No one should ever be arrested for what they think or say. It is remarkable – and depressing – that this still needs to be said in the 21st century. But it seems it does.
Over the weekend we witnessed an alarming, almost medieval act of censorship. A woman was dragged away by cops for holding up a sign that said ‘Abolish the monarchy’. It was an intolerable assault on freedom of speech.
The woman in question was standing outside St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, which was awaiting the arrival of the Queen’s coffin. Mournful crowds had gathered. But this woman wasn’t in the mood for mourning. She was in the mood for politics. Her sign, in full, said: ‘Fuck imperialism. Abolish the monarchy.’
‘Officers appeared behind her’, says one news report, and ‘took her away’. They arrested her. Remind me what century this is? Someone being hauled off by the law for expressing anti-monarchist sentiments – it’s like something out of the 1500s.
Now, we can agree that the sorrowful occasion of the late monarch’s arrival at St Giles’ Cathedral is not the right time or place to make political statements. It is infantile, and certainly uncaring, to hold up an expletive-laden placard bashing the monarchy in a crowd of mourners for the monarch. It’s a lefty version of what those loons in the Westboro Baptist Church do. They, too, hijack funereal events to make their showy statements.