So in the spirit of freedom of speech and all it stands for Siobhan O’Dowd, founder of the controversial “RIP Raoul Moat you Legend”, has caved in to unnecessary pressure and removed the page from Facebook.
I do not for a second condone Raoul Moat’s actions, and neither do I agree with anyone who shows him any sympathy. Pure and simple he got what he deserved. His killing of Chris Brown, shooting of ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart and maiming of police officer David Rathband are reprehensible and unforgivable crimes. However the fact remains that anyone wishing to support him in a passive and non-conspiratory way should be allowed.
It is not breaking the law to share condolences and neither is it illegal to air one’s opinions, however misguided they may be. Facebook got this right by refusing to ban the group when asked by 10 Downing Street.
Why exactly were the government involved? It was my impression that under the new coalition we would be seeing less of the populist politics that so dogged the Labour years. With a huge budget deficit, a proposed new voting system, widespread outrage over recent torture claims and disillusionment in Afghanistan just a few of the major problems currently facing David Cameron, it is outrageous that any time should be allotted in the 30 minute session of Questions to the Prime Minister to the issue of a minority of people stupidly supporting a murderer – via the internet.
The group attracted roughly 35,000 followers (less than 0.01% of the population), but it is buried within the small print of the sensationalist articles you’ll have read that the vast majority of these so called supporters are actually berating the very few in the group who support Moat. If anything you could argue the group was a good example of decent morals and ethics shining through as outraged people all over the country criticised the cretins who think murder is an answer to a grudge. Wouldn’t that have been a much more refreshing and uplifting angle for the media to have taken with the story?
Despite your feelings on the incident, never mind whether you have the popular vote to consider, no matter how disgusting the events of that week, the fact is that freedom of speech is an integral part of the civilised and modern world and the foundation of our society. The key is in the word ‘freedom.’
Unless such speech is intended to brainwash fanatics and terrorists or reveal state secrets such a right must remain untouched. Otherwise it becomes a very short step from censoring opinions to creating a police state.