from the free-speech? dept
A Metropolitan Police spokeman said: "A 46-year-old man was this evening arrested at his home in Croydon on suspicion of inciting racial hatred on social media. He has been taken to a south London police station and enquiries continue."For what it's worth, Doyle only marginally backtracked later, saying that the word "confront" was not accurate and that resulted in his tweet being taken out of context. He told a reporter at the Telegraph a slightly whitewashed version of the incident:
"What everyone's got wrong about this is I didn't confront the woman," he said. "I just said: 'Excuse me, can I ask what you thought about the incident in Brussels?'"Still makes him out to be ignorant and foolish. In the meantime, if you check out his Twitter feed now (which I'm not linking to) he seems to be basking in the glory of all this newfound attention, pretending like it was some great PR coup.
"She was white, and British, wearing a hijab - and she told me it was nothing to do with her.
"I said 'thank you for explaining that' - and her little boy said goodbye to me as we went out separate ways."
Still, even if he is a clueless, ignorant bigot, it should be very concerning that he's been arrested for posting on Twitter. And, yes, I know the UK doesn't respect free speech in the same way that the US does. And I know that the UK has a history of arresting people for tweets. But, still... really?
For those who insist he needs to be punished for being an ignorant bigot, supporting his arrest is still stupid. The public is pointing out how ridiculous and simpleminded a person he is, and that reputation will stick longer than any jail time. Sure, he's basking in the attention now and pretending that it's all been beneficial to him, but the reality is that the majority of people recognize him for what he truly is. Arresting people for saying stupid things doesn't help better educate people away from ignorance. It doesn't help deal with the kind of bigotry that possesses people like Doyle. It just serves to create a giant spectacle where people who agree with him feel persecuted and people who recognize he's ignorant feel outraged. But it does nothing to end actual ignorance and bigotry, and only further entrenches people in their existing positions.
Update: Apparently the charges have already been dropped. But that still doesn't stop concerns about the fact that he was arrested in the first place.