In Britain, you can actually be arrested for posting comments that “cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another.”
Once again: you can be arrested for annoying someone. Couple that with the BritGuvs determination to crack down on vaguely-defined “far right” speech online, and hoo boy, glad I’ve got that First Amendment thing. Here, when some idiot troll starts causing annoyance, I can simply hit the “ban user” button and the problem is solved. Or, heck, simply ignore them. But in Britain? Call the cops, I guess, someone said something I didn’t like.
No, no, no way in hell that this sort of system could *ever* be abused, nosiree.
An interesting summary of some of the many laws regarding speech and computers in the UK includes a paragraph on the communications Act of 2003:
Sending by means of the Internet a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or sending a false message by means of or persistently making use of the Internet for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety is guilty of an offence liable, on conviction, to imprisonment. This wording is important because an offence is complete as soon as the message has been sent: there is no need to prove any intent or purpose.
Say, that’s neat. You can be arrested and sentenced to imprisonment for annoying someone without even having intended to.
Sadly, even Utah isn’t immune from the scourge of the easily offended delicate snowflake. The local news last night had a story about a guy who set up a Halloween display (Halloween is *big* in Utah… I’d say it’s right up there with Christmas in terms of interest, enthusiasm and maybe even money). His original display? I larfed my keister off. Because it’s funny, that’s why:
Having just watched “The Purge: Election Day” less than a week ago, I got the gag. But apparently there are a lot of humorless would-be British-style speechcops out there in Facebookland, and even in the guys own neighborhood.
People saw the “MAGA” and promptly assumed that the homeowner was promoting racist violence. Oy.
As a result of the online and IRL backlash, the homeowner changed the display, rewording to to be more accurate to the tagline of the movie:
As sad as this tale was here in Utah, imagine if the guy had been living under British laws. He could have *easily* been arrested, especially since the people who were offended – or at least who pretended to be – claimed that the message was right wing.
FFS. If you can’t have fun with murder and bloodshed and horror on Halloween… what *can* you have fun with?
Still, the laws are what they are. One can hope that people in Britainland will start overloading the police with complaints about *everything* online that annoys them. How about online photos of Communist mass murdering psychopaths on Irish postage stamps? Surely that’s annoying to any Brit who suffered directly or indirectly at the hands of communism.