Terrorized Into Irrationality: UK Police Demand Names of Charlie Hebdo *Supporters*

from the confused?-you-will-be dept

It's been sad to watch the Charlie Hebdo story turn from a massive outpouring of solidarity with the victims to an opportunistic exploitation of the strong feelings it produced to attack the very freedoms that solidarity was celebrating. Just how bad things have become can be gauged from this story in the Guardian:

A British police force has apologised after an officer told a newsagent to hand over details of customers who purchased copies of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Wiltshire police confirmed that one of their officers visited a newsagent in Corsham, Wiltshire, to ask for the names of four customers who ordered the commemorative "survivors' issue" of the magazine.
Demanding the names of people who bought that commemorative issue clearly makes no sense: they were trying to support Charlie Hebdo, not attack it in any way. And yet the continued terrorization of the public -- by the authorities, that is, not by the so-called "terrorists" -- has induced a kind of irrationality that has apparently now spread to the police. Here's the official "explanation" of what happened:
A police officer visited a local shop and post office in Corsham to make an assessment of community tensions and, if appropriate, encourage the newsagent's owner to be vigilant. During this conversation the officer requested information about subscribers to the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
This is clearly creating a problem where none exists, purely because fear has become the default condition for society, resulting in heavy-handed and unnecessary interventions of the kind described above. At least the police force concerned seems to recognize this here:
Wiltshire police would like to apologise to the members of public who may be affected by this. Information relating to this specific incident has been permanently and securely disposed of.
That's welcome, but it's worrying and symptomatic of the situation today that a police officer could demand these names without being aware of the absurdity of doing so.

Update: It seems that this was not an isolated event.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: charlie hebdo, free speech, police, terrorism, uk

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    andyroo, 10 Feb 2015 @ 11:11am

    UK police and others doing wrong!!!

    Why is it that they always seem to be apologising but never resolving the attitude police seem to have that they are in the right and have the power to do whatever they want.

    Every time someone in power has been found to do something wrong or made serious mistakes there is an outcry and three days later they organisation at fault just claims they will look to put procedures in place to ensure those type of things do not happen again.

    And the Brits seem to fall for it every time.
    just as in may other cases the police will talk about training and new procedures and monitoring of the issue and do essentially what the American cops do when accused do doing something wrong, and end up doing nothing other than protecting their own.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.