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UK Politician Arrested Over Twitter 'Stoning Joke' 422

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-how-you-tweet dept.
History's Coming To writes "The BBC is reporting that a Tory city councillor has been arrested over a 'joke' he posted to Twitter suggesting that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a UK based writer, be stoned to death. The full tweet read, 'Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really.' Following complaints he was arrested under the Communications Act 2003 and bailed. He has since apologized. This comes on the same day that a conviction for a Twitter 'joke' about blowing up an airport was upheld."
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UK Politician Arrested Over Twitter 'Stoning Joke'

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  • Re:Asshat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:30PM (#34198854)
    Inciting violence?

    All he asked was a rhetorical question. Many times, I've asked if it were possible to have someone flogged like in the old British Navy and no one takes it seriously. Has asked if she could be stoned - NOT shot; not beaten to death with a cricket bat; but stoned, as in an old fashioned fantasy sort of way.

    The real morons here are the folks who are taking this seriously.

  • Re:Asshat (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:37PM (#34198952)

    asked if she could be stoned - NOT shot; not beaten to death with a cricket bat; but stoned, as in an old fashioned fantasy sort of way.

    s/n old fashioned fantasy/ current, 3000 mile to the southeast/

  • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Malenfrant (781088) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:42PM (#34199012)
    The UK government have already instilled this fear. If an islamic man had posted that about a white woman, you can guarantee he would be arrested, charged and convicted for it. Similar has already happened. If this councillor gets away with it it'll be yet another case of hypocrisy from our corrupt government.
  • Re:Asshat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChipMonk (711367) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:43PM (#34199020) Journal
    Okay, how about if someone does say so-and-so should be shot? Paul Kanjorski said it of Rick Scott [thetimes-tribune.com]:

    "That Scott down there that's running for governor of Florida," Mr. Kanjorski said. "Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him..."

    Yes, I excerpted the quote. Read the entire quote, and make sure to keep reading what's after the quote.

    So, should Paul Kanjorski be arrested for inciting violence? Or do any words qualify for you as "rhetorical" after they're said?

  • by Calibax (151875) * on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:47PM (#34199072)

    Both the twitter posts cited in the article are jokes in poor taste by frustrated people, but are they evidence of intent to kill someone or blow up a plane? People bent on that sort of act rarely advertise their intent on some public media.

    What's next? Being prosecuted for threatening to kill someone's character in World of Warcraft?

    When I was a cop there were dozens of times that angry and/or frustrated people made comments (to me or to others) like "I'll kill you" or "You're dead if you do that again" or something similar. You have to make allowances for frustration and understand it's only human nature to make threats. Of course, it's different if you think they might actually do what they say, but that's not the usual case - people who are going to attack you just do it, they don't threaten first.

    The difference is that on twitter (indeed, the internet in general) there's a permanent record. That plus a stupid/malicious prosecutor plus a judge who doesn't understand human nature is a recipe for damn stupid legal decisions.

  • Re:Asshat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:48PM (#34199092)

    Actually it sounds like an appropriate response to her column then. She should be stoned. After all, she apparently thinks it's okay. Oh...I missed the part where she thinks it's okay for "others" to be stoned. Sorry 'bout that!

  • Re:Stupid (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:55PM (#34199152)

    This is somewhat ridiculous. I know its not the US, so the laws are different, but who really cares if this man says something like that, as long as he doesn't follow through with it. If I were him I would not apologize.

    The US' version of "free speech" isn't all that free, either. Despite direct prohibition against any such laws in our constitution, the legislature has insisted on implementing primitive libel and slander laws, as well as others that directly restrict speech. Speech does no harm. The listener must take action for harm to occur, and the responsibility for such action is with the taker of action. All you get when you restrict speech is an inability to know what people think and a culture of repression. And if that weren't enough, we've got a layer of "politically correct" social battery on top of the legal system, where saying what you think can, if not politically correct, lose you your job or worse.

    Much of the attitude about speech being harmful - as opposed to placing the responsibility for actions on the listener's side - stems from the ideas that people must be protected from hearing unpleasant things; that they cannot discern idiocy, untruth, and data-free claims; that they cannot be trusted to act correctly when faced with exhortation or even simple insult. This is evidence of a complete failure to produce an educated, thinking populace, and further, of failure to intelligently discriminate between ideas and action. The correct answer is to look to regulating action; not speech.

    A classic example is the "you can't shout fire in a crowded theater" idea. If someone shouts fire, no harm is done. If there is a fire, you should get out; quickly, orderly, carefully. We were all taught this in school; the principal or someone pulled the fire alarm, we all filed outside in an orderly fashion. If one child had trampled another, that child - not the person who shouted fire - would have been (correctly) admonished for their harmful action. Likewise, in the theater, fire or no fire, the only non-fire-related harm consequent to the announcement of fire comes from the actions of the listeners. If there is no fire, then the most you may have is an interrupted movie or play. Essentially a fire drill. Good practice, frankly. Certainly not an event that justifies repression of speech. In order to ensure the highest order of public safety, you should be free to announce fire at the earliest possible opportunity, not in fear that the smoke or combustion products you smell come from a controlled source. If you're wrong under the current laws, you could go to jail - this directly creates an unsafe condition. Finally, if there is any legitimate fear of citizens trampling one another, then obviously regular fire dills are called for to train them out of such behaviors before they screw up an evacuation under pressure of real danger.

    Repressing speech also has disagreeable consequences such as creating individuals and groups who have unpopular opinions no one knows about; these opinions can range from absolutely correct ideas about social change and justice, to festering pockets of prejudice, misogyny, and worse. A person informed about another's state of mind is much better off than one who is not, particularly in the case where unfriendly intent is involved. Another consequence of repressing speech - either by law or via popular pressure - is that minority groups can end up muzzled or crippled with regard to expressing their views.

  • by bigrockpeltr (1752472) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @04:02PM (#34200036)

    Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death?

    is NOT asking if anyone is capable. It is asking someone to DO it.
    its like saying: can someone please take out the garbage.
    and regardless making threats about people lives in public jokingly or otherwise is a definate no-no.
    people are prosecuted for saying much less potentially dangerous remarks. e.g. libel and defamtion of character neither of which are usually related with loss of life.

  • Flipped? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ender_Wiggin (180793) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @04:06PM (#34200082)

    Pretend for a moment that a Muslim posted on Twitter that a UK politician should be stoned to death. Considering the attempted murder of a MP recently and the UK removing YouTube videos, I'm sure that they'd get arrested. I doubt slashdotters would stand up for him in the same manner as they're doing for this jerk.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @07:11PM (#34202054) Journal

    >>>In the USA said person could go to jail for life if somebody read the request and actually granted it.

    No they wouldn't. Look at members of the KKK who routinely say blacks should be lynched, but they never get arrested for it, even after the act happens. The speech remains protected, and the KKK person would only be arrested if he assisted in the crime.

  • Epic Fail (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @08:40PM (#34202716) Homepage

    "No they wouldn't. Look at members of the KKK who routinely say blacks should be lynched, but they never get arrested for it, even after the act happens."

    The statement of an opinion: "Blacks should be lynched" is protected by the first amendment. The request "would someone please lynch [name of black person]" is not a statement, and is not protected by the First Amendment.

  • by fishexe (168879) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:36PM (#34203738) Homepage

    The joke is that the woman who he "said should be stoned" said that no British politician should be able to complain about stoning in Muslim countries, because Muslim culture allows for stoning. He then "said she should be stoned." The implication here is that she has no right to complain about him wanting to have someone stoned.

    Dude...that's so meta...I think you just blew my mind. It's like when the Offspring sold T-shirts with the Napster logo on them, and Napster sued them for copyright infringement.

  • Re:Asshat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday November 12, 2010 @06:26AM (#34205074) Journal
    Why do you find saying she should be stoned to death funny?

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley

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