Police have arrested a British man, Matthew Doyle, for “suspicion of inciting racial hatred on social media.” Doyle was arrested after posting tweets in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks. He described how he confronted a Muslim woman in south London and asked her to explain the Brussels attack. After she said, understandably, that she had nothing to do with the attacks, Doyle said she had given “a mealy mouthed response” and later used an anti-Muslim epithet.
The actions of Doyle are clearly disturbing and juvenile. However, in the United States, such comments would be protected speech. England has seen the rise of calls for speech prosecutions, including this month. We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here).
The erosion of free speech in England is shocking in not just the scope of the anti-speech actions but the relative lack of opposition in the country. The crackdown on free speech in England shows how such actions can trigger insatiable desires to control or punish the speech of others. What is most striking is how Doyle’s tweets were immediately ridiculed and denounced. That is how free speech works. The solution to bad speech is more speech . . . not the criminalization of speech.
What do you think?