to think they need to stop locking people up for facebook/twitter/whatever posts

(88 Posts)
SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 09-Oct-12 00:46:07

Matthew Woods has just started a 12 week sentence in a Young Offenders Institute for some jokes on his Facebook page about missing five-year-old April Jones.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-19869710

I think this sentence is absolutely obscene.

Obviously the jokes in question might be unfunny, they might be tasteless, but ultimately this is just some arsehole on Facebook with a hundred or so 'friends'.

I'm not going to reveal what he apparently said because it seems it's criminal to even make a bad joke now, but suffice to say you can find it online with a little effort.

There is a website, sickipedia, which contains many thousands of jokes of similar degree of offence. Some people will find them horrible, some hilarious, but I don't see how someone on Facebook in Chorley, can be said to be 'harassing' or whatever a family in Powys.

The internet is full of sick and offensive stuff, e.g., this man had one million child pornography images including level five (which means sadism or bestiality involving children) images, and got NO jail time.

We are not about to stop people being macabre, tasteless, or anything else.

So why the hell are we locking people up on the basis of selective moral outrage (the Twitter 'bomb threat' was prosecuted on the basis of the cause du jour terrorism, another Twitter user was prosecuted because the footballer he targeted was all over The Sun with 'pray for Muamba' headlines, etc.)?

Lots of things people will find very offensive, rape jokes, for example, but they are not going to lock people for that are they. People such as Frankie Boyle make offensive jokes that offend far more people than just a couple of hundred Facebook 'friends', and the line between offensive joke and criminal is far from clear.

deleted203 Tue 09-Oct-12 00:58:59

Sorry...got no sympathy with this sick arsehole whatsoever. Serves him right IMO. The families of April Jones and Madeleine McCann have been through the worst thing any parent could do - and I find making sick comments about their children absolutely obscene, rather than the sentencing. Seems he was actually lucky not to get lynched, reading the report about '50 people went to his house'. I don't know what he wrote, because I didn't want to, but he was reported to the police by his own FB 'friends' who were so offended by what he'd written. It is an criminal offence to send grossly offensive material to others - and FB counts as that. So yeah...in my opinion YABVVU to get indignant on this man's behalf.

BreconBeBuggered Tue 09-Oct-12 01:04:15

I don't know what this arsehole said, and I don't want to know. But if we are locking people up for being arseholes, we'd better build a prison on every street.

UltraBOF Tue 09-Oct-12 01:06:21

It's a ridiculous situation, I think: the prosecution gives his comments more publicity than they would have ever had otherwise. However, I do think he should be charged with 'Breach Of The Peace' or similar, and reap the consequences. I imagine even a fortnight in jail and a criminal record would be quite sufficient.

FreePeaceSweet Tue 09-Oct-12 01:06:44

YABU. Sometimes through no fault of my own I end up reading sickening things on facebook. They just appear on my feed every now and then. I get offended and delete the person or source responsible. Sickipedia is what it says it is. I'd be pretty dense to get offended by anything on there as I'd only be on there through personal choice.
I don't know (nor want to know) what this idiot said but if he's doing time it must have been absolutely abhorrent and broken some decency law.

It is a public forum. People need to learn that.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 09-Oct-12 01:27:12

Lucky not to get lynched?

Are people really to be deemed 'lucky' for not being attacked for their comments in this country?

There are an awful lot of 20-year-old men with no discretion, taste or consideration for others. I expect if you read your local newspaper you will find a report of them.

Here's one, not far from Wood's home:

www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/districtnews/9708272.Gang_spared_jail_after_vicious_attack_on_boy/

"FIVE teenagers attacked a 16-year-old boy as he walked home from a party, leaving him with severe facial injuries.

Alexander Langhorn, prosecuting, told the court that the 19-year-old Dylan Smith had published on Facebook: “(The victim) must die”.

Then, by chance Smith, of Berne Avenue, Horwich, together with Aaron Brierley, also 19, of Lester Avenue, Horwich, and three younger boys came across the 16-year-old victim on the night of April 11 last year.

The young victim was walking home from a party in Old Vicarage Road, Horwich when Smith asked him his name and suddenly attacked him.

“At that point, without any warning, he punched the boy in the face,” said Mr Langhorn.

The boy fell to the floor and when he got up again he was punched in the face again by Brierley.

The boy attempted to get away by running through gardens, but was caught by the gang and pushed through a fence before being punched and kicked by all the youths. The young thugs then walked their victim towards Chorley New Road and tried to persuade him not to tell the police.

He needed two operations to repair a fractured eye socket, suffered a broken wrist and his face was badly swollen and bruised."

Did they go to prison? Did they hell.

The idea that we can lock people up for a couple of weeks to teach them a lesson for being an unfunny arsehole is ridiculous, considering we apparently don't have the resources to lock people up for serious injuries.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 09-Oct-12 01:27:52

"Sometimes through no fault of my own I end up reading sickening things on facebook. They just appear on my feed every now and then. I get offended and delete the person or source responsible."

Ok.

So what part of that process involves sending people to prison?

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 09-Oct-12 01:31:53

And btw there are masses of Madeline McCann jokes online, rampant speculation/libellous comments posted, etc. - this prosecution is because the events are current.

While the jokes are undoubtedly offensive, they are not more offensive, than say Kay Burley, in terms of their scope and impact.

deleted203 Tue 09-Oct-12 01:32:22

Is Woods a friend of yours Skippy? You seem to be taking it very personally.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 09-Oct-12 01:40:15

I think it's offensive to lock people for making bad jokes when they can't be bothered to lock people up for killing.

I do take that personally, the implicit statement that this is more serious than actual death and violence. I think it's disgustingly offensive.

ThatVikRinA22 Tue 09-Oct-12 01:44:55

unfortunately bof a breach of the peace is not actually a criminal offence - its common law, you can only detain someone until the breach has passed then have to let them go again and there is a strict criteria for breach....plus its not an offence as such.

and i do get what people are saying about others being let off jail time for much more serious offences.

i had to go to a distraught lad who was complaining about the facebook page about cancer being funny....

its difficult. on the one hand i can see it causes genuine distress, on the other, being a tastless wanker wasnt an offence when i last looked.....there is a hole in the law though - we have malicious communications but the law hasnt caught up with social media, malicious comms covers things like obscene phone calls but not obscene facebook pages.....

im on the fence on this one....i think the law needs to catch up with the internet but it does seem grossly unfair when someone gets 12 for posting a sick joke but others get off with serious assaults or other indecency offences...unfortunately i discovered a while back that the law is an ass.

StuntGirl Tue 09-Oct-12 02:32:31

I am in agreement with you OP, the sentence seems disproportionate in comparison to worse crimes that caused actual physical harm or distress, not simply 'offense'.

I agree, we're supposed to have freedom of speech- no matter what bullshit you come out with

DolomitesDonkey Tue 09-Oct-12 04:11:54

YANBU - I think it's a terrifyingly slippery slope we seem to be on that you cannot "talk crap" on an internet forum. Distasteful, silly, obtuse crap - but crap nonetheless. He didn't go to their house and scream through the letterbox or point and laugh in the street (although is pointing and laughing an offence? confused).

I personally find it really worrying that we're heading towards some sort of stasi-state where you must at all times tow the party line lest you (and your family) be locked up. It's not what I thought western democracy was about.

We need freedom of speech, even if it's someone saying extraordinarily horrible things to which we would not want to listen.

Boomerwang Tue 09-Oct-12 05:27:46

I am dying to know what he said now. I saw Frankie Boyle's comment but that was a pitiful attempt from a bored man.

HecateLarpo Tue 09-Oct-12 06:58:10

Well, he's clearly a bit of a shit and lacking in compassion. What sort of person could possibly laugh at a child's disappearance and most probable murder.

But is that a criminal offence? If so, why is it not consistent? When I think of some of the sick and vile things that are said by people - if it is jailworthy, why are they not in jail?

he has been put in jail because of public feeling. There is outrage and he is serving 12 weeks to appease people.

That's not the way the justice system is supposed to work. Person A does shitty thing and nobody cares. Person B does shitty thing and people are spitting feathers so Person B goes to jail.

It should be X crime is punishable by 1, Y crime is punishable by 2, Z crime is punishable by 3.

That said, I still think he's a heartless little scrote.

HecateLarpo Tue 09-Oct-12 07:00:40

He made jokes about april and madeline mccan. I am not going to repeat them but they are googleable. And they were crass and some of them were sexual in nature.

They were really, really vile.

meditrina Tue 09-Oct-12 07:04:40

People need to remember that, legally, this is not electronic chatter like to your mates down the pub, it's publication. And it's publication to a world-wide audience.

saintmerryweather Tue 09-Oct-12 07:12:55

the so called jokes were disgusting but hes been sent to prison because the morally outraged complained. and i dont think thats right. so no, yanbu

EntWife Tue 09-Oct-12 07:14:29

OP, YADNBU. I agree with every word you have written. it is a a disgrace.

JeezyOrangePips Tue 09-Oct-12 07:19:28

Maybe England and Wales should have breach of the peace or similar in statutory law then. Or something similar for this type of incident.

I totally agree with you op.

I'm not saying what he did was okay, but it's not worth sending someone to jail over.

meditrina Tue 09-Oct-12 07:21:31

I didn't find the offensive material as easily as Hecate did (lets not call them jokes; they're neither funny nor - now published in cyberspace - ephemeral).

They are there now; anyone can see them. He may as well have stuck them on the front of the Jones family house.

If you don't want to be prosecuted, then keep it to your mates. Don't publish in a worldwide format.

HecateLarpo Tue 09-Oct-12 07:24:13

Sorry. I called them what they were referred to as in the material that I read. That is not to be interpreted as my personally believing that they are funny or jokey in any way.

saintmerryweather Tue 09-Oct-12 07:32:18

if it had been about any other children nothing would have happened. but because it was about april and a mindless mob gathered at his house he was arrested 'for his protection'...why not arrest the mob who had come to do god knows what? like it or not, horribly offensive or not, we do have free speech in this country, and to start jailing people for relatively minor offenses (in thd grand scheme of things anyway) and since the jones family were pretty unlikely ever to hear about it happening if he hadnt been arrested i think things like this are starting to erode the freedoms we have. i notice sikipedias been taken offline maybe theyve been arrested too

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