In light of recent debate about Twitter and trolling, the US State Department issued a rather timely statement:
“We believe that when public speech is deemed offensive, be it via social media or any other means, the issue is best addressed through open dialogue and honest debate.”
Those calling for prosecutions, users to be banned and active policing of what is and is not acceptable on Twitter should tread very carefully.
The statement was issued when one Government decided that a social networking site dedicated to discussing the role of religion in the country was offensive, and the person who organised the site was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes.
That Government was Saudi Arabia and if the West is to stand up for freedom of speech abroad, we need to remember that those same values – however uncomfortable they may be sometimes – must not be forgotten at home.