LONDON: Rise of the “Thought Police”

“Thought Police” are on the horizon.

From The Telegraph (there is a video there):

Tony Miano, 49, a former senior police officer from the US, was held for around six hours, had his fingerprints and DNA taken and was questioned about his faith, after delivering a sermon about “sexual immorality” on a London street.

Mr Miano, who served as a Deputy Sherriff in Los Angeles County, said his experience suggested that the term “thought police” had become a reality in the UK.

He said he was amazed that it was now possible “in the country that produced the Magna Carta” for people to be arrested for what they say.

Mr Miano, who was provided with a solicitor by the Christian Legal Centre, was arrested under the controversial clause of the Public Order Act which bans “insulting” words or behaviour.

The clause has recently been dropped by the House of Lords after a high-profile free speech campaign but the change has yet to come into force.

The father of three, who took early retirement from the police to become a full-time preacher two years ago, was detained after was preaching outside a shopping centre in Wimbledon, south west London, on Monday.

He was speaking from a passage from Thessalonians which mentions “sexual immorality” and listed homosexuality alongside “fornication” as examples what he believed went against “God’s law”.

A woman out shopping called the police to complain that she was offended, prompting two officers to be dispatched to arrest him.

In a video placed on YouTube he can be seen explaining the changes to Section Five to the officers who said they were not aware of it.

During the subsequent questioning at Wimbledon police station he was asked about his beliefs on what constitutes “sin” and about how he would treat gay people in hypothetical situations.

“As the questioning started it became apparent that the interrogation was about more than the incident that too place in the street but what I believed and how I think,” he said.

“I was being interrogated about my thoughts … that is the basic definition of thought police.”

He said he had arrested many people in his career but never over something they believed.

“It surprised me that it is possible for a person to be taken to jail for their thoughts,” he said.

[...]

Mr Miano said that after he was questioned he was advised by his solicitor that police had indicated that they expected to charge him with a public order offence.

But after being sent back to his cell for around another hour he was informed that an inspector had decided that no further action would be taken. He was released about midnight.

He added that at one point he was passed a Bible through the food port of his cell, something he said underlined the “ridiculous” situation.

[...]

Read the rest there.

It’s coming, friends.  Mark my words.

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18 Responses to LONDON: Rise of the “Thought Police”

  1. Legisperitus says:

    It’s odd to think of Christianity being propped up by international Communism, but in a way that’s what happened in the 20th century. As long as atheistic Communism was the main perceived threat to the West, one way of distinguishing “us” from “them” was the fact that we were God-fearing people and they were the Godless Commies. Christianity formed an uneasy alliance with modern materialistic forces to oppose the Red menace, a marriage of convenience that made Christians a bit too incautious in getting cozy with an establishment that had no real use for them.

    Since 2001, the narrative has changed. The main perceived international threat is now militant Islam. But since singling out Islam would be both politically correct and potentially dangerous, the would-be protectors of the Western way of life use a broader brush that tars all “religious fundamentalism” as the enemy. Now the opinion-makers are labeling serious, devout Christians as belonging to “them” instead of “us.” Anyone who believes there is one true religion or even an objective set of moral norms is now a terrorist in waiting, while atheists are seen as true patriots who stand for the real values of the West.

    Prelates who don’t see this happening are not living in the present.

  2. JabbaPapa says:

    The transcript of his Police interrogation is mind-boggling :

    http://protectthepope.com/?p=7582

  3. Geoffrey says:

    On a somewhat related note, just today I learned of the “Charter of the Rights of the Family” which was issued by the Holy See in October of 1983. Society will crumble because the family is crumbling. Frightening times. And yet…

    “This is our goal, our great ideal: let us advance towards a Catholic civilisation to be born from the ruins of the modern world, just as medieval civilisation was born from the ruins of the Roman world” (Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, 1908-1995).

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_19831022_family-rights_en.html

  4. Matthew says:

    People with amplified sound systems in public are annoying, but I don’t think they should be arrested, perhaps unplugged.

  5. Phil_NL says:

    And I’m willing to bet the ranch that if someone ‘insulted’ Christianity, no arrests would be forthcoming. islam (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23064355 ) or the homosexual campaigns however, are sacrosanct.

  6. Kerry says:

    She was “offended” by equating the ‘n’ word with the ‘g-a-y’ word. If she doesn’t like the preacher, maybe she should not listen to him.

  7. Imrahil says:

    Interesting analysis, dear @Legisperitus.

    As to the incident, let’s be fair: he was not arrested for his thoughts, but for speeking them out.

    Being arrested for words is not such an abominable thing in itself (though some countries have made positive constitutional law to forbid it forever). Only hitherto, it was in these cases usually such words that were really reprehensible (read: insults, libels) or factually wrong (“this room is on fire”, but also Holocaust denial), etc.

    Here, he has been arresting for saying true things.

    Bottom line: we won’t escape the necessity to distinguish between right and wrong, between truth and untruth.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, good, the UK media has picked up the story. I heard about this from Roger Pearse and Cranmer, who were trying to publicize this mistreatment of an American and of UK law. If you go over to Roger Pearse’s blog, he actually talked to the police station about it. He also has the insight that “The procedure is the punishment,” because the police and the complainers can be a pain without charging you, such that free speech is chilled without them stressing themselves.

  9. inexcels says:

    Imrahil says: “As to the incident, let’s be fair: he was not arrested for his thoughts, but for speeking them out.”

    Kind of an oversimplification of the affair, I think. Miano describes that, during interrogation, he was extensively questioned about his beliefs and how he would act in hypothetical situations. “Thought police” doesn’t sound too far off the mark.

    Relatedly, you list “insults” among valid reasons for arresting people for speech. Unless you mean “insults” in an extremely narrow sense which would need to be specified, that seems awfully extreme; and even then it might still be too extreme. I would venture to say that by “factually wrong” you also had a much narrower definition in mind, unless we want to start arresting people for flubbing math problems.

    Might seem like I’m picking nits, but it’s dangerous to be too free with exceptions to the concept of free speech. Tyranny waits just around the corner.

  10. inexcels says:

    Here’s apparently a full transcript of the interview: http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/tony-miano-arrested-for-hate-speech.html

    It’s interesting. On the one hand, I can see where Miano is coming from. On the other hand, the cop doing the interview generally comes across as pretty mild, although the “thought police” parts (highlighted in bold) are pretty weird.

  11. Imrahil says:

    Dear @inexcels,

    that you for the interview transcript, it was very interesting.

    I certainly think the action wrong, because he has a right to preach that way, and because his position is right. (Even though I have to say I am less than enthousiastic, methodically, towards this sort of preaching.) Nevertheless, in so far as “thought police” issues are concerned, I disagree. Under the assumption that anti-homosexual preaching is to be prosecuted as an offence (and it is here where the thing goes wrong), the parts highlighted in bold perfectly make sense – in an interview by a police officer of course who happens to be irreligious and also has, I may say, less education and understanding of his country’s formative religion than you’d wish for.

    As to arresting people for speech, I was merely following the line of where I myself come from.
    German Penal Code, § 130, paraphrased. Whoever does in a way capable of disturbing peoplic peace (1) incite to hatred against a national, racial, religious or ethnical group, parts of the populace, or against an individual for reason of belonging to one of the former or calls for actions of violence or arbitratiness or (2) insults, derides or libels the same is liable to imprisonment from three months to five years or a fine. [...] Whoever endorses, denies or plays down, publicly or in a gathering, an act of genocide committed under National Socialism in a way capable of disturbing public peace, is liable to imprisonment [from 1month] up to five years or a fine.
    § 166. Whoever publicly [...] insults the content of a religious confession or a worldview in a way capable of disturbing public peace, is liable to imprisonment [from 1 month] up to three years or a fine. [Guess how often that is applied today!]
    § 185. Whoever insults a person [...] is liable to imprisonment [from 1 month] up to one year or a fine. [Note of interpretation: Insult is not defined by the feeling of the person claiming to be upset, but in an objective way.]
    § 186. Whoever makes or spreads a claim of fact about another person capable of defaming him is, if the claim cannot be proven to be true, liable to imprisonment [from 1 month] up to one year or a fine.[...]
    § 187 (libel). Whoever against better knowledge makes or spreads an untrue claim of fact about another person capable of defaming him, is liable to imprisonment [from 1 month] up to two or, if the deed has been committed publicly, five years or a fine.
    [The number of murder is 211 because at least at the time the Code was drafted, there was the old idea around that honor stands above life. (Nevertheless certainly murder has higher penalties.)]

  12. WaywardSailor says:

    Frank Sheed must be spinning in his grave.

  13. TLM says:

    I am actually related to Mr. Miano. Our g-grandfathers were brothers. Italians, don’t try to keep us quiet.

  14. Patrick-K says:

    The officer seems like he was just trying to do his job. If someone makes a complaint, then they have to investigate it. That could involve trying to understand the mindset of people involved. The real problem, I think, is that people believe that offending them should be criminalized. Yes, of course if you actually threaten someone, that is different. But when did people stop being able to respond to insults in an adult way, or simply ignore them, like a grown-up, instead of calling the police? And this wasn’t even anything personal, it was simply a statement that an action is sinful. How insecure do you have to be to not be able to deal with that without involving the police?

  15. MWindsor says:

    Give only your name, rank (private citizen), and serial number (social security number).

    Invoke the Geneva Convention and demand to see the International Red Cross.

  16. The Masked Chicken says:

    “1 + 1 is 2.” “Red is Red.”

    Call the police. I’ve just been offended by the truth. Really, who the heck cares if the woman is offended. She’s a wimp. In order to be properly offended, you have to have an opposing viewpoint that tends towards truth. Since she does not, it would have been more humble of her to call the police and tell them that she was ignorant and the poor preacher was trying to educate her. How dare he? That is the subtext. Really, her ignorance is much more offensive than his words. Ignorance really is a thought crime (or a crime against thought) and he should be able to press charges against her for making her insulting comment, since her use of words in ignorance is offensive to any common measure of truth-seeking. This law is stupid and the legislators are idiots. I hope they are offended when they hear this, but they seem not to know what the word means, so, they will probably think that I ought to be arrested instead that they should buy a dictionary.

    The Chicken

  17. Vecchio di Londra says:

    So now we have a world in which the mere statement that one is ‘offended’ is enough to have someone arrested and detained for seven hours, and asked childish questions about hypothetical situations? Ludicrous, both in proportion and in lack of intelligence.
    During the tennis championships South Wimbledon will have been full of pickpockets, muggers, knife-carrying schoolkids and abusive drunks. But of course the police are too scared to do anything about them. They just pick on soft middle-class targets.

  18. HeatherPA says:

    I didn’t know my sister in law was in England shopping on Monday.