officers after cancelling the plans to invade Britain, he made this clear, praising Britain for running its empire effectively etc. It astonished some of his audience.

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

    by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @01:05PM (#41957697)

    Nice theory, but when you get to the "we now know" part, it makes me question if you understand what "know" means. Much of what you said might be true, but we most certainly don't "know" any of it. Anything that follows from the premise "if we had done (something other than what we did)" is necessarily speculation. The only question is how good the speculation is...

    The fact of the matter is, Britain did not get into the war to "try to help the French (and Poland)". They did it to try to save themselves. Whether it was necessary or not is unknown, but nation-states aren't known for committing to expensive (in both lives and money) tasks for altruistic reasons. Britain did what it did because it thought that was what was best for Britain, full stop. If anyone else was helped, that's nice, but not the reason why it was done.

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

    by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @02:27PM (#41958623)

    Well I for one am sick of all this "poppyganda" -- the symbol of remembrance for the dead has been coopted into the Cult of the Holy Liberation Force, as the poppy is tied into supporting troops in ongoing actions overseas.

    I'm in favour of the white poppy: it is a statement that we stand in remembrance of the fallen, but with the qualification that we are against ongoing military action. For our forces to invade another country without a UN mandate, bomb, shoot and generally make mincemeat out of a lot of foreign nationals, many of whom aren't involved in any military action, and then to pin poppies to their uniforms is hypocrisy and an insult to the fallen.

  • Re:better yet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @03:15PM (#41959145)

    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.

    Excuse me a bit here, but Molotov-Ribbentrop pact [] (the secret clauses) clearly split eastern europe into spheres of influence between Germany and USSR. There wouldn't have been a way to ally with the Germans because they were allied with the USSR; the finnish leaders didn't seriously think the USSR would attack so the "peaceful" requests by the USSR for border concessions and islands next to the capitol city Helsinki were denied. These would most certainly have been used as bases to "free" Finland at some point and to place a puppet government like they tried to do in the Winter War which ensued.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen