back to article Man, 19, cuffed after burning Remembrance poppy pic is Facebooked

A 19-year-old man from Aylesham, near Canterbury in Kent, was arrested last night after a picture of a burning poppy was reportedly posted on Facebook. The county's cops collared the teenager on suspicion of a committing an offence under the Malicious Communications Act. "Officers were contacted at around 4pm yesterday, …

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  1. JDX Gold badge

    When we had a similar case of someone posting very offensive jokes onto a dedicated victim support page I was in favour of it being viewed a crime. But if someone simply makes an anti-poppy protest on their own site, that's too far IMO.

    Can anyone shed more light because the context of where such things are posted is important whether it is malicious or just poor taste.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Ah, if only life were that easy ...

      The problem is "friends" who can create a chain whereby the originator has no idea AND CAN HAVE NO IDEA who will actually see what they post - even if they are technically savvy, let alone the average FB user.

      Clearly the Malicious Communications act (or whatever) has some sort of wording that ignores intent which means it's very possible you could be arrested[1] even though it's patently obvious you did intend offence.

      [1]Bearing in mind, in the UK, arrest is a punishment in itself, involving the forcible taking of DNA and fingerprints, and possible problems when applying for US visas.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Poppycock!

      "grossly offensive"

      I find it grossly offensive that someone can be arrested for posting a picture of a burning poppy together with some insensitive commentary

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Poppycock!

        Probably another one of those foreigners stuck in the middle ages who follow that guy who invented a religeon while shagging a 9 year old girl. Rather like Rob Hubbard inventing Scientology but a bit less believable....Muslims - that's the one.

        Let's hope it was it was this guy who was arrested: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/402005/20121106/anjem-choudary-twitter-poppy.htm

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Poppycock!

          <blockquote>Probably another one of those foreigners stuck in the middle ages who follow that guy who invented a religeon while shagging a 9 year old girl. Rather like Rob Hubbard inventing Scientology but a bit less believable....Muslims - that's the one</blockquote>

          Plenty of Brits feel the same way. Their country of origin and religion is really immaterial to their action. Perhaps they have had relatives killed by British forces. That could apply to someone from Ireland as much as it could from Pakistan. And in either case you might do the same in such circumstances.

          As to the tiresome paedophile jab - historical record suggests he married her. Some records indicate she was 9, others that she was older. Even if she were nine, at that time and place, marriage could just be a way of protecting a girl without family, it wouldn't necessarily mean consummation. He had multiple wives - that's pretty reprehensible and even if the last wife was sixteen at the time of marriage, that's also still not great. But the paedophile jab isn't very supportable with what we have at the moment.

    3. bdam
      FAIL

      I also find poppy related crimes offensive

      Where do I complain?

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5380085/MPs-expenses-Ed-Ballss-claim-for-Remembrance-Sunday-wreaths.html

    4. calumg

      How about the offensive posts being quickly taken down, and the user being kicked from Facebook for breaking the T&Cs. That to me would be a proportionate response.

      If someone wants to be an idiot online, let them. It's not the real world. These laws were written before social media existed, and were designed for situations like phoning the victim's family.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Of course the internet is the real world. To many it is the most real part OF the world.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How about people stop being so easily offended and let the Police deal with more serious issues such as knife crime, violent crime, etc. They're stretched enough already, without having to respond to crap like this.

      3. NogginTheNog
        Thumb Down

        Idiot online?

        That depends on whether you define having a legitimate beef, and commenting such, with a charitable cause. Insensitive maybe, but surely it's free speech to make a comment on something you disagree with? Definitely not a crime.

    5. LarsG
      Meh

      Is his name Private Pike....

      Stupid boy!

  2. Gav
    Holmes

    Stupid

    19 year old "man" is stupid boy. Being stupid boy is not an arrestable offence. Kent Police also stupid.

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Stupid

      Didn't get nicked for the pic but the comments - apparently.

      anyway - isn't burning poppies known as 'chasing the dragon'?

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Stupid

      "19 year old "man" is stupid boy. Being stupid boy is not an arrestable offence. Kent Police also stupid."

      Agreed. However it is quite amusing how teenagers over 16 get called "men" when they commit a crime , but "boys" or "teenagers" when talked about in any other fashion by the media. Can't have it both ways people.

    3. a cynic writes...

      Re: Stupid

      Anything over 18 they're 'men', anything under they're boys. If you're old enough to vote, you're old enough to be treated as an adult. I realise that most people, whatever the gender, haven't grown up by that point but if we made maturity the criteria we'd have boys of 80.

      I would have agreed if the statement had been "...19 year old "man" is a prat. Being a prat is not an arrestable offence..."

      1. cs94njw

        Re: Stupid

        Bah - in this country you're old enough to pay taxes (16), but not old enough to vote (18). Gits.

    4. P Saunders

      The irony being

      that it was this type of tinpot tyranny that our great-grandfathers and grandfathers fought against in the two world wars. or were they fighting so that the profiteers and warhawks could get rich? I keep forgetting which.

    5. Jim 59

      Water

      Guy deserves a bucket of water over the head but not arrest.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Over the top

    Whilst his arrest may be over the top, the suffering of countless men who went over the top is on a different scale.

    I don;t want to see this guy imprisoned, but hope he can at least learn about the suffering so many went through for his freedom.

    1. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: Over the top

      Suffering of the biggest bunch of darwin award hopefuls the world has ever seen

      British soldiers shot for the common sense tactic of getting into cover when someones plastering the area with 7.92mm Mauser.

      The bright idea used at first to keep firing when the Vickers you're hunched over is water cooled, made of metal, and actually smoking - cue a big bang and lots of dead tommies. Not to mention the early use of artillery bombardment to make sure the enemy had time to get up, get dressed and have breakfast before they massacred the poor sods "walking slowly towards the enemy"

      To quote "The guns have stopped because even our generals arent mad enough to shell their own men; they find it much more sporting to let the Germans do it"

      We only won it because the Germans had a lack of food and a surfiet of what was the start of the pandemic flu

      As to whether I would use a poppy as a firelighter, I probably wouldnt - but its odd how this kid gets done over by the piglets yet Sainsburys can advertise Gears of War 3 3 FEET away from a bunch of war vets handing out poppies - talk about monumental insensitivity, but thats ok, its big business. The best bit, the manager of the store (think PFY) couldnt get his head round the point that it was insulting...

      Finally - I'm sorry but if you join the army you take into account that people will likely be shooting at you with extreme prejudice - this is generally considered a bad thing - and if they can shoot straight it hurts. You made your decision, so its your look out. Dont try and guilt me out of my money when you lose the all comers land mine competition afghan 2012, it doesnt make you a hero it just makes you unlucky. If stepping on landmines was all it took to be heroic half the population of Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia (and a few dozen others) would have the VC and the CMO, oddly enough they dont. Heroism in that context would be the whole lot of the army turning round to the US and UK governments and telling them to sod off since we have no place doing what we're doing out there anyway.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Stop

        @Jemma

        Whilst I might agree with you about volunteer soldiers, it's worth remembering that a great majority of soldiers in WW1 and WW2 were conscripts, who had very little choice.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: @Jemma

          "Whilst I might agree with you about volunteer soldiers, it's worth remembering that a great majority of soldiers in WW1 and WW2 were conscripts, who had very little choice"

          Modded you up, but logically, doesn't that make the enemy of those who died their own government?

          Burning a poppy could be regarded as a political statement of all sorts of things. Quite probably, the gesture is meant that the burner sees the poppies as a legitimizing of war and burning it a rejection of that. If that's their position, it's perfectly acceptable as a political statement (though obviously not acceptable to some). Poppies are for rememberance of those that died. Maybe the burner feels that invading far away countries such as Iraq or Afghanistan and killing tens of thousands there is something that shouldn't be put forward as a symbol of heroism. Again, a supportable point of view.

          Maybe they were just trolling and wanted to cause offense? Who knows. But this should not be anything they get arrested for.

          1. Vic

            Re: @Jemma

            > doesn't that make the enemy of those who died their own government?

            'Twas ever thus...

            Vic.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Jemma

          There were some significant numbers of volunteers.

          the Kitchener's Army of 2.5 million Britons was volunteer, though volunteering dried up by late 1916

          For the First World War, the Canadians and Australians were predominantly volunteers. (Being the healthier outdoors types they were in better physical shape to start with and made good assault infantry).

          And half of the Canadian soldiers on the Western Front were British-born.

        3. David Evans

          Re: @JimmyPage

          Actually not true (for WWI anyway). Conscription wasn't introduced until 1916, by which point most of the men able to fight had already volunteered (around 40% of conscripts were found to be medically unfit). The number of volunteers in the British forces always outnumbered the conscripts. So, yes you can argue the case for a collective Darwin Award (not that I would).

          Back on topic, I always wear a poppy (even though I now live in Ireland, which makes it much more contentious) because I come from a long line of soldiers, but I am increasingly uncomfortable with "poppy guilt" as seen on most of the British Media, and have no problem with someone exercising their RIGHT to protest against the poppy by burning one. This whole Malicious Communications thing is turning into a farce, just as was predicted when it was enacted.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Jemma

          Don't feed trolls - report them

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Over the top

        The Allies had recovered from the German Spring Offensive of March-July 1918 and put the German Army on the backfoot at the start of August 1918 and were pushing it back through the Hindenburg Line.

        Large amounts of material was being lost in the retreat and most of Franch territory that had been lost was back in the Allies control.

        While the Blockade of Germany had brought about the lack of food at home, it could not evict Germans from France which is what the French wanted.

      3. droolian01
        Facepalm

        Re: Over the top

        When you quote:

        "The guns have stopped because even our generals arent mad enough to shell their own men; they find it much more sporting to let the Germans do it"

        as a historically salient point in your general argument, i find it hard to take you seriously.

        Especially as i know it is a quote from the final episode of 'Blackadder goes forth'. A sensitive handled piss take ofthe bufoons who led this tragedy, NEVER AT THE EXPENSE OF THE ORDINARY TOMMY.

        You are a child, a fool and a disgrace humane(ity)

      4. PhilDin
        Trollface

        Re: Over the top

        An excellent analysis from someone who's clearly watched two or maybe even three episodes of Blackadder goes forth. In reality the officers during WW1 were not the idiots they were portrayed to be, particularly General Haig.

        As regards your remarks on true heroism, you seem to be advocating the scenario where the military can decide what wars they will and won't engage in rather than that decision being made by their democratically elected paymasters; sounds great, I can't see anything wrong with that plan.

        Overall you seem to have absolutely nothing positive to say, just lashing out randomly at rank and file soldiers, their officers, the government and Sainsburys. Maybe you should think about what you DO believe in.

        Finally, I'm not British and I don't wear a poppy but I would never consider describing the dead from WW1 as "Darwin award hopefuls"; that historically wrong and ethically repugnant.

      5. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        Re: Over the top

        Gears of War 3 ?

        Was there not a law against glorification of war?

    2. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: Over the top

      Oh and while we are on the subject - WW1 was nothing to do with 'freedom' whatsoever. WW2 you could argue was (and look what a balls up was made there). WW1 was little more than a europe wide family row between the crowned heads of Europe (who by that time were so inbred its amazing they didnt give birth parthenogenically) started by a bitter little German with delusions of grandeur and an inferiority complex that could have given Emperor Nero sleepless nights. The irony is that if Kaiser Bills mother had had a decent gyno none of it would ever have happened (note to the NHS - its not good practice to pull a baby out of his mother by his arm, you might cause a world war 50 years later)

      Please actually learn about things you post about - its not hard, and stop spouting the Fox News version of history. After a while that gets tiresome for the people who use their brains for something more than basic life support functions.

      1. Bumpy Cat

        Re: Over the top

        It's a bit sad that you say "please actually learn about things" after spouting a lot of nonsense, some of it rather unpleasant.

        The soldiers in WW1 and 2 were conscripted - they fought willingly, but they did not actually have a choice in the end. It's not really the case that both sides sat stupidly starting at each other, throwing lives away, for four years until Germany ran out of food. Try reading something more detailed than Wikipedia on military tactics in WW1.

        The Central Powers, especially Germany, were the aggressors in WW1, and had a pretty genocidal approach on the Eastern front - not a lot changed there between WW1 and WW2. Look what Germany did to the Russian prisoners from Tannenberg, or the Austrians did to Serb prisoners, or what the Turks did to the Armenians. Believe me, the UK was on the right side of WW1 too.

        Quite aside from your historical inaccuracy, your venom on this subject makes you look like rather unkind.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Over the top

          > The Central Powers, especially Germany, were the aggressors in WW1, and had a pretty genocidal approach on the Eastern front

          That was of concern to UK how?

          Did they just defend Belgium, which had transformed Congo into the Roi's own slaughterhouse, because of the Freedom Fries?

          Why is there no shrug icon? Big Brother as as stand-in for Loyd George eyeing politicial cheap points by killing a few of the boys will do, then.

      2. thegrouch

        Re: Over the top

        Little harsh to label teenage conscripts as 'Darwin award contenders' when they had no choice about their assignments to the trenches, nor anything approaching sensible orders when they got there. One week they're turning in the harvest, the next they're sitting in a shithole in France being shot at. Turning around to run away from the enemy guns got you shot by your superior officers for cowardice. They were led by dickheads playing with toy soldiers miles away, thinking they were still battling Frenchie at Waterloo. Whilst you might disagree with the motives for WW1, a little sympathy for the poor bastards who had to endure it wouldn't go amiss.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        Re: Over the top

        WW1 ... started by a bitter little German with delusions of grandeur and an inferiority complex

        Err, no, It was started by an assassination in Serbia of the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Serbia refused to cooperate with the Austro-Hungarians in bringing the assassins to justice and the Russians started sabre rattling since they viewed the Serbs as their Slavic and Russian Orthodox brethren. The Austro-Hungarians had a treaty which would pull Germany in if, as looked likely, hostilities broke out. France, itching for a rematch with Germany for the humiliation of the Franco-Prussian war, had a similar treaty with Russia. Germany, faced with a dual front war that it knew it only had a slim chance of winning launched the Schlieffen plan, which relied on getting a quick victory over France before facing a war of attrition in the East.

        Britain was sucked in thanks to a treaty that sought to protect Belgium - not out of any altruism, but as a way of creating a buffer between France and Germany that dated back to the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. However, the hawkish British press had played up on the fears of a strong German navy in the North Sea. If any inferiority complex was involved it was on the part of the British, who feared a strong rival - the Kaiser's failing was that he had too much confidence in the ability of the German army to repeat the success of the Franco-Prussian war.

        In other words, it was a clusterfuck of epic diplomatic and strategic failures triggered by the tinderbox of Balkan nationalism (there'd already been a number of Balkan wars with shifting allegiances in the preceding few years). That was the worst part of the Versailles treaty - the insistence of Germany shouldering the entire blame for a war that was the fault of all the major powers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Over the top@Chris Wareham

          Wow. I remember plodding through this at school now. You are a gent and a scholar for managing to put so concisely and clearly the causes of WW1. If only all history teaching was one like this.

        2. No, I will not fix your computer
          Holmes

          Re: Over the top

          @Chris Wareham

          While that is the classic (school taught) view it is always wise to step back and give the landscape a 360° view, for example are you aware that the planned extension of the train line (known as the Orient Express) would have given Germany access to the new-found oil reserves in Iraq, this at a time when the Navy (of all nations) were switching over from coal (which the UK had) to oil (which the UK didn't have).

          But don't take my word for it, I don't want to come off as a conspiracy theory crank, if you're interested in a different view have a look, look past the books that we were fed as children, the truth is out there ;-)

          OK, so you've read a bit more, and you're in two minds, dismiss me, or actually do a little bit of research? a good starting point (light, funny, easy to watch) is Rob Newmans "history of oil" www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQhhrzHKMhI in years to come will people think that more or less people will think that the non existent WMD's in Iraq were the reason for invasion? what will be in our history books? go back 100 years when the government wrote history, compare that with now when media (especially social media) is much harder to control, now put that in the context of the history books about WW1.

      4. Jim 59

        Re: Over the top

        Jemma these posts are garbled and don't make any sense, or project any coherent view, so I can't really comment further.

    3. Greg J Preece

      Re: Over the top

      I don;t want to see this guy imprisoned, but hope he can at least learn about the suffering so many went through for his freedom.

      Can he "learn" the mandated level of misty-eyed sentiment without being arrested? Because it's kind of ironic banging on about his freedoms right after arresting him for exercising his freedoms.

    4. JP19

      for his freedom

      His freedom to be arrested for burning a poppy?

      To be honest I am surprised it isn't an offence to not wear a poppy for the 2-3 weeks every year. Every single face you see on TV for 3 weeks has a poppy pinned to it, an alien observer would think it the law.

      It makes me puke, wearing a poppy is now meaningless.

    5. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      Re: Over the top

      The poppy used to be a symbol of the lives of soldiers lost in the first two world wars. It has been expanded to include heroes. Heroes are not the sort of people I want to encourage, the war crimes they allow themselves to be used for are disgusting. Wearing a poppy means you support the heinous crimes committed by heroes, they deserve no help from us.

  4. The BigYin
    FAIL

    Free speech?

    His alleged act was offensive to many, but he was simply exercising his right to free speech.

    Curtailing that should be even more offensive. (Unless you are a Daily Fail reader of course.)

    In fact, I find Kent police's action grossly offensive and as they were communicated to me electronically - can Kent police please arrest themselves?

    1. Wyrdness

      Re: Free speech?

      What right to free speech? This is the UK. We don't have such a constitutional right. We do have the European Convention's article 10 guaranteeing freedom of expression in our Human Rights Act. However, there are a large number of exceptions to this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Free speech?

        "right to free speech"

        anything not prohibited is permitted generally. and a lack of consitutional declaration does not preclude rights being defined elsewhere in common law and case law.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: Free speech?

          Well I have only one thing to say about all this:

          Free speech does not involve match's, really is that simple and sorry if I killed an entire thread of emotions.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Free speech?

      So you believe that anybody who reads the Daily Mail has no right to be heard?

      I guess for you free speech is only for those that agree with you and everybody else can shut the fuck up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Free speech? @AC

        Daily fail reads have a full right to a hearing. Then they can be shown up for the red-neck, witch buring, tar and feathering ignorant lynch mob they are.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Free speech? @AC

          > Daily fail reads have a full right to a hearing. Then they can be shown up for the red-neck, witch buring, tar and feathering ignorant lynch mob they are.

          The intolerance of the liberal left never ceases to amaze me.

          You can be heard only if you agree with me.

          You have a right to an opinion but only if it is the same as mine.

          You are innocent until proven guilty unless you are in the lower, middle or upper middle class (the Daily Mail demographic) in which case you are guilty.

          1. h4rm0ny
            Facepalm

            Re: Free speech? @AC

            "The intolerance of the liberal left never ceases to amaze me. You can be heard only if you agree with me. You have a right to an opinion but only if it is the same as mine."

            The poster you're replying to never said anything like that. They said that "Daily Mail" readers should be allowed the same voice as everyone else and they they could exposed as the [negative people] they are. There was nothing in their post about punishing those people or stopping them from speaking. I agree it's ridiculous to make sweeping statements about Daily Mail readers (I know at least one very nice one), but the poster said nothing like what you say they did.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Free speech? @h4rm0ny

              Go and read the Daily Mail online then look at the comments on a particular story and view what usually comes top voted. Bring back hanging quite often features in top spot.

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