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Skepticemea
13th September 2011, 07:41 AM
Reading man jailed for "trolling" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-14894576)

I abhor what he did but am also disturbed that he has been jailed.

sarge
13th September 2011, 07:47 AM
Is this type of sentence, and the additional ban on the use of social networking sites, the norm in England? I suspect this would be protected speech over here.

Monketey Ghost
13th September 2011, 07:49 AM
Agree on both counts. Terrible thing to do, but jail?

Darat
13th September 2011, 07:49 AM
Reading man jailed for "trolling" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-14894576)

I abhor what he did but am also disturbed that he has been jailed.

Not saying twas right or wrong but it's nothing new is it? People have been jailed for sending "...a communication of an indecent or offensive nature..." for as long as we've had the likes of a postal service.

Monketey Ghost
13th September 2011, 07:52 AM
Indecent...

offensive nature...

Surely would be protected speech here in the US.

HansMustermann
13th September 2011, 07:57 AM
Yet in the USA people have been jailed for sending obscene materials by post. Read, selling porn DVDs online. It seems to me like protected speech has its limits over there too.

Darat
13th September 2011, 08:04 AM
Indecent...

offensive nature...

Surely would be protected speech here in the US.

For Utah: http://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/854.html

...snip...

However, the government can regulate the following four things:

Sending obscene material through the mail (18 U.S.C. 1461);
Distribution of pornography (76-10-1204 U.C.A.);
Mailing material with indecent pictures or words on the wrapper
or envelope (18 U.S.C. 1463); and
Continuing to send material after you file a prohibitory order (39 U.S.C. 3008 and 3010).




...snip...

Darat
13th September 2011, 08:07 AM
This is another one of those areas (privacy is another one) that seems to cause some shock in folk when they find that the "teh interweb" is being treated like we've always treated stuff.

Lamuella
13th September 2011, 08:11 AM
he's clearly a horrible person, but being a horrible person isn't enough for a jail sentence in my opinion.

Greedo
13th September 2011, 08:12 AM
What the man did was obviously a disgusting thing to do, but four months of jail? If this had happened in the US I'd have said "only in America.", but it seems that is not so. :boxedin:

Cavemonster
13th September 2011, 08:15 AM
For Utah: http://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/854.html

For context though, these are regulated that way because they use the mail, a public utility. In the US mail is more controlled and less protected by free speech rights than other media of communication.

Of course you can find examples of individuals charged for stupid things like swearing in front of a minor, but for the most part, freedom of speech here is protected even into the realm of the offensive.

That's why the WBC can stand a certain distance from an ongoing funeral holding signs and chanting that the deceased is burning in hell.

Ron_Tomkins
13th September 2011, 08:18 AM
There you go. That's what happens So now Yrreg, Epix, DOC, Bill Thompson and the like... watch it from now on! ;)

roger
13th September 2011, 08:22 AM
This is another one of those areas (privacy is another one) that seems to cause some shock in folk when they find that the "teh interweb" is being treated like we've always treated stuff.
I'm no lawyer. On the surface, it seems different to have legislation about sending material privately from one party to another, and protected speech .

For example, 18 U.S.C 1461 is specially about mailing this material. It would be not illegal based on this law to hand out flyers on the street, to say this stuff to another person, etc. Certainly it goes on all the times on the streets of Vegas.

I think most people view forums and such as public speech (not sure that is a legal term, hopefully my meaning is clear) rather than something akin to mailing.

For example, read the law(source (http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/71/1461)) - you are not allowed to mail information about abortions! It's a really outdated law, I would think, in most people's mind, and we certainly wouldn't think that people should not be allowed to talk about abortion, or post about it on a forum. Yet, for some reason, you can't mail information about abortion.

Every written or printed card, letter, circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind giving information...or by whom any act or operation of any kind for the procuring or producing of abortion will be done or performed,
Again, I am no lawyer, but I read that as saying you can't mail information about planned parenthoood, or information about drugs that induce abortion, etc. I would certainly be very surprised if I wasn't allowed to provide somebody information about abortions via speech or an internet forum.

Psi Baba
13th September 2011, 08:24 AM
I think an appropriate punishment for this guy would be to set up a web site about him with a message board where posters can make fun of him and humiliate him.

Skeptic Ginger
13th September 2011, 08:24 AM
Indecent...

offensive nature...

Surely would be protected speech here in the US.Maybe that is the problem rather than the fact the guy got a few weeks in jail for cruel behavior.

I don't think the first amendment would suffer for stopping this kind of 'speech'. I doubt the guy could make a case that he had anything to say with that behavior. Seems more like he needs a psychiatrist. I don't think a schizophrenic harassing someone by ranting at them on the street would be seen as protected by free speech rights, for a comparable example.

Monketey Ghost
13th September 2011, 08:29 AM
Do you mean by 'speech', speech?

Why does anyone have to make a case for what they say? :confused:

~is my two cents.

Darat
13th September 2011, 08:30 AM
I'm no lawyer. On the surface, it seems different to have legislation about sending material privately from one party to another, and protected speech .

For example, 18 U.S.C 1461 is specially about mailing this material. It would be not illegal based on this law to hand out flyers on the street, to say this stuff to another person, etc. Certainly it goes on all the times on the streets of Vegas.

I think most people view forums and such as public speech (not sure that is a legal term, hopefully my meaning is clear) rather than something akin to mailing.

For example, read the law(source (http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/71/1461)) - you are not allowed to mail information about abortions! It's a really outdated law, I would think, in most people's mind, and we certainly wouldn't think that people should not be allowed to talk about abortion, or post about it on a forum. Yet, for some reason, you can't mail information about abortion.


Again, I am no lawyer, but I read that as saying you can't mail information about planned parenthoood, or information about drugs that induce abortion, etc.

I'm in agreement with you, our legal systems are definitely lagging behind how society views these things and I think your "...forums and such as public speech.." is why people are shocked to find it's being dealt with like say making a nuisance phone call.

Yet saying that I suspect that if you ask someone over here in the UK should someone be prosecuted for say making nuisance phone calls (includes heavy breathing, obscene comments and the like) they would say yes. As ever society's mores are contradictory and ever so slightly incoherent!

roger
13th September 2011, 08:36 AM
Yet saying that I suspect that if you ask someone over here in the UK should someone be prosecuted for say making nuisance phone calls (includes heavy breathing, obscene comments and the like) they would say yes. As ever society's mores are contradictory and ever so slightly incoherent!
Hmm, interesting analogy, and I would agree with you. I'm trying to parse why I think so, and the main reason is it is a private mechanism, but I'm not sure how rational that is. I certainly don't feel I should be protected from somebody saying "you are an idiot" to me on the street or on this forum (I'm talking legally, not about the forum rules). Interesting.

cwalner
13th September 2011, 08:40 AM
When I first read the article, I misunderstood and thought that his posts were part of the bullying that led to the suicide, and found the sentence appropriate, if a bit light. Then as I read further, I realized that he made his posts to sites set up to memorialize young people who died prematurely and I realized he was just being a major league asshat.

But as others have mentioned, in most western democracies, it is not against the law to be an asshat, so the jail does seem a bit extreme. Even so, I still find it difficult to muster up much sympathy for the guy.

commandlinegamer
13th September 2011, 08:41 AM
Poison pen letter writers have been gaoled in the past:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1359310/Poison-pen-villager-is-jailed.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1376120/Neighbour-jailed-for-poison-pen-campaign.html

JJM 777
13th September 2011, 09:06 AM
Only 4 months?

This guy was a (hint: Moby --) and needs something harsher to get to his senses. A year sounds better.

bluesjnr
13th September 2011, 09:06 AM
I'm torn, this sentence seems excessive yet I have to consider the upset this must have caused for the relatives of the girl and wonder if this factored in to the judges decision.

What a sick thing to do and for what reason?

This case is not isolated and perhaps this sentence will send a message to these "jokers".

Babbylonian
13th September 2011, 09:10 AM
It must be nice for the UK when they have enough space in jails to imprison people for being jerks.

At least it seems like a better reason to jail someone than drug use.

Skepticemea
13th September 2011, 09:11 AM
Only 4 months?

This guy was a (hint: Moby --) and needs something harsher to get to his senses. A year sounds better.I'm not sure 4 months in prison will stop this bloke being a complete tool. Will probably just introduce him to a few more of them.

Sabretooth
13th September 2011, 09:41 AM
Didn't some record store owner get jailed for selling gangsta-rap records in the early 90's?


ETA: Yep, in 1990...http://www.nytimes.com/1990/10/02/us/trial-opens-on-sale-of-2-live-crew-album.html

I Ratant
13th September 2011, 09:46 AM
Didn't some record store owner get jailed for selling gangsta-rap records in the early 90's?
.
2 Live Crew... in Florida..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_Live_Crew
.
I bought the "Nasty.." CD just because I can as an American.
Have never and will never listen to it.

ServiceSoon
13th September 2011, 09:58 AM
You'll really run a tight (authoritative) ship don't cha.

Darat
13th September 2011, 10:05 AM
Hmm, interesting analogy, and I would agree with you. I'm trying to parse why I think so, and the main reason is it is a private mechanism, but I'm not sure how rational that is. I certainly don't feel I should be protected from somebody saying "you are an idiot" to me on the street or on this forum (I'm talking legally, not about the forum rules). Interesting.

I've used the analogy with nuisance calls in a few conversations with people and it seems to generate the same conflict with most folk, it's a strange one.

Skeptic Ginger
13th September 2011, 10:42 AM
Do you mean by 'speech', speech?

Why does anyone have to make a case for what they say? :confused:

~is my two cents.
I think one can make the distinction between getting your kicks by harassing people and the intent of the Constitution in regards to the right to free speech.

TubbaBlubba
13th September 2011, 10:48 AM
I'm glad he's in jail, I just hope the slope isn't too slippery.

Architect
13th September 2011, 10:53 AM
I think one can make the distinction between getting your kicks by harassing people and the intent of the Constitution in regards to the right to free speech.


Or as the case may, the right to free speech is protected by the ECHR.

Newtons Bit
13th September 2011, 10:53 AM
Didn't some record store owner get jailed for selling gangsta-rap records in the early 90's?


ETA: Yep, in 1990...http://www.nytimes.com/1990/10/02/us/trial-opens-on-sale-of-2-live-crew-album.html

I read up on that back-story and was amazed at the number of people back then were recently in the news. Jack Thompson, the now disbarred anti-video game crusader, was the man who started it all. Dr. Gates, Jr, the black man who was arrested by a white police officer for breaking into his own house and later sat down for a beer with said police officer and the President, testified in defense of the band when they were charged with obscenity.

In the end, the appeals courts shut down the obscenity charges, however.

Rolfe
13th September 2011, 11:16 AM
The perpetrator is being described on the news as having Asperger's syndrome.

Rolfe.

Didaktylos
13th September 2011, 11:46 AM
I expect it would have been different if he had confined himself to ranting on his own blog/Facebook/Twitter.

NoahFence
13th September 2011, 11:50 AM
he's clearly a horrible person, but being a horrible person isn't enough for a jail sentence in my opinion.

Speaking only for me - I think it's freakin' funny! Serves him right.

Mark6
13th September 2011, 11:54 AM
What the man did was obviously a disgusting thing to do, but four months of jail? If this had happened in the US I'd have said "only in America.", but it seems that is not so. :boxedin:
Only in Britain! :)

Seriously, it is not. Several countries already have laws against anonymous online bullying.

Which I happen to agree with. Part of free speech is taking responsibility for what you say. I do not believe in a right of anonymous free speech.

Sabretooth
13th September 2011, 11:57 AM
I'm glad he's in jail, I just hope the slope soap isn't too slippery.

ftfy :D

Mark6
13th September 2011, 12:03 PM
Oh, that's unnecessarily cruel. I am all for smooth and slippery soap.

cwalner
13th September 2011, 12:12 PM
I've used the analogy with nuisance calls in a few conversations with people and it seems to generate the same conflict with most folk, it's a strange one.

The more I think about this guy, I think his actions are more comparable to those of Fred Phelps. He goes to public spaces set aside to mourn the loss of a loved one, and figuratively defecates on their grave in front of all of the mourners. 100% despicable, but not criminal.

Ron_Tomkins
13th September 2011, 12:22 PM
Maybe the authorities were seriously inspired by this movie

TLEo7H9tqSM

Roadtoad
13th September 2011, 12:49 PM
Fred Phelps pickets the funeral of an American soldier. It's repulsive, but under the law, we allow it. I don't see too much of a difference here, save for the location.

As to his having Asperger's, so what? This was over the top, even for someone with that condition.

Architect
13th September 2011, 01:13 PM
The more I think about this guy, I think his actions are more comparable to those of Fred Phelps. He goes to public spaces set aside to mourn the loss of a loved one, and figuratively defecates on their grave in front of all of the mourners. 100% despicable, but not criminal.

..in America. But criminal in much of Europe. There you go. We make our laws, you make yours.

Alt+F4
13th September 2011, 01:21 PM
..in America. But criminal in much of Europe. There you go. We make our laws, you make yours.

Indeed. According to the OP link, "sending indecent or offensive communications" is illegal in the UK. The fool got what he deserved.

cwalner
13th September 2011, 01:25 PM
..in America. But criminal in much of Europe. There you go. We make our laws, you make yours.

Fair enough, I guess it would have been better stated as 'should not be criminal'. I actually agree with the US law in this case.

Matthew Best
13th September 2011, 01:34 PM
This guy was a (hint: Moby --)

He was a bald bespectacled musician?

cwalner
13th September 2011, 01:35 PM
He was a bald bespectacled musician?

No, we refer to them as Hrabs.

Architect
13th September 2011, 03:10 PM
Fair enough, I guess it would have been better stated as 'should not be criminal'. I actually agree with the US law in this case.

I'm afraid I don't, as I class it in the same category as hate mail through the post. The question is perhaps whether the length of sentence is appropriate - seems steep to me, but without having seen more details etc etc.

Rolfe
13th September 2011, 03:30 PM
I would probably have favoured a community service, if at all possible. Get him in contact with actual people rather than a computer screen, and grow some empathy. But maybe he's too antisocial to be foisted on the unsuspecting community.

Rolfe.

Alt+F4
13th September 2011, 03:49 PM
The question is perhaps whether the length of sentence is appropriate - seems steep to me, but without having seen more details etc etc.

Well according to the article he was cautioned for a similar offense in 2009, that could be the reason for the jail time.

WildCat
13th September 2011, 04:38 PM
Reading man jailed for "trolling" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-14894576)

I abhor what he did but am also disturbed that he has been jailed.
Hah, that pic is exactly what I picture trolls looking like!

And the thought police can go screw themselves.

lionking
13th September 2011, 04:51 PM
The perpetrator is being described on the news as having Asperger's syndrome.

Rolfe.

Which is a mitigating factor in my opinion. I think some sort of community service order (do you have them in the UK?) would have been appropriate.

Rolfe
13th September 2011, 04:56 PM
Yeah, that's what I thought too. Prison is likely just to make him worse I imagine.

Rolfe.

John Albert
13th September 2011, 05:03 PM
I'm guessing the judge sentenced him to 4 months in prison just "for the lulz."

stevea
13th September 2011, 05:05 PM
The nice thing about this thread is that so many closed-minded anti-freedom totalitarians self-identify.

How can anyone justify the position that calling a dead person some names and making a vid to ridicule them is a CRIMINAL offense and deserves incarceration ? If I do the same to Dick Nixon should I be jailed ?

If the family is actually harmed then they have a cause for CIVIL action. To make it a criminal matter is amazingly backward - knuckle-dragging.

The only sense in which "freedom" is a meaningful concept is that we allow others the right to do what we would not do, what we find objectionable, what we find offensive. We need to assert rights only to do unpopular things. So IMO anyone unwilling to accept that this guy was rude yet within his rights is anti-freedom. As with the porn/mail topic we always have some population of small-minded anti-freedom people who want to enforce their views on others to the detriment of legitimate freedoms. Totalitarians,

To make this a criminal rather than a civil matter is to claim the act is harmful to society at large - and not just to the individual/family, I don't see that at all. The guy didn't foment a riot nor scream fire in a crowded theater. It's just offensive speech, categorically similar to the stuff on this forum. No general harm at all.

What is next in the prissy overly-sensitive totalitarian regime some here prefer ? Shall we jail people who use the wrong Indian/Native_American/First_Nation term ? Shall we lock people up if they believe that inoculations cause autism. Why not tax and jail people who reject evolution, or maybe the death penalty for rejecting global warming ? Clearly many find these ideas objectionable too.

No - speech should be protected. The only exceptions are speech that cause harm directly.

Rolfe
13th September 2011, 05:05 PM
I'm guessing the judge sentenced him to 4 months in prison just "for the lulz."


I don't know. Why don't you go ask him?

I speculated that it could be the man was so antisocial that it wouldn't have been fair to foist him on the unsuspecting "community".

Rolfe.

stevea
13th September 2011, 05:09 PM
Indeed. According to the OP link, "sending indecent or offensive communications" is illegal in the UK. The fool got what he deserved.

So then this forum is illegal in the UK ? Certainly some parts are offensive.
To say offensive speech his illegal is equivalent to saying freedom of speech is illegal.

Skeptic Ginger
13th September 2011, 05:15 PM
Or as the case may, the right to free speech is protected by the ECHR.I wasn't being USA-centric, my particular comment followed: "Surely would be protected speech here in the US."

Skeptic Ginger
13th September 2011, 05:19 PM
Fred Phelps pickets the funeral of an American soldier. It's repulsive, but under the law, we allow it. I don't see too much of a difference here, save for the location.

As to his having Asperger's, so what? This was over the top, even for someone with that condition.I don't see it as part of Asperger's either. But it does seem to be some kind of behavioral disorder.

I'm trying to get a grasp on the concepts here. Phelps is a mental case, but his disgusting speech has a purpose in his mind. This guy seems to have mental problems but the disgusting speech appears to have no particular meaning other than he'e getting a personal jolly out of it. Maybe there is less difference than I think, but something seems conceptually different about the two behaviors.

Roadtoad
13th September 2011, 05:30 PM
I don't see it as part of Asperger's either. But it does seem to be some kind of behavioral disorder.

I'm trying to get a grasp on the concepts here. Phelps is a mental case, but his disgusting speech has a purpose in his mind. This guy seems to have mental problems but the disgusting speech appears to have no particular meaning other than he'e getting a personal jolly out of it. Maybe there is less difference than I think, but something seems conceptually different about the two behaviors.

True enough. And as Rolfe points out, the judge may have felt this guy was so far out of line he couldn't be left alone in polite society.

Keep in mind, we're dealing with an entirely different legal system. This is obviously not going to be handled in the same way as it would here, and England is taking a far harsher view of this than I could, simply because we protect speech here, even if it's offensive. (I'd still like to slug the little worm, but that's another matter.)

More to come, I'm sure. This guy might be kept out of social media for a while, but I question whether he'd be kept entirely quiet.

Alt+F4
13th September 2011, 05:50 PM
So then this forum is illegal in the UK ? Certainly some parts are offensive.

I don't know. The OP link didn't specifiy if "sending indecent or offensive communications" has to originate in the UK for it to be illegal.

To say offensive speech is illegal is equivalent to saying freedom of speech is illegal.

It is illegal in the UK in this case, if that is right or wrong is a separate issue.

corbin
13th September 2011, 07:16 PM
I think you have a psychological problem if you are so afraid of offensive words or pictures that you think they should be made illegal.

As well as a misunderstanding of the concept that power corrupts.

cwalner
13th September 2011, 07:56 PM
The nice thing about this thread is that so many closed-minded anti-freedom totalitarians self-identify.

How can anyone justify the position that calling a dead person some names and making a vid to ridicule them is a CRIMINAL offense and deserves incarceration ? If I do the same to Dick Nixon should I be jailed ?

If the family is actually harmed then they have a cause for CIVIL action. To make it a criminal matter is amazingly backward - knuckle-dragging.

The only sense in which "freedom" is a meaningful concept is that we allow others the right to do what we would not do, what we find objectionable, what we find offensive. We need to assert rights only to do unpopular things. So IMO anyone unwilling to accept that this guy was rude yet within his rights is anti-freedom. As with the porn/mail topic we always have some population of small-minded anti-freedom people who want to enforce their views on others to the detriment of legitimate freedoms. Totalitarians,

To make this a criminal rather than a civil matter is to claim the act is harmful to society at large - and not just to the individual/family, I don't see that at all. The guy didn't foment a riot nor scream fire in a crowded theater. It's just offensive speech, categorically similar to the stuff on this forum. No general harm at all.

What is next in the prissy overly-sensitive totalitarian regime some here prefer ? Shall we jail people who use the wrong Indian/Native_American/First_Nation term ? Shall we lock people up if they believe that inoculations cause autism. Why not tax and jail people who reject evolution, or maybe the death penalty for rejecting global warming ? Clearly many find these ideas objectionable too.

No - speech should be protected. The only exceptions are speech that cause harm directly.

Nice strawman.

I agree with your conclusion that this should not be criminal, but your argument has nothing to do with what this guy actually did.

He specifically went to sites designed to memorialize a recently deceased person he did not know personally to defame them to people who did know the deceased. It also seems as he did this for no personal gain other than the power trip of hurting causing others emotional distress.

While I personally disagree with this being criminal, I can understand why others feel such behavior should be.

Babbylonian
13th September 2011, 08:11 PM
He specifically went to sites designed to memorialize a recently deceased person he did not know personally to defame them to people who did know the deceased. It also seems as he did this for no personal gain other than the power trip of hurting causing others emotional distress.

While I personally disagree with this being criminal, I can understand why others feel such behavior should be.
I'm with you on every point here. If I was going to support criminalizing Internet speech (aside from direct incitement to violence, which I believe is already covered in just about any jurisdiction), this would be a deserving example.

While the Phelps crew here in the US does disgusting things, they've at least got a broader point they're trying to make, albeit in an ineffectual, objectionable manner. This guy seemed to be only interested in causing pain and distress. The Innertubez would obviously be [much] better without him.

Architect
14th September 2011, 12:06 AM
The nice thing about this thread is that so many closed-minded anti-freedom totalitarians self-identify.

How can anyone justify the position that calling a dead person some names and making a vid to ridicule them is a CRIMINAL offense and deserves incarceration ? If I do the same to Dick Nixon should I be jailed ?

If the family is actually harmed then they have a cause for CIVIL action. To make it a criminal matter is amazingly backward - knuckle-dragging.

The only sense in which "freedom" is a meaningful concept is that we allow others the right to do what we would not do, what we find objectionable, what we find offensive. We need to assert rights only to do unpopular things. So IMO anyone unwilling to accept that this guy was rude yet within his rights is anti-freedom. As with the porn/mail topic we always have some population of small-minded anti-freedom people who want to enforce their views on others to the detriment of legitimate freedoms. Totalitarians,

To make this a criminal rather than a civil matter is to claim the act is harmful to society at large - and not just to the individual/family, I don't see that at all. The guy didn't foment a riot nor scream fire in a crowded theater. It's just offensive speech, categorically similar to the stuff on this forum. No general harm at all.

What is next in the prissy overly-sensitive totalitarian regime some here prefer ? Shall we jail people who use the wrong Indian/Native_American/First_Nation term ? Shall we lock people up if they believe that inoculations cause autism. Why not tax and jail people who reject evolution, or maybe the death penalty for rejecting global warming ? Clearly many find these ideas objectionable too.

No - speech should be protected. The only exceptions are speech that cause harm directly.


As other have pointed out, you've not addressed any of the apparent facts of this case and seem to be objecting a priori to any restrictions on speech that "case harm directly". Your definition of this is not given; one can only speculate as to whether you believe that religious or racial hate speech, which is generally illegal in Europe, should be permitted.

The guilt party here appears to have deliberetaly targetted a number of digital media outlets with messages which can only have been intended to cause significant distress to the deceased's family. In the UK, as with a number of other Western countries, this falls within the scope of a criminal offence. The operative term is "significant"; contrary to your suggestion, argument and simple offence is not sufficient.

In reality one would normally have expected a lighter sentence however the Judge's reference to a previous offence does suggest a history here and the possibility that initial cautions had been given. It may very well be that locking the fellow up is appropriate, although I must admit I think the length is wholly excessive.

You may not like our laws, but speech is guaranteed by ECHR. Society has placed slightly tighter restriction on this viz-a-viz (say) hate crime or slander than the US, but to therefore suggest that Europe is in any way "anti freedom" is more than a little misinformed.

Undesired Walrus
14th September 2011, 12:11 AM
Reading man jailed for "trolling" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-14894576)

I abhor what he did but am also disturbed that he has been jailed.

It's harassment is it not?

Darat
14th September 2011, 12:18 AM
So then this forum is illegal in the UK ? Certainly some parts are offensive.
To say offensive speech his illegal is equivalent to saying freedom of speech is illegal.

Are you fine then with nuisance phone calls (see earlier posts for the definition)?

Darat
14th September 2011, 12:19 AM
Hah, that pic is exactly what I picture trolls looking like!

And the thought police can go screw themselves.

That may well be fair enough but what has it got to do with this case?

cwalner
14th September 2011, 12:19 AM
In reality one would normally have expected a lighter sentence however the Judge's reference to a previous offence does suggest a history here and the possibility that initial cautions had been given. It may very well be that locking the fellow up is appropriate, although I must admit I think the length is wholly excessive.

My biggest concern is that 4 months in prison may aggravate the behavior. As others have suggested a sentence of community service coupled with counseling might be more effective at curbing the misbehavior than jail time.

However, as you said, that might be what was tried in the previous cases, so the judge may have decided that he had his chance to change, so now the only thing to do was punish.

Darat
14th September 2011, 12:19 AM
I think you have a psychological problem if you are so afraid of offensive words or pictures that you think they should be made illegal.

As well as a misunderstanding of the concept that power corrupts.

Yet as I showed this is the case in many countries, including the USA.

Darat
14th September 2011, 12:28 AM
Nice strawman.

I agree with your conclusion that this should not be criminal, but your argument has nothing to do with what this guy actually did.

He specifically went to sites designed to memorialize a recently deceased person he did not know personally to defame them to people who did know the deceased. It also seems as he did this for no personal gain other than the power trip of hurting causing others emotional distress.

While I personally disagree with this being criminal, I can understand why others feel such behavior should be.

You need to go deeper than this to understand why he was convicted.

The prohibition of using means of communication such as the phone or the post to send obscene/offensive material has been illegal pretty much since the means of communication came about. So this type of conviction has at least decades of legal precedent behind it (in both the USA and the UK).

As I said earlier I'm not saying that the conviction was right or wrong as I simply haven't mind my mind up yet so I would like to see people who think it was wrong or right explain the reasoning they used to come to that decision. Especially those that seem to be saying that because it was done via the internet that should make a legal difference in how we deal with what the lad did.

Darat
14th September 2011, 12:31 AM
It's harassment is it not?

Or another take on it, someone has placed a book for remembrance messages at a public location, someone comes in and starts to scribble "obscenities" all over it.

commandlinegamer
14th September 2011, 01:01 AM
Forget about the fact it was an internet communication for the moment.

If your daughter had recently died and a stranger came up to you in the street and said, repeatedly, "By the way, your girl was a slapper"* would that still be acceptable?

I'd be surprised if it wasn't regarded as harassment. Free speech has little to do with it.

* - Or consider something innocuous: "Jesus Saves", "Buy one, get one free".

Skepticemea
14th September 2011, 01:41 AM
As I mentioned in the OP, it was a disgusting, offensive act, but I'm not sure it should be criminal. Would it have been criminal to go on to a Christina Aguilera fansite and post derogatory remarks about the singer?

I watched with some distaste as the dead children that were being commemorated on this site were described as this mans "victims".

At no point do I condone this idiot's actions but I don't think it's an offence requiring gaol time. If we start gaoling people for being ********* we're going to need a hell of a prison-building program.

Darat
14th September 2011, 02:18 AM
...snip...

At no point do I condone this idiot's actions but I don't think it's an offence requiring gaol time. If we start gaoling people for being ********* we're going to need a hell of a prison-building program.

But we aren't starting to do this - we've done it for a long time (albeit we've updated or replaced the legislation that covers it over the years).

Have a look at this page: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/communications_offences/#p_12 it provides interesting reading.

commandlinegamer
14th September 2011, 02:26 AM
But we aren't starting to do this - we've done it for a long time (albeit we've updated or replaced the legislation that covers it over the years).

Have a look at this page: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/communications_offences/#p_12 it provides interesting reading.

The case Connolly v DPP about a Roman Catholic who sent pictures of dead foetuses to pharmacies, referenced in the above link, is quite instructive. Judgment dismissing the appeal here:

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2007/237.html

It recognises that not everyone would necessarily be offended, or need the same protection, to the same degree.

28. In my judgment, the persons who worked in the three pharmacies which were targeted by Mrs Connolly had the right not to have sent to them material of the kind that she sent when it was her purpose, or one of her purposes, to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient. Just as members of the public have the right to be protected from such material (sent for such a purpose) in the privacy of their homes, so too, in general terms, do people in the workplace. But it must depend on the circumstances. The more offensive the material, the greater the likelihood that such persons have the right to be protected from receiving it. But the recipient may not be a person who needs such protection. Thus, for example, the position of a doctor who routinely performs abortions who receives photographs similar to those that were sent by Mrs Connolly in this case may well be materially different from that of employees in a pharmacy which happens to sell the "morning after pill". It seems to me that such a doctor would be less likely to find the photographs grossly offensive than the pharmacist's employees. To take a different example, suppose that it were Government policy to support abortion. A member of the Cabinet who spoke publicly in support of abortion and who received such photographs in his office in Westminster might well stand on a different footing from a member of the public who received them in the privacy of his home or at his place of work.

Dave Rogers
14th September 2011, 02:27 AM
As to his having Asperger's, so what? This was over the top, even for someone with that condition.

It certainly doesn't excuse it, but it suggests that putting him in jail may not be the best way of preventing him from doing it again. I hope somebody has had the sense, at some point in all this, to get a competent clinical psychologist involved.

Dave

Skepticemea
14th September 2011, 02:33 AM
But we aren't starting to do this - we've done it for a long time (albeit we've updated or replaced the legislation that covers it over the years).

Have a look at this page: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/communications_offences/#p_12 it provides interesting reading.Although that legislation has been in place since 2003, an increasing number of people are being arrested, tried and convicted under a piece of legislation where the "mens rea" is whatever the CPS and/or court decides it is.

Here's a story from the New Statesmen from last year, also interesting reading:

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/11/section-127-paul

commandlinegamer
14th September 2011, 02:39 AM
The Twitter Joke Trial though regards a tweet in poor taste but which was posted in jest, and which would have shown up to Chambers' followers. It was found IIRC by someone working for the airline because they searched for that phrase or similar. Had it been sent directly to airport employees, that, IMO, would be an entirely different matter.

Skepticemea
14th September 2011, 02:45 AM
The Twitter Joke Trial though regards a tweet in poor taste but which was poster in jest, and which would have shown up to Chambers' followers. It was found IIRC by someone working for the airline because they searched for that phrase or similar. Had it been sent directly to airport employees, that, IMO, would be an entirely different matter.Considering the number of people that appear to actively seek offence (and the internet is certainly a target rich environment for that) I consider this piece of legislation to be pretty dangerous. Did Chambers get leave to appeal to the High Court?

Darat
14th September 2011, 02:47 AM
Although that legislation has been in place since 2003, an increasing number of people are being arrested, tried and convicted under a piece of legislation where the "mens rea" is whatever the CPS and/or court decides it is.

Here's a story from the New Statesmen from last year, also interesting reading:

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/11/section-127-paul

The oldest reference to such legislation is from "...the 1930s legislation covering misuse of telephones..." so as I said for decades. One of the main issues the article has is with the use of the phrase "..public electronic communications network.." and I strongly disagree with them on that. The change of wording seems to me to be very much in the spirit of the older legislation, if such a change hadn't been made I would suspect that it could be argued that telephone calls that used the internet in part of the network would no longer have been covered by the legislation.

Of course that doesn't mean that it is right or wrong to have such legislation it just provides the historical background to the discussion.

Skepticemea
14th September 2011, 02:53 AM
The oldest reference to such legislation is from "...the 1930s legislation covering misuse of telephones..." so as I said for decades. One of the main issues the article has is with the use of the phrase "..public electronic communications network.." and I strongly disagree with them on that. The change of wording seems to me to be very much in the spirit of the older legislation, if such a change hadn't been made I would suspect that it could be argued that telephone calls that used the internet in part of the network would no longer have been covered by the legislation.

Of course that doesn't mean that it is right or wrong to have such legislation it just provides the historical background to the discussion.I agree that the 127 act is intended to update the 30's legislation to apply to electronic communications. Another concern is the number of convictions that are being obtained under 127 where previously they'd have been sought under the Serious Crimes Act 2007 (as in the cases of the two men gaoled for 4 years for incitement to riot).

Darat
14th September 2011, 03:00 AM
I agree that the 127 act is intended to update the 30's legislation to apply to electronic communications. Another concern is the number of convictions that are being obtained under 127 where previously they'd have been sought under the Serious Crimes Act 2007 (as in the cases of the two men gaoled for 4 years for incitement to riot).

Are there statistics for this?

commandlinegamer
14th September 2011, 03:34 AM
Considering the number of people that appear to actively seek offence (and the internet is certainly a target rich environment for that) I consider this piece of legislation to be pretty dangerous. Did Chambers get leave to appeal to the High Court?

There is an appeal process ongoing I believe, but it hasn't been heard yet.

ETA: 10 Nov 2011

Skepticemea
14th September 2011, 03:44 AM
Are there statistics for this?Not sure, but before I indulge in any further hyperbole, the Paul Chambers case, referred to as the Twitter "Bomb Hoax" case, would also be covered by the Criminal Law Act 1977. So, although the Tweet that Chambers was arrested for was a "bomb hoax", he wasn't convicted for perpetrating a "bomb hoax".

This article puts it better than I could:

http://www.thelawyer.com/the-twitter-%E2%80%9Cbomb-hoax%E2%80%9D-case-worse-than-we-thought?/1003651.article

This thread is straying somewhat from the OP, however, I suppose my discomfort with this article of law is that it is, like the Terrorism Act 2006 , being used as a catch-all to convict people of offences that exisiting legislation exists to enable prosecution but where the onus of providing a body of evidence is too taxing for the CPS.

Architect
14th September 2011, 03:58 AM
It looks like we're taking the same line in Scotland. No detail yet:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-14915030

Darat
14th September 2011, 04:02 AM
Not sure, but before I indulge in any further hyperbole, the Paul Chambers case, referred to as the Twitter "Bomb Hoax" case, would also be covered by the Criminal Law Act 1977. So, although the Tweet that Chambers was arrested for was a "bomb hoax", he wasn't convicted for perpetrating a "bomb hoax".

This article puts it better than I could:

http://www.thelawyer.com/the-twitter-%E2%80%9Cbomb-hoax%E2%80%9D-case-worse-than-we-thought?/1003651.article

This thread is straying somewhat from the OP, however, I suppose my discomfort with this article of law is that it is, like the Terrorism Act 2006 , being used as a catch-all to convict people of offences that exisiting legislation exists to enable prosecution but where the onus of providing a body of evidence is too taxing for the CPS.

As you say perhaps a trifle wide diversion for this thread but I do share your perception, that was why I was wondering if there are actual statistics we can look at as I'm all too aware that perception does not always match up with the reality.

ETA: There is another thing to keep in mind because of how the law works in the UK. Until we've got actual cases convicted (and all the appeals out of the way) we won't really know how the legislation will be interpreted by the courts, we could find that a court decides to throw out a case because that's not what the law was meant to cover. I've mentioned this before in regards to all the legislative changes made by the last lot in regards to anti-discrimination laws - it can take years before it all settles down.

Cainkane1
14th September 2011, 04:05 AM
Reading man jailed for "trolling" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-14894576)

I abhor what he did but am also disturbed that he has been jailed.
He have said what he said. If theres laws on the books against trolling and online bullying then I'm glad he got jail time. He needs a good hard slap across his face to boot.

Darat
14th September 2011, 04:14 AM
It looks like we're taking the same line in Scotland. No detail yet:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-14915030

I'm probably about to display my ignorance of areas of the UK - but is there a "Reading" in the Grampian area?

commandlinegamer
14th September 2011, 04:23 AM
Streetmap says no.

Darat
14th September 2011, 04:28 AM
Streetmap says no.

Then its just a coincidence that both of these are from the Reading area? I'll not be going there for my Christmas shopping this year - obviously a nasty brutish place!

Architect
14th September 2011, 04:29 AM
I'm probably about to display my ignorance of areas of the UK - but is there a "Reading" in the Grampian area?

I wasn't aware that there was a "Grampian" in the Reading area, or that you had reorganised your legal system to incorporate the post of Procurator Fiscal.

Darat
14th September 2011, 04:30 AM
I wasn't aware that there was a "Grampian" in the Reading area, or that you had reoganised your legal system to incorporate the post of Procurator Fiscal.

Eh? :confused:

Architect
14th September 2011, 04:37 AM
Grampian Police said a 25-year-old man - who BBC Scotland understands to be Sean Duffy, from the Reading area - had been charged.
A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.


There you go.

Are we talking about seperate things?


ETA: The original Reading one is on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show right now. The father is talking about the graphic nature of the images and the considerable distress they caused family & friends.

Jensen
14th September 2011, 04:43 AM
If you would like to argue that a law prevents someone from expressing real thoughts or ideas, you should try to find a case where that has happened. If you can. An abusive idiot getting a few weeks for harassment is only a threat to a free country in a philosophy class, not in the real world. In this case the law is not even new, so the slippery slope argument seems to be disproved by time.

Darat
14th September 2011, 04:46 AM
There you go.

From the BBC site: "14 September 2011 Last updated at 12:30" The article has changed since you posted it.

You seem to have taken umbrage over me asking whether there was an area/place called "Reading" in the area that Grampian police cover. The question seemed a quite natural one to ask since this thread starts with a link about a "Reading men", so I didn't know whether the coincidence was just in the name of two different places or the two of them were from the same place.

Skepticemea
14th September 2011, 04:50 AM
If you would like to argue that a law prevents someone from expressing real thoughts or ideas, you should try to find a case where that has happened. If you can. An abusive idiot getting a few weeks for harassment is only a threat to a free country in a philosophy class, not in the real world. In this case the law is not even new, so the slippery slope argument seems to be disproved by time.
I would shed not a single tear if that bloke was punched in the face at breakfast, lunch and dinner for each and every day of his sentence. What I am concerned about is that this law is being not being utilised just to punish people for offensive posts on the internet (for which we all should be concerned about considering there appears to be no burden of proof for what's considered offensive other than what the CPS thinks it is) but that that an increasing number of criminal suits are being brought using this article to prosecute where the offence firmly sits under another statute.

Darat
14th September 2011, 04:54 AM
I would shed not a single tear if that bloke was punched in the face at breakfast, lunch and dinner for each and every day of his sentence. What I am concerned about is that this law is being not being utilised just to punish people for offensive posts on the internet (for which we all should be concerned about considering there appears to be no burden of proof for what's considered offensive other than what the CPS thinks it is) but that that an increasing number of criminal suits are being brought using this article to prosecute where the offence firmly sits under another statute.

It's the court that makes the judgement regarding that not the CPS, from the first of the articles you linked to "...The sole arbiter of whether the message or other material is of an grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character is the Court, applying an "ordinary person" test..."

Matt the Poet
14th September 2011, 04:55 AM
Free speech be damned - if a society has principles that leave it unable to deal appropriately with people whose actions are intended to cause distress to others for their own amusement and succeed in their aim (in this case it was clear that severe damage up to and including inducement to suicide was caused), it’s time to examine those principles.

Arguing against this is somewhat like that libertarian guy who claimed he’d protest against raising taxes to protect the Earth from an extinction-level asteroid strike. It’s not proof of ideological purity, just a clear mapping of the boundary at which any given dogma inevitably gives way to the practical ethics-on-the-ground.

And as for the Aspergers (assuming it’s not of the imaginary self-diagnosed type) - if I had a disability that somehow prevented me from not punching people in the face it wouldn’t be unreasonable to put some caveats around my ability to go outside, nor would I have any argument against being imprisoned for GBH if I kept deliberately putting myself in punch-friendly situations.

commandlinegamer
14th September 2011, 04:58 AM
From the BBC site: "14 September 2011 Last updated at 12:30" The article has changed since you posted it.

You seem to have taken umbrage over me asking whether there was an area/place called "Reading" in the area that Grampian police cover. The question seemed a quite natural one to ask since this thread starts with a link about a "Reading men", so I didn't know whether the coincidence was just in the name of two different places or the two of them were from the same place.

Presumably Grampian police were waiting for the outcome of yesterday's case, or it just couldn't be reported.

cwalner
14th September 2011, 08:23 AM
Free speech be damned - if a society has principles that leave it unable to deal appropriately with people whose actions are intended to cause distress to others for their own amusement and succeed in their aim (in this case it was clear that severe damage up to and including inducement to suicide was caused), itís time to examine those principles.

You may want to reread the article a bit more closely. As I stated earlier, I made the same mistake on my first read through.

This guys pattern is to find memorial sites and defame the deceased. based on this, I don't think his posts had anything to do with the suicides unless he also happens to own a TARDIS.

Mark6
14th September 2011, 09:49 AM
The nice thing about this thread is that so many closed-minded anti-freedom totalitarians self-identify.

How can anyone justify the position that calling a dead person some names and making a vid to ridicule them is a CRIMINAL offense and deserves incarceration ? If I do the same to Dick Nixon should I be jailed ?

If the family is actually harmed then they have a cause for CIVIL action. To make it a criminal matter is amazingly backward - knuckle-dragging.

The only sense in which "freedom" is a meaningful concept is that we allow others the right to do what we would not do, what we find objectionable, what we find offensive. We need to assert rights only to do unpopular things. So IMO anyone unwilling to accept that this guy was rude yet within his rights is anti-freedom. As with the porn/mail topic we always have some population of small-minded anti-freedom people who want to enforce their views on others to the detriment of legitimate freedoms. Totalitarians,

To make this a criminal rather than a civil matter is to claim the act is harmful to society at large - and not just to the individual/family, I don't see that at all. The guy didn't foment a riot nor scream fire in a crowded theater. It's just offensive speech, categorically similar to the stuff on this forum. No general harm at all.

What is next in the prissy overly-sensitive totalitarian regime some here prefer ? Shall we jail people who use the wrong Indian/Native_American/First_Nation term ? Shall we lock people up if they believe that inoculations cause autism. Why not tax and jail people who reject evolution, or maybe the death penalty for rejecting global warming ? Clearly many find these ideas objectionable too.

No - speech should be protected. The only exceptions are speech that cause harm directly.
Don't know about the rest of "closed-minded anti-freedom totalitarians", but I make exception for anonymous speech.

Ever heard the saying "Every man should have the right to confront his accuser?" Threats, insults and slander are accusations -- both on the Internet and in person. Yes, you should have the right to accuse anyone of anything -- and to suffer consequences if that person punches you in the face, or vilifies you back, or (as is the case with Fred Phelps) world in general vilifies you. But anonymous accusations should not be protected speech. One should not have the right to threaten, insult and slander someone else, while remaning hidden and free of consequences.