A UK man has been sentenced to 20 months in jail for hate speech, following a series of anti-Muslim Facebook posts.
Nigel Pelham, an unemployed man of Sussex, England, was charged with and found guilty of, “eight counts of publishing threatening written material intending to stir up religious hatred against Muslims.”
Hate Crimes Sergeant Peter Allen of the Sussex police made the statement that, “Nigel Pelham used Facebook to express some truly offensive views, with no understanding of how serious his actions were. Many people see social media as a harmless and sometimes faceless place to air their opinions, however I hope this shows we will not tolerate this type of behaviour and will act when someone reports their concern about what someone is posting.”
According to the Daily Caller:
Pelham, 50, was convicted for eight posts he made between February and November of 2015, which included a post where he suggested people “put a Muslim on top of a bonfire.”
Sergeant Allen called on residents of Sussex to report their fellow citizens should they find anything offensive posted on social media. “I encourage people who witness such content, to report it to the provider of the social media platform, but such reports can also be made to us online,” he said.
While no one would call Pelham’s views pleasant, the legitimacy of imprisoning a person for expressing their views is highly questionable, and the case has generated some controversy about the subjectivity of hate speech and the criminalization of certain opinions. Could this case signal the beginning of the end of free speech on the internet?