London mayor Sadiq Khan is going to allow policing of what he deems “hate speech” with the help of several social media platforms. London authorities are already underway in getting together a team of people to take action against civilians who participate in “hateful” or “abusive” rhetoric, as reported by Breitbart.
“The office of London’s first Muslim mayor has secured millions of pounds to fund a police ‘online hate crime hub’ to work in ‘partnership with social media providers’ to criminalize ‘trolls’ who ‘target… individuals and communities.'”
The program will be funded by taxpayers, and the government has already gathered £1.7 million, equal to about $2.2 million, a little less than half of which came from the Home Office Police Innovation Fund (PIF) to get things started.
There will be five “detectives” and a separate group of volunteers working to locate hate speech on social media, seek out the perpetrator and ultimately enforce the law.
The Daily Mail reports that the volunteers will be specially trained to track down hateful and abusive speech.
As far as what the London police think about the new system, there has been a positive response. They say they’re happy to help and rumor has it they’re even encouraging fellow Londoners to take the task of reporting hate speech seriously and passionately.
The program has been dubbed the “thought police” by some, a clear reference to the 1949 George Orwell novel 1984, which centers around a fictional, heavy-regulated dystopian society where thinking certain thoughts (ThoughtCrime) is a crime punishable by torture and even death.
The novel has given birth to many conspiracy theories regarding the level of power the government has over its people. The world of 1984 is a world to fear, as it represents the ultimate reality of the result of radical law and totalitarianism.
The main character, Winston, is constantly being watched by “Big Brother,” which is a term used to described the head honcho of the place he lives, known as Oceania.
SparkNotes has written extensive essays on the book.
“Big Brother is the face of the Party. The citizens are told that he is the leader of the nation and the head of the Party, but Winston can never determine whether or not he actually exists. In any case, the face of Big Brother symbolizes the Party in its public manifestation.”
Critics are arguing that Khan’s new policy is a direct violation of freedom of speech, and civilians being encouraged to report what they deem to be “hate speech” is troubling, as people seem to be getting more and more offended by the day. Just because a person finds something “offensive” doesn’t make it hate speech.
RT News reported on the controversy.
“‘Pure rants, very childish [people online] are increasingly criminalized, and as a result of that the police is becoming more and more involved in controlling our morality’, explained Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent, on BBC Radio 4 this morning.
“While the authors of the project argue that it will provide police with ‘additional intelligence gathering opportunities,’ not everybody seems to be enthusiastic about the idea, as the prospect of a Twitter joke or an ‘insensitive’ Facebook post landing someone in jail is disturbing to those who see the internet as a free speech zone.”
????Muslim London Mayor Sadiq Khan???? intends to STOP our FREE SPEECH! What are we going to do about it?! https://t.co/oqLNScOHet— Deplorable Me (@773UMP2016) August 16, 2016
It’s being suggested that this new program came about in response to the Brexit vote, which came out in favor of Britain leaving the European Union. After the result was final, local authorities reportedly saw a 42 percent increase in hate crime, supposedly directed towards the migrant population.
“The hashtag #PostRefRacism was even coined to highlight the rising tensions in British society. However, despite all of the media attention, the police have failed to address the problem directly.”
Some opposers of the new law are even going as far as to claim that it’s a form of “online sharia law.” Controversial far-right activist Pamela Geller is disgusted, but not surprised, that Khan wishes to control social media posts, as she wrote on her website.
“Any American social media firm that cooperates is an enemy of freedom, a running dog for sharia.”
Geller also mentioned the fact that a couple of months ago Khan made the move to ban advertisements that promote an “unhealthy body image” throughout the London subway system. While this gained the favor of feminists, Geller and others speculated that Khan did it not to appease feminists, but rather he did it because of his Islamic faith, as an important aspect of sharia law lies in feminine modesty.
Before Sadiq Khan banned ads that promote unhealthy body images, Protein World sparked controversy with their ad, which asked, “Are You Beach Body Ready?” The ad received so many complaints that it ended up being banned throughout the United Kingdom.
Conservative Daily Post, a publication that says Google, YouTube, Bing, Microsoft, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook are among the companies working with Khan on the program, also believes policing social media posts is a form of sharia.
“Khan has already instituted laws the (sic) forbid women from wearing certain clothing. Now he is moving to censor the internet and attack anyone who talks down to Islam.”
It seems these opposers are convinced that Khan is doing this in order to protect Muslims and no one else, though there’s no significant evidence to back this claim.
Other critics simply believe that law enforcement has better, more important things to do than tackle online hate. They believe the physical world is what police should be worrying about, not the online world.
London mayor Sadiq Khan’s motives for tackling online hate speech may be a mystery, and only time will tell if the new policy does more harm than good.
What do you think? Is this going to give too much power to Khan and law enforcement by granting them a license to censor free speech? Or are people making too big a deal out of it? Can you see a 1984-like world taking place in the future?
[Photo by scanrail/Thinkstock]