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back to article Lancashire man JAILED over April Jones Facebook posts

A young man was jailed for 12 weeks today, after confessing to posting "grossly offensive" comments on Facebook about missing five-year-old April Jones. He posted some bad taste jokes culled from Sickipedia on a support group for April Jones's family and friends, according to press reports. Among the comments was: "I woke up …

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Anonymous Coward

Another day, another waste of police time and resources....if things like this really matter then why is Sikipedia still up and running ?

"Down with this sort of thing....Careful now."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-F2HKLzB6c

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Meh

A prat

Call him a prat, post is picture in the papers with the caption prat, point him out in the street and call him prat. Make him feel like a prat.

But jail him? No, however obnoxious rude or stupid that is his prerogative.

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>.if things like this really matter then why is Sikipedia still up and running ?

Possibly because if you head to sickipedia, you know what to expect.

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Re: A prat

There really is a lot to be said for this IMO. Paste his mug up on the side of buses for a fortnight.

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The big question that has not been officially answered (as far as I can see) is:

Did he post it on the April support page or did he post it on his own?

You could argue the Sickapedia excuse if posted on his own or a friend with a similar sense of humour. But you don't tell sick jokes to the victim's family/friends.

I'd say set him free if it was his own page but a heavy kick up the bum if he posted on the support page himself.

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Anonymous Coward

From what i read, he posted it on his own wall, someone else saw it, put a screenshot it (or linked to his wall) on one of the pages dedicated to April.

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*speechless*

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There is no way...

...that anyone should ever be jailed for speech / opinion, no matter how hateful or offensive. There is a simple reason for this - Who gets to decide what is offensive / hateful and what isn't?

Hate is to be countered with reason, not with oppression. Teenage* berks should be ignored not given attention. Acting like an asshole should not be punishable by jail time.

* yes, strictly the guy isn't a teenager, but mental age and all that

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"speechless"

Safest way to be, obviously.

Much as I dislike the distress this has caused the family, I can't help but feel that we're on a slippery slope to enforced 'niceness'. No one has a right to not be offended, and we should not have that right. Everything offends somebody.

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Re: There is no way...

I don't agree that nobody should ever be jailed for speech and opining, but I do think this has gone a bit extreme.

I think people should be jailed for things like incitement to riot and terrorism.

However, what was done here was in exceptionally poor taste, and my thoughts are with April's family at this time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "speechless"

but we've already decided that you can't say mean things about women and how some people like to have sex.

Liberal governments pass the most laws.

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Mushroom

Wow what unbelievable overkill. What happened to free speech?

Anyone got a link to what he posted?

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JDX
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What happened is that you don't know what it means, apparently.

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Would he have been arrested if he stood outside the memorial service that was held yesterday and said those things there? I guess he probably would. This isn't the USA where the Westboro Baptist Church is allowed to do that sort of thing.

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Free speech

Unfortunately, people consider free speech to mean they can say whatever offensive and insensitive things they like on the Internet and it be OK.

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Anonymous Coward

It should be OK to publicly post grossly offensive material on the internet. That's what I think. Get over it.

I've seen several variations of this joke, and frankly I'm not in the least bit offended.

What does offend me however is censorship, and the small-minded self-righteous who think they are doing the world a favour but are just selling their freedom down the river piece by piece.

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Flame

Perhaps you could enlighten us then.

See title.

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I'm going to sound like an old fart here, but with freedoms come responsibilities; he's got the first bit, but the second part died on its arse...

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It's on the Guardian site

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/oct/08/april-jones-teenager-jailed-facebook

It's also worth pointing out he posted them in a group set up for people concerned about the case. He went in with the intent to troll and cause offence.

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Free speech is, and has always been, a myth.

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Anonymous Coward

Before jumping to conclusions...

... it pays to read exactly what he wrote, the number of comments he made, the nature of those comments and what the chairman of the bench had to say on the matter. Whilst his reaction to the verdict shouldn't necessarily be taken as an indication of his character... no actually sod that, I'll take it as an indication of his character and describe him as a thoroughly nasty piece of work and for whom the sentence is justified.

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>What happened to free speech?

Whatever happened to not being a c*nt?

'Freedom of speech' about people being able to criticise authorities, its not about heaping mockery upon people's sorrow and anguish. If you want to act like a c*nt, then you can be treated like a c*nt.

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Big Brother

Free Speech? I've heard of it...

In case you missed it, this is in the UK, not the USA so free speach laws vary considerably. For instance, in the UK under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 "sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive" is illegal, which is what this sorry excuse for a human was convicted of doing.

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Freedom of speech is a right.

But freedom of speech also comes with a responsibility to use it legally. Break the law and your freedom to do something becomes a rather weak defence.

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Stop

"What happened to free speech?"

Instead of yelling "Free Speech!", it's worth instead finding out what your Right to it really includes and what it doesn't include.

It's not - nor ever has been - a legal excuse for language liable to cause public offence, incitement, libel, slander, hate crimes, excessive noise, et cetera.

That said; I'd love to hear the context. Was it on a 'Private' user page, on their Wall with no privacy settings, or posted elsewhere, or directly aimed at others? As-is, there's not a lot of context to make a personal moral decision on if I think it's 'right' to be sentenced in such a way, so quickly.

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I thought it meant:

Article 10: Freedom of Expression

(1) Everyone has the right of freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without inference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

I thought it was a new labour trick to use technical legislation to get around the human rights act, looks like this lot have learned from them.

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Well your mother was a...

[This post detailing the deviancy and congenital defects in RICHTO's family has been deleted due to gross indecency and the high risk of causing offence.]

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Black Helicopters

to be fair the definition of "free speech" does seem change rather frequently these days, or rather the list of exceptions gets longer...

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Linux

Just to play devil's advocate here (because I'm not against punishing griefers) ...

... the fact that no media outlet seems to have the balls to republish the joke or give any details of the incident whatsoever *does* seem to indicate the "chilling effect" that this kind of legal action can have.

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WTF?

What freedom of speech means

As reported, the man was arrested and then jailed for speech which caused offence. Freedom of speech as long as it doesn't cause offence isn't much use to anyone.

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Headmaster

Re: Free speech

Um, that *is* what it means. Anything else isn't "Free Speech". Everyone has the inalienable right to be an ass and to demonstrate to the entire world that they are such an ass, if that's what they want to do.

What isn't OK is incitement, slander or harassment but I don't think anything this douche said falls into those categories.

Being JAILED for being an ass and saying some things that other people find offensive... ? George Orwell must be tutting and saying "I told you so" right about now.

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Anonymous Coward

@Eddie Edwards, it was posted on slashdot. I'm normally for free speech, but this (his jokes) crossed the line of human decency. He got off lightly. For all those people going on about freedom of speech, imagine you are this girl's parents... how do you feel about free speech now?

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Stop

Re: Free speech

Using the free speech argument to defend idiots such as the one that posted these messages belittles the right when people use it (or are refrained from doing so) to improve quality of life for themselves and others. People are allowed to do and say as they please but not looking at specific cases and taking appropriate action after the fact would be negligence by the authorities. He posted a highly offensive message that serves no public good and is in violation of standing laws.

And the last line of the guardian article "Woods smirked as members of the public clapped as he was led from the dock." implies that he doesn't really give a damn about free speech.

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Re: Free speech

Yes, that's what free speech is, as soon as people being offended takes precedence, we lose freedom of speech as everything will offend someone. This turd should simply be publicly identified and let the people unleash free speech.

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Anonymous Coward

"That said; I'd love to hear the context. Was it on a 'Private' user page, on their Wall with no privacy settings, or posted elsewhere, or directly aimed at others?"

it was posted on the facebook page set up in support of the family of the missing girl.

if it was on his own page or a private group then I would in some respects defend his right to freedom of expression. But in this case his intention was entirely to cause upset and distress to people that were already in a unstable emotional state to start with.

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@Stuart Elliott

"Unfortunately, people consider free speech to mean they can say whatever offensive and insensitive things they like on the Internet and it be OK".

Stuart, that's exactly what it does mean. It's bad manners, cruel, unkind, and shows one off to be a nasty person. But none of that means it should be illegal.

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Accuracy and the Press

Never good friends.

He posted the sickipedia copies ina CLOSED GROUP.

Then someone else took a screenshot of it and posted that to the Find April page.

Why has this other person so far escaped jail ?

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Re: Free speech

@Cam2A:

"Using the free speech argument to defend idiots such as the one that posted these messages belittles the right when people use it (or are refrained from doing so) to improve quality of life for themselves and others."

No it doesn't. They are two sides of the same coin, and you cannot and should not try to separate them. If you want people to have the right to free expression for the public good you have to accept that it will also be used in ways that are highly unpopular and even arguably contrary to the public good.

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Re: Free speech

Well yes, free speech means exactly that

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'acting like a c*nt' should not result in jail time.

Either free speech exists or it doesn't. If free speech exists with exceptions, who decides what is exceptional?

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The guy is an absolute arse.

But, as others have pointed out, it's the pointy end of a thick wedge. Freedom of Speech and Expression is something that needs to be thought about without the burden of emotion clouding the issue.

If I was in that situation, and someone made similar jokes, I probably would want them locked up. It doesn't mean it's actually right to do so though. He's an absolute idiot for what he's done, but whilst I don't agree with what he's said, on principle I've got to defend his right to say it.

There are some very sensible areas where Freedom of Speech is slightly curtailed, the age-old example being shouting FIRE in a crowded theatre. That's a public safety issue and you should expect some repercussions. That, however, is an order of magnitude more harmful than simply causing offense.

Hell, I probably offend a few people quite regularly (although not deliberately), in fact we probably all do to a greater or lesser extent. It's not the same as going out of your way to deliberately offend someone, but that should be seen as a sign of a wazzock with an inferiority complex, not as something punishable by jail-time.

I can't help think that if the emotional link was taken away from this, those forgetting about freedom of speech would probably be in the minority. Condemn the guy all you want, he much of what he gets (and probably more), but don't make the mistake of thinking this justifies broad over-reaching laws that curtail freedom-of-speech. The only link here is they've been used to get someone you find particularly distasteful, it doesn't make them good laws

Right....... Coffee time

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Re: Free speech

*speech*

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*SPEECH*

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Re: Free Speech? I've heard of it...

Oh FFS...

3rd time and still you fail to grasp it...

S P E E C H

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FAIL

Barking up the wrong tree

Article 10: Freedom of Expression

(1) Everyone has the right of freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without inference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

Yes that's what the EU says, but go to Germany and write about how great the Nazis were. You'd be doing some time.

Or closer to home, Ireland has blasphemy laws on the books which were introduced last updated in 2009. "publication or utterance of blasphemous matter" is a punishable offence.

Freedom of speech is a fallacy. A good motto to live by is "think before you open your mouth"...

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Re: Barking up the wrong tree

It's no good quoting law at us. We know the law is stupid; that's the whole point of this article.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Free speech

"No it doesn't. They are two sides of the same coin, and you cannot and should not try to separate them. If you want people to have the right to free expression for the public good you have to accept that it will also be used in ways that are highly unpopular and even arguably contrary to the public good."

The absolute freedom of speech and expression that you are on about would mean that talking to someone about the possibility of stealing things, attempting to pervert the course of justice, suggesting to kill someone etc... would all be protected under "free speech" or "freedom of expression".

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