Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far


by Guest    
8:55 am - March 28th 2012

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contribution by The Mambo

It’s difficult to have too much sympathy with Liam Stacey, who has just been jailed for 56 days for posting racist tweets about footballer Fabrice Muamba.

In fact he is a complete wanker.

But I’m a little uneasy about locking someone up because they say something that I think is foul.

In the first instance, I’m intellectually opposed to using the force of the law to punish people who hold views that I and many others find repugnant. One of the often unwanted, but necessary side-effects of living in a democracy is that people who we think are disgraceful are given a platform to sound off.

If we aren’t able to tolerate the espousal of those views then we aren’t living in a democracy. Freedom of speech is unconditional or it isn’t freedom of speech.

In any case I’m not sure what sending him to prison is supposed to achieve. In fact it is liable to be counterproductive. The views of people like Stacey need to be challenged, not suppressed. Silencing Stacey in this draconian fashion will only make him a martyr in the eyes of those who may secretly or openly think he was right.

Stacey is a little dickhead but I’m guessing he isn’t a hardened criminal. Considering what reoffending rates are like, sending him to the ‘university of crime’ and giving him a permanent criminal record, probably massacring his future employment prospects, seems completely counterproductive.

I can understand why the authorities took the action they did, and many of us were horrified by what was written by Stacey and others. Making it plain that racism is wrong is a noble objective.

But I think they have made a profound mistake in locking the guy up. We need to be challenging the ideas that have infected this guy’s brain. There are a plenty of positive things we could do.

Making him face Muamba (if and when he’s fully recovered obviously) and forcing him to explain his actions would seem a far better idea, and one that might make Stacey (and future Staceys) think about the consequences of the hurt he has caused.


Cross-posted from Representing the Mambo

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Reader comments


I disagree. Living in a civilised society means our freedoms also carry responsibilities and are limited at the point where they harm others. Given the context, what he said about Muamba would have hurt his family far more than a punch in the face, for which he would also be prosecuted. Inflicting such mental pain should be the same as inflicting physical pain in the eyes of the law, especially in a context like this. I agree with those who say that it is wrong that burglars get off while Stacey is jailed, but that is a different issue that also needs to be addressed.

But don’t you think that it is a bit like brushing it under the carpet, and not really challenging the odious sentiment behind the tweet?

I agree.

Nice to see some proper liberalism on the net. Saying he shouldn’t go to prison is not saying that what he did was right or acceptable.

4. flyingrodent

Living in a civilised society means our freedoms also carry responsibilities…

Could you enumerate these “responsibilities”, perhaps with reference to the relevant legislation?

I suppose the question is whether or not you regard racist rantings as being a form of protected speech. However I will agree that criminal sanctions are going too far in this case, twitter and Facebook deleting his profiles would be more than sufficient imo.

My principal concern is that the CPS is getting itself muddled over how to apply its public interest test in this and other cases, and that media outcry/”public abhorrence” (I quote the sentencing judge) is outweighing consideration of the actual offence at hand.

More, if I may make so bold, at http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2012/03/28/foul-mouthed-tirades-and-the-public-interest/

“However I will agree that criminal sanctions are going too far in this case, twitter and Facebook deleting his profiles would be more than sufficient imo.”

So, jail is too much, but censorship of wrong opinions is okay?

I think not. He’s an idiot, let him be an idiot. We all will then know he is an idiot. Censorship is only okay with actual incitement of violence (and even then it should be consistent).

8. Chaise Guevara

Has anyone got a link to anything actually racist or hate-inciting that this guy said? The first article I looked at gave no examples, and the one linked above only has “LOL he’s dead”, which is notable for its lack of a racial element.

I doubt I’d agree with this conviction either way, but it would be good to know what he’s actually been sent down for…

@7 Do you believe that he didn’t violate any terms and conditions regarding his usage of Twitter?

People who say mean things should definitely go straight to jail.

Has anyone got a link to anything actually racist or hate-inciting that this guy said?

Don’t have a link but there was a helluva lot of racist abuse – references to picking cotton, as well as flat-out racist insults. There wasn’t any incitement to violence that I saw, but you don’t need that for incitement to racial hatred. Public Order Act 86:

18. Use of words or behaviour or display of written material.

(1)A person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, is guilty of an offence if— .
(a)he intends thereby to stir up racial hatred, or .
(b)having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby.

That said, I do feel there’s a touch of the sledgehammer/nut about this.

There you go Chaise Guevara.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100147319/top-banter-liam-stacey-is-an-idiot-thats-punishment-enough-for-his-fabrice-muamba-tweets/

It’s completely mad to be sending him to jail for this. But as I heard some people saying last night on the radio, this is ”sending a message to wider society”.

We are all being warned. Fire off a few stupid drunken tweets on your phone and Big Brother will catch you and punish you.

As the the Fabrice Muamba carry on, even the Independent today has an editorial saying enough is enough. They were doing it all again at Tottenham v Bolton last night.

This is how a Man Utd fanzine sees it:

”Grief Junkies run riot.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9167751/Manchester-United-fanzine-Red-Issue-defiant-over-Fabrice-Muamba-grief-junkies-cover.html

Btw, Robbie Savage fully supports him going to prison over this.

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 11 Tim

Thanks for the info. Most news sources apparently think that the vital information isn’t worth reporting.

I think the legislation itself is wrong, but at least this suggests it hasn’t been misapplied (although perhaps discretion should have been used, or a non-custodial sentence should have been handed down).

14. Shatterface

Not much to add. The OP hits the nail on the head, and I’m glad to see it reposted here. He might have Twitter rules snd could be dealt with accordingly.

Some dick posted LOL U died on an obit I wrote aboyt Ralph NcQuarrie. I just treated it like any other spam.

15. James Reade

Great – good to see something liberal, as Matt Kelly points out, on here.

Can I assume you’ll follow this up by also recognising that the prosecution of the Johns for having a particular policy on their double bed rooms in their B&B was also going too far?

Exactly, this is not a matter for the law at all. Its extremely dangerous to allow the State to define the limits of speech and thought, because it is THEY who set those limits, not us in any shape or form.

While I dont agree with facebook or twitter censoring peoples views, they do have a right to that option of deleting a profile as they own that internet space and users only really borrow it from those companies. Its like comment threads on LC, I wouldnt advocate censorship of comments, but LC owns this space and can set its own limits as to what it will allow for comments.

But back to the main issue, we should be horrified that the State has given itself this brief to intervene and punish thoughts and tweets, even if they are incoherent and disgusting.

Also, since when is it the police’s -the ones who are the biggest enforcers of State racism around- to protect us from racist thinking? Talk about a regression of political organisation…….

Making him face Muamba (if and when he’s fully recovered obviously)

LOL. That’s a bit harsh on Muamba isn’t it?

But I basically agree. A custodial sentence of that length seems hugely disproportionate. I reckon that being a hateful racist wanker is in large measure its own punishment.

I think the legislation itself is wrong, but at least this suggests it hasn’t been misapplied (although perhaps discretion should have been used, or a non-custodial sentence should have been handed down).

Maximum sentence is 7 years. A couple of chaps who ran a racist website, and handed out racist leaflets (I haven’t seen them, but the judge said they were shocking) went down for 4 1/2 years not that long ago. The courts come down hard on racial hatred…

@RH

“Given the context, what he said about Muamba would have hurt his family far more than a punch in the face, for which he would also be prosecuted.”

Are Muamba’s family really that sensitive, but also think of this, we only know about this guy’s racist abuse because there was media coverage and police intervention. Its highly likely no-one but the few people on twitter who challenged Stacy would have known what he said, but now, thanks to little snitches and police intervention this farce will not be forgotton and Muamba and his family will know about it! Clearly the people publishing the stories or snitching to the police dont give a shit about feelings, but rather want to revel in their own warped ‘goodness’ of sending a drunken racist to jail.

A few things to say on this.

1) The law prohibiting incitement to racial hatred is authoritarian and pernicious.

2) Stacey should never have plead guilty as his words could not be argued to have broken the stupid law. Any decent lawyer would surely have got him off.

3) Whilst it is important to defend the principle of freedom of speech, I understand it is difficult to muster the necessary sense of outrage in this case because the man is clearly such an idiot.

4) It is, nevertheless, important that we do so otherwise the next person who invites Sunny to string himself up with his turban might get a knock on the door.

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 James Reade

“Can I assume you’ll follow this up by also recognising that the prosecution of the Johns for having a particular policy on their double bed rooms in their B&B was also going too far?”

Do you mean the Bulls? Because AFAIK they weren’t prosecuted, just ordered to pay damages in a civil case for their illegal business practices.

And it’s not the same thing anyway; there’s a difference between expressing an opinion and discriminatory denial of service. If the charmer in the news story had run a pub with a “no blacks, no Irish” sign outside then it might be equivalent.

22. Planeshift

The main problem is he’s been made an example of due to who the victim was and the media coverage, and is now going to be a ‘free speech martyr’ for the morons who think arguing against immigration is a criminal offence.

He clearly did break the law if you read what he said, but he’s young, first offence, and was pissed. The appropiate thing was for the judge to say “you’ve clearly been a twat, and you’re going to be spending the summer doing community service, and hopefully you’ll grow up”

A London blogger who wrote that Jews must be “attacked wherever you see them” on the Scotsman newspaper’s website has escaped jail, after pleading guilty to posting the comments.
Mohammed Sandia from Wembley said Jews were a “genetically mutated inbred tribe. Jews are not fit to breathe our air and should be attacked wherever we see them. Throw rocks at their ugly, hooked-nosed women and mentally ill children, and light up the real ovens.”

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/60850/antisemitic-blogger-escapes-prison-term

24. Merrymaker

This man pleaded guilty to Racially Aggravated intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress. Public Order Act 1988 s4A, Crime and Disorder Act 1998 s31, Anti-Terrorism Act 2001. He was sentenced in the Magistrates Court (rather than the Crown Court), maximum sentence 4 Months (because he pleaded guilty), taking into account mitigating and aggravating factors of the offence, this comes down to 56 days. He could have been given a reasonably strong community sentence, BUT national guidelines indicate a custodial sentence for this offence. He will be able to appeal the sentence. I do not know what he actually said, but on the face of whats been reported, he was guilty of the offence – his lawyer will have advised him of that. This offence does not require incitment to violence for it to be committed, and many people fall foul off it every day. I know of a case of a row between two neighbours where one has been charged with this offence after a complaint by the other. If you do not like this offence blame Jack Straw – he introduced it.

25. Chaise Guevara

@ 22 cjcjc

Unless Stacey has some previous convictions I don’t know about, that argues strongly for the law not being fairly applied.

I think it’s very welcome that this is being discussed by people who think he’s a wanker, and what he posted was vile. When I suggested, not long ago, that a year in prison seemed a little harsh for someone who put posters on his window which criticised Islam/Muslims (first offence) this was enough to get me banned, apparently, from Socialist Unity.

Just reading my comment – and should add that ‘criticising’ is too weak a word, as I’m sure the posters were also quite vile, although the story was reported in a rather unclear way at first, allowing for the possibility that they were unpleasantly satirical, bigoted, rather than violent or threatening – I suspect that they *were* implicitly threatening though, based on subsequent info, still not fully clear.

1 PH: I disagree. Living in a civilised society means our freedoms also carry responsibilities and are limited at the point where they harm others. Given the context, what he said about Muamba would have hurt his family far more than a punch in the face, for which he would also be prosecuted. Inflicting such mental pain should be the same as inflicting physical pain in the eyes of the law, especially in a context like this.

I believe in freedom of speech. Your post, calling for it to be curtailed, has inflicted mental pain on me; as such I demand that you be banged up.

If you disagree, you’re a hypocrite.

Some bloke from Index on Censorship was on Radio 4′s evening news programme saying that this was the kind of thing a drunken idiot would have been ranting about in a pub, until everyone else told him to pipe down, i.e. it would never have got to the ears of people who could have been offended/outraged or what have you.

The problem is that what used to be semi-private has become generally public. It is like having the drunken phone call you might make to an ex-boyfriend getting broadcast. People will learn what you should or shouldn’t say in what is essentially a public space, and our manners will change. That this should be criminal though is stupid – just as the drunken ranting tosser in the pub should be chucked out of the pub, not had up on a criminal charge. It’s very bad that social conduct should be policed like this.

@29 The main problem is the courts regard statements on Facebook and twitter as made in full seriousness formally published material, and prosecute them as such. Hence why you get facebook rioters, twitter jokers and twitter racists all in the dock together. Currently, the best advice anyone can take is, if you’re not prepared to stand behind a statement in court, don’t plaster it all over Facebook or twitter.

‘See the young man who was abusive about Muamba got a custodial sentence. Let it be a warning to all you immature souls. #thinkbeforeyoutweet.’ So tweeted ex-footballer Gary Lineker, popularising the #thinkbeforeyoutweet hashtag used in reaction to the news that 21-year-old student Liam Stacey was to be imprisoned for 56 days. Stacey had posted abusive comments about Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba who fell ill during an FA Cup match.

Lineker was far from alone in seeing the imprisonment of Stacey as an important warning for internet ‘trolls’ everywhere. The Apprentice star Lord Alan Sugar responded to the news with the tweet ‘BLOODY GOOD JOB. Be warned idiots!’, and veteran broadcaster James Whale claimed ‘people who abuse Twitter take note’. Others went still further, tweeting that they hope people will ‘rape the fuck out of him’ in prison, with the #DONTDROPTHESOAP hashtag being frequently used. One Twitterer even claimed, ‘I wouldn’t really care if Liam Stacey died. He’s a sick man, from the scum of the earth.’

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/12288/

They’re going to talk about this on Radio 4′s Moral Maze tonight.

Police State?

Upon being sentenced at Swansea Magistrates Court, district judge John Charles announced, ‘At that moment, not just the footballer’s family, not just the footballing world, but the whole world were literally praying for his life. Your comments aggravated this situation.’ The judge told Stacey he had done ‘untold harm’ to his future.

Totally agree with you (as usual) :)

There’s a slightly different angle to this as well. What he said is awful but it’s not that it’s racist, it’s that it’s racist against a beloved, popular, famous rich footballer surely?

THAT is another bit that makes me uncomfortable. Racial hatred gets hurled about an awful lot, and gets ignored or not seen in the first place, because it’s directed at people without a voice.

34. Shatterface

I’d just like to add that I’ve been consistantly supporting free speech for some time now, and will continue to do so, but I’m REALLY looking forward to the day I can support someone who isn’t an total dick.

Please, please, someone get prosecuted for saying something I agree with.

35. Shatterface

‘At that moment, not just the footballer’s family, not just the footballing world, but the whole world were literally praying for his life. Your comments aggravated this situation.’

If he’d just prayed for Muamba’s death rather than Twatting at him there would have been no problem as, as the ASA have proven, prayer doesn’t work

36. Chaise Guevara

@ 35 Shatterface

As a member of the whole world, I can confirm that I was not literally praying for his life. Maybe it’s the context, but it sounds as if the judge was taking the whole thing a bit personally.

I agree with post 20 precicely.

This case makes me deeply uneasy. Why was Stacey singled out for such a fast -track prosecution, and jailed barely days after the offence? This is highly irregular.

I am having great trouble seeing how he is guilty of either incitement to racial hatred or the section 4A offence, because both require specific intent, to which drunkenness is a defence. It is not a defence to the section 5 offence, but that is punishable only with a fine (even when racially aggravated).

But even if he is guilty, I am still deeply uneasy.

@ 33 LibertarianLou

Not really, because the racist comments he posted (for which he’s been prosecuted) were directed at other twitter users who’d taken him to task for his Muamba comment (examples here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100147319/top-banter-liam-stacey-is-an-idiot-thats-punishment-enough-for-his-fabrice-muamba-tweets/ )

His original comment on Muamba, while tasteless, wasn’t racist and isn’t what he’s been jailed for (despite many reports seeming to suggest otherwise).

One point that hasn’t been mentioned so far, and one which I’ve raised before here, is how often the stupidest and most vindictive sentences we have seen in the last couple of years – especially against young people – have come from those curious judicial halflings called ‘District Judges’ (née Stipendiary Magistrates).

It seems that New Labour’s decision a few years ago to re-title them (without, as far as I can tell, increasing their powers) has gone to their collective heads, and the DJs now behave as they no doubt imagine real judges behave. Hence the outbreak of off-with-their-headism from them, complete with the most footlingly self-righteous and cloddishly censorious sentencing remarks (as seen in this case).

A case of form influencing content, perhaps?

On the point of this particular story, putting this twerp in prison for any length of time for what he did is pointless to the extent of being dangerous. One has to ask the pertinent age-old question: cui bono?.

There is little evidence that any sentence acts as much of a deterrent, so no traction there. And if judges (and their DJ mini-mes) want to ‘send a message’, they should go and work for Vodafone.

So Liam Stacey was, in effect, put in prison by this clown because the clown could.

Consider the after-effects:

Stacey will now have not only a criminal record, but a prison record as well. It is estimated that about 60% of all employers will not – under any circumstances – employ ex-prisoners. So that’s him screwed at least until the time – about ten years from now as the law stands – when he no longer has to declare the conviction on most job applications.

Moreover, his university are pursuing disciplinary proceedings against him. The likelihood is that they – seeing an easy way to appear to be ‘firm’ and ‘decisive’ – will kick him out halfway through his degree course. Will he be able to get on a course anywhere else? Unlikely, given his new-found notoriety; and that’s assuming he’d be able to get the funding for it. So that’s him screwed from the qualifications angle as well, which might be the best chance he’s got of overcoming the prejudices of prospective employers and actually getting a job of any substance (or any job at all).

You can add to that the fact that his name and photo have been splashed over every visual news media, and that there are already hints that he has been threatened with reprisals.

So, for a stupid drunken rant as a consequence of which no-one died, no-one was physically injured (or psychologically either, as far as I can see) and not even any property was damaged, this young man’s life could be completely and permanently fscked-over. Disproportion much?

I’m in agreement with an earlier commenter who said that the DJ should just have called him an odious little twonk for the public record, made him spend the long vac doing something useful and productive and then let him get on with rebuilding his life. That would be in everyone’s best interests; except, of course, nearly all our pols, pundits, public and judiciary who have a deep and unhealthy obsession with the notion that only imprisonment is any sort of punishment at all, irrespective of the long-term consequences.

“Freedom of speech is unconditional or it isn’t freedom of speech.”

Well, that’s not really true, is it?

We don’t allow libel, harassment or contempt of court.

I can’t say I’m too informed about this case, but when did that ever stop anyone commenting on the internet, right?

However, my main concern is the rise of ‘trial by media’ shown during the ‘riots’, where some got 8 years, and it was admitted they got more ‘to make a show of strength and show that these actions would not be tolerated’.

To me, that’s entirely wrong, no-one should be punished more or less just because a particular story is running high in the tabloids.

If there was a sudden wave of burglaries, to the extent where it was obviously an epidemic, I’d not want to see judges just making up extra long sentences, but for it to be looked into, and taken thru the correct channels to increase the maximum sentence.

Not just to roll over and sate whatever drivel was in the Daily Mail that morning.

@the judge – in answer to ‘cui bono’ – the far right?

@ 39 – Interesting points, Your Honour.

@ 41 – Yeah, this “making an example of” and “sending a message” are both unjust crap. A kind of hangover from public executions, with heads put on spikes and displayed.

Can you be sent to jail for calling someone a northern monkey, or for references to inbreeding and webbed toes in Norfolk? Where I used to work, the imitation of a Pakistani accent was definitely verboten but people felt free to mock/abuse northerners or the Welsh etc. So where is the line in the sand? The EDL say a fair bit of horrible stuff without getting locked up. Several fundamentalist muslims likewise. Yet one student says something offensive while pissed and the law (and the middle class) come down like a ton of bricks?

I don’t get it.

Sarah AB@42:

So long as you include most of the Parliamentary Labour Party in that definition (on this issue if not others), then yes.

@31 That Spiked link is pretty good, I especially liked the part where he pointed out Piers Morgan’s self-awareness levels

Broadcaster Piers Morgan, for example, tweeted to over 2million followers: ‘Trying to work out who’s more idiotic – that dumb, racist cry-baby #LiamStacey or those trying to defend him on grounds of “free speech”.’ Morgan continued: ‘Still getting Twitter trolls demanding their “free speech” right to racially abuse black footballers as they lie in comas. Just p*** off… Actually, I’ve got a better idea – keep spewing your racist filth, vile trolls, and let’s get you all arrested and jailed like #LiamStacey.’ (Hilariously, he then responded to his detractors claiming, ‘Come on you vile little trolls – let me have your worst. I can handle it. #SticksAndStones.’)

Or complete lack thereof from the looks of it.

47. Chaise Guevara

As of post 39, I’m officially nominating the Judge to convey my opinion on this matter, seeing as he’s done it more intelligently, wisely, informedly (it’s probably a word), and courteously than I could have managed in a month of Sundays. Superbly put, sir.

48. Chaise Guevara

@ 41 Keith

I’ve read accounts of sentencing where the judge in question has literally said to the convicted: “I’m going to make an example of you”. Seems to me that should be an codified reason to call a mistrial. Guy obviously has no clue what justice means; he’s happy to exploit the miscreant in front of him, arbitrarily, for The Greater Good.

49. Chaise Guevara

@ 40 Chris

“Well, that’s not really true, is it?

We don’t allow libel, harassment or contempt of court.”

A good point, and I’m glad someone made it. What I *hope* the OP means is that we allow freedom of political opinion. Freedom of speech, taken literally, means that it’s ok to order an assassination.

Judge @39 – can you get into trouble for calling a judge a clown over the internet?
Peter Hain MP is being hauled in front of a Belfast court, accused of showing disrespect for a judge in a passage of his latest book.

And as for getting kicked out of university – isn’t this what student activists are made for? There should be some campus campaigning at Swansea University to make sure he isn’t kicked out.

It’s a bit annoying that the only high profile people who feel free to talk about this are the ones who are for it. Gary Lineker, Lord Sugar etc. Where’s the people saying what a load of BS this is? The guy pressed some keys on his phone. Maybe whist sitting pissed at the bar.

And most important – they weren’t directed to someone in particular.
Stan Collymore gets a lot of racist abusive e-mail and twitter stuff sent to him personally. That is different to this.

51. So Much For Subtlety

1. RH

I disagree. Living in a civilised society means our freedoms also carry responsibilities and are limited at the point where they harm others. Given the context, what he said about Muamba would have hurt his family far more than a punch in the face, for which he would also be prosecuted. Inflicting such mental pain should be the same as inflicting physical pain in the eyes of the law, especially in a context like this.

That is interesting because I find your lack of tolerance disturbing. So disturbing in fact that I find it more painful than a slap in the face.

No doubt you will be agreeing with me that you deserve a month inside.

52. So Much For Subtlety

5. Cylux

I suppose the question is whether or not you regard racist rantings as being a form of protected speech.

No, that is getting it the wrong way around. The question is whether or not you think racist ranting ought to be criminal speech. All speech ought to be protected, ought to have the benefit of the doubt, until real harm can be shown. There was no harm here and so it should not be criminal.

@TheJudge:

Exactly.

Short prison sentences are a far harsher punishment than people realise. It’s hardly surprising it creates career criminals, when you consider the realistic options for someone’s life on release. I mean, you’re never going to get a job while you have to declare your record; and after that you’ve got many years of unexplained unemployment to explain to potential employers, so it’ll still be blindingly obvious to potential employers what went on. It’s not a situation likely to encourage reform and rehabilitation.

I’m not condoning what this idiot did, but a jail sentence is a vast overreaction.

Someone who uses that Twittter thing ought to remind Lineker of one of his finest hours on our screens:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7k9UxXgmQg

Perhaps we should send sober people to jail for mind-melting stupidity as a matter of course rather than drunken students saying daft things.

If Merrymaker’s right, Stacey wasn’t convicted of inciting racial hatred by expressing racist views. He was convicted of “Racially Aggravated intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress” for calling black people ‘wog cunts’, telling them their dads were rapists, threatening to stamp their faces flat, etc. Hence much of this discussion is somewhat off topic. The issue is not whether he’s entitled to express stupid opinions, but whether he’s entitled to harass and threaten people on the basis of their ethnicity.

56. the a&e charge nurse

Poor old Liam, going to jail for for stuff that would have been the staple of establishment comedy in the 70′s – moral of story, never mess with a MSM deity
http://images.moviepostershop.com/love-thy-neighbor-movie-poster-1975-1020249735.jpg

57. So Much For Subtlety

55. GO

If Merrymaker’s right, Stacey wasn’t convicted of inciting racial hatred by expressing racist views. He was convicted of “Racially Aggravated intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress” for calling black people ‘wog cunts’, telling them their dads were rapists, threatening to stamp their faces flat, etc. Hence much of this discussion is somewhat off topic. The issue is not whether he’s entitled to express stupid opinions, but whether he’s entitled to harass and threaten people on the basis of their ethnicity.

I have not seen all, or even most, of the alleged comments but can I ask where he harassed or threatened anyone on the basis of anything really? Calling someone a w*g c*nt is not a threat. Nor is it harassment by any sane definition of the word. Threatening to stamp on their faces may be – if there was the remotest chance that it might have been carried out. If he knew who he was talking to for instance. Even telling someone to go pick cotton is neither a threat or harassment.

So we are back to a simpler question – whether he has a legal right to get drunk and say some vile and stupid things while in that state. Which he doesn’t, but he should have.

The other outrage is the disproportionate nature of the punishment. If he had actually physically attacked someone with three of his drunken mates, kicked them in the head when they were down, all the while shouting racial insults, he could expect a suspended sentence. As these people got:

The four defendants shouted “kill the white slag” as they attacked Rhea Page after dragging her to the ground.

Ambaro Maxamed, 24, her sisters Ayan, 28, and Hibo, 24, and their cousin Ifrah Nur, 28, faced up to five years in jail after admitting causing actual bodily harm.

But Judge Robert Brown gave them six-month suspended sentences after deciding that the attack in Leicester city centre was not racially motivated.

He heard in mitigation that the four were not used to alcohol because their religion does not allow it.

Ahh, but they aren’t White are they? And that is likely to be a factor. Actually assaulting someone gets you a lesser sentence than merely telling someone to piss off – if you’re the wrong colour. No wonder the Far Right is growing.

58. MarkAustin

I also agree that not only the conviction, but the underlying law is wrong. There has grown up in recent years a belief that some people’s mental state is so fragile that they must be protected from offence. This is nonsense. No one, or no one’s opinion can ever be free from offense. to say this is to say that certain opinions can never be challenged, since at least a few holders of such opinions will hold any such challenge to be offensive.

All opinions should be tested by debate. To quote Milton ( Areopagitica)

And though all the windes of doctrin were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licencing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falshood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the wors, in a free and open encounter.

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/areopagitica/

This is not to say that all speech should be allowed at all times. There is a difference between expressing opinion and advocating action, and at times the same words at different times have different consequences. To quote Mill (On Liberty):

An opinion that corn-dealers are starvers of the poor, or that private property is robbery, ought to be unmolested when simply circulated through the press, but may justly incur punishment when delivered orally to an excited mob assembled before the house of a corn-dealer, or when handed about among the same mob in the form of a placard.

http://www.utilitarianism.com/ol/three.html

This is a law which I am sure every one of us breaches at least once in every week, and this makes it even more pernicious, since its application is, in effect, discretionary: it is used to supress certain opinions and certain individuals, whilst others escape.

Whislt the individual in question is doubtles a total prat, he expressed only opinion: he advocated no action, indeed it is doubtful if the words were even racist, but, once charged, it is an offence against which it is difficult—if not impossible—to frame a defence, since the mere fact of raising a criminal charge establishes that someone has been offended by the remarks, which is the essence of the criminal offence. The effect of the existence of this crime is to enable the State to supress any opinion of which it does not approve.

59. Chaise Guevara

@ 57 SMFS

While I agree the fact that this guy was jailed and the women who attacked Rhea Page weren’t indicates that our justice system is fucked up, comparing two hand-picked examples is hardly proof of discrimination against whites.

@chaise: indeed. There is an extent to which – based on media reports – the CJS appears to treat violent petty thugs more leniently than people who say stupid things. Race has nowt to do with it, as highlighted by the Islamist antisemites mentioned upthread among many others.

Then again, ‘violent petty thug jailed’ and ‘person who says stupid thing not jailed’ are both non-stories, whereas ‘violent petty thug not jailed’ and ‘person who says stupid thing jailed’ are both massive stories. So it’s entirely possible this reflects the nature of stories that get reported more than it reflects what actually goes on.

Channel four broadcast Chris Morris’s wonderful shows that included (along with myself) epithets such as ‘woggy coconuts’ and labelled Darcus Howe a ‘coco-shunter’.

Although (presumably) not used in a racist manner, what are you thinking right now?

Actually assaulting someone gets you a lesser sentence than merely telling someone to piss off – if you’re the wrong colour.

Great. The British Courts are racist agaist whites.

That’s another beauty to add to the bulging file marked “Why So Much For Subtlety is an Idiotic Lying Troll”, to go alongside such other gems as:

“It is entirely possible that the WHO’s vaccination programmes are what allowed HIV to escape from the fringes of the jungle in West Africa to become the global problem it is today.”

(Source: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/03/20/uk-aid-has-huge-impact-in-other-countries-heres-how-much/)

63. Chaise Guevara

@ 59 john b

That’s an excellent point in terms of newsworthiness. I’d be interested to see data on how race affects sentencing once other factors are taken into account, as I was under the impression that the bias went the other way to what SMFS claims.

damon @50:

I wish to state categorically that I have never found clowns to be figures of fun; rather, I consider them to be bizarre, disturbing and sinister, rather like the figures populating a cheese nightmare.

I am now going to pack my toothbrush prior to remand. :-)

And I certainly do hope that there is some sort of campaign to prevent Stacey being kicked out of Swansea Uni. I won’t hold my breath, however, given that senior figures in students’ unions have the worrying tendency to go on to become deeply illiberal government ministers.

Chaise @48:

A former senior judge went on record as saying that exemplary sentences are unjust. Unfortunately for those of us who would agree with the sentiment, that judge was Michael Argyle, the one who made such a balls-up of the Oz trial that he ended up being played in a TV drama of the case by Leslie Phillips. Therefore, Argyle was probably saying that he approved of them.

(And thank you for your kind remarks).

It seems that Stacey will be launching his appeal at Swansea Crown Court on Friday, and may be released either as a result of a success or pending a full hearing.

(I won’t put a link to the BBC item on this, because I keep roostering up the formatting).

65. the a&e charge nurse

[64] “It seems that Stacey will be launching his appeal at Swansea Crown Court on Friday, and may be released either as a result of a success or pending a full hearing” – or maybe because prisons are already so crammed full of dangerous water thieves that there is nowhere left to put him?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/poll/2011/aug/12/riots-water-theft-punishment

BTW does anybody know if FM’s family complained directly about the Tweet, or did the case arise from some other party?

a&ecn @65:

Ah, but you’ve got to come down hard on water thieves! If you don’t, then they’ll be after your railways, your schools, your health service…

67. Chaise Guevara

@ 64 the Judge

You’re welcome! The nature of Stacey’s crime is a big impediment to him getting support from students at his uni. The problem is that the liberal crowd will cross-pollinate to a large extent with the “right-on” crowd who say they support freedom of speech but like the idea of a racist being jailed because racists are The Bad Guys. Or don’t feel this way but aren’t up for associating their names with a card-carrying bigot.

As Shatterface was saying up the thread, none of the people who have thus far been harmed by this law are the sort of people you’d want to put on a poster. And it’s likely to continue thus if judges feel it’s their job to enforce public opinion (on that note: criminal trials by popular vote, who’s up for it?). For awhile at least, I reckon we’ll see people cheering the law that takes their own rights away. Again.

@65

BTW does anybody know if FM’s family complained directly about the Tweet, or did the case arise from some other party?

By all accounts mainly from a shit load of twitter users. It should be noted that twitter does warn you upon signing up that it will share all details of your account with the police immediately should a copper ever ask them to. Providing them with a rather nice and large file to label as evidence.
Currently you can view signing up to twitter as providing yourself with enough rope to hang yourself. Perfectly safe if you say mostly inoffensive stuff, but if you don’t, well, there’s a few hundred peeps watching your account just waiting to be ‘good little citizens’.

@67

on that note: criminal trials by popular vote, who’s up for it?

The Sun and the Star without a doubt, especially if they get to do the phone-in lines, probably the Mirror as well, if we’re being honest.

69. So Much For Subtlety

59. Chaise Guevara

While I agree the fact that this guy was jailed and the women who attacked Rhea Page weren’t indicates that our justice system is fucked up, comparing two hand-picked examples is hardly proof of discrimination against whites.

It is not proof of systemic discrimination against Whites, but it is fairly indicative in this case. Given that this prat committed a crime it is hard for non-Whites to do and the judge in the other case specifically took the girl’s religion (which is not the same as race I know but serves as a useful proxy in this case) into account.

So at least half the proof is there given that this is a law that was intended to apply to White people and I can’t recall a case off hand where it wasn’t. Theoretically Black people might be done for racially abusing other people, but has it ever happened?

62. Larry

Great. The British Courts are racist agaist whites.

That’s another beauty to add to the bulging file marked “Why So Much For Subtlety is an Idiotic Lying Troll”, to go alongside such other gems as:

You have not even remotely shown that it is not true Larry. Nor can you. I would think that people of Afro-Caribbean descent, while grossly over-represented in the prison population, are even more over-represented in the crime reporting figures. That is, people of Afro-Caribbean origin are less likely to go to jail and for less time than someone of indigenous origin. But I don’t know. Nor do you. So you have no grounds to make any comment either way.

“It is entirely possible that the WHO’s vaccination programmes are what allowed HIV to escape from the fringes of the jungle in West Africa to become the global problem it is today.”

And this remains true.

70. So Much For Subtlety

64. The Judge

And I certainly do hope that there is some sort of campaign to prevent Stacey being kicked out of Swansea Uni. I won’t hold my breath, however, given that senior figures in students’ unions have the worrying tendency to go on to become deeply illiberal government ministers.

Indeed. You can leave the Party, but the Party never leaves you. Former Stalinists do not become Liberals just because they joined the Labour Party and became Ministers.

It is interesting that in the more serious analogous case in America, George Zimmerman was immediately expelled from his college. So I would think Swansea won’t think twice.

The Judge

Ah, but you’ve got to come down hard on water thieves! If you don’t, then they’ll be after your railways, your schools, your health service…

Amusing. Although the British justice system over the last 60 years has pretty much proved conclusively that if you do not punish early and often – especially of children – pretty soon you’re knee deep in criminals.

Chaise Guevara

The nature of Stacey’s crime is a big impediment to him getting support from students at his uni. The problem is that the liberal crowd will cross-pollinate to a large extent with the “right-on” crowd who say they support freedom of speech but like the idea of a racist being jailed because racists are The Bad Guys. Or don’t feel this way but aren’t up for associating their names with a card-carrying bigot.

Because he is the wrong sort of illiberal and his victim was the wrong sort of victim. If he was a Muslim and he had said half these things, no one would mind. Guests of honour at universities up and down this land have said vastly worse things.

The liberal crowd does not cross-pollinate with anyone. There is no liberal crowd left in Britain. Liberalism is dead. There is a right-on crowd that thinks it is liberal. There is a section of the Tories who are liberal but only when it comes to economics. But liberalism and liberty have no friends in Britain any more. A few isolated individuals at best.

As Shatterface was saying up the thread, none of the people who have thus far been harmed by this law are the sort of people you’d want to put on a poster.

No one has yet to show a shred of harm to anyone except the idiot in question. Again let’s compare with George Zimmerman – the claim is that he should have walked away. He did not have to follow Trayvon Martin and provoke a fight. Nor did anyone have to listen to anyone else’s Tweets. They could have prevented themselves being offended by turning off their computer. They were under no compulsion to talk to the guy and they seem to have provoked him a little. Which is not a justification. So why should the law intervene when there is a much simpler solution? You don’t like talking to a moron on the internet, you stop talking to the moron on the internet.

And it’s likely to continue thus if judges feel it’s their job to enforce public opinion (on that note: criminal trials by popular vote, who’s up for it?). For awhile at least, I reckon we’ll see people cheering the law that takes their own rights away. Again.

If only judges were remotely interested in enforcing public opinion. More people are charged for not paying their TV licence, I read the other day, than for marijuana possession. Yet I am pretty sure most people feel otherwise. It has been the Left that has preferred trial by public opinion/lynch mob. So quite a few people here are probably up for it. That is what got Vodaphone into trouble after all.

71. Chaise Guevara

@ SMFS

“It is not proof of systemic discrimination against Whites, but it is fairly indicative in this case. Given that this prat committed a crime it is hard for non-Whites to do and the judge in the other case specifically took the girl’s religion (which is not the same as race I know but serves as a useful proxy in this case) into account.”

Hang on. Did he take it into account directly, or was it that he accepted it as backing up their claim that they weren’t used to drinking?

“So at least half the proof is there given that this is a law that was intended to apply to White people and I can’t recall a case off hand where it wasn’t. Theoretically Black people might be done for racially abusing other people, but has it ever happened?”

Off-hand, I can’t recall one either, but I’m willing to bet it has. Obviously you’d expect the majority of people convicted to be white due to sheer weight of numbers.

“The liberal crowd does not cross-pollinate with anyone. There is no liberal crowd left in Britain. Liberalism is dead. ”

OK, either you’re defining “liberal” in an incredibly narrow way, or you’re making absolute statements without justification again. Note that when I said the “liberal crowd” above, I meant social liberals, not libertarians (or I would have said libertarians). Assuming you meant the same, then I know your statement is incorrect: I’m one of those liberals, and I know many more people who would qualify.

The existence of right-on faux-liberals, who hate freedom of speech and think prejudice is ok when it’s a member of a perceived overdog group who suffers, does not infer the non-existence of people who apply liberal values fairly. Witness them (us) arguing with Sunny every time he crows about one of his political foes being silenced.

72. Chaise Guevara

@ SMFS

“No one has yet to show a shred of harm to anyone except the idiot in question.”

Agreed. Hence “harmed by the law”: this guy, and the guy arrested for mouthing off about soldiers.

“If only judges were remotely interested in enforcing public opinion. More people are charged for not paying their TV licence, I read the other day, than for marijuana possession.”

A fascinating point, sadly rendered moot by the fact that judges don’t charge people.

“It has been the Left that has preferred trial by public opinion/lynch mob. So quite a few people here are probably up for it. That is what got Vodaphone into trouble after all.”

Nonsense. We don’t have trial by public opinion. If you can show me data to indicate that most people who support trial-by-popular-vote are lefties, or that most lynch-mob members are lefties, then by all mean do so. But then, it’s not my brand of leftwingery, so I’m still not sure why you’re telling me about it.

Can’t you get through one post without going off on a tangent and whining about a poorly defined group that you’ve decided are responsible for all the evil in the world? The point isn’t whether we call these people left-wing or right-wing (and they could be shoehorned into either category, backed up with selective examples), the point is that trial by public opinion is WRONG. You seem to be trying to start an argument out of sheer contrariness.

SMFS

And this remains true.

I asked you for evidence once, and you signally failed to provide any. So I’ll ask again: can yo point me to any reputable source which backs up the unimaginably serious charge that you have repeatedly levelled at the WHO?

(Passing note: it is interesting that “I don’t know. Nor do you.” means that I can’t comment either way, whereas you’re allowed to make up anything you like.)

74. Brummie Kev

Well Said RH.
Responsibility for ones actions is what it’s all about.
If this man were to go down the pub and start this racist rant in front of Muamber’s mates, or a bunch of Bolton fans,
he would probably have few upset lads to deal with !
There is worrying, rising number of people who feel that they can use the web and the anonymity it brings to hide behind.
Let’s also remember that there are kid’s out there who have taken there own lives through similar malicious, sustained attacks on them via chat rooms; so called trolling.
This needs to stop.
I bet he’ll think twice before posting racist comments in future.
Let’s hope his cell mate isn’t a Bolton Wanderers fan !

75. Chaise Guevara

@ 74 Brummie Kev

“Let’s also remember that there are kid’s out there who have taken there own lives through similar malicious, sustained attacks on them via chat rooms; so called trolling.”

That’s a totally different thing. From what I can tell, it was Stacey who started getting a lot of attacks after sneering about Muamba’s death. I’m not calling him the victim of the conversation, because he wasn’t, but he didn’t hound or harrass anyone. About the only connection between Stacey’s actions and the sort of systematic online persecution you’re talking about is that they both happened on the internet.

Oh, FFS!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-17562016

First you get Appeal Court judges upholding four-year sentences for posting on Facebook, and now this.

SMFS@70:

“It is interesting that in the more serious analogous case in America, George Zimmerman was immediately expelled from his college. So I would think Swansea won’t think twice.”

‘Analogous’? Can you explain why you think the killing of an unarmed young black man by an armed self-appointed vigilante with a clear history of racial prejudice is ‘analogous’ to some daft arse sending drunken, racist tweets about someone he doesn’t know?

As an agonised follow-up, could someone please enlighten me as to how I format links on this bloody thing? Doh!

The thing is if he had said this loudly in a pub, a lot of pub-goers would have had their evening ruined by having his moronic views imposed on them where they had an expectation of enjoying themselves peacefully.

That doesn;t really apply to twitter, where anyone can just ignore such comments. As above, it was not any kind of sustained harassment or stalking.

I’m struggling to see any legitimate public interest in prosecution.

Also, a lot of people seem mistaken about what happened. The racist views were not directed at Muamba (who might reaonably be considered a vulnerable victim) but were retaliation for someone calling Stacey a cunt. He retaliated even more offensively.

The only mention of Muamba was “fuck Muamba he’s dead”. I’m unclear if this is aprt of what was considered criminal, and if so, whether it is part of what justifies the harsh sentence. If so, why?

79. Chaise Guevara

@ 77 Judge

Don’t they convert automatically?

http://www.google.com

If you mean how do you embed them within text, I know not.

@77 For formatting use less-than/greater-than brackets.

To imbed that link you provided into text use this but replace the square brackets with pointy ones: —>

[a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-17562016"]Insert Text Here[/a]

like so

Insert Text Here

82. the a&e charge nurse

[80] thanks for that link – I am astounded that a young man is in jail, his future trashed, because of a puerile rant on the net.

If his words are the threshold for custodial sentences then we better start building more prisons.

Chaise @77:

“Don’t they convert automatically?”

Not when I do it, they ruddy don’t.

(I know this link has now been provided by others, but I’m just seeing if it’ll work for me this time):

BBC

Tom (iow) @80:

Thanks from me for the link, too. It seems that Stacey was done for his responses to the people who took him to task for the original message rather than for the original message. Which is fair enough in itself (if you believe that such things are suitable for judicial intervention), but a term of imprisonment is still completely inappropriate bearing in mind what else he’s going to have to face; being publicly labelled a racist has a status not far behind that of being labelled a ‘paedo’ in our society these days.

84. Chaise Guevara

@ 82 a&e

“If his words are the threshold for custodial sentences then we better start building more prisons.”

I probably said this before, but when that guy got jailed for trolling, the Daily Mash response article was titled Uh Oh, Says Everyone On The Internet.

85. Charlieman

@39. The Judge: “Moreover, his university are pursuing disciplinary proceedings against him. The likelihood is that they – seeing an easy way to appear to be ‘firm’ and ‘decisive’ – will kick him out halfway through his degree course. Will he be able to get on a course anywhere else? Unlikely, given his new-found notoriety; and that’s assuming he’d be able to get the funding for it.”

The Judge has made similar points throughout this thread. I agree with the persistence and the argument.

As an undergraduate, I attended university with a damned fool Conservative student who sprayed anti-semitic graffiti and got caught. He was sent away to grow up, and he returned after a few years having grown up. Nobody at the university named him before he was sent away and few people knew about his crime on his return; he was just a student who took a break. That was a sensible and moderate way to treat the offender.

This young man in Swansea has not been offered the chance to grow up. Jack of Kent presents the appeal court decision where it is noted that young man of Swansea received a penalty notice in April 2011 for drunken behaviour. So I acknowledge that young man of Swansea is a S-L-O-W L-E-A-R-N-E-R. He is possibly not the chap that you wish to exchange banter with at the bar.

At the same time, I cannot perceive any social benefit by imprisoning this young man, to his benefit or to the community. Imprisonment should be used for people who imperil citizens; perhaps imprisonment is correct for somebody who bangs on the front door and rants in the householder’s face; is that the same as internet rant?

86. So Much For Subtlety

71. Chaise Guevara

Hang on. Did he take it into account directly, or was it that he accepted it as backing up their claim that they weren’t used to drinking?

Does it matter? The way to check if someone is used to drinking is to see if they are used to drinking. Not to comment on their religion as a proxy for their race. Which has very little to do with whether someone is used to drinking or not.

Off-hand, I can’t recall one either, but I’m willing to bet it has. Obviously you’d expect the majority of people convicted to be white due to sheer weight of numbers.

You would think it would have been, but it is noticable that neither of us can think of a case. And it is not as if there are not a lot of non-White people making very offensive comments across the UK.

OK, either you’re defining “liberal” in an incredibly narrow way, or you’re making absolute statements without justification again. Note that when I said the “liberal crowd” above, I meant social liberals, not libertarians (or I would have said libertarians). Assuming you meant the same, then I know your statement is incorrect: I’m one of those liberals, and I know many more people who would qualify.

Well social liberals are rarely liberal in the libertarian sense of the word. They may want fewer laws for their preferred pastimes, but as a general rule they also demand vastly more laws for the rest of us. So I am not using it an an incredibly narrow way. I am using it in the literal, even classical, sense. You may be. As I said, isolated individuals. Even if I accepted that your first response is not to support more laws to restrict freedom even more at virtually every possible chance. Which is true of most social liberals.

Chaise Guevara

A fascinating point, sadly rendered moot by the fact that judges don’t charge people.

True but judges used to be lawyers and exist within a larger legal culture.

Nonsense. We don’t have trial by public opinion. If you can show me data to indicate that most people who support trial-by-popular-vote are lefties, or that most lynch-mob members are lefties, then by all mean do so. But then, it’s not my brand of leftwingery, so I’m still not sure why you’re telling me about it.

I did not say we did. It is disingenuous of you to deny that when these sort of public outrages come up, it is virtually always the Left that is demanding the public is appeased with some ritual sacrifice. The Right has hardly done it since Mary Whitehouse.

Can’t you get through one post without going off on a tangent and whining about a poorly defined group that you’ve decided are responsible for all the evil in the world?

Can you get through one without misrepresenting my views?

Larry

I asked you for evidence once, and you signally failed to provide any. So I’ll ask again: can yo point me to any reputable source which backs up the unimaginably serious charge that you have repeatedly levelled at the WHO?

Did you? I don’t recall. Not that I feel the remotest need to provide evidence for something that I said might be true. As it might.

(Passing note: it is interesting that “I don’t know. Nor do you.” means that I can’t comment either way, whereas you’re allowed to make up anything you like.)

Again we would get along much better if you stopped lying. You can comment either way as long as you flag it as an opinion. As I do.

Brummie Kev

Let’s also remember that there are kid’s out there who have taken there own lives through similar malicious, sustained attacks on them via chat rooms; so called trolling.
This needs to stop.

First of all, it is not trolling, it is flaming. Second, no there have not. There have been cases where it may be possible that on-line bullying played some role in driving some fragile individuals to suicide, but there is no case where we can say with absolute certainty that it was the on-line bullying that did it.

The Judge

‘Analogous’? Can you explain why you think the killing of an unarmed young black man by an armed self-appointed vigilante with a clear history of racial prejudice is ‘analogous’ to some daft arse sending drunken, racist tweets about someone he doesn’t know?

Interesting. There being no evidence of Zimmerman’s alleged racial prejudice and a lot of evidence to the contrary. Nor any evidence that Zimmerman was a vigilante. Nothing like pre-judging the verdict is there? It is analogous not in the sense the crimes are the same, but that the debate about the intersection of racism and the law are similar. They are having a larger debate about similar issues.

87. Leon Wolfeson

@78 – That’s victim-blaming. Tweets are public.

Lots of people keep ignoring the fact that the internet is legally equivalent to other mediums. British law doesn’t CARE for your dis-inhibition. Now, it might be appropriate to change that, but it WOULD be a major change to British law.

The fact is, as well, that very strong reactions to racism are part and parcel of modern football because of the history of racist violence in the sport.

The sentence is understandable, even if you disagree with it. (I think a hefty fine would be more appropriate)

88. So Much For Subtlety

87. Leon Wolfeson

Lots of people keep ignoring the fact that the internet is legally equivalent to other mediums. British law doesn’t CARE for your dis-inhibition. Now, it might be appropriate to change that, but it WOULD be a major change to British law.

If you are disinhibited by alcohol or drugs they do. As may have been the situation in this case. But whether or not it is equivalent to other media is irrelevant. In no media should this non-crime have been a crime.

The fact is, as well, that very strong reactions to racism are part and parcel of modern football because of the history of racist violence in the sport.

What history of racist violence in football? Britain is, by and large, a very non-violent society. The strong reaction has nothing to do with football itself but the intimidation of advertisers by small groups of political activists. Who are always best ignored.

89. Leon Wolfeson

@88 – As far as I’m concerned, taking drugs is an exacerbating factor, not a mitigating one.

Regardless, British law does not differentiate between saying something in a pubic text posting on the internet and saying something in a printed public newsletter or newspaper.

Now, you can argue it should be otherwise, but that’s the current state of affairs. And it’s highly relevant, of course.

“What history of racist violence in football?”

And that’s revisionism. Denial, even.

@88

If you are disinhibited by alcohol or drugs they do.

I believe the current legal consensuses in the country regards anything you do willingly while drunk/whizzing you are still responsible for, as you are responsible for getting yourself into that state in the first place.

91. So Much For Subtlety

89. Leon Wolfeson

As far as I’m concerned, taking drugs is an exacerbating factor, not a mitigating one.

Good for you. I personally agree. But I am not sure the law does.

Regardless, British law does not differentiate between saying something in a pubic text posting on the internet and saying something in a printed public newsletter or newspaper.

Which is probably true. Nor should they (although Twitter is something most of us manage to ignore, but then so are most newspapers). The problem is that anyone is done for doing this anywhere in any medium.

And that’s revisionism. Denial, even.

Then what am I denying?

90. Cylux

I believe the current legal consensuses in the country regards anything you do willingly while drunk/whizzing you are still responsible for, as you are responsible for getting yourself into that state in the first place.

Responsible perhaps, but less so than if you were sober. Which is why you and I can run over people in cars with relatively minor legal consequences when we can’t when we are sober.

92. Leon Wolfeson

@91 – …Football violence. The others on the team are behind with the briefings then I see?

93. Chaise Guevara

@ SMFS

“Does it matter? The way to check if someone is used to drinking is to see if they are used to drinking. Not to comment on their religion as a proxy for their race.”

I agree, but yes, it does matter. The question is whether the judge went easy on them simply for being Muslim, as if being Muslim automatically gets you a reduced sentence in the law. It seems more like that he (rightly or wrongly) used their religion as a proxy to determine how likely it was that they claimed not to drink often.

“You would think it would have been, but it is noticable that neither of us can think of a case. And it is not as if there are not a lot of non-White people making very offensive comments across the UK. ”

Noticeable but not massively relevant. I’m not aware of every case that gets to court; how about you?

“Well social liberals are rarely liberal in the libertarian sense of the word. They may want fewer laws for their preferred pastimes, but as a general rule they also demand vastly more laws for the rest of us. So I am not using it an an incredibly narrow way. I am using it in the literal, even classical, sense.”

In which case you’re jumping from “most” (and I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt even on that) to “nearly all”. I haven’t met many liberals who only care about freedom when it affects them (e.g. a stoner who thinks his weed should be legal but that alcopops should be banned to prevent young-adult drunkeness).

“True but judges used to be lawyers and exist within a larger legal culture.”

Renders your previous remark nonsensical though. The problem in this case appears to be that the judge felt the need to enforce public opinion. If that was how we did justice, we wouldn’t need judges. We’d just convict people by phone-in vote. Laws (and hence police behaviour) obviously are influenced by public opinion, cos of democracy.

“I did not say we did. It is disingenuous of you to deny that when these sort of public outrages come up, it is virtually always the Left that is demanding the public is appeased with some ritual sacrifice.”

It’s not disengenuous, it’s honest. I see no reason to believe your claims. I’m certainly not going to accept them purely on the word of a massively biased observer.

“The Right has hardly done it since Mary Whitehouse.”

Yeah, right. Aren’t we supposed to be ripping up the Human Rights Act to make it easier for the right to persecute their enemies? I see that demand on every right-wing forum I visit.

“Can you get through one without misrepresenting my views?”

Sure, just did! You’re waxing lyrical about the monsters in your head again. This time, as usual, the bogeyman is the Left. If you’re going to constantly demonise every group you dislike, you hardly have reason to whinge when I call you on it.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far http://t.co/gRYeCHIJ

  2. BevR

    Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far http://t.co/gRYeCHIJ

  3. Matt Mulligan

    Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far http://t.co/gRYeCHIJ

  4. bohaynowell

    Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far http://t.co/gRYeCHIJ

  5. The Govenor

    RT @libcon: Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far http://t.co/7UtmngIH

  6. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far http://t.co/ds2yUvIt

  7. Jason Brickley

    Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far http://t.co/e9shoLJS

  8. Joel Carter

    Interesting points on the #muamba jail sentence. Similarities with riot sentences influenced by "public" moral reflex? http://t.co/Q9Sxr1Jk

  9. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far http://t.co/JCA0Sdpn

  10. Foul-mouthed tirades and the public interest « Though Cowards Flinch

    [...] is concern amongst those who are worried about the loss of civil liberties that these charges represent a threat to freedom of expression.  [...]

  11. Robert CP

    Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Qu1ivZ4S via @libcon

  12. David Wood

    I agree prison is not appropriate RT @libcon: Being jailed for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba is going too far http://t.co/UFRgKGzr

  13. Why Labour should support the CPS, not Nick Cohen, on hate speech « Though Cowards Flinch

    [...] the Spectator Nick Cohen has joined the liberal condemnation of the Liam Stacey prosecution: This morning Swansea magistrates jailed a 21-year-old student [...]





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