If you are like me, and believe in calling a spade a spade and believe the truth will protect you, is’s possible you may not want to take that next trip to the UK. Especially if you have any British citizens on your Facebook page. In an effort to be even more politically correct, our cousins across the sea have instituted some of the strictest laws against what they say is “Hate Speech”.
At least one British police force is being widely criticized for threatening to jail people whose social media posts cause people to “take offense”. In fact, the Cheshire Constabulary in a Facebook post of its own warned that, “a large fine or up to two years in prison” could follow whatever is perceived to be a controversial message on the site.
That post launched a flood of objections from citizens, who objected to the apparently heavy-handed attempts by officers to regulate what they were saying. The full message said:
“We would remind all social media users to think carefully about what they are saying before posting messages online. Although you may believe your message is acceptable, other people may take offense, and you could face a large fine or up to two years in prison if your message is deemed to have broken the law.”
The department is responsible for policing about a million in the areas just outside of Manchester and Liverpool.
Following the initial post, the department attempted to clarify their statement with a second post which said that jail time and fines were only appropriate punishment for actual crimes, like inciting violence or racial hatred, rather than a general “offense”. That post read: “These crimes are about more than just showing hostility to one person, but about stirring up hatred against a whole group of people, regardless of what platform you use.”
Overzealous policing of speech has become a major issue in the UK, especially in areas where Muslims have become a large percentage of the population. It has been documented by numerous news agencies that several police forces have expanded their definition of what a “hate crime” is over the past year to include women, racial and religious minorities and even the disabled. Police in Nottinghamshire and North Yorkshire have added these groups with other forces poised to follow.
In a statement to media, a spokesman for Cheshire Constabulary insisted that they were the victims of a “misunderstanding” and that they “recognize the importance of free speech”:
As a Constabulary, we would never tell people what they can or can’t say, or what they can or can’t think. This post was issued specifically in response to those reports we received, and as a police force it is our responsibility to remind people that legislation exists prohibiting the incitement of hatred and violence. This applies to everyone regardless of age, gender, race or religion and we take all reports of this nature seriously, irrespective of who has made the comments.
Currently I don’t believe the United States will extradite you to the UK for Hate Speech, but in the current climate I wouldn’t bet on it. Especially if you happened to come in front of a liberal judge appointed by Obama.