to think they need to stop locking people up for facebook/twitter/wha tever 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

Kalisi Tue 09-Oct-12 07:36:26

Noone has the right not to be offended. When it's a personal vile attack to the person in question ( most of the twitter instances) then yes I can see how they can get done for harrassment etc. A vile joke on facebook though? That's not a crime. The guys a prick who doesn't deserve friends but we don't need the police to help us defriend him! I would just take it as a personal lesson that I need to pick more carefully.

JeezyOrangePips Tue 09-Oct-12 07:36:35

Meditrina, there's a bigger issue here.

If people can get locked up for posting things others don't like, well - where does it stop? What is deemed too offensive?

People protest in this country against human rights offences in other countries when people get locked up because they said things that the government didn't like. So how do we make sure that we don't end up in the same place?

It should not be punishable by jail. Sure, if they want to, give him a community service order or a fine etc. But jail? For jokes that were in very poor taste?

TandB Tue 09-Oct-12 07:51:24

I am really, really surprised he was actually prosecuted and imprisoned for this. If he had been publishing the comments on the facebook page of someone directly involved in the situation I could absolutely understand it, but people write vile, offensive things on social media all the time and it never goes anywhere unless it is part and parcel of a campaign of harassment or similar.

I can only assume that the comments were in some way potentially damaging to April's family (beyond distressing obviously). If they contained a suggestion that it was the family's fault or something like that then I can just about see why he was prosecuted, but other than that I am struggling.

As a criminal lawyer I have been involved in a lot of cases where there is an online element, but it is incredibly rare for purely online comments to be prosecuted. The ones that are tend to be incitements to some sort of criminal conduct, or terrorism threats. Personal opinions/jokes, no matter how offensive, tend to be ignored.

I think this is a rather alarming turn of events to be honest. Where is the line to be drawn? Will someone using black humour to make a point be prosecuted? Will the public outcry be used to guage whether something should be prosecuted? Very worrying.

LadyDianaSpencer Tue 09-Oct-12 07:55:05

YANBU.

maddening Tue 09-Oct-12 08:02:54

Yanbu it is totally out of proportion

dexter73 Tue 09-Oct-12 08:07:10

I agree yanbu.

BeyondLimitsOfTheLivingDead Tue 09-Oct-12 08:11:24

Yanbu. As kungfu said, I could understand it if he had gone out and purposely written it to the family or on one of the awful public grief pages, but on his own news feed, it seems rather OTT. Yes arrest and charge, that is fine, but a custodial sentence!! shock
Seems to have been influenced way too much by public opinion on what it was about, rather than the fact that it was offensive.

And if he got the joke from sickipedia, are the site owners going to be prosecuted and locked up too?

LFCisTarkaDahl Tue 09-Oct-12 08:11:57

YANBU

Tasteless, disgusting, and a twat but ludicrous to jail him and this makes the society less 'free'.

What should happen is all his mates should delete him from facebook after calling him a sick twat. Deprive him of the oxygen of attention in his social circle.

BeyondLimitsOfTheLivingDead Tue 09-Oct-12 08:12:30

I'll warn my BIL, he likes to post sickidedia jokes on his fb...

LFCisTarkaDahl Tue 09-Oct-12 08:13:55

we didn't have Twitter/Facebook when Diana died in 97 - can you imagine the jokes about that and the public outcry if people had been prosecuted for them.

I heard a dead Diana joke in 20 minutes of her being dead.

BeyondLimitsOfTheLivingDead Tue 09-Oct-12 08:20:53

I had a michael jackson joke text before I'd even heard he was dead!

There are a lot of people comparing it to racism and saying "well if someone writes a racist comment they are proscuted" - surely the difference there is that inciting racial hatred is actually illegal though? confused

mrsminerva Tue 09-Oct-12 08:21:32

Skippy I agree with you. The guy is a total arsehole but I would prefer our jails to be filled with the violent criminal types who seem to get off with community service/fines quite regularly.

mamalovesmojitos Tue 09-Oct-12 08:22:58

YANBU. He's obviously a heartless little shit but the sentencing was all wrong. The government clamping down on free speech is much more scary than a dark 'joke'.

Trills Tue 09-Oct-12 08:23:04

In that case should "they" stop locking people up for talking or making phone calls or writing letters?

Whether something is a crime depends on what they say, not necessarily the medium they use to say it.

Trills Tue 09-Oct-12 08:26:33

That's in reply to the general concept.

I agree that someone making a private joke to friends should not be in prison for it, but whether it was on Facebook or down the pub is irrelevant, you are complaining about the wrong thing. If you use Facebook to harass someone or go up to them in the pub, that's wrong. If you talk to just your friends on Facebook (or talk about them when they are in a different pub) then that's a different thing.

sudaname Tue 09-Oct-12 08:27:02

l think it is a very slippery slope. Society - or in a free democratic society at least - should be able to police itself to a reasonable degree. For example Frankie Boyle , if everybody boycotted his shows and tv appearances , then he wouldnt be up there spouting his bile for long. Trouble is many people share his sense of humour obviously or this would have already happened , which brings us right back to being a free society argument. These people on Facebook , if they got defriended by all thir 'friends' on there or totally ignored they would have to think about what they were saying to have a future on there. But again, if they are getting attention from like minded people , or in some cases any kind of attention , then they will carry on.

Valdeeves Tue 09-Oct-12 08:27:18

I think a fortnight in prison not twelve weeks - did you say he's 20? Barely out of his teens? 12 weeks in prison will make him a bigger arsehole.
If it was my child I'd want some action but I totally agree with freedom of speech. Sometimes people seem to be made "an example of" - like the riots.

Valdeeves Tue 09-Oct-12 08:33:09

Cyber bullying must be cracked down on though and I think this is a strong message for the future. The Internet makes comments like this viral.

Kalisi Tue 09-Oct-12 08:35:33

I actually find this extremely disturbing! There are many many people that say offensive things on a daily basis. The incident in question could not be seen as harrassment or anything other than a joke of incredibly bad taste. It should be Facebooks issue. If the law can get involved then wow! We are all in very big trouble. I myself am guilty of sharing a Whitney Houston joke when she died. Looks like I'm next!!

ginmakesitallok Tue 09-Oct-12 08:39:20

agree totally with OP. People seem to be getting locked up for being twats, being a twat is not illegal.

dexter73 Tue 09-Oct-12 08:41:05

Cyber bullying is completely different to making bad jokes though.

LtEveDallas Tue 09-Oct-12 08:44:31

It does seem a very harsh sentence for what he actually did. I've got no sympathy for him, and of course he wont actually serve 12 weeks, but it does seem disproportionate.

I wonder if there was more to it? Had he been 'done' for something else previously. If he was Bound Over for a similar offence it would make more sense.

LilyCocoplatt Tue 09-Oct-12 09:39:53

YANBU, it doesn't make sense that someone gets jail time for comments on facebook when there are real criminals out walking the streets and nobody seems to give a fuck. The internet is full of tasteless jokes, over the last few days I have seen a few Jimmy Saville ones on facebook, nobody is calling for the publishers of them to be jailed. I could understand it if it crossed the line into a personal hate campaign against someone, physical threats against them etc but I think 12 weeks jail for repeating a couple of things lifted from sikipedia is frankly a waste of the justice system's time, a warning would have been sufficient for a first offence.

EmBOOsa Tue 09-Oct-12 10:07:35

I don't know about this, all I can find through googling are his "jokes" and then references to the fact he made further comments of a sexual nature.

If it is just jokes and they are not directly targeted at the family/friends of April then YANBU

But if it's more than that then it's a bit more of a grey area

missymoomoomee Tue 09-Oct-12 10:09:55

I believe some of his comments were of a sexually explicit nature. Anyone making sexually explicit comments about a child should be jailed imo.

mrsminerva Tue 09-Oct-12 10:28:39

No missy they should be shunned and avoided. Prison is expensive and over the top.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Oct-12 10:32:40

YABU. If a newspaper published or radio station broadcast something similar we'd all be up in arms and demanding sackings. There are laws about libel, slander and inciting hatred/riots for good reason. The fact that it's easier to get irresponsible or offensive statements aired than ever before doesn't mean it's acceptable.

missymoomoomee Tue 09-Oct-12 10:39:35

I think there is a difference between making comments about people in general and actually naming real people though.

If someone said 'I'm going to beat up all 32yo women today' it is a far cry from 'I'm going to beat missy up today' iyswim.

If it was your child he was making sexually explicit comments about I don't think you would be telling people to just ignore him because prison is too expensive mrsm

Viviennemary Tue 09-Oct-12 10:41:59

I think a community service order would have been a far better punishment than being locked up. I don't know what his comments were and I don't really wish to know.

The comments (not jokes) were sick and unfunny, he is clearly an arsehole and I wouldn't want to be his friend or have anything to do with him.

But I'm more concerned that the same bench one the same day saw fit to sentence him to 12 weeks in prison in a stunning knee-jerk over-reaction while punishing a man who called a woman who just happened to be in the car next to him a "fucking black cunt" with a £100 fine.

No consistency and mob justice.

badtime Tue 09-Oct-12 11:11:46

YANBU

This is a problem in the law, in that pre-internet legislation is being applied to internet communications, and leading to ridiculous sentences like this.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 09-Oct-12 11:12:30

"I believe some of his comments were of a sexually explicit nature. Anyone making sexually explicit comments about a child should be jailed imo."

The one I saw is a play on words using the fact that her name is a month of the year. While the meaning is sexual, it's not sexually explicit.

sookiesookie Tue 09-Oct-12 11:28:16

Yabu and comparing it to a worse crime doesn't make sense. The sentance for the 'worse' crime is wrong. That doesn't mean lesser crimes should have smaller sentences because one is wrong.

What he did was wrong, it doesn't matter if its on the internet or not. He was also trying to pretend his facebook had Facebook hacked. So he k ew he was wrong straight away. He had come up with an 'alibi' because he knew it would offend and upset people. He had already planned to do it then claim fb hacking.

He purposely did it to upset people. Turns put he did and he need to face the consequences.

FiercePanda Tue 09-Oct-12 11:36:36

YANBU. It's a disproportionate sentence and he's only been jailed because April's murder is still a headline news item. If this was a year on, no-one would have batted an eyelid - certainly not enough to report him to the police and have him jailed.

Jailing someone for being an insulting arsehole online is a very slippery slope - given how many of us chat shit nonsense on here on a drunken Friday, should we also be expecting a knock on the door from the police?

What he said is disgusting and not amusing in any sense of the word, but I don't believe for a second being a bit of a tool is a jailable offence.

YANBU

I doubt this would have happened had a professional comedian made the jokes.

bradbourne Tue 09-Oct-12 11:53:07

YANBU.

If people can be jailed for saying what are deemed to be the ‘wrong’ things, no matter how vile, then free speech - the most fundamental of our democratic freedoms - no longer exists in the UK. We find ourselves in the situation where the state, in the form of court judges, has now apparently been permitted to become the arbiter of the boundaries of what can or cannot be said.

Certainly, we should all think before we tweet (and speak). But we should not have to factor into this consideration whether or not we will be incarcerated by the state as a result. Cases such as this show that such considerations do now have to be made.

Kalisi Tue 09-Oct-12 12:01:18

His friends could have disowned him, strangers could have PM'd him to say how vile he was, facebook could have shut him down, his job could have sacked him for publishing views that were counterproductive to the company. All these are reasonable responces that we currently have the power to make without threatening our right to free speech by bringing the law into it.

missymoomoomee Tue 09-Oct-12 12:17:07

Sexually explicit remarks about 2 children who he named are nothing to do with freedom of speech.

As I said upthread if someone made a sexual comment and NAMED your child then you wouldn't brush it off as free speech.

adeucalione Tue 09-Oct-12 12:20:42

YABU.

If you commit a crime, you should expect to be arrested for it - it is an offence to 'send a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or indecent, obscene or menacing in character', and that's just what he did.

Sure lots of people get away with this stuff because it goes unreported, but he offended enough people that the crime was reported and the police acted.

Of course the CPS can't prosecute everyone who FBs something offensive, they have to make a judgement on the degree of seriousness, and presumably that is what they did here (I haven't read his comments).

As I understand it the DPP is in the process of drawing up guidelines right now, before public comment next month; maybe the outcome of that will be a more transparent framework.

vjg13 Tue 09-Oct-12 12:28:13

YANBU.

If someone made a similar 'joke' in public most people would just tell them to shut up. I can't see why this kind of thing can't just be moderated by Facebook banning the user.

mrsminerva Tue 09-Oct-12 13:19:59

missy I would ignore it but would also have a word with him and make sure everyone in my community and his family knew what a twat he was.

DuelingFanjo Tue 09-Oct-12 13:23:55

OP YANBU - this is totally disproportionate. I think people like the guy who seems to do it for a living on twitter (He had a go at Gary barlow and promoted anorexia) should be dealt with some-way - maybe some kind of restriction to internet access (Hit them where it hurts) but sending them to prison is just stupid.

and... in this case it wasn't that he posted on someone elses facebook, he posted it on his own and some twat did a screen grab and posted it onto an April Jones site (IIRC) so who was the bigger twat there? the writer or the messenger. FFS.

DuelingFanjo Tue 09-Oct-12 13:25:45

"But I'm more concerned that the same bench one the same day saw fit to sentence him to 12 weeks in prison in a stunning knee-jerk over-reaction while punishing a man who called a woman who just happened to be in the car next to him a "fucking black cunt" with a £100 fine."

jesus, how can we have any faith in the criminal justice system with this kind of twattery going on ffs?

Kalisi Tue 09-Oct-12 13:49:59

Big brother is watching you. Just the beginning I'm afraid sad

missymoomoomee Tue 09-Oct-12 14:27:24

What if someone made an explicit sexual remark to your child mrsm ? What would you do in that circumstance?

Where is the line drawn between freedom of speech and illegal behaviour?

Personally I think it goes from being a twat with a sick taste in jokes to illegal when he brought the girls names into it.

I do agree that sentencing is disproportionate though, however I think that other sentences should be tougher rather than make his one lighter.

somedayma Tue 09-Oct-12 16:38:29

YADDDDDDDDNBU. I'm sick of all these fucking morons who scream "BRING BACK HANGING" for whatever crimes they've just read about in the daily mail. This is a (v) scaled down version of that. Freedom of speech is A Good Thing.

MumsGoToReykjavik Tue 09-Oct-12 16:48:20

Nothing was done about the 50 strong mob who turned up outside his house. Some carrying baseball bats and pool cues. They were dispersed by the police but nobody was arrested. If he had been there I have no doubt he would have been attacked.

jeanvaljean Tue 09-Oct-12 16:53:52

OP YANBU. The spate of prosecutions and jail sentences for idiots posting stupid things on the Internet is extremely worrying. There is no right to not be offended. The correct response to this type of behaviour is to roll your eyes and ignore it. A court case and jail time just shows what an absurd country we have become. Our forefathers who fought for freedom of speech would spin in their graves.

missymoomoomee Tue 09-Oct-12 17:06:39

Freedom of speech? Does that mean we can all go about being racist, sexist, homophobic and disablist then?

We can't all say what we like with no consequence.

He did not just pass on a few bad jokes. If he had been jailed for that then I would be agreeing with the majority here. He made explicit sexual comments about 2 children.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 09-Oct-12 17:12:19

No, not explicit sexual comments. He made a joking reference to child sex abuse, which most people would not find amusing (but then most people would not find jokes about mongs, or whatever else the likes of Ricky Gervais like to spout off about either), but it's not explicit sexual comments, just bad jokes.

HiHowAreYou Tue 09-Oct-12 17:33:44

I see where you are coming from. But...

The courts aren't always necessarily fair. I find it hard to work up much sympathy for an arsehole who made sick jokes about a dead child and was disproportionately punished.

missymoomoomee Tue 09-Oct-12 17:48:38

Some of the many comments made were sick but mildish. A couple were very graphic. There were several comments made. I don't know the exact content of the graphic ones but I have read ones considered mild and they were bad enough.

SecretCermonials Tue 09-Oct-12 17:55:33

How does that quote go? "I disagree entirely with what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Cant remember who said that but it seems applicable. The bloke is vile but not the only person, and there are certainly worse matters going on. Why imprison him For 12 weeks yet let justin lee collins serve community service?

I do not know what the boy said, im sure it was unsavoury but look at what was written about gary barlow when poppy died.. No one was imprisioned for that.

jeanvaljean Tue 09-Oct-12 18:12:50

Missy - Yes, freedom of speech is one of our most precious liberties.

There's a great article here on the totalitarian origins of the criminalising of free speech. It's a terrifying development:
http://www.thecommentator.com/article/1039/jailings_for_racism_on_twitter_britain_s_forgotten_fight_for_free_speech

"Extremism should not be fought by criminal law but through open debate, since 'the power of democracy to combat propaganda lay . . . in the ability of its citizens to arrive at reasoned decisions in the face of conflicting appeals.'"

jeanvaljean Tue 09-Oct-12 18:14:01
WhenLifeGivesYouLemons Tue 09-Oct-12 18:17:58

The internet is written in ink. This guy could have said whatever he wanted with his friends but, to make a joke that also speculated on poor little April's fate when the public were specifically told not to on a public forum, he has committed a crime.

marbleslost Tue 09-Oct-12 20:24:11

Yes but he is a young man who's admitted he made a mistake under the influence of alcohol.

Compare that to say, Justin Lee Collins who subjected a person to direct harrassment over a prolonged period - and got community service.

WhenLifeGivesYouLemons Tue 09-Oct-12 20:47:37

I agree, the sentence didn't match the crime, but I feel that way about a lot of the sentencing in this country (particularly burglaries and sex crimes).

I didn't feel that his arrest was due to the poor taste of his comments (to be honest, I have a pretty vile sense of humour myself and the joke isn't unlike ones I've heard from my social circle). His arrest was because of the public speculation that his joke made regarding the nature of April's disappearance. Then again, lots of people have made similar jokes about Madeline McCann and they haven't been arrested. This just reflects how young the nature of this kind of crime is and how the system doesn't really know how to punish it.

I really do sympathise with Matthew Woods and I think he should have had a more lenient sentence, but I really don't think this was a free speech issue and he needed to be punished in some way for it.

Using Justin Lee Collins as an example is more showing how harassment isn't taken seriously in this country rather then proving that silly comments on facebook shouldn't be prosecuted.

missymoomoomee Tue 09-Oct-12 21:17:00

Interesting article jean

I am all for free speech, to a point. If people wish to share their views about whole groups of society then, although I may not agree with the views I would agree that they have every right to say them.

I think it becomes different when people aim these things at an individual. That, to me, becomes a personal attack rather than an ignorant view.

I'm unsure debate would have really had much effect on a drunk who made sexual comments about 2 missing girls.

I think his sentence was justified, if it was my child he had been making those comments about I would probably be calling for a higher sentence tbh.

I think the vast majority of sentences in the UK are far too lenient and sometimes the judges seem to pull a number out of a hat rather than put any thought into the sentencing, although I can't really comment much about that as I have no idea how it works. In the other cases people have commented about on this thread I think the sentences there were far too lenient rather than this sentence being too harsh.

sunnyday123 Tue 09-Oct-12 21:19:53

He won't do 12 weeks! He'll serve 4 weeks max! I used to work in a prison and whilst I think he did deserve punishing (his comments were disgusting), I imagine he will get very badly treated by other inmates enough to never do it again- anything to do with kids is taken very seriously amongst other prisoners

wannaBe Tue 09-Oct-12 23:15:07
Scrumptiouslyyummy Tue 09-Oct-12 23:31:42

Don't know what the scumbag said, don't want to know either. Whatever he said must have been seriously offensive for him to be locked up. I think it serves him right. Whatever has happened to April and what her poor family must be going through is no laughing matter. Hopefully he will learn some respect and learn to keep his trap shut in a cell. It is morons like that who go on to do awful things as they have no respect for themselves or others. His time banged up will give him time to reflect on his sick attitude. Jimmy SaVILE thought everything was a joke and look how he turned out.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Fri 12-Oct-12 02:35:50

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