British Man Convicted After Sending Drunk Tweet About Dead Soldiers

There is a new free speech controversy in the United Kingdom after Joseph Kelly, 36, was convicted of posting a “grossly offensive” tweet about a war veteran. Kelly has been sentenced to 150 hours of community service. The conviction is another blow to free speech in the UK in a case of clear political speech.

Kelly tweeted about Captain Sir Thomas Moore, a British war veteran who became a national icon for raising money for healthcare workers in 2020. Many of us read his heart-warming story in the United States and took inspiration from it.

Kelly passed away in February 2021 and Kelly declared “The only good Brit soldier is a deed one, burn auld fella buuuuurn.” It was a horribly distasteful and offensive tweet. However, it should also be protected speech. That would certainly be the case in the United States. However, many of us view free speech not as a right wholly contained in the First Amendment but a human right.

The decline of free speech in the United Kingdom has long been a concern for free speech advocates  (here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Once you start as a government to criminalize speech, you end up on a slippery slope of censorship. What constitutes hate speech or “malicious communications” remains a highly subjective matter and we have seen a steady expansion of prohibited terms and words and gestures. Even having “toxic ideologies” is now a crime.

This is certainly a toxic viewpoint, but it is also a political viewpoint. Notably, Kelly was also drunk at the time and appears to have immediately regretted the tweet. He deleted it after about 20 minutes, according to Scottish newspaper The National.

Even that was not good enough for the prosecutors who pushed for actual jail time. Under the Communications Act of 2003, online posts that are “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” can be punished with up to six months behind bars.

Sheriff Adrian Cottam heralded his enforcement of the law against a drunk who removed the tweet 20 minutes later and apologized. He called this case “deterrence” so “other people to realize how quickly things can get out of control.”

Cottam’s enthusiasm for speech controls show how such laws “quickly get out of control.” Censorship creates an insatiable appetite as people demand that those with opposing views be silenced. There is an alternative. It is called free speech. You allow others to denounce Kelly and allow good speech to triumph over bad speech.

19 thoughts on “British Man Convicted After Sending Drunk Tweet About Dead Soldiers”

  1. As an avid reader of Professor Turley’s reports, I am noticing he is in dire need of a proofreader or copy editor.
    Paragraph three (3) of this article demonstrates the reason for such a person’s assistance.
    “Kelly passed away in February 2021 and Kelly declared ‘The only good Brit soldier is a deed one, burn auld fella buuuuurn.’”
    The baffling sentence correctly needs supplanting “Mr. Moore” for the first notation of “Kelly” in that sentence.
    As a paralegal with 30 years of experience and now a legal transcriptionist in my retirement, I recognize 100% perfection is not always possible, yet the mistakes in these columns seem to be more frequent of late.
    A grammatical, spelling or other mistake in copy is never beneficial to the message yet it can damage or even negate the intent of the author.
    Something as the inadvertent addition or deletion of a “not” can turn an article’s intent completely around.
    If there is no proofreader or copy editor available for this task in the Professor’s office, I would gladly offer my services to review each article prior to publication as I wish all of Professor Turley’s writing be as clear and concise as possible.

  2. Dogs around the world should bite Russians.
    The Russians starved an entire dog park to death in Ukraine.

  3. Americans are not asking for rights and freedoms from government.

    Americans have possessed all conceivable rights and freedoms since before government was conceived of and created.

    It is precisely the government that is severely limited and restricted.

    Americans tell the government what to do; government does not tell Americans what to do.

    The unconstitutional communist (liberal, progressive, socialist, democrat, RINO) dictatorship that is currently in control of America is far beyond the Constitution and the severe limits and restrictions enumerated therein.

    Try reading it sometime.

    The singular American failure has been and remains the judicial branch, with emphasis on the Supreme Court, which has failed to carry out its sworn duty to “support” the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution.

    Rights and freedoms are natural and God-given and, as such, are ubiquitous and universal, each of which include the United Kingdom.

    That some authoritarians have not yet received the memo does not bear, as ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    1. Because the U.S. Constitution protects citizens’ natural rights, Bill Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation etc. are quietly pressuring the WHO (which is now largely funded by Gates et al.) to adopt a proposal to give itself the authority to impose worldwide mandates for vaccination etc. in the event of future “declared” pandemics, which would override national policies. This contradicts the WHO’s present policy of not forcing such mandates as they impinge upon personal freedom and encourage discrimination against those who oppose the vaccines. It seems that self-declared world vaccine czar Gates was not pleased with the turnout for his jab-fest during the present emergency, and is applying pressure to get this (as well as worldwide vaccine passports, followed by digital identity registration and central bank digital currency implementations—already in place in the Ukraine [never let a good crisis go unused, for implementing unpopular draconian measures]).
      These measures must be resisted to permit any semblance of personal freedom to exist. A weak, govern-for-personal-profit political hack like Biden will not hesitate to cooperate with such plans. It will be up to us to learn about these matters and bring them to public attention. (Among others, Nick Corbishley, author of Scanned, is researching and reporting on this matter and has spoken in a number of interviews available on YouTube and elsewhere.)

  4. “You allow others to denounce Kelly and allow good speech to triumph over bad speech.” Some fools on here believe this includes punishment which is the opposite of “good speech”. These same fools probably support the cancel culture that is plaguing the U.S. and believe people should be fired from their jobs and banished from society.

    1. “Some fools on here believe this includes punishment . . .”

      I am one of those “fools” — proudly.

      BTW, denouncing someone is a form of punishment.

      1. Sam says:

        “I am one of those “fools” — proudly.”

        Me too!

        When you were young, your mother threatened to wash your mouth with soap if you said a dirty word. Turley would probably say that threat chills a child’s free speech.

        Free speech is not free of consequences. There is no safe space for hatred or lying.

  5. “However, it should also be protected speech. That would certainly be the case in the United States.” It certainly is the case in the U.S. but there is certainly an element here in the U.S. that doesn’t support protected speech and Mr. Turley points that out regularly. I believe we’re already on a “slippery slope of censorship”. When members of Congress demand that big tech do more to censure people it becomes obvious. Members of Congress know they can’t but want others to do their dirty work. I think many in that element not only support censorship but would welcome punishing people.

      1. “Like Silberman and Sam, the Speech Police.”

        Like wol — dictating who I, a *private* citizen, can and cannot take action against.

        Some do not seem to realize that their “thinking” on this issue amounts to playing the free speech-card — in the same way and for the same reasons that some on the Left play the race-card.

        How so? To absolve bad behavior, to excuse themselves from rational deliberation, and to smear one’s opponents.

  6. Sort of argues for a written constitution with enumerated rights and natural rights. Especially when a Supreme Court in Britain ruled that there is no power greater than Parliament. As many of you may remember with Brexit, many believed the plebiscite requiring Brexit was the final answer on the question but Parliament was required to act to make it official under court order. I believe this was Supreme Court which ruled as such. We take a different view here about we the people and our rights.

  7. Is Putin a smoker?
    If so then send him some cigarettes so that he will commit suicide with them.

    1. If not perhaps he can be encouraged to take it up. Think of the Marlboro Man. I think it would go very well with his manly image.

    1. Could be a glitch in posting, could be caught by the WordPress filter due to too many links, cusswords, or just cause WP is being ornery. Darren might be able to help.

  8. Free speech can get blocked on this blog.
    Like my comment I just tried to post.

  9. “Kelly passed away in February 2021 and Kelly declared”
    Didn’t you mean “Moore passed away and Kelly declared”?

  10. Turley says:

    “You allow others to denounce Kelly and allow good speech to triumph over bad speech.”

    I agree the government should keep out of it. Let the citizens handle such individuals. If good speech fails, citizens should shame him and ostracize him- all of which we are perfectly free to do- until he gets the message. Since the government cannot, the citizenry must police ourselves.

Comments are closed.