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

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The three-judge appeals panel seemed more open to Chambers arguments this time around, but no clearly enough to indicate which way they'd rule, according to the U.K. papers. A ruling is likely in about a month, according to Chambers.

"It is society that will rule on whether that joke is acceptable and not a criminal code," Chambers' lawyer, John Cooper told the court in his latest appeal. "There is a right enshrined for people to make jokes that others may regard as offensive."

Cooper cited other "threatening" jokes, including the line "first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," from Shakespeare's Henry VI.

"That was a good joke in 1600, and it's a good joke now," one judge quipped.

"And it was a joke, My Lord," Cooper replied. "This was no ultimatum of a serious kind to the airport. The last thing this particular tweeter wanted was for the airport to be closed."

Chambers, an accountant, lost his job as a financial manager following his 2010 arrest. He subsequently moved to Northern Ireland to pursue his relationship with @crazycolours.

Apparently not all Chambers' comments are misconstrued as violent or inappropriate; at least, not by everyone.

He now lives with @crazycolours outside Belfast; the two are engaged to be married. Prospects for the two are, apparently, bright except for one ominous comment in her profile summary that could lead to more problems of the same type if authorities in Northern Ireland are as keenly perceptive as those in Doncaster:

"My *what is acceptable to tweet* filter is usually on the fritz," she wrote. "Sorry about that."

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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