If you have been following the disturbingly dystopian saga of little Alfie Evans, an incredibly ill U.K. toddler condemned to die by the National Health Service — who has refused to release him to receive potentially life-saving treatment elsewhere — then you known tensions surrounding the situation are extremely high.
Local police were brought in by the NHS and Alder Hey Hospital to help enforce a court ruling denying the young boy’s release. Now, it appears those police officers are also keeping a sharp and watchful eye on the people who have expressed their utter disgust at the tragic manner in which it appears the hospital is purposefully killing the sick toddler.
In a Facebook post from the Merseyside Police, Chief Inspector Chris Gibson stated, “Merseyside Police has been made aware of a number of social media posts which have been made with reference to Alder Hey Hospital and the ongoing situation involving Alfie Evans.”
“I would like to make people aware that these posts are being monitored and remind social media users that any offences including malicious communications and threatening behaviour will be investigated and where necessary will be acted upon,” the chief added threateningly.
Needless to say, that threat didn’t go over particularly well in the comments section. For every message of support for the government workers at the police and hospital, there were several more countering them with a decidedly negative view of the situation.
Some remarked on how the NHS and hospital were literally murdering the young boy while the police stood and watched. Others noted that the cops’ focus on the protesters was keeping them from catching real criminals.
Still others expressed great concern over the threatening nature of the post and the chilling effect it has on the free speech of supposedly free Britons, who are increasingly being forced to realize they are no longer free citizens, but rather subjects of an authoritarian government.
Nor was the backlash against the Merseyside Police confined solely to that post. The department has also been utterly trolled — mostly by Americans proud of the free speech rights they thoroughly enjoy — on other Facebook updates wholly unrelated to the Alfie Evans situation, as can be seen in this post about guns being seized and taken off the streets.
The threat that social media posts would be “monitored” and “acted upon” by police was also put on Twitter. That tweet garnered quite a backlash against the government officials.
Some people defended the actions of the police, and noted that they were merely trying to protect the hospital and hospital employees from physical threats. But others took a much dimmer view of the police message.
Still others keyed in on the line in the statement about “malicious communications.” One user actually dug up the law — the Malicious Communications Act of 1988 — which made it illegal for any subject of the U.K. to send letters or electronic communications that purposely cause distress or anxiety.
In other words, a rather broad and terrifyingly Orwellian law criminalizes certain speech that may cause another person “distress or anxiety” — which is pretty much everything one sees on social media these days. But God forbid the employees of the hospital that have condemned a toddler to die be caused any “distress or anxiety” by angry posts on social media.
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