Some don’t, anyway. Gary J. Hall disagrees with the lack of public outcry when someone is arrested for a Facebook post:
This week, the son of an owner of the hire company whose van was used in the Finsbury Park attack [an attack on Muslims] on Monday was arrested for comments he posted on Facebook afterwards.
Richard Evans allegedly posted: “It’s a shame they don’t hire out steam rollers or tanks could have done a tidy job then.”
Within my social media circles at least, the reaction to his arrest ranged from “saying something like that, what did he expect to happen?” to “serves him right!”
In a country that has upheld for centuries the right of individuals to speak freely and maintained the principle of free speech, without the aid of a written constitution, Richard Evans’ arrest and the lack of public outrage at it is a bad sign of a lack of regard for one of the key freedoms of our prosperous and progressive society.
What the man said was wrong, and obviously so. But locking someone up for being a lout is going to be difficult in a country of 65 million, one third of whom are drinking a pint right now. Mild exaggeration. I’ve been watching a lot of UK TV.
In the US, we once talked of inalienable rights, those which cannot be taken away. My own perspective is that when anyone is jailed for speech that does not libel, incite violence or put people at actual risk, then the human community is diminished.
I also know that the United States is just a step behind Britain in inviting censorship of words.
If we don’t defend the right of even the most loathsome people to speak freely then we don’t really believe in freedom of speech. We don’t accept it is a natural right of Man and we don’t have faith in it as a force for social good and human progress.
If people don’t have the legal right to speak their minds, even after terrorist attacks or tragedies like the Grenfell Tower fire, then we can’t say we have freedom of speech in our society because this right is an absolute one. You are either free to say whatever you want or you are not.