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Twitter joke not menacing after all

The conviction of Paul Chambers for making an obvious joke on Twitter about blowing an airport sky high has been quashed in the High Court.

So someone in the justice system has a brain cell to call his own. Pity the case had to get as far as the Lord Chief Justice, the aptly named Lord Judge in the job he was born for, before that person was found.

Tell you what is “clearly menacing”, though, if the future of liberty in this country means anything to you at all. The airport security manager who finked on Chambers to the police, the police who arrested him, the Crown Prosecution Service lawyers who prosecuted him, the magistrate who first convicted him, and Judge Jacqueline Davis who refused his initial appeal all still have their heads attached to their necks.

I jest.


7 comments to Twitter joke not menacing after all

  • Clovis Sangrail

    Thank goodness for that!
    Finally a glint of rationality amidst the increasing gloom.

  • Nope – It has served it’s purpose. No-one will think of opening up this can of worms again, freedom of speech is bullshit under such allegations.

    The punishment is the process, even if you are eventually cleared of wrong doing.

    This WILL NOT do anything to stop future abuses and those who interceded by putting the state and it’s security theatre ahead of free speech will be protected by the state because of their actions.

    Sometimes it’s like living in a Kafka novel. Next I’ll either be tried without knowing what for or be reincarnated as a cockroach.

    Fuck the police!

  • Laird

    I do agree that sometimes it’s like we’re all living in a Kafka novel, but I’m not sure John Galt is correct that this case won’t stop future abuses. We’ll never know, of course, because all those cases which are (hopefully) NOT brought as a result of this one won’t show up anywhere; they’re Bastiat’s “unseens”. So if in the future some airport security manager recalls that obvious jokes aren’t considered “menacing” and so doesn’t bother forwarding the tweet to his superiors, or a prosecutor understands that he won’t gain a conviction and so doesn’t bother to bring the case, we all win even though we aren’t aware of the bullet we dodged. Indeed, we don’t know how many times that has happened in the past; perhaps this one outlier getting through and testing the system is a good thing and reinforces what most people understood intuitively. But, as I said, we’ll never really know. I prefer to live as an optimist.

  • RAB

    Trouble is Laird, we are still saddled with “Insulting words and behaviour” under section 5 of the Pulic Order Act. With that in their armoury they can persecute whoever they like for anything they dislike. And as John Galt has said before, the process is the punishment. They don’t care if they win or lose, just taking you to court is enough to fuck your life up for a while.

    There is a fightback, but I won’t hold my breath for iDave & Co changing the Act in any way.


  • Laird

    Not entirely the same issue, RAB. Chambers engaged in no “insulting words and behavior”, merely allegedly (and, as we now know, not actually) “menacing” words. I’m not saying that the Public Order Act isn’t foolish and deserving of amendment, but that’s not what he was charged under. This was a small step in the right direction, a welcome development in these truly bizarre times. You take your victories as you can.

  • RAB

    Well to my mind Laird it is the same issue, one of common sense, free speech and the intent of the Prosecution.

    Nobody in their right mind could see that tweet as anything but a venting of spleen and frustration and certainly not a serious threat of violent action or “Menace” in any way. But the Prosecution went ahead anyway.

    And this is where the intent of the Prosecution comes in; they did not go for one of our new anti terrorism laws, they went for one that originates in the 30s trying to stop people being nasty to GPO Telephonists.

    Someone at the CPS had to go down the law library to find that one to charge him with, because it would not have been immediately known to any lawyer I’m aquainted with. They wanted to prosecute and they didn’t care how. And the fuckers almost got away with it.

    When you write laws with the words… “Menacing, threatening, and insulting” in them, you really need to be very clear in defining what those words mean. But our current govts don’t give a damn. Words will mean what they say they mean, and whenever they feel like it, they will change the meaning to get the result they desire. Truly Alice through the Looking Glass…

    So I am not as optimistic as you about the supposed restraint that this successful Appeal will have on our Masters.

  • Rob

    It would have been a bit embarassing to uphold this in the week it was revealed that a police officer in Devon (Dorset?) had made a far more convincing bomb threat against a ferry and hadn’t even been fired, let alone prosecuted.