Stories of the police suppressing the free expression of innocent Britons is becoming a regular part of the news cycle. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sunday papers started setting aside a regular double-page spread, ready to fill with the latest information of whoever has been censored this week. There’s certainly no shortage of examples.
This week, that spread would belong to Mr. Harry Miller, a man who was threatened and harangued by police for the heinous transgression of thoughtcrime. Miller received a phone call from PC Mansoor Gul of Humberside Police, who rang to question him after he liked a limerick on Twitter about transgenderism.
The limerick in question is not particularly funny or enlightening, but nor does it warrant police intervention:
You’re a man.
Your breasts are made of silicone
Your vagina goes nowhere
And we can tell the difference
Even when you are not there
Your hormones are synthetic
And lets just cross this bridge
What you have you stupid man
Is male privilege.
PC Gul claimed over the phone to be “representing the LGBTQ community” after an unnamed complainant contacted the police about Mr. Miller’s online activity.
“The cop told me that he needed to speak with me because, even though I’d committed no crime whatsoever, he needed (and I quote) ‘to check my thinking’”.
As these thoughtcrime laws become common practice – which they quickly are – we can expect to hear a lot more stories of police ‘checking your thinking’, making sure you believe the prescribed thoughts and state the ‘official’ doctrine. It still sounds absurd to say, but it is our current reality.
PC Gul admitted that although liking this tweet did not constitute a crime, it “will be recorded as a hate incident”. If you find this a tad confusing, I don’t blame you. How can something not be a crime, but be recorded by the police as a hate incident? What is a hate incident? Well, it includes anything (and I mean anything) that anyone (and I mean anyone) considers to be motivated by hate.
No evidence required. No standards necessary. An accusation is all that’s needed to have you recorded on the police database as a hateful citizen. You could report this very article to the police as a hate incident, if you so please, but I’d rather you didn’t.
PC Gul doubled down when questioned by The Daily Telegraph, issuing what can only be described as a threat: “Although none of the tweets were criminal, I said to Mr Miller that the limerick is the kind of thing that upsets the transgender community. I warned him that if it escalates, we will take further action”.
If what escalates? Miller’s harmless self-expression? How sinister. It is hard to even count how many liberties this violates: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of association… freedom to go about your business without mafia-like threats from the police…
Miller himself compares the situation to Orwell, stating “1984 is supposed to be a book, not a police operating manual”. And he is exactly right. We are wandering, blindfolded, into a police state. Every time the government throttles us, we make a feeble wail of objection, and the government tightens its grip. Why does this keep happening?
Well, I have a theory.
We, as a nation, are in a state of grief. We are mourning the death of free expression. And who can blame us for this grief? This is a freedom that was hard-fought; it took centuries to figure out it was a necessary freedom, and took centuries more to try and achieve it.
But now, this freedom is no more, it has ceased to be, it’s expired and gone to meet its maker. It is an ex-freedom.
Yes, we are grieving. In fact, we’re in the first stage of grief: denial.
Denial is the issue. People don’t seem to be able to wrap their head around the fact that we don’t have the right to speak freely. We refuse to believe it. We excuse these cases as “one offs” and believe with blissful ignorance that this could never happen to us. This is simply wrong.
The police can, with the full backing of her majesty’s government, arrest you and prosecute you for saying something they don’t want you to. We have this attitude that free expression is something we need to defend. It isn’t. It is a freedom we are fighting to win.
If we continue to deny this fact of reality, free speech will be buried forever.