Paul Chambers, convicted of menace, yesterday.
How many times, infuriated with someone have you said the phrase " If so and so doesn't such and such, I'm gonna kill them!"
Imagine if suddenly the police came to your door and arrested you for intent to commit a crime. It would be ridiculous. Imagine you said it on Twitter and your tweet was used as evidence that you are on record as intending to commit that crime. You'd think someone was playing a joke on you. "Ok OK - I get it - you're a stripogram, aren't you? Who booked you- was it Stevo?" you'd say." Right do your worst, get the skooshy cream out, so called 'officer' " as you unbuttoned his shirt and exposed their chest.
Well if you've not heard of Paul Chambers or the Twitter Joke Trial then you're obviously not on Twitter. And if you've only heard the news media's reports on it, you'll be likening Paul to one of the 7/7 bombers or those guys who burned poppies in London this week and shouted death threats to British servicemen and women. Thing is , Paul's just a bloke who made joke on Twitter out of frustration. If you don't know the full story I'd advise people to visit this post at Heresy Corner because he's done a great job of summing up why we should all be appalled that this tweet got Paul into trouble with the police:
"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"
The tweet was posted by Paul when he found out his local airport was closing due to snow and he would miss his flight to Ireland to finally meet up with a girl he'd been dating online. It was clearly A JOKE!
Then Paul got arrested at his work. Then Paul lost his job. Now Paul has been convicted the bizarre crime of menace. Yesterday it went to appeal and Chambers lost again. Poor guy- he must feel like he's in some kind of dystopian Kafka type scenario.
Fellow Tweeter Stephen Fry has offered to pay any fine against Paul Chambers and today we're all repeating his tweet with the hashtag #IAmSparticus alongside it.
Do you think this is a freedom of speech travesty or do you think Paul deserves everything he gets?