— Sussex Police (@sussex_police) June 20, 2017
It is one thing to enforce an unjust law reluctantly, it is quite another to brag about it on the Internet. Sadly, this is exactly what the Sussex Police Department in the United Kingdom decided to do on June 20 when it announced the imprisonment of a man who was arrested for posting what it deemed to be hateful posts on Facebook against Muslims.
Over the past few years, Britain has become notorious as a country that prosecutes people for expressing “hateful thoughts”. What constitutes a hateful thought is never articulated with any precision. It can mean anything and everything depending on the whim of the government, the local constabulary, and the ever-fickle public mood.
Democracy has always depended on one thing above all else and that is the ability of citizens to freely express their thoughts, even their ugly thoughts, in without fear of being harassed or imprisoned by their authorities. This is no longer the case in Britain.
It is quite ironic to see exactly how the Sussex Police Department expends its resources and time considering that the subject of police cuts has become a matter of wide discussion in Britain over the past few weeks as the country has been rocked by a number of terror attacks both committed by Muslims and committed against Muslims.
The question arises, what good would more police do if what they spend their time and energy on is chasing harmless citizens who post inflammatory remarks on Twitter or Facebook. One would think that it would be more useful and more helpful to pursue hate preachers who radicalize young Muslims into jihadists, but that does not seem to be the case.
On the contrary, it seems that the British government has decided to make it a priority to silence all criticism of immigration policies and of the various ideologies now prevalent in Britain. Once arresting a man for expressing a thought, however ugly, would have been unthinkable in Britain. Now it seems to be a point of pride as the bragging tweet by the Sussex Police Department clearly shows. They express more pride in arresting this man, so it seems, then they would any real criminal such as a thief, a robber, or someone who commits assault.
This man will now serve 20 months in prison for expressing his views. I’ve no idea what he posted, I don’t really care what he posted, and it is more than likely that I do not agree with what he posted. But I do believe in his right to post what he thinks and to do so without fear of persecution.
Britain is not alone in making laws that limit the scope of human expression. Such laws exist throughout Europe, in Canada, in Australia, and, I’m ashamed to say, in Israel as well. Only in the United States are people truly free to express their views, and this is only because over 200 years ago the Founding Fathers of the United States had the wisdom to enact the First Amendment to the Constitution. If people are to remain free in the West, it is high time for other countries to adopt a similar amendment to their constitutions or legal code.
Until they do, police officers and departments in these countries would be wise to not brag about enforcing laws against “hate thoughts”. By doing so, they reduce public trust in the police and increase resentment both against authority and against other sectors of the population.