In The UK They Jail People For Being Obnoxious Jerks On Twitter?

from the interesting-strategy dept

I recognize that the US tends to value "freedom of speech" more than most European countries, and I also recognize that racist hate speech is pretty despicable, but I have to admit that the reports out of the UK of a guy being put in jail for 56 days for a bunch of obnoxious tweets are still really troubling. The guy making the tweets, Liam Stacey, was commenting on the on-field collapse (due to a heart attack) of footballer Fabrice Muamba. At first Stacey seemed to be celebrating the idea that Muamba might be dead, and then made some racist comments to those who spoke back to him. No doubt, Stacey appears to be an obnoxious, ignorant lout. But there are lots of obnoxious ignorant louts out there, and we don't just put them in jail. I believe, pretty strongly, that the best response to ignorant speech is more speech -- not putting the original speaker in jail. Stacey displayed to the world his ridiculous views (he claims he was drunk when he made the tweets, but that matters little). There was societal backlash already coming to him for those tweets, and people were speaking up about how obnoxious they found the comments to be. And that's the proper way to deal with such speech. Putting people in jail for speech, even if it's obnoxious, creates a massive chilling effect.

I don't quite get the claims of the judge, either:
Sentencing Stacey at Swansea Magistrates' Court, District Judge John Charles told him: "In my view, there is no alternative to an immediate prison sentence.

"It was not the football world who was praying for [Muamba].... everybody was praying for his life."
Of course there are alternatives. There are tons. And you'd think a judge would recognize that. Separately, even if "everybody" (minus Stacey, clearly) was praying for his life, what does that have to do with anything legally speaking? Stacey may not be the kind of person worth defending, but his right to speak his mind (no matter how ridiculously ignorant and obnoxious he comes across) should be defended.


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    weneedhelp (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:19am

    But there are lots of obnoxious ignorant louts out there

    Whew! I am safe for now. :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:27am

    Evelyn Beatrice Hall (and Voltaire for that matter) would be proud...

     

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      hfbs (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:44am

      Re:

      But then, he also said "To hold a pen is to be at war" so god knows what he's on about.

      (ignoring the fact that he probably never said "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it")

       

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        Paddy Duke (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:58am

        Re: Re:

        He didn’t ever say it. Evelyn Beatrice Hall (mentioned above) coined that pithy phrase to illustrate Voltaire’s belief in freedom of speech.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:32am

    Oh, you wacky Colonists. Such silly ideas.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:37am

    The guy was vile and hateful and he deserves to be punished. Freedom of speech is a good thing and should be protected as it allows to to voice your opinion freely. However, freedom of speech does not give you the right to be abusive towards another person, directly or indirectly, which is exactly what this guy did.

    Having said that, though, being sent to prison is harsh as I feel he should have been given a fine, community service and been made to attend some sort of educational course to explain that all rights must go hand in hand with responsibility.

     

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      MondoGordo, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:49am

      Re: Freedom of speech is a good thing and should be protected as it allows to to voice your opinion freely.

      Unless you find the opinion expressed offensive apparently... then it should be punished? Glad you're not in charge where i live.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:00am

        Re: Re: Freedom of speech is a good thing and should be protected as it allows to to voice your opinion freely.

        Freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence: merely that you are permitted to say what you think.

         

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        Niall (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 5:51am

        Re: Re: Freedom of speech is a good thing and should be protected as it allows to to voice your opinion freely.

        In the UK we do have strong laws against hate speech, especially racial-based, and we don't have a simple constitutional basis like your First Amendment (which is ignored plenty itself, along with the fourth, fifth, fourteenth, etc...). I agree, jail is a bit much (especially as ours are overcrowded), but I don't disagree with him getting consequences to his actions.

         

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      Killer_Tofu (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:50am

      Re:

      Your comments saying that people need to be punished just for speaking like an idiot offend me. Per your own rules, you should submit yourself for processing so that you can be fined and serve community service.



      Please note, the purpose of this is simply to show that punishing people simply because they say something that may or may not offend people (even if it is guaranteed to offend people) is not acceptable. The only case where it can be is when it is a direct threat against somebody to cause bodily harm or death.

       

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        Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:54am

        Re: Re:

        Expressing an opinion that someone may find offensive because they don't agree with is one thing. Giving someone abuse based on their race/religion/sexuality etc is a completely different beast and should be punished.

        With freedom comes responsibility but sadly a lot of people forget that.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No people are entitled to talk about what they want and how. We might not like it but it's their right to. They might be a racist,asshole,annoying, and many more things but we can't just put a person in jail for talk. Look at the WBBC that protest soldiers funerals that's just about low as it gets. It's their right and they might all think we're going to hell lol. It's also my right to tell them to fuck off because I'm an atheist and don't care. It's how free speech works!

           

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            Niall (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 5:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Thank goodness we couldn't get the WBC in the UK. That being said, I'd still rather have something more like the First Amendment here. Just better worded and more inclusive :)

             

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          :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:01pm

          Re: Re: Re: Erm,

          'Abuse' is a tad subjective...

          Also, being judgemental is built in to the whole Christian culture & belief system; the "good book" is pretty specific on who to hate, who to kill, and who to enslave. As most of the world is steeped in a pseudo-Christian culture, alot bleeds thru into the thoughts & actions of the everyday populace.

          If somebody is following what they've been brainwashed into believing is "good" then shouldn't we be holding responsible whomever did the brainwashing?

           

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            John Doe, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm,

            Wow, way to turn this into a good ole Christian bashing. The bible does not tell you who to hate. Jesus said to love one another as I have loved you. No hate in that speech. So please, find some other group to take your hate out on.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm,

              Old testament man, old testament

               

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                Watchit (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 6:40pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm,

                Though I really hate arguing religion over the internet... here I go...

                First, saying Old Testament like that proves anything is silly, provide some specific examples please.

                Chrisitanity is based off the teachings of Jesus who started a "new covenant" with his sacrifice, to steer the established Jewish Sanhidran away from the bureaucracy it had become to a more personal relationship with God. Jesus's teachings take precedence over older teachings, you can kind of think of it like newer amendments taking precedence over older ones in the constitution. Therefore the teaching to "love your enemies" takes precedence over any "who to hate", if you could really call it that, verses in the Old Testament.

                I'm not very good at arguing, and I'm not the best to consult on these matters, but this is what I believe... let the trolling commence I guess.

                 

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                  Watchit (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 7:06pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm,

                  Some people will be judgmental regardless if their Christian or not. Using Christianity as an excuse to judge other people is easy to do if you look at it shallowly, if you scratch any deeper though, it doesn't hold any water.

                   

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                  Niall (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:36am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm,

                  Please go and explain that to the whole GOP who seem to think that only the OT counts...

                   

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm,

              Old testament man, old testament

               

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              Yoshord, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 4:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm,

              Well, there was that part where Jesus went rabid inside a temple just because some merchants were using it as a marketplace...

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 5:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm,

              wrong, the bible is filled with people god demands you to kill because he doesnt like them, groups to hate and revile against. perhaps you should read the bible

               

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                John Doe, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:34am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm,

                I do and I believe it as well. Can you really argue with what the creator does with his creation? It was his judgement on a wicked people. Does not man put to death people they judge to be wicked and deserving?

                 

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          Prisoner 201, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Expressing an opinion that someone may find offensive because they don't agree with is one thing. "

          Yeah, because obviously Liam Stacey tweeted a fact not his opinion.

           

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          John Fenderson (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          With freedom comes responsibility but sadly a lot of people forget that.


          What does that have to do with the post? Because if an action or speech is illegal, then you don't have the freedom to engage in it, so responsibility doesn't even enter into the issue at that point.

          You can only be responsible when you have freedom.

           

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          Killer_Tofu (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 1:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I am going to guess that you A) are probably not an American , B) whether you are or are not, you do not understand our 1st amendment and how strongly most of us feel about it, and C) the point of my post went whooooshhh


          What some people find offensive others won't. Other commenters already addressed this so I won't go over it again, but no speech should be outlawed directly as it is a much too slippery slope to go down.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 3:08pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The first amendment is a US only thing, fortunately it's only the US of A that has rely upon an archaic constitution.

            The UK is NOT America, it is not bound by your US constitution..

            Most Americans accept racism, or 'allow' it to occur, and hide behind their constitution, and this illusional "free speech" you keep trying to drag down.

            You also forget that free speech was put in the constitution to allow free debate and dissent against the Government !! not anyone you like.

            There are also many laws in the US that mean you simply cannot say what you like under the protection of free speech.

            being ignorant, racist is not any excuse for this level of conduct.

            he might learn to keep his stupid racist trap shut in the future.. At least he has masnick to stick up for his racist behaviour. The rest of the world is not like the US and the US is but a minor player. Known forits racist outlook and attitudes.

             

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              John Fenderson (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 4:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Most Americans accept racism, or 'allow' it to occur, and hide behind their constitution, and this illusional "free speech" you keep trying to drag down.


              You're conflating two separate issues. Most Americans don't "accept" racism, but most Americans understand that it will exist. Whether or not racist speech is allowed doesn't impact whether or not racism exists so long as opposing speech is also engaged in.

              You also forget that free speech was put in the constitution to allow free debate and dissent against the Government !! not anyone you like.


              Not exactly true. We have free speech because we value a free exchange of ideas, even offensive ideas (since "offensive" is incredibly subjective). Those ideas do not have to be in relation to the government. They can be about anything.

              There are also many laws in the US that mean you simply cannot say what you like under the protection of free speech.


              Absolutely true. Not all speech is allowed. However, the speech which is disallowed is that which leads to direct harm to other people. Insults and racist comments don't count, unless the purpose of that speech is to start a riot (which is harmful).

              Direct harm does not include hurt feelings.

              being ignorant, racist is not any excuse for this level of conduct.


              Absolutely true. However, that's irrelevant to the issue of whether that conduct should be criminalized or not.

              At least he has masnick to stick up for his racist behaviour.


              Umm... where has anyone stuck up for his racist behavior? I think you're imagining things. It's entirely possible to say that a behavior is both despicable and should not not be criminalized. Which is the point being made here. That isn't defending the behavior at all.

               

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              Yoshord, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 5:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So, racism is bad, unless one is being racist against a congressman or parlament menmber. Brilliant standard.

              Anyway, a lot of people that I've encountered use "Nigger" as a familial term on the level of "Bro" ro "Buddy" despite its history as a racist slur. Certainly there are people who still find the word offensive based on its history or their upbringing. Should the latter group be able to complain and get the entire former group arrested because the latter finds the term offensive? I wouldn't think so, even though I consider myself a member of the latter group and don't use the term at all.

               

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              G Thompson (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 7:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I'm Australian, I do not like yourself have a "Freedom of Speech" in any part of my Constitution, though we have what our Court has classified as "Freedom of Expression" which the UN has also ratified as well.

              Speech is NOT the problem, unless that speech on it's face value can and will cause immediate harm to a reasonable person. Other than that speech should be allowed no matter how hurtfull it might feel or be to some minority, individual, or group.

              In other words the spoken or written word is not the problem the problem is how certain people perceive that written word or speech based on their own prejudice, ego, mental state, or strategy to push their own ideology onto others.

              The USA's "Freedom of Speech" is a catch all I agree, but it does one thing and does it well, it allows constructive discourse between two or more absolutely opposing ideologies without one or the other taking litigious action because they could not take the idea of losing an argument. The truth is supposed to hurt, and opinion is supposed to be able to be criticised. The UK has this problem, especially in regards to defamatory actions where it basically disallows this discourse to be done.

               

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              Chris, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So the secret is to take any speech we don't like, label it with a word ending in "ism" and then outlaw it? Brilliant!

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Hold on, I'm English and I believe that he should have been able to say what he wants. Not speaking out loud doesn't stop him thinking it, and How can you argue against what you don't know is an issue?

              The difference between the USA and the UK is irrelevant.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:06am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The first amendment is a US only thing, fortunately it's only the US of A that has rely upon an archaic constitution.

              ar·cha·ic   /ɑrˈkeɪɪk/ Show Spelled[ahr-key-ik] Show IPA
              adjective
              1. marked by the characteristics of an earlier period; antiquated: an archaic manner; an archaic notion.
              2. (of a linguistic form) commonly used in an earlier time but rare in present-day usage except to suggest the older time, as in religious rituals or historical novels. Examples: thou; wast; methinks; forsooth.
              3. forming the earliest stage; prior to full development: the archaic period of psychoanalytic research.
              4. ( often initial capital letter ) pertaining to or designating the style of the fine arts, especially painting and sculpture, developed in Greece from the middle 7th to the early 5th century b.c., chiefly characterized by an increased emphasis on the human figure in action, naturalistic proportions and anatomical structure, simplicity of volumes, forms, or design, and the evolution of a definitive style for the narrative treatment of subject matter. Compare classical ( def. 6 ) , Hellenistic ( def. 5 ) .
              5. primitive; ancient; old: an archaic form of animal life.

              You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

              The UK is NOT America, it is not bound by your US constitution..


              it does need some of our constitution it seems

              Most Americans accept racism, or 'allow' it to occur, and hide behind their constitution, and this illusional "free speech" you keep trying to drag down.

              You also forget that free speech was put in the constitution to allow free debate and dissent against the Government !! not anyone you like.


              So wrong, free speech is allowed agasint all, not just the Government

              ""Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.""

              of course some speech isnt protected, yelling fire in a theater, threatening the president etc..



              There are also many laws in the US that mean you simply cannot say what you like under the protection of free speech.
              being ignorant, racist is not any excuse for this level of conduct. he might learn to keep his stupid racist trap shut in the future.. At least he has masnick to stick up for his racist behaviour. The rest of the world is not like the US and the US is but a minor player. Known forits racist outlook and attitudes.



              Does your rectum often speak for you??, he has a Human Right to speak out, I don't use the "human right" thing alot, but this is one of them, America is only a minor handful of Countries, Intellgient enough to know that and make it LAW, that people can speak and debate and question their government, thats one reason, why the USA is the greatest country on earth, yes we have made the SAME mistakes as others, but we correct them and try to grow.
              I guess you welcome your UK overlords and look forword to doing all things good to please them

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2012 @ 12:50pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "thats one reason, why the USA is the greatest country on earth, yes we have made the SAME mistakes as others, but we correct them and try to grow."

                While I agree with most of your points these few unfortunately deserve some negative attention.

                "the USA is the greatest country"
                It isn't the largest and by no other standard could it be considered great, unless we are simply talking about military expenditure and that is not a factor of greatness more a sign of insecurity, weakness and cowardice.
                Constantly stating 'we are the greatest' malarkey sounds like people trying to convince themselves of something they actually know to be untrue but can't bear to acknowledge that.
                For most of the civilised world such comments provoke laughter and pity.

                "yes we have made the SAME mistakes as others"
                by which you could mean anything, but presumably partly mean that your nation due to its capacity for violence has committed many of the crimes that were previously committed by other powerful (and mostly now defunct) nations.

                "but we correct them and try to grow."
                For a country that has spent almost the entirety of its existence engaged in wars of choice and are currently still engaged in these there doesn't seem to be any effort to correct them.

                However trying "to grow" is generally the cause of the crimes committed by powerful nations so a little less effort on the part of your nation "to grow" would be appreciated, with considerably more effort given to the "growing up" that is so clearly desperately needed.

                 

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              Killer_Tofu (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If I had more time to check the site here, I would have typed out a rather long response about the differences in what I am talking about and how you view it. As I am late in replying I will just say to check the first response to you by John Fenderson there. His explanations are exactly what I would like to reply. However, it has already been said so I will save the space of retyping it. If you have any further thoughts on the matter then by all means please respond.

               

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 3:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well you see, that's the problem right here: deciding that some speech should be punished is arbitrary. You can say racist speech should be punished, and I can say speaking about soccer/football should be punished. And I can make up a lot of reasons to support my argument: football incites violence (see: riots from angry supporters), it exploits poor countries (see: how much money the governments of African countries spend on the World Cup when they host it).

          Football is a bad thing, just like racism is a bad thing, and we must stop people from speaking positively about it because it lets all these problems continue.

          Do you see the problem here? It doesn't matter what your arguments are for banning some type of speech: in the end, you can't prove that any kind of speech is bad - you can think a type of speech is bad, but you can not absolutely, positively prove it: in the end it will all come down to a matter of opinion.
          And of course, any argument you use to ban racist speech can be used to ban any other kind of speech, like I just demonstrated with football.

          Also, words are just words. They only hurt if you care what somebody thinks of you. And you shouldn't care what racists think of you, that's silly. Also, nobody is entitled to be loved by everyone, so get over it.
          We're supposed to be mature adults, yet we can't ignore some idiot we never even met who insults us or a group we belong to... Am I the only one to see a problem with this?
          Anyway, if you can't get over the fact that there are idiots on this planet who won't like you, it's still not a reason to censor anybody or anything. That would be a disproportionate response.

          Finally, censorship also helps hatred and racism much more than it stops it. Censorship just hides the symptoms, i.e. racist comments. But it has some very negative consequences too:
          - Censorship doesn't people less racist. Let's clear that out right now.

          - Censorship can be used to make racists look like victims "look, we can't even state our opinions! That's oppression and thank those [insert some race here] for using the law to control what we can say!".

          - Censorship doesn't stop the speech, it just makes it more subtle and go unchallenged.
          Racism is still very visible in politics today. Except that instead of taking the form of Hitler and a holocaust, it takes the form of politicians blaming crime on foreigners and promising to act against this. It takes the form of people being born in a country, having lived there 18 years, and then being kicked out back "home" because they broke the law one time.
          Censorship didn't solve these problems. And you know what else? People don't even seem to realize that sending somebody back to Africa even though he lived all his life in Europe is racist. That's because this is a subtle form of racism, and therefore it is never challenged.

          If we allowed people to express racist views, we would also see these people get challenged. Let racists explain why they think other races are inferior, and then counter them with your own arguments why all races are equal. If you're right, you'll have no problem proving it. There's obviously a good reason why you aren't racist, right? Surely you must be able to argue why every race is equal, aren't you? Then what are you afraid of?

          I'll give you another example:
          A few days ago I was watching a video about Muslim extremists protesting in the UK, and speaking of violence. Now if you ask me, I think these extremists are a minority and don't represent the majority of Muslims. But...
          People who think these extremists represent most Muslims, are discouraged from speaking out. They're not allowed to say "I'm scared, we should kick out all Muslims". If they do, they could be socially stigmatized or even fined or jailed.
          These people still dislike Muslims and fear them. Shutting them up doesn't change that fact. But maybe if they were allowed to speak up, non-extremist Muslims would start to realize that the extremists give them all a very bad reputation, and the non-extremist Muslims might decide to do something to show everyone "hey, don't worry, these idiots are just a minority, we're cool people really".

          When Switzerland banned minarets not long ago, there were some angry Muslims and many Western countries condemned this decision.
          But interestingly, a group of Muslims decided to cool things down instead of expressing anger or disappointment at the ban. They basically said "This ban shows that Islam has a bad reputation, thanks to extremism. So we, Muslims, instead of getting angry, need to start showing the Swiss people that most of us aren't extremists". Instead of fighting the Swiss racism, they opened up to it and fought the cause of it: Islamic extremism. And that did a lot to improve the image of Islam in Switzerland. I'm not going to say everyone in Switzerland now loves Muslims, but you could feel that relationships have changed for the better since these events.

          Now if the minaret ban hadn't been allowed to happen, or if the Swiss people had had no way to express their fear of Islam, Switzerland would have a bigger racial conflict today. But because people were allowed to express their anger/fear, and because some Muslims were wise enough to address the problem, things have improved.

          Hiding our heads in the sand doesn't achieve anything.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 3:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            spoken like a true racist.

             

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            explicit coward (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Sorry, but Switzerland has quite some legislature against racial/ethnical/religious discrimination: http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/311_0/a261bis.html

            And because of this limitation on free speech, people were forced to express their opinion indirecty through a vote on a related but different matter. The opponents to the Minaret Initiative tried to label it as religious discrimination and therefore unfit for voting and only because they failed to do so the people were able to express their fears (thus leading to further discuss the relationship between Muslims living in Switzerland and the majority of swiss christians).

            It's not that Switzerland has no laws against free speech. It's that someone (the party SVP) found a loophole enabling the people to express their opinion in a different way.

            Racial/ethnic/religious discrimination brewing in the background is and will always be bad.

             

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      Prisoner 201, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

      Re:

      Are you serious? Lets think a little.

      Criticism of religious tenets, traditions or ideals is "vile and hateful" to many religious people. So punishing people for that is defenitely the way to go. Yes sir.

      Not to mention if someone draws caricatures of some famous religious person. Then the gloves are off, obviously.

      Sowing dissent against the government (translation: criticizing an oppressive government) is very much "vile and hateful", as the government is the saviour of the people.

      Speaking about homosexuals (specially in a neutral or even positive way!) is very vile! Where has decency gone?! And dear God I shall not even talk about expressing said perversion in public! Aye, just jail them, immediately! we have no alternative!

      And so on and so forth for the many, many, groups and individuals that are extremely pricklish about what people say.

      Or maybe Free Speech is not about the things we say that everyone agrees on or can respect.

      Maybe Free Speech is exactly about the things that makes the blood boil, things that insults, blasphemes, or are otherwise "bad bad BAD" to someone.

      Why else would free speech need to be protected, if not because it is recognized that it can be uncomfortable to some?

       

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      Anonymous Poster, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:01pm

      Re:

      However, freedom of speech does not give you the right to be abusive towards another person, directly or indirectly, which is exactly what this guy did.

      Freedom of speech absolutely gives you the right to be abusive towards another person, you cocksucking gutterslut.

      See what I did there? I abused you with words! Quick, call the UK cops and have me arrested! Somebody must think of your poor feelings before they're hurt!

      In case you're not getting the point: free speech is not short for "consequence-free speech", but the consequences here far outweigh what was said. Racist speech may be offensive, but people do not deserve to be jailed over calling someone a "nigger" or a "spic". The only speech deserving of legal consequences are calls for violence or harm to another person and libel/slander.

      As Mike pointed out, societal consequences already exist for "offensive" speech. Liam openly marked himself as a racist and a callous individual with his tweets; slapping him in cuffs and tossing him into a jail cell for two months for "offensive" speech isn't going to change him into a tolerant and loving person.

      The right to free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech (including racist slurs); popular speech, by definition, doesn't require protection.

       

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      Chris, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:13pm

      Re:

      What ever happened to "stick and stones"? Yes, I grant you that words can be hurtful, but only if you let them. Who decides what words are abusive or "harmful" to another person?

      I've worn glasses since I was 3. I can't count the number of times I've been called "four eyes" and any number of other terms meant to be insulting. Do those people deserve criminal punishment? Do they even deserve civil punishment?

      At the end of the day, should we punish this kid the same way we punish thieves, rapists, murderers and child molesters? Because that's who he is going to be spending a couple of months with.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 1:52pm

      Re:

      "freedom of speech does not give you the right to be abusive towards another person"

      Yes. It does. It is not illegal to be racist. It may not be right but it is not illegal, or at least it shouldn't be.

      Please look up the word "free".

       

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      Bigstick, May 25th, 2013 @ 3:08pm

      Re: freedom of speech.

      Zakida:

      I like the way you think. Since religion has a history of having text that is abusive toward another person and the cause of hate across the world for eons........then I guess we can arrest all priest, rabbis, clerics, iman for preaching hate and which supports abuse to homosexuals, females, children and the other.

      I am tired of hate speech getting a pass behind the cloak of religion. Time to ban it.

       

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    Prisoner 201, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:40am

    Guys, calm down.

    He obviously was not put in jail for being a jerk. That would be ridiculous. The mere though boggles the mind.

    He was put in jail for being a jerk on the internet.

     

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    A Guy (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:49am

    Strangely, this makes me feel better about the US. Whenever I think our national politics couldn't be any more obnoxious and tone deaf, I look across the Atlantic (or Pacific) and think "it could be so much worse."

     

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    PlagueSD (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:18pm

    Prisoner #1: What are you guys in for?

    Prisoner #2: I killed someone...
    Prisoner #3: I made smart ass comments on Twitter...

    (Prisoner #1 and Prisoner #2 start laughing uncontrollably.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    The fact that the judge even mentions people are "praying" for him in his ruling is suspect to me. What does religion have to do with free speech?

    Yea this guy is clearly a twat, but you can't silence him by putting him in jail.

    This reminds me of V for Vendetta.

     

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      Watchit (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:41pm

      Re:

      yeah, it confuses me too. It didn't even really make sense, they were "praying for his life"? Why? and what does it have to do with the trial?

       

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      Lennart Regebro, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

      Re: John

      I like how John explains the situation in comment number 25, and then you have almost a hundred comments completely ignoring him. :-)

       

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    John, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

    I'm not sure everyone understands

    The guy got convicted because of a public order offence, namely incitement of racial hatred. The UK is not the only country that has laws like this.

    Summary conviction of incitement to racial hatred carries a maximum prison sentence of 6 months in the UK, so the guy was lucky. The law is what it is, so judge had indeed no choice.

    Section 18, public order act 1986:

    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.
    (2)An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the written material is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and are not heard or seen except by other persons in that or another dwelling.

     

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      TheLoot (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:43pm

      Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

      So he was jailed even though...

      (a)probably had no intent of that
      (b)was held liable for what OTHERS might have done

      Bullshit law is still bullshit...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 2:00pm

        Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

        He pleaded guilty for some reason. Probably realised he was going to face a kangaroo court and hoped for a less severe sentence.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2012 @ 12:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

          Presumably he was incredibly badly advised.

          He never should have pleaded guilty.

          He behaved like an utterly obnoxious jerk over twitter and if that carries a prison sentence then everyone is in trouble.

           

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      John Fenderson (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

      Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

      I, at least, fully understand. I simply disagree.

      The UK is not the only country that has laws like this.


      The only thing that means is that the UK isn't the only country with laws that are at least very unwise, and at most downright immoral.

      But that's not news.

       

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        John, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

        Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

        What I don't understand is why the guys punishment is such a surprise. I really think he got off lightly. Free speech is fine, but loads of countries have had the foresight to make public racism punishable. Although I'm a firm believer in free speech, I do think there are good reasons to limit it when it comes to racism. We all know how Hitler came to power. Anyway, it's rather surprising to me this story causes such outrage? In a lot of EU countries you can be jailed for instance for publicly denying the holocaust. Go to Germany or Austria and fire off a tweet in German to that effect and see what happens!! Lol.

         

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          Prisoner 201, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 1:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

          And people have very little rights and freedoms at all in some banana republics. I fail to see what relevance that has. Bad laws are bad. Other bad laws does not change that.

          It's a tweet for fuck's sake.

          It's so out of scale its silly. Moral panic at its fines.

          What's next? The renaissance of Puritanism?

           

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            John, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 1:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

            Lots of harm gets done by mindless postings on networks like twitter, facebook etc. People commit suicide because someone decides to out them as gay. Some become social pariah's because 100's gang up on them online for being different. Don't underestimate the power of 'it's just a tweet for fuck's sake' Actions have consequences. And words are not always 'just words'. They can be deadly weapons. The pen being mightier than the sword and all.

             

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              Prisoner 201, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 2:12pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

              Yes yes, and the words "Fire all our Nukes" could end the world as we know it. I know, lets base all our arguments on extreme outliers, shall we?

              Or maybe, in this case, no one was going to kill themselves, and the only person that will be hounded by hundreds of people is Mr Stacey himself as a result of his tweet.

              Which means a lot of us are going to jail I guess. I mean, we can't just gang up on the guy, right? What if he kills himself?

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 2:24pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

                I don't think anyone here really understands what freedom of speech means? It doesn't mean that you can say whatever you want. And not in the US of A either. Libel, defamation, divulging state secrets, or inciting violence or hatred. Yes, you read that last bit right right.

                Allow me to quote from a US court decision regarding the arrest of a Jehova's witness (Chaplinsky) who called a marshall a 'fascist' and subsequently was arrested. Courtesy of Wikipedia:

                There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting words" those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.

                — Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire 1942

                 

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                  Prisoner 201, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 4:39pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

                  "1942"

                  Yeah we really need the moral though police of ancient times. Profanity? Please. Insults? People get insulted over anything.

                  I bet "lewd" and "obscene" as used in that ruling would outlaw a ton of stuff we accept today. Gay people? In public? Kissing?! Not on my watch!

                  I can sort of agree that there needs to be some consequence for systematically attacking someone's reputation in dishonest fashion (exposing the misdeeds of those in power should not count as libel).

                  But like with "fighting words", what you say is really of no consequence - its the action of intentionally smearing someones reputation or causing a ruckus (disorderly conduct) that you should be punished for. Not what came out of your mouth.

                  So yeah, I am aware that different countries implement the idea of free speech differently. But no, it does not make bad laws anything but bad.

                   

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                    Benjo (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 5:22pm

                    The only hatred or violence being stirred up by Stacey...

                    Is that which he is a target of. Made a huge ass out of himself, and is now publicly ridiculed.

                    What's next, the thought police?

                     

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          MondoGordo, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 1:30pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

          the manifestation of Gibsons law ... in under 50 posts ... is that a record ?

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 1:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

          At what point do we draw the line? Thought control?

          If you think moving down this slippery slope is a GOOD idea, you're a moron.

          Did no one else's momma teach them?: "Sticks and stones..."

           

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        Vaughan, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 6:52pm

        Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

        Actually, the US is the only developed country without hate speech laws. At some point, you're the only kid in the yard who doesn't get the rules everyone else plays by.

        If speech incites violence against another or uses their race as the tool to attack them, it shows the speaker isn't intelligent enough to say what try really want to. Otherwise, why not allow fighting words or obscenities too? Why is that line the correct one?

         

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          Chris, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:05am

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

          We're also pretty much the only country that doesn't have government mandated internet blacklists. Should we adopt those too?

          We're not talking about physically attacking them are we? Otherwise that's a pretty loaded use of the word. I mean, if I say you've got bad breath I could be attacking you.

          What if the speaker is trying to make a valid point about another's race?

          I would think the more intelligent person would be the one who has access to the larger vocabulary.

           

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      Chris, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:55am

      Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

      The judge's ruling will probably stir up more racial hatred by far. Is the court room considered a dwelling?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:15am

      Re: I'm not sure everyone understands

      well, then all religions are guilty of this, and anyone else who offends me, need to put them all in jail, you don't have a choice, the law is the law

       

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    simple simon, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    The way they are treating him you would think that he was a "pirate" or something crazy like that...

     

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    MondoGordo, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

    The salient point is the law ... and the law in the UK says

    I'm free to call you a bastard.
    If you are dark skinned the law also says I can't call you a "black bastard" if I'm not also dark skinned, because that's racist.

    The law in the UK is assinine!
    but it's still the law ... :(

     

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      John, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 2:16am

      Re: The salient point is the law ... and the law in the UK says

      Actually... no, under UK law, you cannot call me a bastard publicly if your intention is to cause me distress. If I happen to have been born outside wedlock and you use the word bastard in that sense, then fine, but otherwise no!

      The relevant law is part 4A of the Public Order Act 1986.

      It states:

      (1) A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he— (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.

       

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    JayTee (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

    Racism is bad mmmmkay

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 2:11pm

    Yay, Swansea got mentioned on Techdirt!
    Boo, we don't have free speech in the UK :(
    This is a deeply disturbing precedent.
    Mike nails it with - the proper response to hate speech is more speech telling the speaker they are wrong.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:23am

      Re:

      and your wrong

      he isnt wrong if stating his opinion, which he did, opinions are wrong or right, depending on what your beliefs are

      and alos when they fire back at him, htey are4 also engaging in hate spech,

      hmmm who wins???

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    This just shows the US's general and total lack of understanding of cultures of other nations. Free Speech in something Americans use as a shield to hide behind, and as an excuse to allow hate and racism.

    the 'more speech' masnick is talking about is an example standing up for the rights of someone to be a racist, does not help to reduce racism.. But to increase it.

    He should have been imprisoned for much longer, and banned for like in messinging systems.

     

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      Digitari, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 4:51pm

      Re:

      Just like some of the AC's here??

       

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      Benjo (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 5:30pm

      Re:

      Please continue to repost the same drivel.

      "This just shows the US's general and total lack of understanding of cultures of other nations. Free Speech in something Americans use as a shield to hide behind, and as an excuse to allow hate and racism."

      Is that a fact? We get that you don't like America, but arguments aiming towards eliminating racist speech that are loaded with racism / stereotypes seem fundamentally flawed.

      Your laws do nothing to reduce racism. If the reason you don't say hateful things or discriminate against a particular race is because of fear of legal retribution, you are in fact still racist. Though maybe a more careful racist.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 8:49pm

        Re: Re:

        again, the "US" is NOT a race !!!!! do you not understand that ?

        It is well established that the US has a major problem with Race issues, it's even enshrined in your constitution !!!.

        Your long and proud history of slavory. your hatred for religions that are not christian.. It is not my opinion, it is a sad fact.

        Promoted by people like masnick who takes racism, as "being a jerk" !!

        We have but one 'race' in humans, it's 'the human race', we do not have variation of species of that race. Regardless of how you look or where you are from. We ALL have the same linage.

        Im not a racist, I hate everyone equally!

         

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          Chris, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:12am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It is well established that the US has a major problem with Race issues

          That's only because we are one of the largest and the most racially diverse country in the world.

          Don't be so proud for achieving racial harmony in a small, homogenous country. That's easy.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 3:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          >Im not a racist, I hate everyone equally!

          So THAT's why you come here, darryl.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          lol, the uk has a much longer history of enslaving people and being racist than the US, again, the US is only a handful a countries that makes slavery illegal

          America was not founded on the christian religion

          science has proven we all do not come from the same place
          we have sevearl variations in the species, we are all not the same color, we all do not have the same physical traits


          those are facts

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 5:36pm

      American

      Spoken like a true Commie...China leads the world in locking people up for "speech".

       

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      Chris, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:06am

      Re:

      I find your comment terribly hateful.

       

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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 6:08pm

    Maybe not so separately?

    Separately, even if "everybody" (minus Stacey, clearly) was praying for his life, what does that have to do with anything legally speaking?


    Since the judge decided to make such a statement, perhaps he was more or equally offended by the verbal abuse against people who were purportedly praying for Muamba than the racist bigotry.

     

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    John, Mar 28th, 2012 @ 11:22pm

    Re:

    Well you see, that's the problem right here: deciding that some speech should be punished is arbitrary.


    No, it's not arbitrary at all. It's democracy at work. The constitution, laws, etc. all come directly or indirectly from you 'the people'. It therefore all depends on what you 'the people' find acceptable and what you do not. You mention Switzerland and minarets in your post and I happen to live in Switzerland. You say Switzerland decided to ban minarets, but I'm not sure you realise that it's the 'people of Switzerland' that decided to ban minarets. It was put to a democratic vote, as most controversial issues are in Switzerland. God bless the Swiss.

    And, taking Switzerland again as example: Public racist speech is also in Switzerland a crime and punishable by a maximum prison sentence of three years. (Article 261 of the Swiss "Strafgesetzbuch")

    Again, that is not arbitrary. It was put to a public referendum and voted on by all the Swiss on the 25th of September 1994 and passed with a majority of 55%.

    And by the way, we are not taking about censorship. The very act of publicly speaking your mind is not banned or subject to any form of pre-approval by any authority. There are just consequences if you want to deliberately insult an entire group of people purely based on the colour of their skin. And you know what? There is no place for racism in a decent society and I happen to agree. 55% of my compatriots do too.

     

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      explicit coward (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:38am

      Re: Re:

      "55% of my compatriots do too."

      I wouldn't be so sure about something people voted on nearly 20 years ago. Things have changed since then, and if the vote on Minarets was taken as an indication, I'd bet today the law wouldn't pass the people's vote, no matter what "der Bundesrat" said.

       

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        John, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:56am

        Re: Re: Re:

        I don't agree, explicit coward. The Swiss democrats tried to overturn the law launching a campaign in August 2007, however they failed to obtain the necessary 100,000 signutures in order to put it to a popular vote. (They had 1.5 years time to get enough signatures).

        I doubt the situation has changed much since 2009. So we're only talking 4 years, not 20.

         

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          explicit coward (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 2:33am

          Re: Re: Re: Re:

          I stand corrected.

          Although I think it has more to do with the application of the law than with the law itself. If it was applied more often, people would get tired of it.

           

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    John, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:32am

    Look at the big brain on Chris! Lol. Yep, you got it.

     

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    Chris, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:16am

    Imagine how many people risk being arrested if they travel to the UK.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2012 @ 1:02pm

      Re:

      Presumably vastly less than anyone's risk of being arrested and shackled if they travel to the US. Given that US airports, borders etc are rights free zones, whether of speech or anything else.

       

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    John, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:20am

    Valid point about another's race, Chris? What do you mean? Could you give me an example? Just so we're on the same page, the guy who got jailed said things like: "go suck on an aids-ridden black dick", or things to that effect. You think that he should be able to say things like that publicly and not face any consequences? What if Obama said "if you don't vote for me you can all go suck on Romney's tiny white Mormon dick". Funny line? Yes. Valid exchange of opinion? No. He can say he is principally against Mormonism. He can say that voting for a Mormon is a bad idea. But insulting Mormons as a group like that would be indefensible in my opinion. He can think it if he wishes, and talk about it among his friends if he likes. Should he be jailed for saying it publicly? Maybe not, but if society as a whole deems that he should be jailed for public statements like that, then so be it.

     

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      chris, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:58am

      Re:

      I don't understand the concept of an "invalid opinion".

      I think the social consequences of Obama saying something like that would be punishment enough.

      I realize that this is just democracy in action but I think having some rights protected constitution, outside the reach of the legislature, helps protect against the "tyranny of the majority". Can you not imagine a law that you would object to, even if the majority was for it?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2012 @ 1:33pm

      Re:

      In a sense statements like "go suck on an aids-ridden black dick" can be a lot less about the views and opinions of the person making the statement and more about his view of the recipients views and opinions.
      3 items here
      the belief that a person will be offended by being told to perform oral sex
      a belief that a person would be horrified at the thought of doing so when the other participant has aids
      a belief that a person would be further disgusted if the diseased member belongs to someone of a particular race.

      Perhaps people dislike the portion of racist abuse in this abusive line because they recognise that they respond to it rather than finding it laughable and pathetic.

      Usually when people are attempting to cause offence they go for what they believe the other person will most object to, starting back in the earliest years when small children unhappy or in a rage tell their parent that they "don't love them" as they know it is important to their parent that they do.
      Most parents, thankfully, know that their child is not telling the truth and that such a statement is not of their child's most closely held opinions and beliefs but simply an attempt to win in an emotional verbal tussle, in which the child is outmatched.

      Equally, it is males who believe that their sexual status is ambiguous who are most likely to make derogatory remarks about homosexuals and/or women.

       

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    John, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:24am

    I don't think my comment will pass moderation because of the language I used, so I edited out the offending words below. (Free speech does not even exist on this website either!!)

    Valid point about another's race, Chris? What do you mean? Could you give me an example? Just so we're on the same page, the guy who got jailed said things like: "go s*ck on an aids-ridden bl*ck d*ck", or things to that effect. You think that he should be able to say things like that publicly and not face any consequences? What if Obama said "if you don't vote for me you can all go s*ck on Romney's tiny white M*rmon d*ck". Funny line? Yes. Valid exchange of opinion? No. He can say he is principally against Mormonism. He can say that voting for a Mormon is a bad idea. But insulting Mormons as a group like that would be indefensible in my opinion. He can think it if he wishes, and talk about it among his friends if he likes. Should he be jailed for saying it publicly? Maybe not, but if society as a whole deems that he should be jailed for public statements like that, then so be it.

     

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    khory, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:31am

    The judge should have just sent him over to the Ministry of Love. They will cure his racism in no time.

     

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    Dave, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    Racist

    Here in the UK, I believe we put people in jail (and deservedly so) for making racist comments - not for being an obnoxious jerk, although that naturally follows judging by the guy's comments. I disagree with Mike's view entirely on this and I wonder if he has the full story. It's all down the the racism laws. Nothing to do with free speech. This particular sort of "free speech" just happens to be illegal.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 9:37pm

      Re: Racist

      Ah yes, using your freedom of speech has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Always amusing with people who hate freedom of speech but hide behind supporting freedom of speech "with limitations" - every person on the planet supports freedom of speech "with limitations". You were offended and thinks it's perfectly ok to imprison the person who offended you - you hate freedom of speech and therefore you hate freedom.

      Apparently he appeals and the only acceptable outcome is acquittal. Community service and/or fines are not tolerable tools to stifle freedom of speech. In some ways the people who say this would be better are an even bigger threat to freedom of speech - making free speech a crime but only a "minor" crime so the sheep will swallow the limitation easier and be less prone to react. Free Liam Stacey and free speech.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2012 @ 6:26pm

    As a freedom of speech supporter I'm thinking:
    We all can talk shit about Hitler but we can't talk shit about a football player? LOL

     

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    Hugh Allen, Mar 31st, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    Stacey jail sentence

    I just love the libertarian coming out in people when some poor white boy with a nasty, loud mouth gets banged up. If you are black it happens all the time. But let that go. The general view seems to be that the judge went beyond his remit. I don't think so. A few more judges like that in the 3rd. Reich in the early 1930s and maybe things would have turned out better for everyone than they did.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2012 @ 1:14pm

      Re: Stacey jail sentence

      Knowledge and understanding of history limited.
      Understanding of the difference between inciting racist hatred and being an obnoxious boor utterly absent.

      Hugh really needs to work harder to understand that by the time the 3rd reich existed it was too late to have things turn out better.

      We can hope he meant to say "prior to the 3rd reich", but have no way of knowing if that was his intent.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2012 @ 1:15pm

        Re: Re: Stacey jail sentence

        Postscript:
        Not tolerating speech that you find at odds with your code is the kind of freedom of speech that Goebbels himself would have been fine with.

         

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    joe from tampa, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 10:17am

    freedom of speech

    one 'i hate n1ggers' for every day this patriot is in jail.


    i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers i hate n1ggers


    freedom of speech: we have it in the US, shame for all you brits ;)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2012 @ 7:12am

    Reading it with a bit of distance, what I find problematic is where is the incitement to hatred in the tweets? the words are clearly insulting, but are/were they 1) intended to stir up hatred, 2) and likely to stir up hatred, two legal requirements? I can't see how they are "likely to stir up hatred" when the reactions to the tweets clearly show the opposite if we believe the amount of complaints the police received after the tweets. "incitement to" should not be confused with "expression of hatred". The judge at least should have recognised that..

     

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