Smile – or else!

Normally, when smiling and officialdom are mentioned in the same breath, smiles are considered a bad thing – do not smirk at a police officer, do not smile on your passport photo… Yet, the opposite has just occurred – a man has been arrested for not smiling! The man in question happens to have Parkinson’s, meaning that his facial muscles are ‘frozen’ and he cannot smile, but that didn’t stop the police from arresting him whilst he watched an olympic cyclic event. Apparently, he was standing nearby a group of protestors (of whom we are never told if they were arrested) and the lack of a smile was taken as a sure sign of him being one and intending some terrible action. I suppose it makes a change to arresting someone because they ‘look a bit Muslim’, or shooting a Brazilian who looks nothing like the guy they thought they were following. But, it raises serious questions about the police. Firstly, arresting someone to ‘prevent a serious breach of the peace’ is the excuse you would expect in a dictatorship, not a supposed democracy – no crime has been committed and yet you are hauling people off to jail? Is it too much to expect the police to either closely monitor a situation and only intervene when something kicks off, or to use their powers to move people on to relocate them a little further away from an event where they will be less likely to cause disruption? After all, even had he been a protestor, unless they seriously believed he was about to assault someone or something equally serious, they had no right to intervene – if a protestor wants to unfurl a banner or shout as cyclists go by, in the hopes of appearing for a few seconds on television, good luck to them. More importantly, though, what makes the police think that they have the right to arrest someone merely because they don’t like the way they look? Some people are more exuberant than other, some are scruffier, some are pierced, some have tattoos, yet none of that tells you what a person is planning to do. That he had a physical disability that affected his appearance makes the case seem worse, but it would really be no better had he just been a more taciturn sort of person or a bit depressed for some reason and hoping that seeing the race would cheer him up. Such heavy-handed policing is a disgusting travesty! Law-abiding people should be able to go about their business with whatever expression on their face they wish without being harassed or arrested!

One Response to “Smile – or else!”
  1. Surely, they could have asked him whether he was with the protest group? Or maybe that was just too much effort!

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