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.