A man was arrested in Hampshire, in the UK, for having published LGBT flags in the form of a swastika on the internet. The video of the arrest was widely shared on social media.
“Someone suffered from anxiety because of your post on social media. And that’s why you’re being arrested,” the policeman said as he detained the man.
According to the BBC, Darrin Brady, 51, will answer for “malicious communication”, which, under British law, concerns the “sending of letters, electronic communications, offensive or threatening articles with the intention of causing distress or anxiety to the recipient” and that “is a criminal offence”.
The man who made the video was also arrested. According to police, he was detained for “obstructing a prison”.
Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones condemned the officers’ actions. “I am concerned about the proportionality and necessity of the police response to this incident,” she said. “When incidents on social media get two visits from police, but burglaries and break-ins don’t always get a response from the police, something is wrong,” added Jones.
Brad Polumbo, an American journalist and columnist for the Foundation For Economic Education, also opposed the British police action. “As John Locke explained, individuals have rights to their people and property, including the right to use their person and property for communication. But no one is entitled to any particular emotional state. To assert this false ‘right’ for some is to violate the true rights of others: including freedom of speech. It doesn’t really matter if you think the UK man’s post was just a joke or was hateful and offensive. We should all support your right to speak freely and even say things others find odious or distressing without being harassed or arrested by the government,” he wrote.
“These broad and subjective criteria can be used to end any unpopular idea and smother any debate, however crucial it may be. If we are not free to speak, then we are not really free to think”, concluded the journalist, noting that the UK is the land of great thinkers like Locke.