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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.

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.

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:

"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

Proper link:

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

have just

blogged about this

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

Here's another one:

Eight months for a fucking t-shirt.

Totally barmy.

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