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Police Raid Female Disability Activist’s Home For Facebook Posts ‘Criticising DWP’

October 29, 2012

A female disability activist in Wales (not China) has reportedly been ‘visited’ by police for posting comments on Facebook that were critical of Government cuts, specifically the DWP.

Now, I know there are rules about what we can and can’t post on Facebook. Had the woman posted something racist, homophobic or sick comments about a disabled child, I would have completely supported the police contacting her in a professional way, during working hours, asking her to delete the posts and even giving her a fine.

But that was not what happened. The woman was simply expressing strong frustration at Government policies- policies that will probably directly affect her personally as she has a disability.

She was reportedly highlighting the deaths of disabled people following benefit assessments.

The police did not charge her. They simply wanted to speak to her about her Facebook posts. Yet they forcefully entered her home at midnight on Friday, and in her own words:    ” They kept going on and on at me, it was horrifically stressful, and they only left after I started crying uncontrollably.”

For many disabled people- and for what some might call the ‘new generation’ of disability activists, the Internet is simply a useful campaigning tool. Specifically, many of us use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

If disabled people could leave their houses, stand on streets and chain themselves to buildings, like students have been doing for the last two years in protest at tuition fee rises, we would.

Those of us who physically can sometimes do.

However, there are many of us who physically can’t. We have no other outlets for our campaigns, for our frustrations, than Facebook. We live rich and full and meaningful social lives on Facebook. Facebook is our pub. Twitter is our library.

Had this activist been able to go down the pub last Friday night and say what she wrote in conversation with a few friends, I am sure she would gladly have done so.

Had this activist and her friends been having a spoken conversation down the local pub last Friday night, saying what she wrote on Facebook, it is highly unlikely that the police would have thought twice about the comments.

I once heard a quote that made a lot of sense to me. “Freedom of speech does not give you the right to shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre.”

In the same way, freedom of electronic communication does not give you the right to advertise a fictional fire on a social networking site.

However, if freedom of speech gives you the right to discuss your opinions on government policies (and last I checked, it does in the UK) then surely, freedom of electronic communication should do the same.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. NattyFido permalink
    October 29, 2012 2:59 pm

    Hitler, Thatcher, Cameron, spot the difference.

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