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Spanish Politicians Call For More Censored Net After Political Assassination

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 19 2014

Isabel Carrasco did not die because of social media. The Spanish politician was murdered by a 55 year old woman who blamed Carrasco for her daughter's dismissal from the León provincial council in 2011, a snub that was dragged out for years in court over a payment dispute that was eventually decided in the council's favor just days before the murder took place. It is clearly a straightforward, if deranged and poorly planned, revenge killing. Why it has led Spanish politicians to call for the policing of social media is more of a mystery.

Global Voices reports that Carrasco raised her salary while simultaneously reducing the budget, and had been accused of embezzlement, among other questionable behaviors. After the shooting, some Twitter users had no problem speaking ill of the dead [translations by Global Voices]:

“Well I'm thrilled about the death of Isabel Carrasco, the day Aguirre dies I'll hold a party.”

“The citizens didn't get to see Isabel Carrasco put in jail, but the consolation is that she's already rotting just the same.”

“Isabel Carrasco threatened people. She was sentenced for fraud…she screwed the husband of the murderer and ruined her daughter. #jesuschrist”

These tweets, all of which were posted after the fact and in no way caused Carrasco's death, are now being held up as an argument for the regulation of social media.

Three Twitter users have been arrested for charges like “apology for murder” and incitement to murder after they threatened members of the People's Party (PP) with more violence.

The Interior Minister has said, “We have to combat cybercrime and promote cybersecurity, and to clean up undesirable social media.”

On the other hand, europa press reports [Global Voices translation]:

Ex-judge [Baltasar Garzón] has been surprised that the Ministry of the Interior “dedicated efforts to investigate” what is said on social media, because in cases where “injurious or calumnious” information is published, those who should act are those “who feel offended”.

This policing of Twitter comes on the heels of another social media clean-up scheme called “Operation Spider.” Earlier this month the Guardia Civil detained 21 people, including two minors, for “glorifying terrorism” on Twitter and Facebook.

In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Belen Fernandez writes:

In a Facebook post, one of the persons later detained complained that, although the Spanish state had condemned the Basque armed separatist group ETA as "evil terrorists" based on the assassinations and killings it perpetrated, "the banks are killing people every day and nothing happens; [rather], the state protects and defends them".

This, of course, would appear to be a relatively sober analysis of the contemporary situation in austerity-stricken Spain, where, in 2012, banks were overseeing approximately 500 home evictions per day, prompting a surge in suicides. It's not clear when drawing attention to state hypocrisy became a crime.

But there I go glorifying terrorism.

Fernandez points out that, thanks to an amnesty law that shields those who committed crimes under the dictator Francisco Franco (under whom the ETA formed, in response to “repression and persecution”): “the two years of prison time potentially facing deviant tweeters is a full two years more than the amount of prison time faced by, for example, torture-happy police inspectors.”

That fact should have Spaniards questioning both the motivations and the priorities of their censorship-happy politicians.

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