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Old Jun 15, 2014, 02:23 AM   #1
lostngone
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6 weeks in Jail for trolling

"Jake Newsome was jailed last week for posting offensive comments online. His is the latest in a string of cases that have led to prison terms, raising concern that free speech may be under threat from over-zealous prosecutors"

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/...itter-facebook

I am glad I don't live there! I wonder how much time would you get for saying something offensive about the Queen?
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 02:31 AM   #2
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Freedom of speech doesn't mean you're allowed to insult others, neither in public nor on the internet. IMO it's not a bad thing that law gets those who think they're anonymous on the web.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 02:32 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by lostngone View Post
I am glad I don't live there!
If it's any consolation I'm sure the feeling is mutual.


A reminder that this happens in the US as well. Texas of all places. I'd not throw stones if I were you.

http://www.dallasobserver.com/2014-0...d-a-life/full/
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 03:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by inselstudent View Post
Freedom of speech doesn't mean you're allowed to insult others, neither in public nor on the internet. IMO it's not a bad thing that law gets those who think they're anonymous on the web.
But who gets to decides what is offensive/insulting, a judge?

Talk about a slippery slope, it is already illegal in the U.S. to more or less protest near anyone from the Executive branch of the Government. What is next saying something that hurts someones feelings?

The Lawyers just keep getting richer...
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Last edited by lostngone; Jun 15, 2014 at 03:10 AM.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 03:32 AM   #5
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It's a tricky area for sure - I don't believe people should be able to post whatever they want online without repercussions. However, the line is a bit hard to pin down.

A post threatening someone? Sure that should lead to consequences and I don't think anyone would disagree with that. I also think people who post comments online with the intention to cause, not just offence, but distress should also face criminal sanctions. Like people who contact the family/friends of a murder victim specifically to provoke a reaction.

I personally support the balance of free speech the UK has (and generally under the European Convention of Human Rights) but cases like this need to go to the senior courts in the UK to be tested and have them provide guidance for the lower courts.

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Originally Posted by lostngone View Post
The Lawyers just keep getting richer...
Lawyer here - lawyers dealing with these types of crimes are not usually the ones getting rich! Apart from the very, very top of the criminal law profession it is poorly paid. Commercial law is far more lucrative.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 03:39 AM   #6
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So in England you can go to jail for saying distasteful things on Facebook? That's messed up.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 03:56 AM   #7
inselstudent
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Originally Posted by lostngone View Post
But who gets to decides what is offensive/insulting, a judge?
Well, that's how it works with the three powers, isn't it?
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 06:21 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by lostngone View Post
"Jake Newsome was jailed last week for posting offensive comments online. His is the latest in a string of cases that have led to prison terms, raising concern that free speech may be under threat from over-zealous prosecutors"

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/...itter-facebook

I am glad I don't live there! I wonder how much time would you get for saying something offensive about the Queen?
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Originally Posted by macquariumguy View Post
So in England you can go to jail for saying distasteful things on Facebook? That's messed up.

Thankfully, we have the 1A where things like this could never happen. 'merica, **** yeah!


http://www.policymic.com/articles/54...ey-said-online
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 07:39 AM   #9
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Thankfully, we have the 1A where things like this could never happen. 'merica, **** yeah!


http://www.policymic.com/articles/54...ey-said-online
My opinion...

I think there is a difference between threatening to kill someone and being offensive.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 07:51 AM   #10
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A lot of times people believe that the anonymity of the web protects them. A person can face criminal or civil actions even if their identity isn't known. In my neighboring county a high school principal sued over forum comments.

The newspaper and many others have since changed their commenting forums to Facebook Commenting where a person's identity is attached to the post. While a person could set up an anonymous Facebook account it is more effort.

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The pseudonyms named as "John Does" in the lawsuit are MsLoy, bluedeyeddevil, avidreader, spdracer90, GwinnettTransplant, amp72, newtoncountyparent, watermelonlover, beautifulblueeyes, Satan69, and KBeet.
Alcovy principal sues over website comments - Newton Citizen

Alcovy principal names school board member in lawsuit - Newton Citizen
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 08:28 AM   #11
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If it is a threat, I can see the point, but otherwise, no.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 08:45 AM   #12
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Community service seems appropriate for lesser infractions. For threats and such, short jail sentences would be fair.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 08:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by rdowns View Post
Thankfully, we have the 1A where things like this could never happen. 'merica, **** yeah!


http://www.policymic.com/articles/54...ey-said-online
Basically everything on that list that happened in the US are threats or perceived threats and can easily be interpreted that way. It's different than just offending someone and being arrested. There is no right not to be offended.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 09:12 AM   #14
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There is no right not to be offended.
One of the few times I've agreed with you.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 09:22 AM   #15
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Since I have arrived in the UK 20 years ago, freedoms have been constantly curtailed, ranging from the right to have a jury trial, freedom from double jeopardy, the right to protest, the right to refrain from self-incrimination, and now freedom of speech (not only attacked in this case, but also attacks from MP's, who got caught red-handed abusing public funds, to limit freedom of the press that exposed their crimes). I love living in the UK, but I think the UK voters might very well be sleep-walking into an environment that could be very much abused by those in power.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 09:31 AM   #16
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Lawyer here - lawyers dealing with these types of crimes are not usually the ones getting rich! Apart from the very, very top of the criminal law profession it is poorly paid. Commercial law is far more lucrative.
Yup! It's not hard to see why the commercial side is so attractive in this regard.

Also, I'm glad to see some repercussions for online trolling. Whether not a jail sentence is suitable or not is another matter, but it seems that many believe that their screen acts as a protective barrier allowing them to express whatever inane thought pops into their head without the fear of reprisal.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 09:43 AM   #17
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From the OP's linked article ...
Quote:
A few days later, after his post had been shared more than 2,000 times, West Yorkshire police arrested and charged Newsome under the 2003 Communications Act with having sent "by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing nature". Last week Newsome was jailed for six weeks, after pleading guilty, with the judge quoting his post back to him and saying: "I can think of little that could be more upsetting or offensive."
And what was said that got the person a six week sentence?
Quote:
On 30 April, two days after teacher Ann Maguire was stabbed to death by a pupil in Leeds, Jake Newsome, a 21-year-old man who had himself attended a secondary school on the other side of the city, posted on his Facebook page: "Personally im glad that teacher got stabbed up, feel sorry for the kid… he shoulda pissed on her too".
This wasn't the only arrest connected to comments on that stabbing ...
Quote:
Newsome was the second person jailed for social media offences related to Maguire's death. Last month Robert Riley, a 42-year-old former bus driver from Port Talbot in Wales, was sent to prison for eight weeks after his tweets about Maguire, in which he said he would have killed her colleagues as well ...

These aren't just insults. These comments hint to deranged and possibly dangerous individuals and IMO meet the standard of being "grossly offensive and menacing".

It's interesting that here in the U.S. we hold out hope of identifying people with mental illness who could become violent. Well, what's a common way that these people have exposed themselves in the past? That's right, through internet postings. It seems to me that internet comments offer a window into disturbed minds that should not be ignored or passed of as harmless.

My main complaint with the British system is I think the punishment is wrong. Throwing a person in jail for a time does not change their mental state ... it could even make it worse. My suggestion is that people who engage in this kind of behavior be sentenced to psychiatric evaluation to determine whether there are mental issues that need to be addressed.

Instead of six weeks in jail I'd rather see six weeks of counseling, and a determined effort to heal a mind that is in obvious need of therapy.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 09:48 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
From the OP's linked article ...


And what was said that got the person a six week sentence?


This wasn't the only arrest connected to comments on that stabbing ...



These aren't just insults. These comments hint to deranged and possibly dangerous individuals and IMO meet the standard of being "grossly offensive and menacing".

It's interesting that here in the U.S. we hold out hope of identifying people with mental illness who could become violent. Well, what's a common way that these people have exposed themselves in the past? That's right, through internet postings. It seems to me that internet comments offer a window into disturbed minds that should not be ignored or passed of as harmless.

My main complaint with the British system is I think the punishment is wrong. Throwing a person in jail for a time does not change their mental state ... it could even make it worse. My suggestion is that people who engage in this kind of behavior be sentenced to psychiatric evaluation to determine whether there are mental issues that need to be addressed.

Instead of six weeks in jail I'd rather see six weeks of counseling, and a determined effort to heal a mind that is in obvious need of therapy.
I approve of this message.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 09:59 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
From the OP's linked article ...


And what was said that got the person a six week sentence?


This wasn't the only arrest connected to comments on that stabbing ...



These aren't just insults. These comments hint to deranged and possibly dangerous individuals and IMO meet the standard of being "grossly offensive and menacing".

It's interesting that here in the U.S. we hold out hope of identifying people with mental illness who could become violent. Well, what's a common way that these people have exposed themselves in the past? That's right, through internet postings. It seems to me that internet comments offer a window into disturbed minds that should not be ignored or passed of as harmless.

My main complaint with the British system is I think the punishment is wrong. Throwing a person in jail for a time does not change their mental state ... it could even make it worse. My suggestion is that people who engage in this kind of behavior be sentenced to psychiatric evaluation to determine whether there are mental issues that need to be addressed.

Instead of six weeks in jail I'd rather see six weeks of counseling, and a determined effort to heal a mind that is in obvious need of therapy.
This makes so much more sense than jail time.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 10:09 AM   #20
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If there is an actual, physical threat to someone, I can see jail time for that. For something that is "only" grossly offensive, no.

What I think we need here is a new type of job. Facebook should hire a group of...oh, what would the job title be?..."troll officers". To get the job, you'd have to be a big guy, like a bouncer in a club. So if you make an almost universally offensive comment on Facebook like this kid did, then a troll officer comes over to your house, drags you out into the street and bitch-slaps you, hard, in public.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 10:21 AM   #21
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bitch-slaps
I'm calling the Troll Patrol on you.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 10:37 AM   #22
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I'm calling the Troll Patrol on you.
I've got friends on the force.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 11:08 AM   #23
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The law spells out what the penalty is for this type of crime. If you are unwilling to do the time, don't do the crime. It's simple.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 11:53 AM   #24
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No it is not. The law is open to interpretation.
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Old Jun 15, 2014, 12:00 PM   #25
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No it is not. The law is open to interpretation.
No, the law is very simple. If you violate the law you can receive a penalty that is spelled out very clearly in the code books. If you are unwilling to serve that penalty, you should seriously consider not breaking the law. Keep in mind there can be civil penalties as well.
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