Police In Scotland Tweet Out Plans To 'Investigate' Any 'Offensive Comments' On Social Media

from the really-guys? dept

So we just had a story about a 19-year-old guy being arrested for making a (bad) joke tweet about an out of control garbage truck. The Northumbria police who arrested Ross Loraine are insisting that the bad joke was a “malicious communication” under The Communications Act. Many people have been calling out this rather ridiculous attack on free speech, but police in Scotland seem to be doubling down. They just sent out the following tweet:

If you can’t read it, it says:

Please be aware that we will continue to monitor comments on social media & any offensive comments will be investigated.

In other words: “fuck free speech — if you say something we deem offensive, we can arrest you.” So far, nearly all of the reply tweets seem to be mocking the police. Here are just a few examples:

And, my personal favorite:
But, seriously, even beyond just arresting that other guy, who thought it was a good idea for the police to officially tweet out that it would investigate the public for free speech comments they make on social media? Do they really think that chilling free speech is a good idea in Scotland? I’ve been to Scotland a few times and really enjoyed it — in particular the openness to discussing a variety of ideas. Trying to stifle free speech so directly seems like a ridiculous plan.

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Comments on “Police In Scotland Tweet Out Plans To 'Investigate' Any 'Offensive Comments' On Social Media”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'Don't you have something more important to be doing?'

The second comment really nails it.

‘the crime rate must be incredibly low north of the border if all you guys have to worry about is ‘offensive’ comments here.’ -PaulStott

If the police are able to spend time and manpower on monitoring social media sites for ‘offensive’ speech, then clearly that means that all other crimes in that area have got to be non-existent, right?

No assaults, robberies, domestic disturbances, public disturbances, car crashes or people speeding, nope, all of that has apparently disappeared in that area, and the police are now free to spend their time ‘policing’ social media for ‘offensive’ posts.

Well that or they’re admitting to being completely incompetent and terrible at their jobs, prioritizing protecting people’s delicate feelings over their lives and property. It’s one of the two.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Fuck

On the contrary, idiocy like this fully deserves to be met with as much profanity as possible. It’s apparently lost on a lot of people — including the Scottish police — that freedom of speech not includes the freedom to write beautiful warrior poetry extolling the virtues of self-government, but also the freedom to write obscenity-laden tirades. One cannot exist without the other; both are vital and any attempt to suppress either is an attack on both.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fuck

The entire purpose of ‘freedom of speech’ is to protect unpopular speech, whether that be obscenity, contrary political views, or other speech similarly seen as ‘against the views and/or values of the public’, because popular speech doesn’t need protecting.

Those that claim that ‘freedom of speech’ should only be used to protect speech that they agree with are showing either a stunning lack of historical knowledge, or incredible arrogance, in assuming that their views and values could never be seen as ‘offensive’, and in need of protection.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Fuck

“The entire purpose of ‘freedom of speech’ is to protect unpopular speech”

In the US. I don’t know about Scotland. But here in the US, I find is genuinely distressing that what you say — which used to be something that was uncontroversial and widely accepted — is something that fewer and fewer people understand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Fuck

“That One Guy” was correct. That IS the entire purpose of freedom of speech. That purpose does not change just because you change location.

Perhaps you meant to say instead that here in the US (some of us) still believe in the Freedom of Speech while Scotland does not. And I agree, far too few Americans can even fundamentally understand what freedom of speech is at all.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Fuck

“That IS the entire purpose of freedom of speech.”

That’s a viewpoint that is shared with a number of cultures (and which I personally agree with), but the purpose of things like that is determined by culture in the end, and no single culture is universal. I didn’t want to make assumptions about Scotland since I know very little about Scottish cultural values.

Reverend Draco (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Fuck

“The entire purpose of ‘freedom of speech’ is to protect unpopular speech, whether that be obscenity, contrary political views, or other speech similarly seen as ‘against the views and/or values of the public’, because popular speech doesn’t need protecting.”

You have no idea how many times I’ve tried to explain that idea – using almost the exact same words. . .
I’m sure you can, however, guess how many times understanding escaped them. . .

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fuck

Funnily enough, this is free speech in action. Mike has the ability to say what he wants, how he wants to say it. One guy makes a fool out of himself because he has an overreaction to one of the words used, but his ability to leverage his own free speech in order to criticise is unhindered. Similarly, the rest of us are free to mock him for his reaction.

All well and good. The only problem comes when someone tries to censor, block, prosecute or otherwise hinder the speech of another because they didn’t like it. Hopefully, the Scottish police will understand that people telling them to fuck off is merely a free country in action, not something they will try to remove peoples’ right for.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am sure many of the police in Scotland are very uptight. I suspect this time of year, with the cold and the rain, it’s probably difficult for them to partake in their normal sexual relationships with the local livestock, so there must be a lot of pent up frustration. Perhaps there should be an intervention. Anyone have any sheep?

RR says:

Which branch of the government?

It’s not the role of the police to pick and choose which laws to enforce. In fact the more fucked up the law the more strictly they should enforce it. They should be arresting as many people as possible, until the true culprits face the music – the law writers. As a bonus they should tell everyone up front what they are doing and why.

You all are too quick to jump on the bandwagon. You are part of the problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Which branch of the government?

Actually… the best way is what the founders intended.

Jury Nullification.
As Citizens we should be ready and willing to sit as a Juror to prevent the corruption of the law.

If the American Citizens started acquitting every person indicted by the Federal Government we could grind their Tyrannic BS to a flapping halt.

How many of you knew you had this power?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Which branch of the government?

Well, the problem with that is two-fold.

Most people either don’t know about it, for reasons that should be obvious after reading this next bit, or, if they slip up and admit that they do, they’ll be struck from the jury pool.

Judges and prosecutors really don’t like the idea that the jury has the power to go over their heads like that(they tend not to be the biggest fans of that whole ‘trial by your peers’ thing), so they do their best to make sure it never happens.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Which branch of the government?

You cannot lie during jury selection, however you do not have to volunteer anything as well.

Yes, there is a serious problem with education and America, but this failure is not accidental. It is very intentional, because of the very reason you mentioned… they don’t like it when a juror knows they can go over their head. They definitely do their best, including outright lying to the jury, to prevent that from happening.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Which branch of the government?

You may not be allowed to lie to them, but I would be highly surprised if that rule worked both ways. As such, there would be nothing stopping a judge or prosecutor from insisting that the jury only had two possible options: Guilty, or Innocent, with no third possible choice.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Which branch of the government?

Yes but what is talked about inside the jury room is sacrosanct and whether the judge offers two or more specific options only is irrelevant if the Jury as a whole decides not to go with them.

That’s why nullification is something that is verboten to bring up by any attorneys/solicitors and is contemptuous (or made out to be) if it is.

As for lying if they ask you if you know about nullification.. Yes its quite ok to lie in that regard since nullification has no relevance in voir dire and again since it is a legal ability you cannot be found contemptuous for lying about whether you know it or not.

Whether nullification is correct or not in every situation, or whether the jury should consider it except in very exigent circumstances is another discussion altogether though.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Which branch of the government?

  1. jury nullification is our last best hope of wresting
    ANY control from Empire in the judicial realm…
    2. DOES NOT matter if jury nullification is ‘correct’ or ‘right’ all, most or some of the time; JUST LIKE it does not ‘matter’ whether ‘normal’ judge/jury decisions are ‘right’…
    they are BOTH (or should be) valid means of reaching verdicts, whether the verdict is 100% metaphysically ‘correct’ or not, is another matter… (thus, appeals courts)
    it is the FACT that we SHOULD (as jurists) have the RIGHT to both reject bad laws, and make new precedents based on WE THE PEOPLE’s verdict…
    of course, as that one and others have commented, that is depending upon an open, honest, and progressive district attorney’s office recognizing and honoring that right, which they do not…
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Which branch of the government?

You’re in a bit of a dream world here with this. Sure, jurors can judge the law as well as the facts of a case, but the government is onto that too. They won’t let a jury go on without first intimidating the crap out of them and making even the smallest case into a grand case for national security and how we must hold all laws with impunity. If all else fails they will go to trial without a jury altogether. Don’t you know? They will always win 51 – 49.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Which branch of the government?

“They should be arresting as many people as possible, until the true culprits face the music – the law writers.”

Right, because there’s certainly nothing wrong with locking up people over bad laws for the years it would take to get those laws changed (if that ever happens).

RR says:

Re: Re: Which branch of the government?

We’re already past that point John Fenderson. I’m assuming the police are actually good or can do good. Your solution is to corrupt the police in order to counter the corrupted law makers. That makes you dangerous.

And no, I don’t think it would take long to correct the law, if the true consequences were to unfold. Especially if politicians were targeted.

In a modern western government the three branches aren’t meant to fully cooperate. They are meant to collide head to head on key topics, in order to create the checks and balances we always talk about.

RR says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Which branch of the government?

His solution is to accept that we are all criminals waiting to be arrested at the government’s leisure. They can’t and won’t arrest us all. Don’t sit back and accept them singling out and arresting people one at a time.

Not that my solution works either, since it depends on the police being clean in order to force the law makers to be clean. But that was the original intent of splitting the government, to force the corruptions in one branch to collide directly with the interests of the other branches. The executive branch should be MORE police like, not less. And the legislature should write laws with that in mind. And you the voters should be voting that way.

Gordon says:

Free speech abolished

Look up the Offensive Behaviour At Football And Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.

Brought in allegedly to deal with rival football (soccer) fans saying nasty things about each other, its scope is so broad and the wording so vague that it is a de facto abolishion of free speech / free expression.

It also claims to apply to anyone attending a football match outside Scotland if they happen to live in Scotland most of the time, and to any communications sent from outwith Scotland if they are read / received by a person in Scotland.

As of yet, it has not been challenged in the ECHR, where it would likely be torn a new poop chute.

Gordon says:

Re: Free speech abolished

Oh, by the way, that bit where you said;

“if you say something we deem offensive, we can arrest you”

That is EXACTLY what the aforementioned legislation allows. A person can make a complaint, but it is entirely down to the police to deem whether it is offensive (the Act does not define what is offensive and what isn’t), and therefore whether to arrest and subsequently seek prosecution.

Call me Al says:

Actually gets worse


A TV pundit made some crude Tweets about Scotland in the wake of an ebola case in Glasgow.

Det Insp Glyn Roberts, of Police Scotland said:
“Police Scotland will thoroughly investigate any reports of offensive or criminal behaviour online and anyone found to be responsible will be robustly dealt with.”

I can’t stress how angry this makes me. As someone already posted above being offensive is not illegal. Hell this guy even acknowledges that in his comment as he differentiates between ofensive and criminal.

Iaintoff says:

Do not fuck with us, the kettle will whistle!!!

My name is iaintoff, at this moment in time I have no criminal record and no cautions. I have on the other hand been known to make a variety of offensive comments, just recently I have had the daily mail emailing telling me that due to complaints some of my offensive comments have been removed and that is perfectly fine.

So this is a message to the british establishment and the little beta test you have going up there in Scotland. Should you find a sudden urge to implement this south of the border, resulting in my arrest, resulting in a lost job due to cautions on my crb, then you will find me at the centre of the info war with you. Do not fuck with us on this, I promise you a shit storm in return, be warned!!!!

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