Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tweet Police Madness

What is really going on in the UK these days? Today we have the news that a 17-year old was arrested for an insensitive tweet about a British olympic diver.

Daley and his partner Pete Waterfield missed out on a medal yesterday when they finished fourth in the men's synchronised 10m platform diving event at the Olympics.

Shortly afterwards, Daley retweeted a message from user Rileyy69 which said: "You let your dad down i hope you know that."

Daley responded by tweeting: "After giving it my all...you get idiot's sending me this..."

Daley's father Rob died last year from brain cancer.

Within a few hours, the police arrested the teenager for "malicious communication."

All common sense and proportion seem to have been lost. This is the behavior of a police state. If insensitivity were criminalized, most of any population would be in jail at one point or another. And insensitive or loud-mouthed teens are hardly unknown. Older codes of politeness, or appropriateness, or social pressure or shame ought to deal with things like this.

There are plenty of stories of the police taking days to come around and investigate burglaries in the UK.

A frustrated resident has told of his despair after police took two months to appeal for information following a burglary at his flat - despite providing them with CCTV images of the two suspects..

The thieves stole £35k of jewellery, as well as a number of sentimental items, before heading down to the block's basement where they loaded the swag into his expensive Mercedes SLK and drove away.

Realising he had been robbed Mr Lawrence called police and handed them two CCTV images, from a camera positioned over the entrance to the block, that clearly captured the faces of the two suspects.

His frustration is because a police appeal was only sent out to the public at the start of this month - more than two months after the incident took place.

But the Dorset police respond to an insensitive tweet by arresting a teenager, treating it as a matter of such urgency they act within 24 hours? That is A much deeper violation of appropriate behavior than a stupid tweet.

Perhaps new forms of broad communication blur the line between public and private communication in ways that we still have to figure out. But if we are so desperate to regulate speech that the police are at your door within hours of a tweet, we have lost much of the basic freedoms in society too. I'm horrified.

At least we have the first amendment in the US.


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