Does Piers Morgan believe in free speech?

It should be noted that neither Collymore nor Morgan, who is cheering him on, are saying, regretfully, “Oh well, I suppose that’s the law.” They are, in fact, taking an active role in using it — prepensely shopping the obnoxious and the execrable to the state in the hope that they will be punished. According to the British tabloid the Daily Mirror, Collymore “has forwarded 22 tweets to the police, and pressure group Kick It Out also reported several anti-Semitic and racist tweets.” From America, meanwhile, Morgan expressed his support for his friend’s authoritarian proclivities: “I agree with @StanCollymore,” Morgan wrote obsequiously. “You can’t spew racist abuse or make death threats on TV or radio, why should Twitter be any different?” (Death threats and “racist abuse” are not the same thing, of course.) Morgan then requested “all my 3.9m followers to tweet a complaint about @PhilippLad to @TwitterUK & @metpoliceuk — let’s do this. #DeathThreats #Racism.”

Those who are reading these words and quietly wondering if this is all a storm in a quaint English teacup have not been paying attention to recent events. West Midlands Police — the force responsible for the part of England in which Collymore lives — confirmed quickly that authorities in a neighboring county “are investigating alleged abusive tweets to @StanCollymore.” The London Met, too, announced that it was on the case. And here’s the thing: When Morgan so excitedly writes, “Let’s do this,” he means it. Indeed, Collymore has a solid conviction rate. In 2012, he noticed an appallingly racist rant that a drunk teenager named Liam Stacey had thrown out onto Twitter, and he reported Stacey to the government. Local police dutifully arrested Stacey, charged him with incitement to racial hatred, and sent him to court. At the trial, the judge made it known that he was sending him to jail “to reflect the public outrage” — a chilling sentence to hear in a putatively free country. Stacey got 56 days inside.

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