Tuesday, July 31, 2012

English Police Arrest Citizen for Insensitive Tweet at Olympian Tom Daley

In the 2008 Summer Olympics, host country China had its share of controversy over its female gymnasts’ ages. (This year, there are doping accusations after one of its female swimmers broke the men’s record.)

In 2010, host country Canada was mocked up and down for its lack of preparedness on its ski slopes, along with its shoddy barriers, bad sportsmanship and faulty Olympic torch lighting.

Now it’s England’s turn to screw up the enormously complicated event, as evidenced by the potential of certain Brits (i.e. the Scots and the Welsh) booing the national anthem, and the widespread ticket fiasco still playing out.

I understand why people are up in arms about the latter. Obviously, England could have handled it better. But in my opinion, those missteps pale in comparison to its handling of the little brat who tweeted at one of his country’s divers: “You let your dad down i hope you know that.”

The Olympian in question, England’s 18-year-old Tom Daley, lost his father to brain cancer just last year.

So clearly, that was a horribly insensitive thing to say. And the perpetrator, who goes by the Twitter name “Rileyy69,” deserves some serious public censure for his lack of basic human sympathy, which incidentally is exactly what he’s getting.

But now British authorities are taking action. According to the United Kingdom’s Telegraph:

“Dorset Police yesterday confirmed it was investigating the incident.

“A spokeswoman said: ‘Regarding tweets to @tomdaley1994 – we are aware of the issue and we are actively looking into it.’

“She added today: ‘A 17-year-old man was arrested by Dorset Police officers in the early hours this morning at a guesthouse in the Weymouth area on suspicion of malicious communications.”

“Malicious communications?” Is it just me or does that sound very much like a charge levied under Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany, Ahmadinejad’s Iran or some other evil statist empire?

Again, Rileyy69 is an immature and thoughtless little brat who probably didn’t get spanked nearly enough as a child. And Tom Daley had every right to single him out by re-tweeting the comment, exposing Rileyy69 to immediate national and international censure.

However, arresting anybody for merely making unkind statements is dangerously draconian. With this kind of precedent set, some sort of Shariah law doesn’t seem that far away for the once free and great nation that was England.

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