Spanish Cops Use New Law To Fine Facebook Commenter For Calling Them 'Slackers'

from the bigger-men-than-this...-are-employed-elsewhere dept

On July 1st, the Spanish government enacted a set of laws designed to keep disruption within its borders to a minimum. In addition to making dissent illegal (criminal acts now include “public disruption” and “unauthorized protests”), Spanish legislators decided the nation’s law enforcement officers should be above reproach. This doesn’t mean Spanish cops will be behaving better. It just means the public will no longer be able to criticize them.

The new law forbids “showing a lack of respect” for police officers. Not showing respect can net a member of the public a hefty fine. According to James Badcock of The Telegraph, a local police force has already exercised its brand-new “right.”

In his July 22 Facebook comment, Mr Díaz criticised the use of public resources on a brand new police station in the town of Güímar, stating that the local force was a “pack of slackers”. But local police officers wasted no time in reacting, ringing Mr Díaz’s doorbell six hours later to present him with the notification of a fine which will be set at between €100 and €600.

It appears the “slackers” in Eduardo Diaz’s town can be proactive if properly motivated. With a fine approaching €100 a letter at the top end, the police force should soon feel properly insulated from the public’s negative Facebook comments. Over here in the US, this would be protected free speech. In Spain, it’s a criminal act and — depending on how the local judge is feeling — could net disgruntled commenters €600,000 for assaulting police officers with words.

I’m not sure how police officers in general feel about this new law, which also makes “unauthorized” photography of officers subject to similar fines. I would like to think they’re not too happy with this and would rather earn respect rather than exist in an enforced criticism-free vacuum. But maybe not. Maybe these cops — the ones that showed up all too quickly to serve Diaz with a summons — enjoy a cowed populace. If so, they really have no business working in the public sector.

In truly Orwellian fashion, the government is claiming that a police state is a more liberated state.

Defending the new law, the PP government has said that “demonstrations will become freer because they will be protected from violent elements”.

It’s assumed similar statements defending Spain’s gag law will be issued from the Ministry of Love in the coming months as Twitter users and cell phone-wielding photographers are picked up by local law enforcement and made to pay for their unwillingness to let police officers do their jobs both uncriticized and unobserved.

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Comments on “Spanish Cops Use New Law To Fine Facebook Commenter For Calling Them 'Slackers'”

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65 Comments
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: To this day Spanish movies celebrate the end of Franco's rule

…by featuring gratuitous sex scenes in them that sometimes stretch the limits of softcore porn into hardcore. The point is that now they can feature such scenes, so each one is a statement of freedom from legal creative restraint.

I wonder if, when this era is done, they’ll also feature elements of verbal assault.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I guess “words” are now violent elements. But they aren’t applying their logic consistently. You can arrest “money” and not the possessor of the money, so why are they now arresting the creator of the written word rather than the written words. It is getting so confusing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Think of it this way. If an officer gets offended and quits that is one less officer on the streets to protect us from violence. With less police there is more violence. Also lets not forget the cost of having to retrain new rookies and the fact that those rookies won’t be as adept at protecting us against violence until they gain more experience assuming they don’t quit from being offended before then.

Anonymous Coward says:

but you must realize that police officers were subject to extensive background checks. Those carrying cameras were not. So those that were subject to background checks should have more rights and freedoms than those who didn’t because at least there was a process ensuring their predisposition not to ever do anything wrong. and a person with a camera has no such background checks ensuring they aren’t predisposed to using and abusing their cameras and criticisms to interfere with police work. If any Joe Blow can just criticize a police willy-nilly the police may be so offended he may either quit his job and the government can lose a lot of good police officers that way or the police may act foolishly in fear of being criticized. Think of the fallout. The government would have to keep hiring new police officers every minute because old ones quit and so the police force would always be filled with newbies that don’t know what they’re doing. Wouldn’t you rather have a more experienced police force than a bunch of rookies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

should have more rights and freedoms

If someone has more rights and freedoms than others, than the rights aren’t really rights, they are privileges. One class of citizen having more rights than another didn’t work out so well in the US and I doubt it can work well anywhere else either. Not in the long run.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 3rd, 2015 @ 8:18am

How does this right get enforced? Who gets to decide what is offensive? What if I say something without intent to offend but you said you were offended; am I still going to be fined? Is there a list of words and/or phrases that are offensive? Or is it like pornography, except you know it when you hear it?

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 3rd, 2015 @ 8:18am

That was the part that got me when I was a kid. Everyone’s mom told them “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” But if you don’t say something nice, the other kid/relative/whoever KNOWS that you were thinking something not nice and stayed quiet like your mom told you, and then they get offended. To avoid that, you are forced to lie and tell them something nice, even when you don’t mean it. This is now somehow the law in some places… weird times, man.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

From a philosofical point, the predisposition screening is a dangerous argument to make since you are nullifying “free will” and breaking with the fundamental principle of laws acting on facts, rather than probability-extrapolations. Welcome to “Minority Report” with no precogs, if you catch my drift!

The economic argument is rather tame compared to the fiddling with fundamental democratic rights.

As far as the need for some law protecting law enforcement from abuse, it is acceptable, but you better make damn sure that you are defining the law narrowly to avoid situations where the “offensive” phrase may be appropriate!

Anonymous Coward says:

“Defending the new law, the PP government has said that “demonstrations will become freer because they will be protected from violent elements”.

Violent elements you can’t see because the police have free reign to do what they want by blinding the people. You’ll feel much better and freer if we poke your eyes out…. Liberating isn’t it..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Where does the jurisdiction end?

I believe there is a minimum penalty requirement for extraditing, a requirement of evidence and a need for the actionable activity being illegal in both countries for almost all extradition treaties. I don’t see any chance of you getting extradited. Afaik. the offense is similar to speeding, making a fine more of an issue for you, but only when you are an inhabitant in Spain or a frequent visitor.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Where does the jurisdiction end?

Would Spain try to extradite me if I’m an
> American citizen and posted from America?

They could try but the U.S would never allow it. It would be a simple matter to challenge any attempt to extradite an American citizen for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights in America. A first year law student could win that one.

The Constitution does not allow other countries to nullify all the guaranteed rights that were so thoughtfully put into place, and reach into our country and pluck our citizens away for exercising them.

Anonymous Coward says:

and this isn’t approaching Nazism? what the hell is going on in the world? all that was bad and caused a World War to stop it is now coming back! the laws that were introduced in Germany and them wanting to spread their doctrine is now being implemented during what is supposed to be a time of (relative) peace, a time when the people are supposed to have rights, freedom and privacy. those things are being not diminished but demolished by governments everywhere. this has to be some sort of massive collusion between heads of governments, because they are all taking similar steps. it’s the same with the ‘recovery of the economy’. all countries are taking very similar steps, and all of them inflict more hardship on to those who were already on the poverty line. those that were are further down the ladder with very little chance of climbing back up and some who were just above it are now in poverty! children are now growing up in homes that are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table, but not one person has gone to prison and not one ‘already wealthy person’ has been bankrupted or been reduced in wealth. this has to be some sort of conspiracy, some sort of joint agreement! surely it’s far too much of a coincidence to have the same effects happening everywhere, the same solutions everywhere and the same austerity and surveillance measures everywhere! it’s only the poor who are being hit and it’s in almost every country. those countries have Conservative or very similar governments and none of them are for the workers!!

Ambrellite (profile) says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 3rd, 2015 @ 8:26am

Keep in mind the historical context. Authoritarian attitudes have never been unusual, only shaped to fit the values of the society they exist in. In an age where technological progress is so rapid, and “scary” ideas spread instantly, age-old institutions are scrambling to maintain control.

These laws only represent some of the most pathetic and counterproductive attempts to do that.

Anonymous Coward says:

I said in another article in TD, the purpose of this law is to override the judges, not to control violence in demonstrations or whatever like that.

In other words, if this had to go through a court, the court would have ruled that he’s in his right to do those comments in base of Art. 20.a of the Spanish Constitution.

Yeah, the US isn’t the only country that has stuff like (un)protected free speech or whatever.

Of course, you need to get to a court.

This never went to a court, it was the Spanish Administration the one who handed the fine, in base of that law.

Now, he will have to appeal the fine (instead of defending against it in a court) first, via Administrative Appeal (that is, first you appeal to the one who gave you the fine) and then via Administrative Courts, that are special courts that take care of these cases and are usually a pain in the ass to deal with.

So yeah, welcome to a police state. And then people talk about Venezuela, lol…

andy says:

WOW

I for one can understand the cops wanting there to be a law where they are not verbally abused for no reason other than they are cops. From some of the videos i have seen in America the way people there talk to police officers is disgusting and the cops just have to grin and bear it, sadly, but on the other hand a law like this will most definitely be abused and not used as it should be , with regards to someone on facebook stating a police station is not doing the work they should be doing and the cops hired to do the job are lazy, well if the court finds the facts prove this is true will the court then punish the police or is this just a law to protect those that don’t do their job.
if this is a law just to protect the cops then it is not going to work as everyone will be outraged if the cops abuse their powers as they do in america and react by breaking more than one corrupt law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: WOW

“… verbally abused for no reason other than they are cops”

Yeah – I’m sure that is the case every time a cop gets called out.

“the way people there talk to police officers is disgusting and the cops just have to grin and bear it,”

Not sure what news outfit you read, but they do not simply grin and take it – far from it.

“this just a law to protect those that don’t do their job”

Close. It is a law to further acclimate the people to the new police state, now pick up that can!

Anonymous Coward says:

Probably doesn’t help to mention the Spanish police are MORE out of control than even the NYPD.

Spanish police effectively run and control 95% of the cocaine and heroin markets. They use their legally given status to stamp down on rival dealers whilst waving their own pushers to sell as much as they can. (Spanish Government ministers take their cut to look the other way obviously).
Then of course theres all the ‘unexplained’ murders/disappearances of tourists etc…..

That One Guy (profile) says:

Is that it?

If this is how they respond to criticism, I can think of several other things to call them.

‘Thugs with badges’

‘Thin skinned babies with delusions of maturity’

‘Pathetic losers who use their position to compensate for their otherwise laughable importance’

Really, ‘slackers’ is being far too kind, there are much worse, and much more accurate things that one could call them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Another victim of this law

“Colega” in Spanish also means “buddy” or “friend”, that is usually the most used variant in the country.

So, who was the one said that calling a policeman “buddy” is offensive and thus will cause psychological damage on people?

Are we like Cthulhu that we make lose 1d100 SAN(ity) if the roll is failed and 1d10 if it succeeds?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Truth by technicality, the best kind of truth

Defending the new law, the PP government has said that “demonstrations will become freer because they will be protected from violent elements”.

Which is true. After all, if you can’t report on police activity that makes them look bad, like roughing up protesters, then clearly it never happened, and there was no ‘violent elements’ present.

“If it’s not reported, it didn’t happen”, and just like that, all police misconduct or law bending/breaking disappears overnight, making things much safer for all.

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