Mercer's Poems
More Arrests for Tweeting!?

I think most of us (at least those with sense) would agree that racism is a terrible thing. The deliberate prejudice against another human being based on aspects such as country of origin, skin colour, religion etc. is utterly pointless, base, and serves no purpose in our modern world other than to create discord and separation in communities. So why, then, can the world’s media - for example - paint an implicit picture of…say…Muslims as being evil, and be wholeheartedly supported in their endeavours by the government, when the people can be arrested merely for tweeting something offensive?  

As I have said, I do not agree with racism, but nor do I agree with censorship. But it seems a few people complaining about the opinions you hold is enough to justify the police coming to your house and arresting you. What this chap said may have been utterly disgraceful and disgusting and deserved complaining about - but arrest!? For a tweet!? An outward expression of a thought in 140 characters or less justifies using police resources for!? And this is not the first time, individuals declared to have been ‘inciting’ rioting on twitter and facebook during England’s riotous period last year were investigated and arrested. Many of them young people probably merely showing off and/or trying to be funny. The sentence if you are convicted of merely saying something vaguely inflammatory that may or may not have been a joke (even if one in incredibly poor taste)? FOUR YEARS, at least for these two chaps. 

This article from The Metro suggests 11 people were arrested for tweets or facebook messages that could be interpreted as ‘inciting riots’ - But who decides what inciting a riot is!? Surely that is something a jury of peers should decide, and not some stuffy, snooty, upper-middle-class magistrate!? Well no, thanks to tyrannical measures introduced post-riots, magistrates were given the power to fast track cases (before a decent defence could be made) and hand out hefty sentences (so that justice becomes not a consistent doling out of punishment per offence, but an ‘example’) and so that some people can sleep easy at night thinking they are safe while their freedoms get slowly eroded before their eyes. There were even apparently two guys from Folkestone - my home town - who were arrested. Let me tell you the people around here are about as capable of rioting as I am capable of jogging to the sun!


This is tyranny - to not be able to speak your mind (no matter how little of one you have!) for fear of arrest is tyrannical. For now you may be thinking “Well, it’s just some rioters and racists!” But - There is no evidence the people who tweeted or facebook messaged about the riots ACTUALLY rioted. There is no evidence that this ‘racist’ is actually racist and isn’t just some wanky show-off trying to ingratiate himself with a group of idiotic friends - and there is no evidence that they harmed anybody beyond offense! And offending someone is not a crime, nor should it ever be! For now, it may just be the daft and ignorant but are you honestly telling me you are not subject to moments of daftness and ignorance!? That you say nothing to offend anyone EVER!? What about if you have adolescent children, 16-18 maybe? Trying to be popular, trying to fit in? One comment out of place, one tweet someone takes a dislike to, one facebook message that causes offence and they could be arrested. 

We set a dangerous precedent if we allow this sort of thing. A dangerous precedent indeed and I think we need to make measures now to try and stop it. You only need look up ‘twitter arrests’ or ‘facebook arrests’ to see how people’s outward expressions of their inward thoughts are being used to brand them as criminals. You can see how it is used as a tool in other countries to punish dissidence and criticism of governments. I do not condone what the gentleman did - and racism should be fought. But it should be fought with reason, and logic and not with draconian measures of silence, that create wider problems in the future. Otherwise you will not get rid of the problem - but merely hide it under an oppressive veil of silence.