Thursday, 11 November 2010

Jailed for your jokes

The more I read about this story, the more horrifying I realise it is. We're now essentially barred from making any statement online which could be taken in a literal way. Say goodbye sarcasm and irony, you're illegal now.

This might not be the biggest story around right now, but I thought it was a horrendous and ridiculous story all at the same time, Paul Chambers today lost his appeal against a conviction and fine he received for a joke he made on Twitter. Apparently, the judge decided he was a 'menace' and was likely to be taken seriously.

Here's the offending tweet, sent to a friend whom he was meant to meet, about the fact that his nearby airport had closed due to heavy snow:

"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"

Now I'm sorry, but if anyone took that seriously, they're a moron. It was a message sent to a friend, and visible to a small number of people who 'followed' him, I would guess he assumed he could trust them to know him well enough to know that he wasn't a terrorist. A fairly safe assumption you would have thought.

Added to that, what kind of terrorist would pre-announce their plans in joke form via Twitter, surely they'd be the single most incompetent terrorist ever, and not being able to see a friend would hardly be the most solid motive would it.

Because of the judges over-zealous interpretation of the law and lack of basic common sense this man not only has to pay a £1000 fine, but more importantly for him has lost his job, and will find it harder to get one in the future.

The Crown Prosecution Service must have known that this really was a nothing case because when they bought it to court they used the 'Nuisance Calls' Law, (designed to protect female telephonists at the Post Office in the 1930's) rather than the actual bomb hoax legislation, precisely because to get a conviction with the bomb hoax legislation they would have needed significantly more evidence of intent.

If you can get arrested for jokes made on the internet then I'd suggest that right now 90% of the British population are criminals on the run, it's absurd to take something like this from a social networking site and pretend that it was meant with any real intent at all.

I suggest we all secretly follow the idiotic judge who rejected this appeal, and next time he says 'Man, I'd kill for a cup of tea' I will personally jump out and make a citizen's arrest for intent to murder.

No comments: