A man was arrested in Scotland after tweeting an offensive comment about Captain Sir Tom Moore.
Moore recently passed away from complications due to the COVID-19 virus. He rocketed to fame in England and around the world for his attempts to raise money for the National Health Service (NHS).
The veteran of World War II attempted to raise a little over $1,000 by walking 100 laps around his garden on his 100th birthday.
By any account, his attempt was spectacularly effective as he went on to raise nearly $45 million. Queen Elizabeth II honored his extraordinary accomplishment by making him a knight.
Two days after Moore’s death, the Lancaster police department said that it received notification about the offensive tweet. They did not relate the contents of the tweet or the name of the suspect.
Some reporters have uncovered what they believe to be the offensive post. It reads, “The only good Brit soldier is a deed one, burn auld fella, buuuuurn.” The poster has since been identified as Joseph Kelly.
They did refer to a 35-year-old man who they say they have charged with a crime under the Communications Act 2003. That act makes it illegal in the UK to post anything on social media that is “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.”
If convicted, the man could spend up to six months in prison and/or be fined as much as $6,800.
Most messages following the news of Moore’s death were honoring his memory and legacy as a WWII veteran and an inspiration during the pandemic.
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace stated that the Royal Family recognized the inspiration he provided to the world while Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Moore a “beacon of hope.”
The NHS is a free health service and the beneficiary of the money Moore raised. They added to the tributes to Moore by posting a blue heart emoji and stating “Thanks for everything Sir Tom.”
But some are questioning the motives behind arresting someone for an offensive post on the Internet.
An article on spiked-online.com called it an “attack on free speech.” They state that even offensive speech is covered under laws protecting free speech. Even more worrisome to the article’s author are proposed hate-speech laws in Scotland which would make it illegal to make offensive comments in your own home.
An article on rt.com compares Kelly’s case to the case occurring in Russia where Alexey Navalny has been charged for defaming a veteran. The article makes a case that veterans are being held up as deities in Russia and Britain. The author argues that these countries, and others, are “militarising society” and making it easier to silence critics by accusing them of not having proper respect for military “heroes.”
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So it seems that, even in death, Captain Sir Tom Moore is bringing attention to important issues in society. Just as he brought awareness to the needs of health care services and front-line workers, he has inadvertently brought attention to the need to provide outlets for both tributes and criticism.