The sad part is ...
> (ACPO) welcomed the guidelines ... as "a common sense approach"
... that it needed a QC to write a report to define what "common sense" was, rather than for ACPO to be able to work it out for themselves.
Web trolls should not be hauled before the courts if their malicious tweets and Facebook updates are quickly deleted, the Director of Public Prosecutions advised today. Not having many friends online and sticking to offensive banter should also keep Brits out the dock. Keir Starmer QC published this morning his interim …
That particular QC is the Director of Public Prosecutions so the right person to be setting a consistent direction from the top.
You are right that it is worrying that so little reasonableness has been shown at times in the in the past.
I do try to avoid the phrase "common sense" though because actually turns out to be not as common as you would hope and its not unknown for people claiming "common sense" to be wrong, oversimplifiing and/or bigotted. In this particular case I find myself agreeing with ACPO (scary thought) that this is a "common sense approach". I better get myself checked, I think I've already found myself in agreement with the Home Secretary once this year agreeing with ACPO now has me worried.
I wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of a court case where the definition of "Satire" or "Sarcasm" was what held the decision between Guilty and Innocent.
What I perceive as Satire or Sarcasm might be perceived as others as a downright attack. We don't all share a common base in respects to abstract ideas.
Ok, the obvious solution is not to write anything Satirical or Sarcastic but then that would remove a lot of the interest. Can you imagine El Reg without either.....
Wasn't there some Scottish football fan who threatened to 'kill' the opposing team or their supporters and consequently got locked up? Many of those who work in the DPP's office are not of native extraction and may not understand the more complex uses of the English language by natives. In the circumstances, it would be a lot better to remove thoughtcrime entirely from the statute book in order to allow free speech again; there was actually nothing wrong with the original law which prohibited behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace.
Emma West who has been incarcerated for over a year and whose children have been taken away, was abusive to a carriage full of foreigners on a South London tram. Was her behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace? The idea that she was going to attack someone whilst holding a child or to frighten a large number of aliens was always preposterous. She was the archetypal 'batty' person on public transport that people ignore.
Good laws are ones that are clear and unequivocal - ones where anyone should know if they are or are not breaking them. e.g. do not break into someone's house and steal their jewellery, do not point a gun/knife at someone and demand their money.
Bad laws are ones that depend on the whim of the police and the CPS.
This still means that whether or not you get prosecuted for a particular tweet depends on the mood of the staff in the CPS, what side of bed they got out of, whether they have indigestion or toothache, or are just plain idiots.
Why anyone would listen even more so.
But neither is as baffling as why anyone would think that prosecuting them is a good idea.
If someone says something that indicates they're guilty of a crime, prosecute them. If someone says something that itself may be a crime then absent very narrow and clearly defined circumstances (such as sharing legally privelaged information) we need to change the law so that it isn't.
Prejudices of all sorts are nasty and dumb, but making them illegal is the thin end of a very alarming wedge.
I was reasonably content with this, until the comentards above pointed out how much of this will still be dependent on the whims of the police and the CPS.
One clear point to me is that the responsibility mainly rests with the CPS. They should be in a position to understand what the DoPP is advising (I hope so, anyway - they should have the legal training) and all they need to do is to apply that and bounce any whimsical or ill-judged attempts at prosecution for merely offensive words.
Until the next guy's daughter gets called a slut online and we're back to locking everyone up.
The law is an ass. Why doesn't the law specify this? Why do we have to (belatedly) rely on a touch of common sense when people have already been charged and the public generally scared into behaving in a manner the knobs think is becoming?
The only problem with this is that the internet never forgets.Sometime, somewhere your internet musing unlike similar whimsical verbal comments are backed up on somebodys server for regurgitation at a later date not of the authors choice.
I don't trust the police in this country to understand satire.
I think it would be better to be like America and just allow people to say what they like.
(Even if it means we get people like the Westboro Baptist Church).
I don't see why people give a damn what other people say with very limited exceptions.
(The Tory guy wrongly accused of being a paedophile I don't think that type of crap is ok).
I think our country would be better if we followed Liverpool in boycotting anyone who sells the Sun Newspaper.
Really, it's the whole evil concept of a "speech crime". Barring actual threats - which were always a different crime anyway - or breaches of national security, or similar - why should ANY mere words be crimes in themselves!? The whole concept is flawed.
If "offensive speech" is out, that's pretty much every religion banned (since they each teach the others are wrong/going to hell etc). Of course, scrapping the whole stupid law would require politicians to admit they were wrong...
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