Paul Chambers, the Twitter joker turned misdemeanour conviction martyr, has lost his appeal against conviction for posting a tongue-in-cheek message "threatening" to blow Doncaster airport "sky high". Chambers, 27, posted the bad taste Twitter update on 6 January, shortly before he was due to fly from the Yorkshire airport to …
Really - apparently Stephen Ferguson, David Allen Green, Paul, Crazy Colours myself, and about 90% of the other people in the courtroom were wrong to think that this might, and i empathise MIGHT, be a joke. Oh no. Obvious, innit...
I'm personally convinced I have witnessed a miscarriage of justice, and it doesn't leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling...
Judge Davies (and most of the judiciary) obviously needs to pull her head out of her arse just occasionally to sample the real world. By literal dictionary definition it may be possible to construe as menacing but context is important. He's obviously a silly sod for writing it in the current security theatrics but she's just joined him in the sin-bin for stupidity.
You're confusing this guy with the other guy who is an extraordinary scumbag for suggesting someone be stoned but probably shouldn't have been arrested for it if only because it means people will be forced to defend him on free speech grounds, and no one likes having to defend scumbags.
One is joking about bombing an airport (had they done that in the airport rubber gloves would have been involved) while the other is inciting violence. Just a joke works as a defence in very few circumstances, mostly involving stages and paying audiences.
Hand grenade avatars are fine. Saying "I've got a hand grenade" is not.
Mr. Chambers had no criminal intent and posed no danger to anyone whatsoever. Judge Davies ignored this fundamental (or erstwhile fundamental) prerequisite for conviction and imposed an undeserved penalty on Mr. Chambers.
The inescapable observation is that Judge Davies is more of a threat to me - to us - than Mr. Chambers.
As Mr. Fergusson (defence barrister) described to her at some length, the only way she could find that Paul had such intent would be to decide that we was lying in his testimony in court today, in which he very clearly started he had no such intent.
Let that sink in for a minute... In order not to have reasonable doubt in her mind as to intent, she had to convince herself that he was lying. Now, for my money (and I was 20 feet away), he was actually very convicing in his testimony - he came across as precise what he is - someone who made a silly mistake and now regrets it.
Did the judge feel Paul was owed an explanation as to precisely how she had reached the conclusion he was laying? Nope! Not a word in justification. Not an argument, not a proposition... Not even so much as a vague hint as to where she dreamt that one up.
I wasn't previously aware that the law actually changed when the security threat level to the country did, unless a state of emergency is declared of course.
Are we in a state of emergency? I certainly feel like the country is in a state of distress, and not because of the terrorists, but because of the government response to the terrorists.
Flames, coz we're all fiddlin' whilst Rome burns, baby.
Judge Davies is suggesting he is guilty of bad timing? That if the threat level was not substantial - he may not have been guilty?
The problem with texts and tweets is that written words do *not* speak for themselves. When you speak the words, you have mannerisms, inflections and tone that all work with the words to convey meaning. When you read them you have none of that and they are often open to ambiguous meanings. You have to take that into account when reading them. In a longer message it is easier to be sure what the intended communication is because you have the context of the sentences around the words in question to help you. In a short message you have no context.
Here is a short message - "Oh yes please, I'd love to have one of those". The literal meaning of those words conveys a desire to possess, but if the writer was being sarcastic, the meaning is diametrically opposed. How can someone as intelligent as the judge be so sure she has got the intended meaning by taking the literal meaning of the few words he wrote, in isolation from everything else? It seems barmy to me.
I have sent texts that I thought were clear and which have been misunderstood and I had to clarify them because the receiver did not have the context I had when writing them.
Unwise this man may have been but hardly a criminal. What is the terminolgy security types like to use when they are trying to scare us? "A credible threat". Was this a credible threat? I would say not.
Don't start to make up stuff. Good gracious, "it's an overheard conversation"!? By this logic posting whatever on your own site is not a threat.
The point of threats it to put them "out there" and that's done --- not in an overheard conversation or whatever. In the olden days, if you phoned a newspaper office that the airport will be blown up, it was correctly treated as a threat --- there's no suggestion of a law that you have to explicitely ring (or write on a standard X-43 form in triplicate) the airport. Here you electromagically jump the phone-a-paper step.
I'd say the weakest point in the allegation is the lack of immediate action by police and airport, and later casual procedure: it shows that it was understood not to be an actual nor potentially developing threat. Lack of immediate action doesn't imply not-a-real-threat (indications of 9/11 activity missed months earlier, e.g., would still have been threats if disaster was averted just in time), but routine action shows it is.
Please don't believe everything you read in the Daily Fail or Excess about the ECHR. Makes you look like a real tw*t!
Oh, and as you obviously don't understand the law, by being found guilty Mr Chambers IS a criminal! Kind of negates your stupid comment, wuoldn't you say?
FAIL - just the dumbest comment I've seen in a long while
Judge Davies needs lesson in the English languiage and the way sarcasm is used. This man has been convircted of stupid joke. Well done, that Judge and the CPS.
I wonder if in Dave's Big Society we the people will be able to vote out Judges who are just out of step, or indeed seek to repeal laws that get missused like this.
For a definition of "dispropotionate response" just look this up.
Yes, it's not clever in this some-bad-people-do-blow-shit-up age to write such things, but if the authorities are incapabable of identifying this as a *very* obvious tongue in cheek comment, then they lack the skills they need.
Prosecuting this is so far from being in the public interest it's laughable.
Anonymous...just in case the same authorities read this and think I'm about to **** the ***** or some such.
While this whole fiasco is quite pathetic, the guy has to realise that rent-a-cops, petty snoopers ( the airport manager who read the message ) and judges often has zero sense of humour, espeically when it comes to so-called security threats.
He has my sympathy, but he has to realise that these people have no common sense and cannot be trusted to take a comment in the jokey vein it was so obviously intended to be. They wanted to make an example of him from day one, just to frighten the rest of us into submission and make sure we don't make jokes about their jobs and abilities.
Pathetic Jobsworths the lot of them!
You can blame them they are obliged to report all security threats. This was not, They do not have to report any comment containing Doncaster stupid airport. otherwise they'd pass this comment on as well.
The real security threat is that Doncater Airport employes muppets who couldn't tell one end of a dangerous spoon from the other.
Perhaps they should pass that comment on too.
No, it wouldn't of made it enough 'less-threatening'. It would have appeared that not only was he going to bomb the airport, but that he would gain some kind of sick pleasure from doing so. Smiling would have appeared even more menacing, and possibly been constituted as a legitimate terrorist threat.
Just in case someone as dense as Judge Davies reads this; yes, I am being sarcastic.
Bad: "I want to shoot Nick Clegg for breaking his pre-election promise."
Good: "I want to shoot Nick Clegg with a sex-change raygun and force him to go on a date with Jeremy Clarkson for breaking his pre-election promise."
Bad: "Someone please stone Yasmin hardtospellname to death."
Good: "Someone please drown Yasmin hardtospellname in a bowl of lemon and cheese yoghurt after forcing her to listen to Cure albums for seventeen uninterrupted years in a cavern on Jupiter and then feed her to hedgehogs."
Bad: "I want to kill you."
Good: "Fuck off, wank-breath!"
The problem is, when the choice is between being threatening and being offensive, we British as a nation do so hate being offensive.
Surely a threat is only a threat if consciously directed at the person/organization whose behaviour you wish to modify? Looks like the law *is* an ass in this case, making an offence of comment between friends - or as if shouted from a Speakers' Corner - just because it is in an electronic format. In other communications media - like talking in public, or sending letters - there's only an offence if the threat is sent *to* the organisation in question, surely?
Now the terrorists have us so frightened that we're persecuting our citizens? Fining someone over £3000, criminalising them and firing them (twice) is considered a proportionate response for making a joke to one's friends?
Personally, I'm far more scared of the likes of Ms. Davies than I am of any terrorist.
One has to wonder about the judge:
If the message was obviously threatening then why did all of the professionally paranoid people concerned decide to take no action? This seems stroing objective evidence that it was not threatening.
Where is the objective evidence that the security threat to the country is substantial? Terrorist attacks are at the lowest level in my lifetime and the risk of death or injury from such an attack is far lower than accidental death or even murder by a family member.
Where is the evidence that the message was intended to threaten? I simply do not understand how anyone, even a judge, could read the message and believe it was intended as anything but a joke.
so Im gonna blow the world up and shoot god, Bwa ha ha ha ha arrest me now :)
but my smiley face makes it OK
Also as this article quoted the original message and I assume the likelihood of a employee of said airport seeing this article is probably higher now than seeing the original tweet will the reg be prosecuted for "sending" such a message??
I actually thought twice about upvoting this post in case the poster was arrested and there was some way I could be considered culpable by association. Time to either flood the judiciary with thousands of baseless 'threats' or 'offensive' comments or stop posting anything anywhere.
"Well, there's one judge who should have his limbs sawn off and then used to bludgeon his family to death."
I wonder how many normal people actually found either post threatening or offensive?
It's hard to believe that it really happened, here, now, in our country.
Do the CPS really believe that this one tweet, out of the gushing torrent of gobshitery that vomits forth on the intertubes every day, was worthy of prosecution? REALLY?
And "Judge" Davies - surely she can't be serious? Has she been online, or in a pub, in the last hundred years? An overheard snippet of casual banter, heard out of context, can be used to show mens rea? Or... "is it because I is Mick?"
And let's be clear: the specific verdict here is that we now live in a State mandated climate of fear, and we are not allowed to question that climate, or poke fun at it.
I hope Chambers appeals it all the way - and by the way, where the FUCK are Liberty? - but I've got boundless admiration for him for even taking it as far as he has, when it's clear that the State is closing ranks to punish an uppity peon.
"Anonymous", because... well, Jesus Christ, they've got nothing better to do.
The Bizarre thing about this is if he had said exactly the same thing in an interview with the local TV station or Radio station with a much wider audience, he wouldn't have been committing an offence since the Communications act excludes "programmes" as defined by the Broadcasting act 1990. Come to think of it, the Broadcasting act covers things broadcast via "Radio Frequencies", so if he used a wireless laptop or phone to to tweet, then perhaps it is covered by the broadcasting act rather than the communications act, wonder if his solicitor though of that?
That's quite ridiculous. What next, prosecuting Italian mothers because they say "eat your food or I'll kill you!" or Jewish mothers because they go "eat your food or I'll kill myself", as the old non-PC joke goes? At least they DO speak directly to their intended targets, unlike the poor bloke in this story...
Oh no, I made a bad joke. Will I get a criminal record too?
Well done Britain!
He's lost two jobs, he's in debt to the tune of thousands, he'll have trouble getting another job not only because of the criminal conviction but because their aren't any jobs. And soon, he'll be told by our new overlords that he's a lazy, work-shy, lay-about dole-scum and that if he wants to continue getting his £65 a week dole money, he'd better do some forced labour!
And all because of a joke on twitter! Yes it was a crap a joke but the punishment is a little harsh!
Good old Britain with its sense of fair-play.
So you'll have to be afraid of the government instead.
Be afraid, be very afraid.
Of anything - we don't care what.
Twitter should not be taken seriously for ANYTHING, even if it *is* directed @doncasterairport
Why would you want to encourage real terrorists to use twitter? Its just one more thing you'd have to monitor. Since when did the current breed of terrorist give any warnings? That's just an old IRA thing. If you want to claim "anti-terror" at least get with the programme. The official is just an example of small people with too much power.
I find it rather sad that Remembrance Sunday is just around the corner, the day we remember the sacrifices made for our liberty and freedom. Liberty and freedom paid for by so much destruction on the world's battle fields. We are now rapidly losing these two things due to the paranoid actions a small group of scared, white, middle-class know-alls who think clamping down on the populace is the way to defeat terrorism.
A big round of applause for those in charge of us! You helped the terrorists win! Well done! Let me tell you here's the REAL JOKE of all this if you're still to demented to get it, the terrorists have managed to paralyze their targets by fear, the ultimate aim of terrorism, and they barely had to lift a finger to achieve it! They simply stirred up the right small group of people we put in charge and bingo, we all lose our freedoms!
Last one to leave turn off...well you know...
As much as I think you are right, I also think you're thinking one level too low.
The real motivation is control of the populace. Terrorism is just a tool - they don't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut if we all get creamed by terrorists, as long as it provides leverage to allow them more freedom and us less. Politicians don't consider themselves 'one of us' you know, to them we're just plebs, cash cows and all that.
If only the terrorists were clever enough to realise they are being used.
"The words in the message speak for themselves and they were sent at a time when the security threat to this country was substantial,"
Yeah, yeah, yeah, heard it all before. We're so under threat Manchester's been bombed, Birmingham's been bombed, Docklands has been bombed ... oh no, wait.
We're less under threat now than we were 20 years ago. The only thing that's changed is the amount of hysterical guff spouted by the government, civil service, intelligence services et al. Jacqueline Davies clearly believes all this palpable nonsense or she wouldn't have imposed this sentence, which makes one wonder whether she's fit to practice law at all: People who believe whatever guff any Tom, Dick or Harry feed them are hardly likely to be impartial.
She must be a barrel of laughs at home.
JD: I'm calling the police
#1 son: It was only a joke
JD: Your words speak for themselves. To the gaol with you!
quoth Judge Davies: "the security threat to this country was substantial"
Hell yes, I'm cowering in my bunker next to a pallet of baked beans.
Aren't the ruling classes issued with a stiff upper lip any more?
Nice to see the learned judge will let you off for attacking someone with a pool cue though - http://www.whitbygazette.co.uk/news/local/pool_cue_man_escapes_prison_1_1881883 - this is obviously the safe legal way to express your displeasure. (Note to CPS, find someone with an english degree and ask them about irony _before_ charging me. Please.)
Pull me up here on anything but this chap didn't send the twert to the airport, just posted it on his twutter boardthingy. Publishing to friends, world + dog perhaps but not " sending a threatening message " as lifeaswehaveknownitjim would understand " sending " ! ?
The " threatened " subject of said twaet did not " receive " the " threatening message " ( with it's 10-day deadline punchline ).. To say nothing of the fact that giving someone/thing a good solid piece of your mind with flourishes can be called " blowing it up " just ask miss Bee.
Precedents, an important port of English law too ( irony ). Hope he can appeal further.
Disliking his eyes and mo I'm leaving icon off this post. Also I can't tell whether he's wearing a hat.
I think "joke" is pushing it a bit. While I don't see it as menacing nor can I see how there is anything humourous about the tweet. As for the comment about the message being between the twit and his "closest friends" there are two issues. Firstly is they'd said "followers" instead of closest firends it may have been nearer the mark, but nobody could claim 600 people as being their inner circle. The big point however is that even an idiot should know that twitter is public, the posts don't just go to your followers but anybody can see and more importantly search them.
The same applies to the idiot councillor and his stoning tweet.
This is how our hard won freedoms erode. The mere fact that the airport and police did not take any steps to protect the public, that might have disrupted travel, shows they categorised it as prank. To then prosecute with vigour the perpetrator is a travesty and to deny the appeal is downright sinister abuse of judicial power. A sad day indeed.
He did a very foolish thing. Free Speech doesn't include sending bomb hoaxes, and the users of Twatter need to learn that having a Twatter account doesn't give you free reign to say anything you want to and not expect repercussions.
Don't threaten to blow up airports in a public forum. Nuff said.
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