There is another arrest in the United Kingdom for criminal speech, a crime that is on the rise in the West to censor and punish those who are deemed hateful or insulting in their views. The latest arrestee is reported to be Matthew Doyle, 46, a partner at a London PR agency. He was arrested after tweeting about how he asked a Muslim woman to “explain” the terror attacks in Brussels. It was a stupid and insulting act, in my view. Moreover, Doyle reportedly used some slur for Muslims in later postings. However, none of that justifies criminalizing speech and the arrest shows the increasing appetite in England (and the West) for rolling back on free speech. Indeed, we recently discussed the Obama Administration’s threats of prosecution for those who speak in ways deemed misleading or hateful.
We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here). This includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s disgraceful pandering to authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the exercise of free speech by German citizens deemed insulting to Erdoğan.
London’s Metropolitan Police on Wednesday reportedly arrested Doyle after social media started to comment on his tweet that read: “I confronted a Muslim women [sic] yesterday in Croydon. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said “Nothing to do with me” a mealy mouthed reply.”
Doyle was obviously upset over the bombings at the Brussels airport and at a metro station killed at least 31 people and wounded 300 others. However, the young lady was right to be insulted by the suggestion that just because she is Muslim she would have to explain the actions of these murderers and terrorists.
The tweet was later deleted but the controversy raged on social media. Doyle doubled down and strangely thanked his followers “for proving I can still do PR.” The comments were inappropriate and ignorant but they were also in my view an exercise in free speech, something that is increasing precarious in England.
England has seen the rise of calls for speech prosecutions. We have previously discussed the crackdown 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).
What do you think?