How Do You Say 'Twitter Joke Trial' In Chinese?

from the that's-not-funny dept

Techdirt wrote about how the UK's Twitter Joke conviction dragged its slow way through the various appeals before finally being resolved with the defendant's acquittal. As you will recall, the issue was somebody making an ill-advised joke about blowing up an airport if he couldn't fly out of it:

Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!
It's great that Paul Chambers, the person concerned here, finally emerged victorious in his fight against this ridiculous conviction. But of course the danger that a thoughtless joke on Twitter might have serious consequences remains, as this report from The Epoch Times about a recent case in China highlights:
Four days before the [Chinese Communist] Party's 18th Congress, when a new set of Chinese leaders was sworn in to rule China, Zhai Xiaobing mocked the event by suggesting it was the latest installment in the Final Destination film franchise. The 2000 supernatural horror movie depicts a teenager whose plane explodes, killing all but a few survivors, who then begin mysteriously dying.
Here's a translation of what Zhai tweeted (Chinese tweets can contain more content than those written in Western languages because just a few characters can represent a whole word):
Final Destination 6 will be in cinemas on November 6. The Great Hall of the People suddenly collapses, and only seven of the over 2000 people holding a meeting inside survive -- but afterwards, they each die, one by one. Is it the game of God, or the fury of the Grim Reaper? How did the mysterious number 18 unlock the gate of hell? The earthshaking world premier opens on November 8!
Obviously, not exactly a rib-tickler, and rather unwise given the extreme sensitivity of the Chinese authorities about this crucial handover of power. But even against that background, the response seems to be unduly severe: arrested and "disappeared".
Zhai had been accused of "spreading false and terrorist information," and was taken away by security forces, according to netizen @iamhudi who called Zhai's wife. The fact that he has been disappeared was later corroborated by two other individuals who visited the family's house, according to Yaxue Cao, a writer and blogger who maintains contacts in China.
Worryingly, people have also lost contact with his wife, although it's not yet clear whether she has been arrested too. Zhai's friends, and supporters of a more liberal approach to Chinese state control of online activities, are doing what they can, which is pretty much limited to online petitions. The precedent for what might happen to him isn't good. As The Epoch Times story explains:
The first "Twitter criminal," as she was called, was Wang Yi, an activist who in 2010 mocked hypernationalist young people with the tweet "Angry youth, charge!"

This was determined to be a case of "disturbing social order." The punishment? One year of re-education in the Henan Women's Labor Camp.
Perhaps Zhai's best hope is that the new Chinese leadership might decide to be lenient in this matter so as to create a positive atmosphere among the Chinese people for the start of its ten-year rule over them. Equally, it might not want to sour relationships with the West through imposing a harsh punishment for such a trivial matter, although that is less likely to be a consideration given China's rising self-confidence. Whatever the reason, let's hope the outcome of this Chinese Twitter joke story is ultimately the same as that in the UK.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 27th, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    Put on trial for being a dick.

    If that is the case, I should have been locked up years ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    Re:

    Hold on, stop for a second

    You think an actual trial was involved?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re:

    It all depends on your definition of trial.
    I am sure he had a trial by their standards.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    If he floats, he's a witch?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    the trouble with ridiculous court rulings in supposedly democratic countries is that when they are given in other, non-democratic countries, what excuse can be used to condemn the action? add to that that there are more and more of these type of rulings occurring, particularly in the UK (like the guy who was given 4 years for running a linking site and then given an extra month in prison for being 'arrogant'), how can complaints be justified?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:29pm

    Poking the Masnick Bear...

    .

    Angry Techdirters, charge!

    .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:38pm

    By the way

    To answer the question "How Do You Say 'Twitter Joke Trial' In Chinese?"

    Twitter的笑话试用

    According to Google Translate

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Angry Mob, Member #3, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A WITCH!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:44pm

    Chinese With No Humour

    As opposed to a free democracy, like the USA, where joking about blowing up the president would be treated for the humourous jest it is, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:45pm

    Does China even have a word for "trial?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:48pm

    Re: By the way

    Sounds about right, though the context of "trial" in those Chinese characters means "trial" as in "trial run".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If he's yellow, let him mellow if he's brown flush him down

    /you racist

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 2:39pm

    Obviously, not exactly a rib-tickler...

    Glyn, I respectfully disagree. There is nothing like the constant pressure of living under a repressive regime to give this kind of sly parody a lot of emotional power for those affected.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    The Real Michael, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 3:25pm

    The Chinese government has a long history of whisking people away, never to be seen again.

    I'd like to see popular Chinese figures address this disturbing issue, but I doubt anyone will. Such is the true form of terrorism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 8:10pm

    Dear China,

    Please stop giving our government ideas.

    Sincerely,
    Someone from the US

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Just John (profile), Nov 27th, 2012 @ 9:51pm

    Re: By the way

    There is no directly translation, since they are unfamiliar with this, but, approximately what they would say would be:
    你被逮捕了,因為在推特上 ;面說了一個笑話
    Which means: Arrested for tweeting a joke (They are a little more literal here).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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