Is there really no free speech in the UK? Reality show celeb Ursula Presgrave is being prosecuted over an opinion she shared about Down syndrome on her Facebook page, according to the Daily Mail. The Call Centre star has long been known for her controversial personality, but this time she apparently went too far for even a country that claims to honor the liberties of its citizens.
Presgrave reportedly entered a plea of “guilty” to the crime of posting an “indecent or grossly offensive” message, which “causes distress or anxiety” to others, under the Malicious Communications Act. Now she could face as many as six months in prison and may be ordered to pay a fine of £5,000. It seems that the Malicious Communications Act has allowed for the arrests of numerous people who, by all intents and purposes, have done little more than share their opinions (albeit offensive in nature to some people) on social media. Since just last year, nearly 700 individuals have been convicted under this act by their use of social media.
She posted the comment, which attracted responses from several hundred people — many of which were offended by her opinion about people born with Down syndrome.
“Anyone born with down syndrome should be put down, it’s just cruel to let them lead a pointless life of a vegetable.”
This isn’t the first time Presgrave has drawn ire from her controversial comments on social media. Last year, the Epoch Times reported that she made an offensive joke involving missing child Madeleine McCann. She made the post on Facebook last April toward a presumed internet troll who had irked her.
“Hate to tell you darling, but you look like a retarded version of Madeleine McCann, just saying.”
Her personal views may not be necessarily popular, but are they worthy of being labeled crimes? Where does one draw the line on so-called free speech in the United Kingdom? While there are indeed people who support the prosecution of Ursula Presgrave, there are also plenty of others who find this entire story to be a violation of a person’s most basic right of freedom of expression. Nonetheless, the UK does not give their citizens constitutional rights like the United States does, so at any time their speech and personal points-of-view could fall under the scrutiny of the law, especially with such an arbitrary concept as the Malicious Communication Act.
If EVER police claim cuts will endager public, cite persecution of Ursula Presgrave for expressing an opinion https://t.co/IjjG5bZMtr
— Joe Watch (@mcelderrytruth) November 4, 2015
— Eeyore (@dom_ross) September 21, 2015
The irony that surrounds the prosecution of Ursula’s comments is that the UK allows for the medical abortion of fetuses that are diagnosed with Down syndrome and other conditions detectable through amniocenteses. So it seems that while it’s acceptable to abort unborn children with Down syndrome, UK citizens simply are not given the freedom of speech to discuss their opinions of support for such a thing.
— Murphy’s Law (@kimberlymmurphy) September 16, 2015
— Bubblejet (@Bubblejet) September 18, 2015
There’s also some irony surrounding the comments being made in anger toward Ursula Presgrave. While people are offended by her particular comments toward people with Down syndrome, plenty are expressing equally as offensive sentiment toward her in retaliation. In fact, some people are calling her words “incitement to kill” but are also making comments toward her in the same manner. However, it’s hard to tell if any of these people will also be charged with crimes for posting in the same manner as she.
Do you think free speech is an imaginary concept in the UK, or is it totally reasonable to jail someone for expressing opinions which “offend” people who may see or hear it?
[Image via Ursula Presgrave Facebook]