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UK Twitter Users Declare 'I'm Spartacus' 213

Posted by timothy
from the this-campaign-can't-bomb dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tweeters have joined forces to support Paul Chambers, the man convicted and fined for a Twitter message threatening to blow up an airport. A so-called 'I'm Spartacus' campaign encouraging users to 're-tweet' his words has also become a huge hit. The hashtag #IAmSpartacus is currently the number one trending topic on Twitter in the UK, with #twitterjoketrial in second place. Chambers is believed to be the first person convicted in the UK for posting an offensive tweet. After the hearing, actor and Twitter fan Stephen Fry tweeted that he would pay Chambers' fine. Comedian Dara O'Briain tweeted that the verdict was 'ludicrous' while Peep Show actor David Mitchell said it was 'punishment for flippancy.'" I suspect not as many people will re-tweet on behalf of Garreth Compton.
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UK Twitter Users Declare 'I'm Spartacus'

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  • Why Spartacus? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2010 @07:55AM (#34214868)

    For those wondering, from TFA:

    The I'm Spartacus campaign is inspired by the famous scene in the 1960s blockbuster, when slaves stood up one by one to claim "I'm Spartacus" in order to save their fellow gladiator from detection.

    • Eheh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @09:03AM (#34215052) Journal

      And in the NEXT shot it shows each and everyone of them killed... somehow people always forget this.

      Also, is it just me or is there a difference between a man who fought against slavery and a man who made a bomb treath for no reason?

      • Re:Eheh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @09:33AM (#34215160) Journal

        I'm fairly sure that the whole point at issue is that it was clearly absurd and therefore not a bomb threat.
        I did a back-of-the envelope calculation last night:
        Knowing that the runway is 2.88km long and 60m wide,
        assuming that it's 0.5m deep, and has a density about equal to that of concrete,
        and assuming 'sky-high' means the cruising altitude of a 747.

        You would need the energy equivalaent of nearly 5000 tons of TNT just to overcome gravity in blowing just the runway 'sky-high'.

        I doubt even the armed forces could pull that much explosive together in a week, let alone place it under an airport.

        In conclusion, the 'threat' is absurd, and therefore isn't actually a threat. Or do we only read it literally and out of context when it's to the advantage of the prosecution?

        • >>>Or do we only read it literally and out of context when it's to the advantage of the [government]?

          Fixed that for you. This is about leaders wanting control over the commoners..... no different than how it was in 1500. Different society of course but still the same root motivation - tyranny.

          ----- BTW a bomb threat in the US is not a crime. It's protected speech. However if your basement is filled with explosive material, then yes you'd be in jail. Since this Twitter Guy did not have a basem

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by internewt (640704)

            >>>Or do we only read it literally and out of context when it's to the advantage of the [government]?

            Fixed that for you. This is about leaders wanting control over the commoners..... no different than how it was in 1500. Different society of course but still the same root motivation - tyranny.

            It isn't just leaders, it is anyone who wants to "win" an argument, and doesn't care how they do it. Or is lacking logic and reasoning skills, and doesn't realise what they are doing.

            We see similar quite frequently on /.: someone will make a statement, and then someone will seemingly take the statement totally out of context. Which is very likely to distract others from the point initially being made, or make the original statement seem incorrect.

            It happens in the media very frequently, and even more so in

        • by metamatic (202216)
          I decided to make my threat even more absurd [twitter.com].
      • by khallow (566160)

        Also, is it just me or is there a difference between a man who fought against slavery and a man who made a bomb treath for no reason?

        Who made a bomb threat? There's no indication that the tweeter intended his words be treated as a bomb threat, but was just mouthing off to his readers. As for a reason [bbc.co.uk],

        Paul Chambers, 26, said he acted in frustration after Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire was closed by snow.

        • >>>Paul Chambers, 26, said he acted in frustration after Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire was closed by snow.

          Unbelievable. He's not a criminal - just a person who was angry. But of course this isn't about Mr.Chambers or protection of other citizens. This is about *setting an example* to demonstrate by the leaders to the commoners that free speech will not be tolerated. They are training us to be sheep! To be submissive and silent and well-behaved "or else you could end up like Paul Chambe

      • by Pichu0102 (916292)

        So you shouldn't stand with someone if you think all of you will be punished?

      • by u38cg (607297)

        And in the NEXT shot it shows each and everyone of them killed... somehow people always forget this.

        Which is rather the point, is it not? If what Chambers did was wrong, then all the re-tweeters should be punished. Somehow I think that might just show up the stupidity of the original prosecution - which was not a bomb threat. It was a stupid joke. A stern talking-to would be one thing: bending the machinery of the state over it is just wrong.

    • I mean... I'd somehow understand if it was "I'm Jack the Ripper". But Spartacus?

      What would have happened had they referred to... say... "A Tale of Two Cities"? Or "Les Misérables"?
      Would The Internet collapse or just the Twitter?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RealGrouchy (943109)

      Ah, the good old days: when memes came from well-produced blockbuster films, not some annoying teenager with a webcam.

      - RG>

  • Why get hot and bothered about something when you can make a mockery of it?

    It is usually more effective too.
    • by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:12AM (#34214916)
      It is more effective. The judge's ruling was based on the idea that an "ordinary person" would not recognize the joke, take it seriously, and be terrified. The point of this campaign is to demonstrate that that's nonsense.
      • by Ga_101 (755815)
        I couldn't agree more. I just wish there was an effective way to mock other issues in such a decisive way.
      • by orbweaver (1936012) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @09:07AM (#34215058)

        It is more effective. The judge's ruling was based on the idea that an "ordinary person" would not recognize the joke, take it seriously, and be terrified. The point of this campaign is to demonstrate that that's nonsense.

        Not only that, but the campaign potentially puts law enforcement in a quandary. They can either arrest, charge and convict hundreds of people (including several popular celebrities) for posting a line of trivial text that harms precisely nobody, or have Paul Chambers' lawyers demand that they explain why they are applying the law selectively and unfairly.

        That's one of the biggest problems with taking speech crime this far: it becomes utterly trivial for an angry population to effectively DDOS the enforcement of it.

      • Here [youtube.com] is how the "ordinary person" reacts to terrorisim in the UK.
  • Those same idiots will scream even louder when someone really does blow up something and the cops ignored it because of these protests.

    Actually, I don't think cops are that dumb... But if they were, that's how it would go.

    • Re:Idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MonsterOfTheLake (880659) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:27AM (#34214970) Homepage

      Those same idiots will scream even louder when someone really does blow up something and the cops ignored it because of these protests.

      Actually, I don't think cops are that dumb... But if they were, that's how it would go.

      Yes, because terrorists have a real tendency to tweet about the attacks they're going to commit.

    • Re:Idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

      by t0p (1154575) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:34AM (#34214978) Homepage
      So do terrorists generally issue bomb warnings over Twitter? I don't think so; the police (in their saner moments) don't think so; and the judge in question probably doesn't even know what Twitter is.
      • Re:Idiots (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Tukz (664339) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:57AM (#34215036) Journal

        Maybe not twitter, but people have announced terror acts on the internet before, prior to doing it.
        That got ignored to and behold, a school got slaughtered.

        Not saying we should act on every little internet post, but there has to be a line somewhere of what you can post.
        I have not read said "threat", but a threat to bomb an airport does sound like the kind of thing law enforcement should consider.

        I think a slap on the wrist and maybe a small fine is in order.
        Just to tell the public "think before posting".

        • by JustOK (667959)

          think before reacting would be better advice. Applies to both sides.

          • Yeah. Probably something that should have been handled by a chat with Chambers, but then the police are going to be pretty busy if they follow-up on such things.

            After traveling through Heathrow Terminal 5 I made similar comments, but said that I planned to first buy the terminal. Presumably that'd be okay, since by that point I'd be blowing up my own personal property.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Nemyst (1383049)
          Until you have read the tweet, you can't honestly say anything. Seriously, just read the damn thing and you'll understand how idiotic this is:

          "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"

          It's obvious that it isn't a threat, it's obviously said by an angry person over missing his flight and I honestly am totally stunned by how this thing blew out of proportions.
      • by arivanov (12034)

        In the UK? Not twitter, but phone - yes.

        The IRA usually warned the police that they are going to blow up something to avoid collateral damage casualties.

        If those bombs were happening today I would not be suprised if they were tweeted instead of phoned-in.

        IRA however is a strange exemption to the overall "rules" of terrorism. Most of today's terrorists would go for the opposite - to kill as many bystanders as possible.

      • by isorox (205688)

        So do terrorists generally issue bomb warnings over Twitter?

        No, but in the good old days the American funded terrorists from Ireland used to phone up newspapers/samaritans/etc to warn of bombs before they blew kids to bits. They occasionally got the location right too.

    • Don't be so sure... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ga_101 (755815) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:39AM (#34214984)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Manchester_bombing [wikipedia.org]

      Most Mancunians I've spoken to say it was the best thing to happen to their city center.
      • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @09:31AM (#34215148)

        Note the important part ; the IRA rang the local TV studio, giving a warning and codeword.

        IRA codewords were typically established by issuing a prior warning for an act of terrorism in conjunction with the codeword. The same word could then be used to claim responsibility for other acts, either before or after they occurred (although "before" obviously generates more credence).

        If it was the modern era, I'd probably sign my communiques using a public key known to be associated with terrorist acts ; much more secure.

        All said and done, they probably wouldn't use Twitter, even if GCHQ has a 250,000 strong server farm scraping it, along with all the other social networks. They'd probably send their communiques straight to people that they know can disseminate the information rapidly. But they do announce their atrocities in advance, because it's the only sure way that they will be getting credit for it.

        • by DaveGod (703167)

          But they do announce their atrocities in advance, because it's the only sure way that they will be getting credit for it.

          The primary reason was PR. Killing innocent folk did not achieve their goals. The Omagh bombing was a notable disaster for the IRA. They could not get a parking spot by the planned target then gave multiple confused warnings. The police then unwittingly ushered people towards the bomb. The resulting atrocity was a major factor in the success of the Peace Process.

    • Not the issue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by orbweaver (1936012) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @09:13AM (#34215082)

      Those same idiots will scream even louder when someone really does blow up something and the cops ignored it because of these protests.

      That's not the issue. The complaint is not that the police investigated the tweet; this might well be argued to fall under due diligence. The complaint is that they investigated it, discovered it to be totally harmless, and still brought the full force of the law to bear on the tweeter simply for the hell of it.

      • Yeah. This is the kind of thing that should have been settled with a chat, or even ignored. The context of the message strongly suggests a frustrated traveler - not some nutter who'll be running a van full of fertiliser through the airport terminal.

  • by fluch (126140)

    Such kind of failed appeals makes me want to bom.... %$!%$$*&! CARRIER LOST.

  • 1943 called.

    The Nazis want their laws back.

  • by x_IamSpartacus_x (1232932) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:42AM (#34214992)
    I am Spartacus!


    ...other people need to knock that off
  • by radio4fan (304271) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:44AM (#34215000)

    The Human Rights Act 1998 [statutelaw.gov.uk] guarantees freedom of expression in article 10.1:

    Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

    ... and then takes away the protection on the contentious speech that might actually need protecting in 10.2:

    The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

    • by mog007 (677810)

      "Territorial integrity"? Does that mean it's illegal for people to protest about getting Scotland's independence while they're in London?

      I think the Brits should try adopting something a little easier to remember. Something like "The Parliament shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech." We've got a similar sort of thing in the US, and it seems to be doing well.

      • by bhtooefr (649901)

        Except our lawmakers and courts simply make up the second bit about what doesn't constitute free speech as they go.

      • "Territorial integrity"? Does that mean it's illegal for people to protest about getting Scotland's independence while they're in London?

        Nope, it means that if you shout too strongly near the white cliffs and a pebble falls off, you get beheaded.

    • yes, more mess. Since we won't get a definitive answer (that anyone will believe) as to whether the get-out clause applies until it gets to Strasbourg, all the human rights act does is put 5 or 6 layers of British courts between this chap and that definitive answer.

  • Everyone knows that the first place you look for hints of where terrorists will strike is TWITTER!

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @09:18AM (#34215100) Journal

    Gosh I am paranoid but somehow I just always keep looking for what is MISSING from a story. So why the bomb threat? Which is by the way illegal. Why did he threathen people who had no way of knowing whether he was serious or not?

    Some of the highschool shootings had the criminals making claims they would do something as well. So clearly the police now HAS to act when someone makes a public threath.

    Yet many a slashdotter is saying that terrorists wouldn't use twitter to announce it? How small minded, only terrorists use bombs now? Only terrorists carry out attacks? Plenty of nutters do as well AND some of them make announcements about it. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_17_112/ai_n27436671/ [findarticles.com]

    If only then people had listened. How is the police to know if someone is just spouting off or making a serious threat? Damned if they do nothing, damned if they do something.

    But the law is very clear, you are not allowed to make threats, no not even as a joke. Just try this at an airport "he got a bomb" and see what happens. But I wasn't serious? Tell that to the police dog chewing on your crotch.

    Should the police have ignored the threat, like they ignored others that did turn out to be right? Or just put a fullscale alert on the airport just in case and let the taxpayer pay for it?

    This story is just more evidence of the sad state of our voting population who just doesn't seem to be aware of the real world and its rules. If you do not like them vote to change them but don't go into some kind of hissy fit when long established laws end up biting you in the ass.

    It reminds me of a story years ago when the british press went into sob story mode about a mum whose driving license was taking away and she needed it so badly... yeah... those anti-drunk driving laws sure do suck don't they. Guess what, freedom of speech does not exist in the UK, stop being suprised by it constantly and either change the law (and invite anarchy) or learn to accept that bomb threats are not allowed.

    Real story: Asshole who wanted to show off got send to jail for breaking the law. Fellow assholes outraged that breaking the law is not allowed!

    Really, this guy wasn't making a political statement, this was just someone wanting to scare others because his penis is to small. And before you get all outraged, answer me this. WHY did he send this message out into the world? When THAT reason gets reported I think his public sympathy outside wanker land will be lost instantly.

    • by lga (172042) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @09:45AM (#34215194) Homepage Journal

      He didn't send this to the world. He sent this to his Twitter followers, who are not stupid enough to think that a hyperbolic joke is actually a real threat . It just happened to be visible to other people if they took the time to look for it. Maybe if you read the details you might realise that the airport saw it, and deemed it not a threat. The police investigated and recognised that this was not a threat. The CPS and the Judges, however, threw the book at him and prosecuted under an antique law that should not even apply.

      This tweet was clearly not a real threat, and anyone with half a brain can recognise that, apart from judges. And you.

      • by Cederic (9623)

        prosecuted under an antique law that should not even apply.

        A 2003 law is hardly antique. It probably should apply. I just don't think his statement transgressed it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by lga (172042)

          The Communications Act 2003 contained parts of a 1930s law aimed at stopping obscene phone calls made to telephone operators. Definitely not aimed at bomb threats, jokes, or any medium other than 1 to 1 telephone calls.

          • by Cederic (9623)

            I don't think it's unreasonable to update an old communications decency law to include new communications mechanisms, or to provide protection to people from excessive harassment.

            I think it's not inappropriate to consider whether the law applies to the statement made. Approximately 8 tenths of a second later the policeman involved can focus his efforts on real crimes.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by lga (172042)

              The same law also makes it a criminal offence to lie on the internet or over the phone in order to wind someone up, or to be indecent or obscene. I guess all those sex phone lines are illegal. And any crude comments on facebook or twitter.

              I'm not making this up, read it for yourself here.
              http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/section/127 [legislation.gov.uk]

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Who pays for the airport to determine if it is a threat? Who pays for the police to investigate and determine if it is a threat? The taxpayers of the UK. If you utter what could be a threat that costs money to verify that it is not a threat then you deserve to be fined for doing it. Paul Chambers caused the police to waste time and money investigating his stupidity instead of doing productive work.

        As another poster stated, would you want to be the security official who ignored the tweet if the airport had b

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by lga (172042)

          Airport security did see the tweet, (via a random search by an off duty staff member.) and rated it as "No credible threat"

    • Just try this at an airport "he got a bomb" and see what happens.

      This incitement to mass terrorism is much worse than what Chambers wrote. Since you feel so strongly about the law, you should turn yourself in and serve a decade or two in prison.

    • by horza (87255)

      It was a joke. Everybody but you and the judge knows it is a joke. And you are both retarded. It would be a pretty prima donna terrorist that would say "I will blow up the airport, but only if my flight is delayed or cancelled this weekend". The district judge Jonathan Bennett has obviously poorly qualified counselors advising him as he really messed things up on this one.

      Phillip.

  • uh (Score:3, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @10:00AM (#34215252) Journal

    uh, HE's Spartacus. I'm not. I'm Biggus Dickus.

  • no win scenario (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hort_wort (1401963) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @10:15AM (#34215310)

    Scenario 1.) Airport gets bombed and people are angry. "What?! He tweeted about it, why didn't anyone pay attention to him!?!"

    Scenario 2.) Man is investigated, found innocent, taxes are raised to pay for it, and people are angry. "What?! Why was this investigated?! Waste of my money!"

    Scenario 3.) Man is investigated, found innocent, individually fined to pay for it, and people are angry. "What?! His rights were violated! Defend the tweeter against The Man!!"

    • Re:no win scenario (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @12:35PM (#34215890)

      I think you've missed out a few possible scenarios - how about this one:

      Scenario 4) Police receive report of bomb threat on twitter, send a couple of local uniforms to chat with the guy, check his house isn't full of bomb equipment, and let him know his joke was in bad taste and freedom to say what you like in public comes with certain responsibilities. That's vastly different to what they did, and would not be a huge waste of money.

      Instead they wasted lots of public money on a trivial event. I can see what they thought they were doing - public threats of death or terrorism are not acceptable even in an open society - but this was just a waste of everyone's time and money.

      As to the councillor who made a tasteless joke about stoning (in response to another politician saying we had no right to comment on it, given Iraq), that's a more difficult issue as it is closer to a credible incitement/threat without context. This was obviously a joke.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jklovanc (1603149)

        And while the two cops are "investigating" the 'joke' they are not investigating real crime. Have that happen enough and there could be a real issue. How about another scenario.

        Scenario 6) Man is investigated, found guilty, individually fined a reasonable amount. Case get publicized. Fewer 'jokes" that need to be investigated get Tweeted. Fewer policemen get sent on wild goose chases. More real crime get investigated.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Uniforms spend a lot of their time investigating this sort of unimportant crime, it comes with the territory. Personally I'm happy with the tradeoff in time/expense if they simply talk to people like this (after all they may really be a nutcase, in which case it was worth investigating), but not happy with them spending public money taking him before a magistrate when it was simply a tasteless joke. It does seem very unlikely to be a real threat.

          I sincerely doubt prosecuting him has made others do anything

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