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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 @03:30AM (#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.

    • by Pecisk (688001)

      Sick, but that would be civil case.

      • Some background ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:42AM (#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 Viol8 (599362) on Monday October 08, 2012 @06:08AM (#41583133)

          I've sen just as bad taste jokes about dead celebs, shuttle astronauts and so on. Yes they're tasteless , no they're not funny, but since when did having a bad sense of uhmour become an arrestable offense?

          Get a sense of perspective and give it a rest with the think of the children routine.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)

            If you look at the Middle Ages we had a terrible problem with witchcraft. The way we handled that was using a lightweight and ad hoc system of roving prosecutors, ie Witchfinders General.

            Now we have a problem with paedophilia, exemplified by this joke. I think we need some sort of Paedofinder General.

        • Ohhhhhh.

          That context helps. As much as I'm free speech and all that, I can't say I feel bad for the guy. That was an awful awful 'joke.'

    • by Spad (470073) <slashdot@spad.YEATSco.uk minus poet> on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:46AM (#41582403) Homepage

      Yes, it's offensive and no, it's not particularly funny, but the police are starting to take the piss a little now with these charges.

      Saying things that people don't like should not be a crime with the exception of those that are explicitly inciting others to commit crimes.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        The police's job is to investigate and make an arrest on the basis of law. It's for the Crown Prosecution Service to determine if the case should then be prosecuted and their determination would be made on a) whether its in the public interest to prosecute, and b) whether there is sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. The police don't pick and choose what laws they wish to follow although they or the CPS may choose to issue a caution or penalty for a minor crime.
    • by Smauler (915644) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:54AM (#41582437)

      This goes to show how pointless prosecuting this guy is - the Streisand effect ensures that the law is worse than counterproductive, it's actively resulting in what the law was trying to do, which is prevent these kinds of jokes being made on the internet (which is a bit of a stupid fucking law, IMO). If I repeat it, will I be arrested too (yes I am a UK national)? If not, why not?

      Only one way to find out...

      What's the difference between Mark Bridger and Santa Claus? Mark Bridger comes in April.

      • by robably (1044462) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:53AM (#41582729) Journal
        It's not counterproductive as they see it. They want you, the public, to know that if they want to get you they will get you. They are being bullies, not custodians of the law. They already got their intended chilling effect by making an example of this guy, and now everyone will be a little more nervous about what they post online - they don't need to prosecute you as well. But they might, and if a law is being applied selectively it should not be applied at all.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Zemran (3101)

      It is a sick joke but a smack in the mouth would be a more appropriate response...

      • by Sique (173459)

        This would be an "cruel and unusual punishment" and thus not allowed. If done anyway, it would amount to grievous bodily harm.

    • by alendit (1454311)

      Oh dear, 4chan shold be collectively jailed any moment now...

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      I know it's Streisand effect and fight the power, but I think in this case reposting the joke is just as tasteless as making it in the first place. We could argue about the story and the effects of censorship without that knowledge just fine. But I guess the modders here disagree with me.

    • by Inda (580031)
      Thanks for sharing that. I was aware of this story before Slashdot posted it but I didn't feel the need to hunt for the joke. It's an old, old joke.

      Speaking of old jokes, that maths teacher who ran off to France with that 15-year-old a few weeks back. He was practicing long division; seeing how many times 30 went into 15.

      Old, old jokes. Lock me up and throw away the key.

      I heard a phrase once: "All Americans see themselves as future millionaires and their current situation is temporary." or something like th
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:41AM (#41582381)

    What's the difference from a Nanny-state with limited human rights and the UK?

    Trick question, there isn't any.

  • by kinarduk (734762) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:44AM (#41582393)
    So the first thing that happens with any tragedy is that people make jokes about it. It happened with 9/11, it happened with 7/7 it's happened throughout history. Some people use it as a form of therapy. It's part of our coping mechanism.
    • by nukenerd (172703) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:50AM (#41582425)

      So the first thing that happens with any tragedy is that people make jokes about it. ... Some people use it as a form of therapy. It's part of our coping mechanism.

      I fail to see why a 20 yo man in Lancashire, a couple of hundred miles away from the murder and unrelated to the victim, requires such therapy.

      • So the first thing that happens with any tragedy is that people make jokes about it. ... Some people use it as a form of therapy. It's part of our coping mechanism.

        I fail to see why a 20 yo man in Lancashire, a couple of hundred miles away from the murder and unrelated to the victim, requires such therapy.

        I fail to see how you understand psychology.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      So the first thing that happens with any tragedy is that people make jokes about it. It happened with 9/11, it happened with 7/7 it's happened throughout history. Some people use it as a form of therapy. It's part of our coping mechanism.

      No, there is a clear difference. The jokes after 7/7 were black humour, targeting everyone who travels. In a sense it is bravado - you show you are not worried about getting on the tube with jokes about "people getting legless on the underground", and "you'r complaining that I lost my ticket, well last week I lost my balls" and so on. This is very different to posting something directed at an abducted and probably murdered (still missing) child on a Facebook site used by parents and searchers.

      I don't thin

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:52AM (#41582429)

    I'm pretty sure I could find at least a hundred people, who will agree with me that public displays of religion is grossly offensive.

    Maybe even thousands.

    Which raises the question - would the UK police ever arrest a clergy member simply for public displayed religion, or is freedom of religion more important than freedom of speech?

  • by DrNoNo (976214) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:53AM (#41582431)

    It is totally lacking in taste, it is offensive, if the first post is accurate.

    The appropriate response would be to ignore it. However, in the modern UK, there is a demand to control too much of what people say and think. To me that is far more disturbing than the joke itself.

  • Yes, because manners matter when they have to be legislated.

    Didn't some guy named George write a book that kinda touched on this back in 1948?

  • Of that is the joke then it wasn't grossly offensive. Too soon maybe. I've heard worse in the pub and I guess that's the difference. Grossly offensive being the context of the conversation and topping each others joke. Poor man.
    • /Poor man - Mind you, the family may not think that! Poor family and child.
    • QUOTE FROM AN ABOVE POST BY AC
      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.

      This changes my standpoint. What a prick.
      • And to re-quote from above, it appears that he posted it on his own wall, then someone else entirely took a screengrab of his posting and potsed it to the official Find April facebook page. Once again, totally changes the standpoint. The original joke-poster was in bad-taste, but on his own wall is not too bad. Whoever re-posted it is the prick and it's him/her that should have been arrested.
  • by srussia (884021) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:02AM (#41582487)
    In the past, this sort of stuff would have been handled by societal pressure.

    The legal codification of taboos has weakened their societal enforcement, and strengthened state enforcement--counterproductively, I would say.
    • by Chrisq (894406)

      In the past, this sort of stuff would have been handled by societal pressure.

      But Mrs T said "there's no such thing as society"

  • by crossmr (957846)

    When is Iran going to invade the UK and the US and restore freedom and democracy?

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