Freedom of tweets

So today, this is happening.

À mon avis, one of the sillier public trials we’ve seen recently.

Paul Chambers is facing trial in a court of law for tweeting a joke. No, really. The story goes: he’s off to meet a lady from Northern Ireland for a date. But when he arrives at Robin Hood airport in Nottingham, it’s closed. And being a cheeky sort, he tweets: ‘Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed, you’ve got a week… otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!’. Fine, sure, very droll.

Just a man getting grumpy about some rubbish public transport. Nothing new. Let’s move on. Let’s not report Paul, send plain clothed officers to his house, search him, his house and his car, then arrest him and take him to court under the Crown Prosecution Service’s provisions against bomb hoaxers and try him in the High Court, because that would be madness.

Ah, too late.

Now, many people far more qualified than me can comment on just how silly and damaging this is for freedom of speech, or how seriously people take our law enforcement, or even the politics of social media. But it does seem that in an age when we tweet 300 million times a day, the law needs to catch up with just how fast publically available opinion is growing.

We all use hyperbole like Paul’s in speech every day and nobody bats an eyelid. But now, thankfully, everyone has the opportunity and the soapbox to air their views on sites like Twitter. And after all, it’s really just an ongoing conversation – everyone can be just as facetious and dramatic as we would be in real conversation. Which for my money, is brilliant.

It’s just a shame the law doesn’t think so eh? Keep up, law.

0 min read, posted in Culture, by Admin, on 8 Feb 2012

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