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British Men Jailed For Online Hate Crimes 778

chrb writes "Two British men have become the first to be jailed for inciting racial hatred online. The men believed that material they published on web servers based in the United States did not fall under the jurisdiction of UK law and was protected under the First Amendment. This argument was rejected by the British trial judge. After being found guilty, the men fled to Los Angeles, where they attempted to claim political asylum, again arguing that they were being persecuted by the British government for speech that was protected under the First Amendment. The asylum bid was rejected and the two were deported back to the UK after spending over a year in a US jail."
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British Men Jailed For Online Hate Crimes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:46PM (#28662035)

    "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value." - Dean Steacy, Canadian Human Rights Commission investigator

  • by number6x ( 626555 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:47PM (#28662039)

    There is no guarantee of Free speech in the UK

    It is simply a fact.

    The vast majority of countries do not allow simple basic freedoms. Even the freedom for stupid people to say stupid things.

  • Re:Point of Origin? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:06PM (#28662217)
    Or perhaps the court argument was that if British citizens publish illegal material that is accessible in the UK, it doesn't actually matter where the material is *held*. They wrote it, and published it *to* the server from the UK after all.
  • Re:Point of Origin? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Quothz ( 683368 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:15PM (#28662307) Journal

    Here we go again! If the materials were published in the US just how can an English court have jurisdiction?

    That would be due to the British Nationality Act of 1948, which asserts British criminal jurisdiction over British citizens for crimes committed overseas. The US has a similar law, as do many nations.

  • Re:Point of Origin? (Score:5, Informative)

    by RsG ( 809189 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:17PM (#28662325)

    The summary is somewhat misleading.

    The convicted parties were handing out leaflets in the UK, which drew complaints due to their racist content. The content of the leaflets was stored on a US server, but "published" (printed really) in the UK. Both defendants lived in the UK, but sought asylum in the US after they were charged.

    Jurisdiction is not the problem here - in every country I know of, storing "illegal material" outside the local borders does not constitute a legal defence. If we were talking about weapons or drugs, then storing internationally (say in a safe haven where they're legal) while distributing locally (where they're illegal) would still get you charged.

    The question is whether the material should be illegal in the first place. That has nothing to do with jurisdiction and everything to do with civil liberties.

  • by jipn4 ( 1367823 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:32PM (#28662467)

    Their web site is called heretical.com [heretical.com]. They apparently hate me, too.

    But their writing is so discombobulated that I'd be much more concerned about the threat to my life and liberty from a government that thinks it needs to throw people in jail over this drivel than about these two nuts or their readers.

  • Actually there is (Score:3, Informative)

    by jeevesbond ( 1066726 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:39PM (#28662531) Homepage

    Actually, freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights [wikipedia.org], 1689. However, keeping a freedom requires the populace to care about it. In Britain's case everyone's too busy hating Europeans (then going on holiday there), being paranoid about jails full of paedophiles and being scared of terrorists and KnifeCrime(tm) to worry about the finer points of freedom of speech. Obviously these two are a pair of scum bags, so no-one cares to defend them, for what it's worth I believe their freedom of speech should be guaranteed, but try telling that to the populace.

    Here are a few ideas of w [tonyblairoffice.org] h [bbc.co.uk] o [number10.gov.uk], and wh [thesun.co.uk] at [dailymail.co.uk], might be responsible for this situation. :)

    The 1285 Statute of Westminster even gave the English people the right (actually it was a requirement) to bear arms, it was due to this -- and technologically 'advanced' longbows -- that we managed to trounce those ghaslty frogs at Agincourt, but that's another story.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:44PM (#28663003) Journal

    I don't believe in hate speech crime...
    I am only sorry that the US government is not willing to step up and protect people from other countries, however odious their beliefs might be, who are persecuted at home for no greater crime than speaking their mind and who seek refuge here.

    Call it what it is: inciting violence.
    The fundamental crime is not "hate," it's the inciting of violence towards [people].
    The hate part just adds extra jail time because they're targeting someone for something that isn't necessarily a choice like race/skin color/religion/etc.

    To be clear... saying "I want to kill soldiers and you should to"
    and "I want to kill nigger soldiers and you should to" is already a crime.
    The only difference is that we, as a society, have decided the latter is more
    odious to our culture and that the punishment should be greater as a result.

  • by arethuza ( 737069 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:58PM (#28663127)

    "no boobies on US tv"

    You must admit, he has a point

  • by HiddenL ( 967659 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @06:23PM (#28663791)

    Most people don't realize that burning a flag is on of the ONLY ways to properly dispose of it....

    US Flag Code. TITLE 4 > CHAPTER 1 > Sec. 8(k). It states:

    "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning"

  • by DMUTPeregrine ( 612791 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @06:29PM (#28663823) Journal
    I am of Jewish heritage. My great grandparents were shot by the Nazis. Part of my family is Argentinian, as they were forced to flee there to escape the death camps. I don't like Nazis of any sort. But I still think the freedom of speech is more important. Suppressing someone's beliefs, through any means is wrong. If that means is hate crime laws or death camps, it's still wrong.
  • by arethuza ( 737069 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @06:47PM (#28663947)
    I doubt anyone would be particularly bothered one way or the other. Apart from the obvious risks of burning things in public.
  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @07:45PM (#28664289) Homepage Journal
    Here's the anti-Semitic comic book that they were arrested for. http://www.heretical.com/holohoax/index.html [heretical.com]

    I believe in freedom of speech. There is a small risk that this could lead to anti-Semitism and violence, but there's a greater risk that censorship could lead to things that are as bad or worse. And I think that getting this out in the open is the best way to deal with it.

    Don't the Brits still read Milton's Areopagitica and John Stuart Mill's On Liberty any more?

    BTW, Simon Sheppard seems to have a case of arrested sexual development, even by Slashdot standards. http://www.heretical.com/sexsci/index.html [heretical.com] Or maybe not by Slashdot standards.

    Here's the Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Sheppard_(far-right_activist) [wikipedia.org] and here's his index page http://www.heretical.com/main.html#directory [heretical.com] I believe the British term is "nutter."

  • by EWAdams ( 953502 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @07:51PM (#28664327) Homepage

    Northern Ireland is governed by the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly. Except in matters of defense and foreign relations they are themselves responsible.

  • by Psyborgue ( 699890 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @08:05PM (#28664407) Homepage Journal
    I think it's a combination of your opinion and grandparent in US society. It's a series of small crises (real, imagined, or exaggerated), within each a different freedom slightly eroded. The right erodes a certain set of civil liberties and the left erodes a different set. Power shifts hands, sure, but the freedoms generally don't come back once they're gradually taken away. Look at how second amendment rights have been gradually eaten away or how the right has somehow managed to establish authority over what people put in their own bodies, something Jefferson was explicitly opposed to.
  • by narfspoon ( 1376395 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @09:14PM (#28664685)

    far leftists such as William Ayers, author of "Rules for Radicals" (which outlines this very strategy) and a close personal friend of a certain American President,...

    You're a huge tool.
    The author is Saul Alinsky. http://www.amazon.com/Rules-Radicals-Saul-Alinsky/dp/0679721134 [amazon.com]
    All the spoon-fed propaganda you read from your right-wing echo chamber has really made you too lazy to check basic facts.

  • by Landshark17 ( 807664 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @11:18PM (#28665107)
    I am an American and I've never quite figured it out either, but here's the best I can do for you. We're raised to love the flag. From a very early age, schoolkids take the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. First and foremost, it's directed at the flag. The first line is "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America." Not, "I pledge allegiance to the ideals/government/constitution of the United States." We're reminded constantly that the flag is a symbol of our American ideals, that the flag has been carried into countless battles, that people have been shot at simply for wearing the flag, that people have died for the flag. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone touting American ideals without simultaneously being reverent to the flag that symbolizes them. Additionally, Americans really love symbols, often to the point they immaturely overvalue the symbol and fail to seperate it from what it symbolizes. Combine the two and you have the recipe for people loving the flag as much as they do the country, and hating those who burn it as if they were burning the very Constitution itself.
  • by JockTroll ( 996521 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @05:37AM (#28666211)

    Loserboy turdbrain, you don't "waive" freedoms so that others can have theirs. Either everybody is free to do what they want as long as they do not infringe on someone else's rights, or nobody is free.

    You cannot go around murdering people because you would take their rights to live, but you can kill in self-defence in order to protect that right. Absolute freedom, moreover, comes from absolute responsability which means you must be ready to bear the consequences of your actions.

    The free man accepts and wants this, the willing slave delegates it to his master.

    And there ain't no such thing as a right to safety because safety does not exist in the real world.

    If you want your precious overbearing state to defend you from all harm, then by all means stop calling yourself "citizen" and cry aloud "O my lord and master, I'm yours to command, TELL ME WHAT TO DO AND KEEP ME SAFE!" while I beat you up and shit on your face.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 12, 2009 @07:54AM (#28666631)

    What kind of history education did you have.

    The problem is that here in the UK we have never had a revolution

    What the hell do you call the civil war then? When we cut off King Charles I's head, persecuted the Catholics and put a Protestant peoples government in power. Cromwell's New Model Army was mainly volunteers who believed in what the protestants were doing. I.e. the end of the dictatorial Monarchy and the implementation of a democratic peoples' government.

  • by idlemachine ( 732136 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @09:58AM (#28667065)

    I don't know about the UK but here in the US we acknowledge that actions committed in other countries fall under the laws of that country.

    Oh, really?

    So the US would never extradite a British citizen from their legal residence in Australia for criminal acts that weren't performed on American soil [smh.com.au]?

    And I'm guessing you believe the US would never declare that it could kidnap foreign citizens if they were unable to extradite them [timesonline.co.uk] because the country in which they resided didn't view their actions as extraditable offences?

    Unfortunately, those of us who live outside the US can't afford to be so delusional.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton