Insult Person On Twitter, Go To Jail

Chris | InformationLiberation
Jul. 31, 2012

A teenager insulted a public figure on twitter. Then he got arrested. Why? Because in the U.K., it's a "criminal offense" to tweet messages that are considered "menacing, offensive, or indecent."

Via The Independent:
A 17-year-old boy has been arrested over a string of malicious tweets he allegedly sent to the teenage diver Tom Daley over his failure to win an Olympic medal in a case that has raised fresh questions over the policing of comments on social media.

The teenager – who tweeted by the name of @Rileyy_69 – was arrested at 2am yesterday and was being questioned by Dorset police after the young diver retweeted a comment suggesting that Daley had let down his late father who died last year from brain cancer.

The teenager was arrested under the Malicious Communications Act. It carries a maximum sentence of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000 for a communication “which conveys a message which is indecent or grossly offensive.”

[...]Daley retweeted a message which said: “You let your dad down i hope you know that." Daley responded by tweeting: "After giving it my all... you get idiots sending me this..."

Further abusive messages from the same address followed suggesting that the sportsman had “failed” and made a violent threat towards Daley and other Twitter users.

As news of his tweets spread, Rileyy_69 attempted to apologise to Daley. He later added: "please i don't want to be hated I'm just sorry you didn't win i was rooting for you pal to do britain all proud just so upset.”
Note, due to social pressure, the teen apologized and changed his tune. That's how normal human interactions are supposed to take place. Why do the guns of government and fines and jail time need to come into the mix?

Of course, what constitutes "menacing," "offensive," or "indecent" speech is entirely up to the arbitrary whims of the state, earlier this year a 19-year-old U.K student was arrested for posting an antiwar comment to Facebook. I repeat, he was arrested for posting an antiwar comment to Facebook. There was little to no outrage over the incident, the student was just one of many arrested for "offensive" speech in the U.K.

What's funny about laws like these is if it was actually applied efficiently and universally, it would result in the jailing of half or more of the populace. We're on our way there here in the U.S., with some 800,000 "regulations" on the books and 40,000 new laws being passed every year, 1 out of every 32 Americans is either in jail now or on parole, and 1 out of 3 young people are arrested at least once by the age of 23.
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