U.K. trial tests whether jokes on Twitter are jokes, or threats

Appeal of fine could decide what critics call a blatant infringement on free speech

By  

The rest are self-involved party-boy comments of the kind you'd expect of a (now) 27-year-old with no crushing responsibilities who finds himself pinched between official paranoia about both terrorism and Twitter.

"Court done. Beer Now." He tweeted today at noon London time.

It should have been obvious to anyone scanning even a page of previous Tweets the threat to blow up the airport had more to do with pointless angst than potential violence.

Even responses to friends asking about today's court session show as much empathy for the judges involved in a high-pressure case as for himself:

Defenders call Tweet "obviously facetious;" judge sees it as "obviously" menacing

The High-Court appeal session this morning finished with no conclusion from the trio of judges appointed to examine the original conviction from May, 2010 and the rejection of Chambers' appeal by a lower court in November, 2010.

The conviction itself was a threat – to the right of free speech and the right of anyone, professional comedian or not, to make acerbic jokes about things that annoy them, comedian Al Murry told The Guardian.

"The conviction is crazy, there is no other way of putting it," Murray said. "It is like saying 'oh God, I could murder the boss', that's all there is to it. The law is being made to look absurd."

Nevertheless "anyone in this country in the present climate of terrorist threats, especially at airports, could not be unaware of the possible consequences," according to Judge Jacqueline Davies in rejecting Chambers' first appeal, in November.

Despite protestations by Chambers and his fans, the Tweet was "menacing in its content and obviously so," Davies ruled. "It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed."

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Answers - Powered by ITworld

ITworld Answers helps you solve problems and share expertise. Ask a question or take a crack at answering the new questions below.

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question