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UK Man Arrested For Offensive Joke Posted On Facebook 606

Posted by timothy
from the you've-got-to-be-not-joking dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A tasteless joke posted on Facebook saw a man arrested in the UK under section 127 of the Communications Act, for sending a public electronic communication which is 'grossly offensive'. Matthew Wood, 20, of Eaves Lane, Chorley, UK will appear before Chorley Magistrates' Court on Monday."
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UK Man Arrested For Offensive Joke Posted On Facebook

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  • The joke in question (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sprite_tm (1094071) * on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:30AM (#41582347)

    FYI: According to the internet, the joke in question was:
    'What's the difference between Mark Bridger and Santa Claus? Mark Bridger comes in April.' ...yeah.

  • Re:context (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:44AM (#41582391)

    For further context, the exact same joke has been posted on Sickipedia about a hundred times in the last week, with no arrests. People go to Sickipedia expecting to see such jokes, so in that context it cannot be considered "grossly offensive".

    But this guy posted it on the offical Find April Jones Facebook page. Thus, it might be considered directed at the victims, and is hence a breach of criminal law.

  • Re:context (Score:5, Informative)

    by s7uar7 (746699) on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:28AM (#41582593) Homepage
    That's apparently not what happened. This guy posted the joke on his own wall; someone else took a screen grab of it and posted it on the April Jones page.
  • Some background ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:42AM (#41582659) Journal

    Sick, but that would be civil case.

    For those who don't know why the joke is sick, below link will provide you some background ...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-19867915 [bbc.co.uk]

     
     

     
     

  • by agentgonzo (1026204) on Monday October 08, 2012 @06:12AM (#41582829)

    Because who decides what is too offensive? The government?

    If you actually want the answer to this question, then it's "the courts of law" (I'm sure that there is a specific one to deal with this, but I don't know enough about the system). The law courts are deliberately NOT answerable to the government to prevent interference from the current incumbents.

  • by psiclops (1011105) on Monday October 08, 2012 @06:12AM (#41582831)

    context would be nice.

    The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt – it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” The future must not belong to those who bully women – it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons. The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country’s resources – it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs; workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the men and women that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support.

    The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied..

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Monday October 08, 2012 @07:33AM (#41583291) Homepage

    Because it is deliberately taken out of context:

    The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt â" it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted "Muslims, Christians, we are one." The future must not belong to those who bully women â" it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons. The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country's resources â" it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs; workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the men and women that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support.

    The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims. It is time to heed the words of Gandhi: "Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit." Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies, and that is the vision we will support.

    Obama could have picked his words a little better, but in the context of saying Christians and Muslims in certain parts of the world should get along and that means Christians not slandering Mohammed it makes sense. In the US freedom of speech would always allow it, but Obama clearly recognizes that the middle east is a rather different place and a different solution is needed to bring about peace.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Monday October 08, 2012 @07:41AM (#41583349)

    Someone pointed out elsewhere:

    "That's apparently not what happened. This guy posted the joke on his own wall; someone else took a screen grab of it and posted it on the April Jones page."

    He didn't write that joke on the page for the victims. someone else did but with a screenshot of his personal page.

    Probably reposted to the page by an offense junkie who gets off on showing off things they think people should be offended by.

  • Re:Oh dear ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by GeorgeRidout (708610) on Monday October 08, 2012 @08:03AM (#41583513)
    This 'joke' was posted on the official 'Find April' Facebook wall, where local people & family were coordinating searches, not just on his own wall. That's why it's being prosecuted.
  • Re:Oh dear ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Custard Horse (1527495) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:09AM (#41583985)

    It was in poor taste generally but particularly poor taste given that it was on *that* particular facebook wall.

    On the grounds that the poster must have intended to cause upset and distress, he is likely to be found guilty under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

    Section 127 provides that it would be an offence (and thereby means that a person can be arrested, charged, convicted, sentenced, and obtain a criminal record) if a person sends "a message or other matter" which is "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character" by means of a "public electronic communications network". (Description from here) [newstatesman.com]

    I agree with free speech but only in the case of your own liberty or the liberty of others. Making a callous joke directly to the people who have lost a child whose fate is as yet undetermined is *not* a case of free speech.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:22AM (#41584147)

    This 'joke' was posted on a facebook page dedicated to the search for (now the body) of this little girl.

    But not, according to reports, by the accused. He posted it on his own page.

  • Re:Oh dear ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by isorox (205688) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:39AM (#41585917) Homepage Journal

    I suppose technically it could be slander, given that he's not been found guilty by a jury of his peers.

    He hasn't even been accused of rape. Just abduction, murder, and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

    In the court of public opinion he's already been tried and sentenced. His life is over, even if they find her alive and well and staying with a friend.

    I note that Matthew Woods (who made the original facebook "joke") has now been jailed for 3 months [bbc.co.uk].

"Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished." -- Goethe

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