Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now?


10:34 am - September 15th 2012

by Robert Sharp    


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Teenager Azhar Ahmed has been found guilty of posting an offensive Facebook message following the deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan.

The message he posted on his Facebook wall is reproduced below:

Azhar Ahmed Facebook Status

The judge called this “derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory”.

Although Ahmed’s message is deeply unpleasant, I do not think that updates of this nature should qualify for a criminal conviction. Much political speech is “derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory” and the first part of his message reads very much like a politcal opinion.

In the latter part of the update, he says that the soldiers “should die” and “go to hell”. Wishing for someone to die is also unpleasant, but it is not the same as a death threat. If it were, then thousands of Trades Unionists would surely have been prosecuted for wishing death and Hell upon Margaret Thatcher!

No-one was specifically mentioned or targeted in Ahmed’s message. Moreover, it was broadcast to those in his Social Network – not towards the soldiers’ families. Social opprobrium, and even Facebook’s ‘Report’ function for T&C violations are all means of discouraging this kind of speech, without resorting to criminal sanctions.

There’s another aspect to this, related to the other big free expression story of the moment: the “Innocence of Muslims” film which has been cited as the cause of rioting in Libya that led to the death of the US Ambassador.

Blaspheming Christianity is hardly controversial these days. But it occurs to me that soldiers who have died in the line of duty fulfil a similar ‘sacred’ role for the secular British as the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) serves for practicing Muslims.

Any denigration of either is seen as “derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory” and worthy of punishment. I am reminded of Charlie Gilmour, imprisoned for swinging on the Cenotaph.

I do think that soldiers killed in the line of duty should be revered. Their sacrifices should be memorialised, and society has a duty of care to the families they leave behind. However, saying unpleasant things about them should not be a criminal offence, because sometimes their actions may be in need of scrutiny and criticism. Moreover, criminalising derogatory comments about one sacred thing opens the door to criminalisation of other sacred things too.

And before you know it, we will be confronted with a pantheon of plastic Gods and tacky idols, protected from criticism, staring mutely at us, as we stare mutely back.

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About the author
Robert Sharp designed the Liberal Conspiracy site. He is Head of Campaigns at English PEN, a blogger, and a founder of digital design company Fifty Nine Productions. For more of this sort of thing, visit Rob's eponymous blog or follow him on Twitter @robertsharp59. All posts here are written in a personal capacity, obviously.
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Reader comments


1. Chaise Guevara

Woah. In light of this, I think we should be provided with a list of which political views are allowed, and which will see you criminalised.

So, is this a problem with the legal system, or just one irresponsible judge with an act to grind?

Robert,

One point of correction: Gilmour was not put in jug for swinging from the Cenotaph flagpole, but for supposedly throwing things in the direction of the Royal limo carrying old FA-Cup-head and Mrs Parker-Knoll. The Cenotaph thing was just seized on by the buffoon who heard the court case, which allowed him to footle interminably on about it.

Your main point is, of course, correct. Unless a statement made on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else is clearly attempting to incite criminal actions on the part of others, then the police, CPS and the courts should mind their own bloody business. The section (s127) of the Communications Act 2003 (which is what most of these cases are tried under) is so broadly drawn as to be able – rather like the ‘Violent Disorder’ section of the 1986 Public Order Act – to be applied in almost any set of circumstances and to be defined almost entirely by subjective opinion; after all, anyone can claim to be ‘offended’ by anything.

(This comment at Ophelia Benson’s blog sums up the situation: <a href="http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/09/he-will-be-sentenced-later/#comment-279755&quot;)

We need to be rid of such laws, but there is no sign of the coalition parties who were so keen on restoring our ‘freedoms’ two and a half years ago having the balls to do so. In the meantime, people such as Azhar Ahmed will end up having their entire futures screwed over merely for expressing an opinion, however distasteful others may find that opinion.

The main difficulty we have in this is that those who most need defending from these laws are people it is difficult to defend in other circumstances; the case of Liam Stacey earlier this year is a case in point. Nevertheless, those battles need to be fought and a clear legal definition of what the US system calls ‘protected speech’ established.

I agree. What sentence is he likely to get, I wonder?

One interesting thing I’ve noticed is a growing body of opinion that remembrance day should only count for the real heroes, those that were conscripts in the second world war and earlier. Those that now willingly join the forces for adventure or better pay than any civvie work they could get however, should not be regarded as ‘selfless heroes self-sacrificing for our freedoms’, course this ain’t too popular an idea with warmongers. Prevents any mawkish displays justifying murder.

Although Ahmed’s message is deeply unpleasant, I do not think that updates of this nature should qualify for a criminal conviction.

Agreed. The conviction is outrageous.

Ahmed told the court he was only trying to make his point that many other deaths in Afghanistan were being ignored and added he had no idea it would cause so much upset.

He said he replied with apologies to many people who commented on his Facebook page and when some told him they had lost relatives in Afghanistan he realised how serious it was.

“That’s when I realised it was unacceptable for them to see something so upsetting and distressing, to write something like that,” he added.

Taking him at his word, why is a conviction necessary and proportionate?

Offensive but not criminal. Just like the guy who posted offensive comments about Fabrice Muamba and ended up in prison.

If he had said something along the lines of ‘go kill the bastards’ then inciting hatred could be argued but just wishing they were dead is not a crime.

7. the a&e charge nurse

[4] ‘Those that now willingly join the forces for adventure or better pay than any civvie work they could get however, should not be regarded as ‘selfless heroes self-sacrificing for our freedoms’ – does that include volunteers pre-1940?

Perhaps any subsequent remembrance service should depend on how, or even WHY people join the forces, and whether or not civvies approve of each conflict irrespective of a serviceperson’s ability to influence which fights are picked by the government of the day?

As to the OP, it is a disgrace that personal opinions are being criminalised in this way while some say the real criminals are laughing all the way to the bank?
http://www.tonyblairwarcriminal.com/

Blatantly not illegal.

Sarah AB@3:

Given that he (it seems) pleaded not guilty, that he was tried by yet another one of those judicial half-breeds called ‘District Judges’, and that said DJ has already indulged in the sort of pompous wibbling that I referred to in the Gilmour case, I fear that young Mr Ahmed is likely to be seeing the inside of a prison for a few weeks. After all, it’s likely to go down well with the masses and the boss-class, innit?

10. Richard Carey

The source of the problem is the body of legislation that has built up over the years. Rather than reacting to the latest cause célèbre, which invariably involves someone whose opinions we do not share, we have to turn our attention to the actual legislation which needs repealing.

Is it possible for those who put themselves on the left and those who put themselves on the right, and those who put themselves elsewhere to unite on the issue of free speech? I fear that because the bad laws were implemented in the guise of advancing equality, non-discrimination, human rights and such things, that the left will not have the stomach to dismantle these bad laws.

Maybe it would be easier, rather than abolishing these unfortunate laws, to paper over them with an over-riding law which guarantees our free speech – we could call it the Voltaire Act (not to be confused with the Volstead Act!). However, we still need to sort out this business of ‘incitement’ and ‘hate speech’. This is the fissure into which the wedge is driven.

I agree, the first part of Ahmed’s rant is political opinion, and many would say fair comment. The rest is crude and offensive. It seems that “Free Speech” is only permissible if what is said is uncontroversial, polite and inoffensive – very scary!

12. Roger Mexico

This is the typically outrageous judicial behaviour you’re bound to get with (deliberately?) vaguely drafted laws to protect things that never needed protecting in the first place.

I don’t think we should be even defending the message by saying that it could have been worse – though it could have (he seems to be wishing death on all soldiers not just British ones for example). Unless such postings are making specific, credible threats that are likely to have physical consequences, then they should be legal.

Two small things do irritate me about this article though. Firstly we shouldn’t be saying that “soldiers killed in the line of duty should be revered”. No they shouldn’t – too much reverence is what’s got us into this mess in the first place. What they should be is honoured for their service, as indeed should their colleagues who survive.

Secondly this suffixing of mentions of the Prophet Mohammed with “(Peace Be Upon Him)” or even worse “(PBUH)” is just silly. I know it’s meant to signify respect, but if you think about it, it’s the opposite. From a non-believer it’s bound to come across as insincere or even worse “Don’t hit me”. From a believer it suggests you have doubts about the Prophet’s current status, which is rather odd if you think about it.

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 10 Richard

“Is it possible for those who put themselves on the left and those who put themselves on the right, and those who put themselves elsewhere to unite on the issue of free speech?”

I’ll sign. This is one place where liberals and libertarians are on the same side (if I’m honest, it’s one place where you guys tend to outperform us).

“I do think that soldiers killed in the line of duty should be revered.” Really? All soldiers? For some people, the line of duty – the orders they follow – is not legitimate, so the soldiers die in the name of oppression or illegal invasion. They are not necessarily a force for good (not casting aspersions here, but not all soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have behaved with honour) and so *not* supporting them can be legitimate.

Criminalising criticism is a bit sick really.

This is a brilliant piece and I completely agree. Such views should not be criminalised but challenged by way of thoughtful and intelligent discussion.

16. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 Roger Mexico

“Secondly this suffixing of mentions of the Prophet Mohammed with “(Peace Be Upon Him)” or even worse “(PBUH)” is just silly. I know it’s meant to signify respect, but if you think about it, it’s the opposite. From a non-believer it’s bound to come across as insincere or even worse “Don’t hit me”. From a believer it suggests you have doubts about the Prophet’s current status, which is rather odd if you think about it.”

Agreed. I feel the same way about secularists putting pronouns in capital letters when they talk about God (“I don’t believe in Him”). Unless it’s being done for comedy or some kind of dramatic effect, of course.

17. Chaise Guevara

Agree with Andy and Roger that it’s weird to say we should “revere” fallen soldiers. I’m not convinced that we should treat them any differently to fallen butchers, bakers or candlestick-makers.

Soldiers aren’t dying to defend us these days, and I’m guessing sign up primarily because they want to shoot at people, which is hardly role-model material. Others are brave and good and decent, obv, it’s a case-by-case thing.

I don’t understand the reverence given to soldiers by anyone but their families and friends. They are signed up and paid for doing a job which involves killing people. Why would they or anyone else assume that soldiers will not be killed in the process by the people they are out to kill?

Azhar Ahmed vented his frustration about innocent people being killed to his friends. His post referred to people who hadn’t sign up to join the armed forces or conduct a war. He didn’t kill anyone nor did he incite anyone do to so; his conviction is ridiculous.

As for the judge who sentenced him remarking on the facebook message as: “derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory”. Well, just go ahead and round up all the racist and islamophobic commentators who post far worse messages for all to see.

I’m an atheist but I always capitalise pronouns – lower case would jar somehow. Agree about PBUH (unless you are Muslim).

I agree with Desmond Tutu – Tony Blair should hang for war crimes,crimes against humanity, dumbing down in the UK, demonising groups of people (mostly non-white) and greed on a gigantic scale.

21. giles bradshaw

So say I took offense at Azhar’s statement and went out, found someone of the same ethnicity/religion and killed them. Is that acceptable? I’d say not.

Yes, this appalling law.

Section 127 of the 2003 Communications Act relates to a message etc that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character

The test for “grossly offensive” was stated by the House of Lords in DPP v Collins [2006] 1 WLR 2223 to be whether the message would cause gross offence to those to whom it relates, who need not be the recipients.

C telephoned his MP’s constituency office on a number of occasions over a period of more than two years. He would speak to whoever answered the phone, or would leave a message on the answering machine if no one answered. Three people who worked in the office spoke to him or heard his messages. In these conversations and messages, he would often speak of his dislike for “wogs”, “Pakis” and “black bastards”.

No doubt everyone here will agree that Collins should not have been convicted either.

@16 Chaise Guevara

I rather disagree about capitalising God(s) in pronoun. Providing you’re consistent and do it for all of them (past and present, whether you believe in them or not) then rules to disentangle pronouns are always useful. They might also remind the more fanatical of the possible difference between the will of those they allegedly worship and what they want for themselves. though I suspect that’s a lost cause.

However what should never be done is use the pronoun capital letter with reference to the Prophet of Islam (so it should be Pbuh). To claim divine status for him would clearly be idolatry. So any self-described Muslim demanding it, or claiming that insulting his memory is blasphemous (for blasphemy can only be committed against God), is themselves going against the basic tenets of that most anti-idolatrous of religions. Fanatics doing otherwise should immediately execute themselves as heretics.

Thank you. That should make things a lot quieter.

Of course that should have been “of Those they allegedly worship”. Which rather makes my point.

Freedom of speech applies whether you are offended or not. F.O.S is not just for the good bits.

26. Richard Carey

I’m leafing through the King James, and he, his, thy, thou etc when referring to God are not capitalised. Thus I conclude it is incorrect to do so.

Thanks for the positive comments, folks – although isn’t there a school of thought that says that if no-one disagrees with you, then you haven’t realy said anything of substance!? I hope that doesn’t apply here.

Oh, and Roger Mexico @ 12: you’re right on both counts. The conflation of ‘revere’ and ‘honour’ is due to my own illiteracy rather than any philosophical stance; and the “Peace Be Upon Him” does read as flippant. It just slipped out and seemed apt, given the context. I guess I was subconsciously drawing attention to the way on which Mohammed is revered. But I accept it is a dostraction, and I usually try to edit such tangents out before publishing.

#21. giles bradshaw

So say I took offense at Azhar’s statement and went out, found someone of the same ethnicity/religion and killed them. Is that acceptable? I’d say not.

Is anyone saying otherwise? In fact you could argue that by legitimising offense, this sort of ruling is a tiny step along that road.

#22. pagar

No doubt everyone here will agree that Collins should not have been convicted either.

Well as you give the facts of the case, I don’t think he should have been. That’s assuming that “a number of occasions over a period of more than two years” wasn’t frequent enough to amount to harassment. Though even that law has been abused to protect the privileged – while not being enforced for those who need it.

I must say that what amuses me is the idea that an MP’s staff would be so offended at having to deal with nutters. I would have thought it made up a high proportion of their work – and then there’s dealing with the public.

29. Richard Carey

@28 RM,

“Is anyone saying otherwise? In fact you could argue that by legitimising offense, this sort of ruling is a tiny step along that road.”

Good point. I thought the same thing over the woman accused of whatever following her tirade on a Croydon tram. I am sure it was said at the time that she was being held for days on end ‘for her own protection’, which seemed to send a message that would only be natural if people were planning to do her harm.

30. Richard Carey

@13

“it’s one place where you guys tend to outperform us”

We’re better drivers too.

The maximum punishment for being a dick of Facebook should be to be Unfriended.

Agreed. I feel the same way about secularists putting pronouns in capital letters when they talk about God (“I don’t believe in Him”). Unless it’s being done for comedy or some kind of dramatic effect, of course.

I wouldn’t use capitals or PBUH unless it was perfectly clear from the context that I was being sarcastic.

I rather disagree about capitalising God(s) in pronoun. Providing you’re consistent and do it for all of them (past and present, whether you believe in them or not) then rules to disentangle pronouns are always useful.

Refereing to God as God is fair enough: I’d capitalise the name ‘Thor’ – but I wouldn’t capitalise ‘His Hammer’.

34. Chaise Guevara

“Freedom of speech applies whether you are offended or not. F.O.S is not just for the good bits.”

Damn straight.

35. Chaise Guevara

@ Richard Carey

“We’re better drivers too.”

Even though you think you have the right to drive on the right-hand side of the road if you want to, and no government busybody is going to stop you?

Regarding Tram Lady, I think it’s totally reasonable that the police gave her protective custody. They were right to do so. The internet was singing with idiots saying how much they’d like to rape and kill her. Probably bullshit, but this is what protective custody is for.

It’s far more worrying that an obviously ill/hammered person can be made into a public hate figure just because someone filmed her.

36. Chaise Guevara

@ 32 Shatterface

“I wouldn’t use capitals or PBUH unless it was perfectly clear from the context that I was being sarcastic.”

Yeah, exactly. Along the lines of: “We love God, because He is great. Where the fuck is He, by the way?”

37. So Much For Subtlety

35. Chaise Guevara

Regarding Tram Lady, I think it’s totally reasonable that the police gave her protective custody. They were right to do so. The internet was singing with idiots saying how much they’d like to rape and kill her. Probably bullshit, but this is what protective custody is for.

If this is referring to Emma West, they didn’t. They arrested and charged her with racially aggravated public order offenses. Being annoying to the politically correct in public in other words. Nor would they have been right to take her into protective custody – a vile and illiberal concept. Which does not exist in British law as you seem to use it. Child molesters are put into protective custody because the general population poses a threat to them. Not ordinary citizens. If people threaten to kill other people, the solution is to arrest the people making the threats, not the victims of the threats. Otherwise you are simply rewarding the sort of morons who threaten to kill other people and we can see how well that has been working out in modern Britain.

We are too far down this road for it to make much difference. The Left has tried to legislate its own versions of Blasphemy and Heresy laws. The idea of a free media is more or less dead except in theory. So why not jail this guy? Well, he does come from a protected minority and he was only threatening people who actually defend us. So the Sandalista tendency is hardly going to be torn on this issue.

38. Roger Mexico

#26. Richard Carey

I’m leafing through the King James, and he, his, thy, thou etc when referring to God are not capitalised. Thus I conclude it is incorrect to do so.

…He wrote on his computer till the goose-quill pen got caught in his ruff.

Thanks, I never realised that. But it is current usage. Wikipedia says:

Many European languages traditionally capitalize nouns and pronouns used to refer to God, including references to Jesus Christ (reverential capitals): “hallowed be Thy name”, “look what He has done”. Some English authors capitalize any word referring to God: “the Lamb”, “the Almighty”; some capitalize “Thy Name”.

I suspect the usage came into English in the 18th Century, along with other heavy capitalisation, by analogy with other Germanic languages. As I say it still has its uses.

#27 Robert [Sharp]

Always pleased to help. The interesting thing will be if Ahmed gets the same sort of Voltairean support from the likes of Chivers and West in the Telegraph and Aaronovitch [not paywall link] in the Times as Liam Stacey got over the Muamba tweets. If anything it should be easier for them as Ahmed was clearly expressing “political speech” (however unpleasantly or ineptly) rather than random insults.

@ Chaise

Even though you think you have the right to drive on the right-hand side of the road if you want to, and no government busybody is going to stop you?

As I’m sure you are aware, several experimental studies have shown that the removal of all traffic signage, including traffic lights, give way lines etc results in improved traffic flows and a lower accident rate.

This shows we don’t need guidance on how to safely get from A to B if we all take responsibility for our own driving behaviour.

http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,2143663,00.html

40. the a&e charge nurse

[38] ‘This concept has successfully been tested in the small Dutch town of Drachten’ – yes, no different from driving in the centre of London, or Rome.

From the article you link to it says ‘The plan for Bohmte is to have all the traffic lights and road signs removed. More than 12,000 vehicles, including large numbers of trucks, pass through the narrow streets in the town center daily and pedestrians have virtually disappeared from the streets’ – pedestrians virtually disappearing – who can blame them in lawless Bohmte.

Incidentally in the UK will ‘right side’ drivers be expected to switch, or will left side motorists still hold sway – I mean if you remove all of the signage and traffic lights, why not remove the rest of the driving rules as well?

Whichever side Pagar and his chums drive on they’ll still have the same problem. It’s the eyes swivelling.

@ A&E

The plan for Bohmte is to have all the traffic lights and road signs removed. More than 12,000 vehicles, including large numbers of trucks, pass through the narrow streets in the town center daily and pedestrians have virtually disappeared from the streets’ – pedestrians virtually disappearing – who can blame them in lawless Bohmte.

Err no.

If you reread the link the disappearance of pedestrians is the current situation and the removal of road signs is to help them to regain the streets.

Regarding whether drivers pass each other on the left or the right, there clearly needs to be a voluntary protocol- as there is for oncoming ships at sea. I’m happy to let people work that out for themselves.

@ Cherub

Whichever side Pagar and his chums drive on they’ll still have the same problem. It’s the eyes swivelling.

Especially when we’ve been taking our legalised drugs!!!

43. Richard Carey

@ 36 Chaise,

I won’t defend my driving comment.

“Regarding Tram Lady, I think it’s totally reasonable that the police gave her protective custody.”

Hmm, I think they just decided to keep her as long as they could, and were over-reacting, but I can’t lay down evidence to back this up.

@ 37 SMFS,

it’s not much help having you try to score partisan points off ‘the Left’.

“he was only threatening people who actually defend us.”

He wasn’t threatening anyone.

44. the a&e charge nurse

[42] ‘He wasn’t threatening anyone’ – not in the physical sense perhaps, but he has been found ‘guilty’ of threatening somebody’s precious world view, and in today’s, politically correct climate that is a matter for the courts.

IMO this is one fairly compelling reason for regulating traffic on roads enforced by the criminal law:

A woman was killed when the car she was travelling in collided with another being driven in the wrong direction on the M62 in Greater Manchester.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-19615969

46. Robin Levett

@pagar #41:

Amazingly, I seem to be in general agreement with the pagars, Richard Careys and a&ecns of this world on his topic. The posting should never in my view have been prosecuted.

Me being me, however, i can’t resist one nitpick.

Regarding whether drivers pass each other on the left or the right, there clearly needs to be a voluntary protocol- as there is for oncoming ships at sea. I’m happy to let people work that out for themselves.

The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972, in relation to narrow channels (the direct equivalent of roads) require vessels to keep the starboard (ie right) of the channel; and motor vessels approaching one another (either head-on or crossing) must alter course to pass port side to port side – ie they must keep to the right.

So your premise is incorrect – oncoming ships at sea work within a set of rules, not a voluntary protocol. It is true that there are no maritime policemen enforcing those rules; but if you have a collision, you’d better have been following the rules…

@ Robin

So your premise is incorrect – oncoming ships at sea work within a set of rules, not a voluntary protocol.

Are you saying there were more collisions prior to the codifying of customary practice in 1972?

Evidence please.

Try this actual transcript of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995:
http://www.snopes.com/military/lighthouse.asp

49. Richard Carey

I feel guilty for having started off this tangent with a flippant remark to the effect that libertarians were better drivers than liberals. The assertion was not intended to be taken seriously. The ‘right’ to drive the wrong way down a motorway is not something I have ever championed.

There really is a sensible rationale for some regulations.

Regarding the tram lady. I’m fron Croydon, but haven’t been there much in the last couple of years.
This morning though I took a bus in to the centre and then a 109 to Streatham.
The place really does have a bit of a ghetto feel to it. Of course Emma West was totally off her trolly, but there is a rather grim reality of disfunction and poverty just looking at you in the face when you pass through a place like that.
But almost impossible to actually discuss and put your finger on exactly.
But just sitting on the bus and looking at the pasing scene and taking note of the your fellow passengers and the people that you can see on the street – can leave one (me) with a slight melancholy feeling, when you see how run down some parts are and how there is a lack of connection between people.
There’s healthy diversity, and there’s disfunctional diversity, and I think that part of south London has some of the latter. There’s been a loss of civility, and more ‘couldn’t give a damn about you’ public selfishness I find.

52. douglas clark

Without the inelegance of Azhar Ahmeds prose, does this not more or less, say the same thing:

He’s five foot two and he’s six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He’s all of thirty-one and he’s only seventeen
Been a soldier for a thousand years

He’s a Catholic, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Jain
A Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
And he knows he shouldn’t kill and he knows he always will
Kill you for me my friend and me for you

And he’s fighting for Canada
He’s fighting for France, he’s fighting for the U.S.A.
And he’s fighting for the Russians
And he’s fighting for Japan
And he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way

And he’s fighting for Democracy, he’s fighting for the Reds
He says “It’s for the peace of all”
He’s the one who must decide, who’s to live and who’s to die
And he never sees the writing on the wall

But without him
How would Hitler have condemned him at Labau?
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He’s the one who gives his body as a weapon of the war
And without him all this killing can’t go on

He’s the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from here and there and you and me
And brothers can’t you see
This is not the way we put the end to war

To me at least, the sentiment is almost identical. If I can defend that is it wrong to defend Azhar Ahmed? I think the comment by Alex @ 25 is fundamentally right. If we cannot challenge the state on its use of weapons we are in a sorry position.

Thanks for posting the ‘Universal Soldier’ lyrics, Doug. I had forgotten about them.

54. the a&e charge nurse

Donovan does not call for the death of anybody – perhaps because he has the intellectual insight to appreciate the irony of proposing killing as a solution to, err, killing.

Anyway I wonder if young Azhar is aware 80% of civilian deaths in Afghanistan (last year) were caused by the taliban or other insurgent groups – does anybody know if he posted similar messages saying they should be killed as well?
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/02/04/137894/taliban-responsible-for-77-of.html

Or could it be that it is not so much the killing of Afghans that troubles him but the fact Afghans are being killed by those who do not share the same faith?

@pagar #46:

Are you saying there were more collisions prior to the codifying of customary practice in 1972?

I don’t remember saying that – partly because the provisions of the COLREGS in some form date back to the 19th century; in particular the requirement to pass port to port.

56. douglas clark

a & e nurse,

The song was written by Buffy Sainte Marie. Donovan just popularised it. Apparently she wrote it as a consequence of seeing ex Vietnam War Veterans with severe disabilities.

You say:

“Donovan does not call for the death of anybody – perhaps because he has the intellectual insight to appreciate the irony of proposing killing as a solution to, err, killing.”

No. But it lays the blame for the killing squarely where it needs to be put. With those that do it. The song identifies a problem – war – and blames some individuals for conducting it and us all for averting our eyes from the wrongs that are done in our name. My Lai and a certain wedding party in Afghanistan come to mind almost immediately. The line:

He’s the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame kind of gives the game away.

I did suggest that it was perhaps a tad more nuanced than Azhar Ahmeds tweet. But, IMHO, it has precisely the same sentiment.

It is also highly debateable that his tweet is a call to kill. What he says is that they should die and go to hell. The word ‘should’ is key to this.

“By now, they should already be in Dubai. expectation

future conditional, not deterministic.

It is the assumption of the judge in this case that that is a death threat. It does not have to be. It could, reasonably, be argued that, after they die – whenever – they will be judged and then they will go to hell.

It is a fairly major tenet of the Christian faith that ‘thou shalt not kill’. Is god going to bend his own rules for the sake of a soldier? I do not think that there are any riders attached to the original commandment. The ‘justified killing’ concept is added later, by priests beholden to Caesar and the like, is it not?

I believe religious people believe the things they read in the Bible, sometimes literally.

a&ecn@54:

It doesn’t make a gnat’s fart of a difference what is ‘troubling him’ and why. The fact is that he should not be prosecuted, given a criminal record and possibly imprisoned for saying/typing it. End (as they say) of.

58. Roger Mexico

#54. the a&e charge nurse

[...]I wonder if young Azhar is aware 80% of civilian deaths in Afghanistan (last year) were caused by the taliban or other insurgent groups – does anybody know if he posted similar messages saying they should be killed as well?

Or could it be that it is not so much the killing of Afghans that troubles him but the fact Afghans are being killed by those who do not share the same faith?

Well unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a requirement for passing an exam in casualty demographics before you can post on Facebook. However, given that the wall posting above says “All soldiers should DIE” which presumably includes the Taliban and that he doesn’t mention his or anyone’s else’s religion, the answers would appear to be “Yes” and “No”.

However others seem more interested in his religious background than he is. The Sun proclaimed “Muslim faces jail for Facebook army rant”, rather than saying “Yorkshireman” or “someone with bad dress sense”. Interestingly they seem to have changed the headline to “Sicko” at some stage, but the story still starts “A Muslim man”.

But in the end it shouldn’t matter what his beliefs or motivations are or how witless they appear. He’s still entitled to put them forward without even thought of prosecution. Though presumably those who believe otherwise should presumably insist on the immediate return of British soldiers, as those delicate flowers can’t possibly be expected to face up to the Taliban if they can’t even cope with someone being rude about them on Facebook.

59. douglas clark

Err…

Having re-read what he actually said several times now I think his tweet is political and / or theological and justice has not been served. He should certainly appeal this very strange decision. The law can sometimes be an ass, and on this occasion………..,

60. So Much For Subtlety

43. Richard Carey

it’s not much help having you try to score partisan points off ‘the Left’.

I disagree. The Left has led us to this situation. It was not the Right that insisted that mere words became criminal offenses. It was not the Right that instituted the new system of Blasphemy and Heresy laws. The Left did.

He wasn’t threatening anyone.

Anyone who writes “All Blacks must die” on Facebook would soon find other people think he is.

Robin Levett

The posting should never in my view have been prosecuted.

And Emma West? Should she have gone to jail?

the a&e charge nurse

Donovan does not call for the death of anybody – perhaps because he has the intellectual insight to appreciate the irony of proposing killing as a solution to, err, killing.

Why not? We use kidnap and imprisonment (with the real possibility of rape thrown in for free) to prevent kidnap, imprisonment and even rape.

Anyway I wonder if young Azhar is aware 80% of civilian deaths in Afghanistan (last year) were caused by the taliban or other insurgent groups

I doubt he cares. One of your own killed by another of your own is not a crime in a tribal society. It is a tort. The outrage is someone from outside the tribe killing one of your own.

douglas clark

The song was written by Buffy Sainte Marie. Donovan just popularised it. Apparently she wrote it as a consequence of seeing ex Vietnam War Veterans with severe disabilities.

Anyone ask her about the ethics of calling severely disabled soldiers baby killers?

The ‘justified killing’ concept is added later, by priests beholden to Caesar and the like, is it not?

You may find that the Bible is full of justified killings. Long before Caesar. Or even priests.

The Judge

The fact is that he should not be prosecuted, given a criminal record and possibly imprisoned for saying/typing it. End (as they say) of.

That apply to Emma West and whichever tool wrote those Tweets too?

61. douglas clark

So much for sublety,

So many questions, so little thought in them.

To answer the two you addressed to me:

Anyone ask her about the ethics of calling severely disabled soldiers baby killers?

Dunno. Do your own research. It seems to me that every society idolises it’s warrior class and excuses their minor errors like blowing up pharmaceutical plants or downing civillian airliners. Collateral damage ought to be known by it’s more common name – murder.

You may find that the Bible is full of justified killings. Long before Caesar. Or even priests.

Indeed it does. It is why it shouldn’t be read literally, but a lot of folk do. They are, of course, selective in the bits they highlight. The Bible is a sort of Rorschach Test – we see in it what we want to see. But the prescriptive bit from the commandments is pretty clear on the killing front. I am just saying that the dilution of that, to the states advantage, came later. Not that the Old Testament in particular wasn’t full of death and violence. It certainly is.

62. Robin Levett

@SMFS #60:

The posting should never in my view have been prosecuted.

And Emma West? Should she have gone to jail?

Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself? She hasn’t even been tried yet.

As to whether she should have been remanded in custody for her own protection – I wasn’t in Court so don’t know exactly what was before the magistrates at the time.

63. Robin Levett

@SMFS #60 (again):

One other point; perhaps you should establish the equivalence between Emma West’s case and this one before relying upon it.

The charge in Emma west’s case is of a racially-aggravated public order offence; she can only be convicted if her behaviour meets the standard of the non-racially-aggravated offence – presumably ss4, 4A or 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.

“No doubt everyone here will agree that Collins should not have been convicted either”

Completely.

But believing that staff at his MPs office would give a shit about his views is delusional, and so he should have been offered some treatment for his mental health issues.

65. the a&e charge nurse

@56, 57 & 58 – please see @7 but just to reiterate I have already said ‘it is a disgrace that personal opinions are being criminalised in this way’.

Now turning to various objections.
Douglas @56 – you can imbue Ahmed’s facebook message with some sort of deep meaning if you want to, even elevating his words to a latter day art-form, akin to a 60′s protest writer, but personally I do not think there is very much mileage in such a position ……. if you really think about it.
Oh, and in your rush to blame soldiers (the working class kids who do most of the dying) you seem to have overlooked the lucrative arms industry, and sinister politicians who order them into various conflicts, not to mention the insane ideologies widespread in the populace that maintain hatred of the other (islam vs judaism, etc).

@57 – not sure what your point is really – are you saying we should not be commenting on the drivers for such opinions – I think I have already made my position pretty clear regarding the use of the law to censor such views.

@58 – yes, I agree with most of that especially the MSMs portrayal of the story – mind you, I do not recall insisting on an exam before posting on facebook, but this does not mean we should willfully ignore possible motives for posting either (assuming people are interested in discussing such things).

In my view characters like Ahmed should be perfectly free to say stuff like all soldiers should die, but in the light of such messages commentators should be equally free to ask their own questions. My guess, here, and it is only guess, is that Ahmed is only referring to british soldiers, and would not have have made such comments had it just been the taliban going about their usual women hating business, but I might be wrong.

I do think that soldiers killed in the line of duty should be revered.

I disagree. I enjoy food more than I enjoy dead brown people, but I don’t revere farmers. And they have the most dangerous occupation in the world.

Why should dead soldiers be revered?

@61 – Ive always found “Thou shall not kill” to be a little ambiguous. Perhaps a rewording is in order “Thou shall not kill. Ever. Nope, not even then.”

68. Chaise Guevara

@ 67 Dave

“Thou shall not kill. Ever. Nope, not even then.”

Really? What about if the cops shoot down a gunman who’s slaughtering innocent passersby?

Just to point out that if he’d said this to his friends and been overheard they’d have to prove intent to incite, but because he sent it as a message they just need to prove that those about whom the remark was made would find it “grossly offensive”.

Anyone else fancy trolling the internet to find anyone anywhere in the world who has said anything offensive about a group and asking for them to be extradited to face charges here in the UK? ;-)

@68 – I’d recommend they shoot him. Thankfully I’m not religious.

71. Richard Carey

@ 60 SMFS

“I disagree. The Left has led us to this situation. It was not the Right that insisted that mere words became criminal offenses. It was not the Right that instituted the new system of Blasphemy and Heresy laws. The Left did.”

Okay, so you want to score partisan points. To what avail? Obviously not to achieve any kind of dismantling of the laws under discussion. As for these monoliths ‘the Left’ and ‘the Right’, if is is the case that ‘the Left’ did all this, then they have been supported, if only through inaction and acquiescence by large sections of ‘the Right’. As for the ‘new system of Blasphemy and Heresy laws’, the original ones were implemented by ‘the Right’, and all ‘the Left’ has done is update them to use against their opponents. Perhaps this is why ‘the Right’ has done nothing to stop ‘the Left’, because they have no intellectual means of refuting the logic of ‘the Left’, because ‘the Left’ is using the logic of ‘the Right’ i.e. state authoritarianism.

Interestingly, the racial charge was thrown out prior to trial, so instead we have a conviction for ‘being offensive’. So that attempt to redefine racism as “anything that can conceivably offend a white person” was not entirely 100% successful. Not to mention the curious issue of the police attempting to racialise soldiers.

73. Man on Clapham Omnibus

I love all this stuff above free speech. What is it exactly?
I think its an ideological sop to those that think in some ways their voice counts,they have importance and their view counts for something. But like everything in a power structure the voice like the pocket carries a certain weight depending on who you are. If you are a Judge then your free speech is pretty important even if what is often said is incorrect or indeed unjust.
I just wonder if the learned Judge was aware of all the death threats made by the squaddies in respect of this guy’s post.

In essence of course Azhar Ahmed’s comments are pretty much understandable. The British have engaged in two illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.Its worth remembering that innocent individuals have been blown to bits and in some cases beaten to death by the invading forces. All in the name of western Hegemony.

Finally I notice the repeated assertion that somehow Labour represents the left and Conservatives represent the right. Personally, if anyone thinks the like of Jack Straw or Tony Blair are left wing then in my opinion they are delusional.

“Offensive but not criminal”. Clearly it was criminal, since he’s been convicted. These laws are being put in place in order to put off the inevitable civil violence that is coming. Muslims have not become one iota more moderate than in 1989, when they were going round in their hundreds, promising to kill Salman Rushdie.

None of you spineless liberals would support the freedom of an ex-soldier to burn a koran (despite the fact that the governments of Saudi Arabia & Iran regularly boast of all the bibles they’ve destroyed). Yet you’d support the “freedom of speech” of someone who would burn a flag.

You all deserve to be subjugated by islamo-fascism. Why don’t you just convert now. What kind of an arse-lifting dhimmi non-muslim says “Mohammed (Piss Be Upon Him)”. The rest of us realise that we can’t rely on spineless liberals to stand up for liberalism.

Don’t see any of you out defending jews or homosexuals, who are subjected to sustained attacks by muslims. Half of the anti-jewish attacks in London are by muslims. And 99.5% of British muslims have admitted they are not going to tolerate homosexuality. Where were you when a gay pride march went through Tower Hamlets, following the Juden Heraus, er Gay Free Zone, campaign?

If this was the 1930s, you’d be queuing up to join the National Socialist & German Workers Party. Because you don’t have the balls to stand up real fascism.

75. Chaise Guevara

@ 74 James

“None of you spineless liberals would support the freedom of an ex-soldier to burn a koran ”

Wrong!

Although I wouldn’t expect you to have much of a grip on reality given the rest of your post, what with the made-up statistics, Godwin’s Law invocation, and rather sweet belief that a district judge can’t possibly make mistakes.

76. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@74 err not necessarily. If he is rich enough he could appeal and then his words could easily become noncriminal.
I must say though James your deference to the Judge is very touching.

‘The rest of us realise that we can’t rely on spineless liberals to stand up for liberalism.’ nor you either it seems.

As to Bible/Flag and Koran burning I say why not. When all said and done countries are only bits of rock,mud and green stuff. Its only all this religious/ideological shit that divides us. That, plus ignorance and greed.

77. the a&e charge nurse

[73] ‘In essence of course Azhar Ahmed’s comments are pretty much understandable’ – ‘all soldiers should die’ – understandable, really?

Is that every soldier – in every army in the world – or are we just talking about brits here?
Perhaps workers in other occupations who should also die such as those involved the manufacture of weapons?

Anti-war sentiments are perfectly understandable (even though in this particular case it would leave Afghans, particularly the women of Afghanistan, vulnerable to a different brand of oppression) so why blame the just the soldiers?

It wasn’t ordinary soldiers who ordered the invasion, neither do they have much control over where they are stationed or which orders they receive.

By all means join commentators who regard the job of soldiering as just the same as any other, warranting no extra thanks despite the life or limb threatening nature of the work, but at least try to understand that not all of them are bastards, or deserving of death by virtue of a job they are asked to do on the country’s behalf.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IVDjUXEvdE

Getting off the point here. Substitute something else for soldiers. Say you’ve just had a really bad divorce and you post “All men/women are lowlife fokkin scum, they should all just die and go to hell”

Under the same legislation the CPS could try to argue that as being considered “grossly offensive” to men/women and thus seek to a conviction.

Given the poor phrasing of the Act even me just stating that as an example of what could be said isn’t necessarily protected.

This very comment appearing in public is considered a “message” and so if someone found that ‘quote’ offensive could seek to have me as the originator arrested.

That’s what’s under discussion here.

79. the a&e charge nurse

[77] ‘Given the poor phrasing of the Act even me just stating that as an example of what could be said isn’t necessarily protected.
This very comment appearing in public is considered a “message” and so if someone found that ‘quote’ offensive could seek to have me as the originator arrested. That’s what’s under discussion here’.

Yes, that’s the fundamental question – in order to answer it we probably have to consider the milieu from which such legal apparatus emerged.

Perhaps one way to frame the issue is the rise of ‘political correctness’ at the expense of free speech – in other words fallible human beings are increasingly being made to be good, in part by constraining the ability to be bad, or risk facing the legal consequences.

80. Robin Levett

@James #74:

None of you spineless liberals would support the freedom of an ex-soldier to burn a koran

This is the problem with a certain kind of fanatic. They see criticism of the wisdom of a decision to exercise a freedom as exactly the same as an attack on the freedom itself.

In this instance, I can agree that an ex-soldier is free to burn a Qu’ran at the same time as arguing that to film himself doing so and send copies of the film to the embassies of all the major Islamic countries (all of which s/he is equally free to do) would be unwise.

81. Chaise Guevara

@ 79 Robin

It does seem that the phrase “You’ve every right to do that, though I wish you wouldn’t” is too complicated for some people.

James @ 74: This humble blogger has, in his time, defended Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, homosexuals, plus flag, Koran burning, and racists. To that list, let me say I also defend the right of people to post knee-jerk, boilerplate, ill-considered and prejudiced rants in the Liberal Conspiracy comments box.

83. the a&e charge nurse

[79] ‘I can agree that an ex-soldier is free to burn a Qu’ran at the same time as arguing that to film himself doing so and send copies of the film to the embassies of all the major Islamic countries (all of which s/he is equally free to do) would be unwise’ – do you mean unwise in the sense that it is a poorly thought out protest intellectually, or unwise in the sense that the some parts of the world might go up in flames and innocent people murdered because certain religions take a more medieval line when others are reluctant to fit in with their world view?

84. douglas clark

a & e charge nurse,

What the guy said in full was:

“all soldiers should die and go to hell”

It is entirely reasonable to read that sentence in a different way from the judge in this case. It seems to me that it is the final outcome – no Paradise for you m’lad – that the writer is addressing himself to. If there is even reasonable doubt about the interpretation, then he should appeal.

________________________________________________

Do you really want me to post the lyrics to ‘Masters of War’ as well? Or would you settle for something turgid on the lines of military–industrial–congressional complex as popularised by Dwight D Eisenhower?

85. the a&e charge nurse

[83] I said at the very beginning it was a disgrace that this young man has been criminalised for expressing his opinion – especially since it is not too dissimilar to views expressed by other excitable elements in our society – we do are not in disagreement about this point.
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/02/24/article-1360107-0D515B3A000005DC-470_468x573.jpg

86. douglas clark

a & e charge nurse,

We are in agreement then about the most important part of this OP.

Phew! That’s a relief.

@62. Robin Levett: “As to whether she [Emma West] should have been remanded in custody for her own protection – I wasn’t in Court so don’t know exactly what was before the magistrates at the time.”

Going by the press reports, it’s difficult to tell whether any of the journalists who wrote about the appearance were present either…

It all happened nine months ago and my memory is rusty so I tried to dig out the reports to find out what was said by the three magistrates. It was not a great success. The Daily Mail* reported “Magistrates chairman Ian McNeal said during the hearing: ‘We are told that your address has been widely circulated on Facebook and Twitter and there has been numerous death threats.

‘This case has attracted a high degree of public interest as evidence today**. For these reasons we are remanding you in custody for your own protection.’”

This judgement was made a few weeks before Christmas, so the sceptic in me reckons that that it was more convenient to place Emma West in remand than to park her in a bed and breakfast in north Wales. Four weeks in custody before the second appearance seems a bit rough, given that the maximum penalty would be six months.

* http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2070647/Racist-woman-tram-spend-Christmas-bars-protection.html#ixzz26kVR5NAG

** as evidence today?

88. Chaise Guevara

Charlieman

“as evidence today?”

Probably “evidenced”. The judge is probably one of those people who’s too sophisticated to use the word “shown”, and then the Mail wrote it down wrong.

Wow I cant believe he got arrested for that. I mean it was on facebook, how did the authorities even come to know about it?
I better watch what I type from now on.

It’ll be interesting to see whether David Allen Green etc are willing to represent Ahmed at appeal, since the verdict here is directly opposed to the appeal verdict in Chambers.

SMFS: Anyone who writes “All Blacks must die” on Facebook would soon find other people think he is.

I know New Zealanders take their rugby seriously, but not *that* seriously.

91. Brian Patterson

Agree with most of this article,however, differ from the opinion that (all) “soldiers who die in the line of duty should be revered”. This is an other way of saying “”My country right or wrong”. If one of the Mi Lai butchers or the Paras who murdered 14 people on Bloody Sunday had been killed later “in the line of duty” should they be “revered”?

I believe this discussion has raised a very important queston regarding the issue of Freedom Of Speech. It is very clear that when anybody takes it upon themselves to insult others this will without a doubt cause conflict. Nobody shoud be free to insult anyone, this is a very declined way of thinking. How can you possibly have harmony within society when there is no respect for each other?
We all have different values but that should not give anybody a green card to “express” their so called opinions.

93. Chaise Guevara

@ 92 salina

Could you please provide the list of opinions that people will be allowed to express in your dystopia?

It looks as though the judge has a problem with the ‘all soldiers should die and go to hell’ part.
-All soldiers will die, in due course
-Some religions teach that all non-believers go to hell. Is that teaching now criminal?

So will Andrew Mitchell be prosecuted for insulting plod?


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  58. Substance Misuse

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? http://t.co/D41H6yK1 The speed with which this is being normalised is rather scary.

  59. Substance Misuse

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? http://t.co/D41H6yK1 The speed with which this is being normalised is rather scary.

  60. Ryan Gibson

    Brits criticise Muslims for getting angry over a crap film, but we convict a guy for a Facebook rant http://t.co/sLoMdAZJ

  61. Kylie Hill

    Brits criticise Muslims for getting angry over a crap film, but we convict a guy for a Facebook rant http://t.co/sLoMdAZJ

  62. RichardReynolds

    7Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? http://t.co/w6mc5CRu

  63. Kim Jong Deux

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4LoihLRV

  64. Hasry Rosly

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4LoihLRV

  65. Neelam hafezi

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4LoihLRV

  66. jrms

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4LoihLRV

  67. Anjum Anwar

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/kWXpaXyz

  68. ????? ?????

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/50xQZORj #selectivefreedom #hypocricy

  69. Abdul Hannan

    Free speech in action. Not really! #fb http://t.co/9zXCf7Ux

  70. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Social Media News

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  71. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Technology News

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  72. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Social Network news

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  73. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Build Own Social Network Website

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  74. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Social Web Guru

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  75. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Social Network Tips

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  76. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Social Site Guru

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  77. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Social Network

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  78. Stay Human

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now?

    http://t.co/Afuol417

  79. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Create Social Network Guide

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  80. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Tech News

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  81. Ednan Mobaraz

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4LoihLRV

  82. Message TV

    Convicted for a Facebook rant: where is free speech now? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/6VyMZJhD

  83. Real Change Possible

    @BBCr4today didn't seem to know about the Azhar Ahmed case here's a helpful link @tajimustafa @sunny_hundal http://t.co/xiMdf5x9…

  84. Son of Robespierre

    @JohnHumphrys Here's the ref you want abt Muslim lad convicted of posting offensive message abt dead British soldiers http://t.co/p4QxCUSA

  85. Abdul Jabbar

    @BBCr4today didn't seem to know about the Azhar Ahmed case here's a helpful link @tajimustafa @sunny_hundal http://t.co/xiMdf5x9…

  86. Freedom of expression is more important than boobies. | andrewt.net

    [...] people? Are your tits more important than protecting insensitive pacifists from being convicted for swearily suggesting that the death of six soldiers in an IED explosion is less important than the ma…? Are your tits more important than my right to safely criticise barbarous religious practices? Are [...]

  87. The golden rule of online behaviour: don’t post while sober | Ally Fogg | Facebook Website

    [...] harassment and crimes of incitement are all recognised as serious offences in any medium. Clarifying the line between criminal behaviour and everyday banter, abuse, bullying, flaming and tro… will be a challenge. Better wish them luck with that [...]

  88. Niaz Ahmed

    Freespeech double standards again? http://t.co/oUP2eZvt

  89. State of Formation - The Limitations of Free Speech – Part 1

    [...] However, how true is that statement?  In the UK over the last two weeks, there have been two cases of things being posted on Facebook which have been deemed offensive and insulting resulting [...]

  90. T Hinker

    You may disagree with this, but is this criminal? http://t.co/COW9f9Nx If you say yes, then how can you argue against a blasphemy law?





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