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Twitter Bomb Joke Case Rolls Back Into UK Courts

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the 140-characters-of-terror dept.

Twitter 174

judgecorp writes "Paul Chambers, the Briton whose joke on Twitter backfired, will be back in court following a legal stalemate, after more than two years. Chambers joked about blowing up South Yorkshire's Robin Hood airport in January 2010, and was arrested and fined for 'sending a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.' His resultant criminal record lost him his job as an accountant. Now his appeal has been heard, but the two judges disagreed with each other, so Chambers will be back in court again."

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Seriously though... (2, Insightful)

T-Bucket (823202) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150407)

Seriously, who the hell uses their real information on a goddamned twitter account?!?!

Re:Seriously though... (5, Informative)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150411)

Seriously though... Who thinks not using their real name gives them protection from their government? Naive much?

Even free speech has its limit (1, Offtopic)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150725)

How can a threat to bomb an airport be considered as a joke?

People might be saying that it's "free speech", but even free speech has its limit

While I get to enjoy the freedom of speech of saying anything that I want to say, I must be responsible for any word that comes out of my mouth (and also the words that I typed onto my keyboard)

If I say I want to kill somebody, it's a threat, and should not be considered as "free speech" anymore

And of course, I have to be responsible for what I said

Re:Even free speech has its limit (2)

Sancho (17056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150781)

Uh, if you say you want to kill somebody, I don't think that should be considered a threat. If you say you are going to, sure.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (2)

Kozz (7764) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150831)

Uh, if you say you want to kill somebody, I don't think that should be considered a threat. If you say you are going to, sure.

Anyone who has ever "joked" in that manner regarding the POTUS would surely learn that there's not a tremendous difference.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151365)

LOL! I am gonna create an evil plan, that is going to severe the heads of all the heads of the states in one go. :) :).
 
That was a joke (not a very funny one, I admit) in case, it was not clear. And that is how you joke about the POTUS.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40151765)

The sharks are in position and ready for the laser attachment. We'll have to be in and out quickly because even with all the training the sharks still run out of breath after a few minutes of running, and they don't run very fast. I honestly expected more of the so-called killer machines. How are things on your side?

Re:Even free speech has its limit (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152335)

I don't think you can count it as a threat when it's spelled wrong.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (4, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151933)

Well, lucky for the bulk of society, 99.999999999999% of the world's population is not the President of the United States.

I don't think I've ever met a person who hasn't said they wanted to kill someone at some point. Obviously they don't actually mean they're going to kill someone. Hell, find me a parent who hasn't said they wanted to kill their kid(s) at some point. Good luck.

People who can't make that distinction remind me a lot of those people that respond to obviously commiserative apologies with a "Why are you apologizing?" I mean, yes, obviously I didn't drive over to your house flatten your tire last night, I was saying I'm sorry that you woke up to a flat because that sucks. Fucking DURRRRRRRR.

The difference is context, and most people with a functioning brain can tell whether a threat is real or not.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (2)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152093)

People who can't make that distinction remind me a lot of those people that respond to obviously commiserative apologies with a "Why are you apologizing?"

Do you know me? Apologies are way overused. I sometimes feel like responding with "Really?" or "No you are not!". But instead opt for a sarcastic "I knew it was you", or sometimes a boring "Why are you apologizing".

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152453)

So you are saying 0.000000000001% of the world population IS the president of the united states.
Estimated world population: 7.000.000.000
So the president of the united states is only 0.00007 of a full human?

Re:Even free speech has its limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152643)

Yep! In reality he's a lizard person.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152655)

Yes, the quoted figure was obviously a gross overestimation regarding the percentage of a typical President which could be considered human.

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Re:Even free speech has its limit (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152141)

How about death threats towards spammers ?

Re:Even free speech has its limit (4, Insightful)

chilvence (1210312) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152479)

Is everyone in the justice system thick? Never mind whether the joke is funny or not, if you are actually going to bomb a public place, you don't announce your plan publicly on twitter using your personal fucking account because that would put you in the iq range of someone who has to ride the special bus and thus somewhat stunt your ability to organise acts of domestic terrorism.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (4, Insightful)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150787)

How can a threat to bomb an airport be considered as a joke?

Because of something called "context". If I go to a comedy club, and the comedian on-stage tells a joke and then says as the punchline, "And I'm going to blow up the airport!" do you think he would be arrested? Do you think any fucken moron in the audience wouldn't see it as part of a joke. CONTEXT. I don't know the context of this guy's post on Twitter, but I think it might be safe to say that this particular case could have used a little more fucken intelligent analysis...

Re:Even free speech has its limit (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150943)

How can a threat to bomb an airport be considered as a joke? Because of something called "context". If I go to a comedy club, and the comedian on-stage tells a joke and then says as the punchline, "And I'm going to blow up the airport!" do you think he would be arrested? Do you think any fucken moron in the audience wouldn't see it as part of a joke. CONTEXT. I don't know the context of this guy's post on Twitter, but I think it might be safe to say that this particular case could have used a little more fucken intelligent analysis...

Yeah, I think yours is the kind of point that needs to be emphasized here. It seems there is no dispute that he was joking. The government is not trying to prove that he actually intended to bomb anything because they know he wasn't. That being the case, the arrest alone would have been more than enough to teach him a lesson he'll never forget.

I just don't share or understand this desire to drag someone through the mud and nail him to the cross as hard as you can when there was no actual intent to do harm. This is a bean counter, not a hardened criminal mastermind who actually made bombs or showed any indication that he was going to. The guy did something extremely stupid and has already been punished enough. He's not going to do it again, so what purpose does it serve to prolong the affair?

Just give him his appeal, let him go, wipe his record clean, maybe threaten him with the most severe punishment available if he ever does do it again, and be done with it. Let him go back to earning an honest living. Show him that the legal system does have a sense of proportion and justice, that way he's even less likely to ever become a hardened criminal.

For the US there is a valuable lesson here. This is why you should eliminate with extreme prejudice any and all "zero tolerance" rules in the school systems. After a generation or two grows up thinking that this is normal, you wind up with obsessive enforcement of laws like this.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (2)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152287)

Show him that the legal system does have a sense of proportion and justice, that way he's even less likely to ever become a hardened criminal.

This is impossible by now.

After two years of harassment, there's nothing one can do do show that.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152347)

Because it makes the prosecution look bad if they ever arrest someone and don't get a conviction. Works in the UK or the US, situation is the same. Once they have the arrest, they'll do whatever it takes to get a conviction. Even if the person is clearly innocent of whatever they were first arrested for, it just means a search of their life to find something else illegal to use instead.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152381)

Threaten him with more severe punishment? What drugs are you on? Seriously, this poor guy is being harassed and should actually get full restitution and compensation for all legal fees and emotional damages and loss of work!!! No threats needed here.

Next time I see legal insanity like this, I'm blowing a court house sky high. (for people with very small brains:joke and no intent to ever actually do this)

Re:Even free speech has its limit (3)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152521)

Next time I see legal insanity like this, I'm blowing a court house sky high. (for people with very small brains:joke and no intent to ever actually do this)

The really sad thing is that you had to explain that it was a joke, and still had to post as anonymous. Land of the brave, home of the free! What happened to you Americans!!

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152639)

The fools who prosecuted him need to be punished. He lost his job and had to go through years of appeals. If he wins heads should roll.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152675)

Yes exactly! He lost his job (*), so he almost has no other options now than to become criminal. They need(ed) to let him off with a warning, and a stern but friendly police officer (with a big mustache, which vaguely reminds him of his father (not the mustache, the police officer)) needs to tell him to not ever EVER do this again.

*= I don't see why a criminal record necessarily has to result in loss of your job, or harm your chances of getting a new one. Yeah, maybe when he applies for airport maintenance guy, but otherwise...? I never got asked whether or not I have a criminal record, and I consider that private (if you do have one you served your time, right?).

Re:Even free speech has its limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152701)

That being the case, the arrest alone would have been more than enough to teach him a lesson he'll never forget.

The only thing he learned from this whole thing is... "don't fly to the US". Or maybe it's "don't make questionable jokes in public". Or maybe it's "don't use a communication media that's actively being scraped by law enforcement".

Oh well... I'm sure he learned _something_, I'm just not sure what it was.

captcha: culpable

Re:Even free speech has its limit (5, Insightful)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152731)

I disagree that he did anything "extremely stupid". Bungie jumping with a 10 m cable and a 5 metre drop would be extremely stupid. Posting a joky comment online is not. It is the authorities that are completely unreasonable here. What he did should not be a crime.

As someone from the UK I shake my head in disbelief at the surveillance society that they have let themselves become, and hope like hell it an't contagious.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152821)

The guy did something extremely stupid

I believe it's the government that is doing something extremely stupid. Just like they waste time and taxpayer money hunting down copyright infringers and people who use drugs, they waste time and taxpayer money trying to punish someone for what I think was an obvious joke.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150957)

The problem, is that context can get lost, especially on twitter. What if someone else retweets it? And then their followers see it. Some of which have no idea of the context in which the original comment was made, and may have no idea who the person was who made the original comment. I think the whole case is stupid, but you have to account for the fact that when you're on a broadcast medium like Twitter, you have to be careful with what you say.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151003)

The problem, is that context can get lost, especially on twitter. What if someone else retweets it? And then their followers see it. Some of which have no idea of the context in which the original comment was made, and may have no idea who the person was who made the original comment.

You see, that's why the police are supposed to investigate crimes prior to charges being filed.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151973)

You see, that's why the police are supposed to investigate crimes prior to charges being filed.

Investigations just take too much time. This is the 21st century, we file the charges and then investigate. Don't worry, though, when it turns out it's all bullshit, they'll probably be good enough to drop the charges. Probably.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (4, Informative)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151857)

CONTEXT. I don't know the context of this guy's post on Twitter, but I think it might be safe to say that this particular case could have used a little more fucken intelligent analysis...

His exact words were "Robin Hood airport is closed, you’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!".

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152001)

So...only someone who might be a hair's breadth away from being classified as "sub-human" would misinterpret what is clearly NOT a bomb threat.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (2)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152751)

And IIRC the context was that the airport being closed was stopping him going to Northern Ireland to see his girlfriend. And he wasn't aware that his tweets could be seen outside of his group of mates.

The two exclamation marks alone would mark it as a joke.

Without intending or starting to commit a REAL crime I fail to see why society should consider anything a crime at all.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (5, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151961)

This reminds me a lot of another Twitter fiasco, where a couple were barred entry into the U.S. because of his tweets that he was going to 'destroy America' [dailymail.co.uk] ('Destroy' being British slang to get drunk and run amok, but no, they thought it was a literal threat).

He also said they were going to dig up Marilyn Monroe and the fucking idiot immigration people actually searched their bags for shovels. Because they wouldn't buy one here in the states from one of the eight-fucking-million stores one can buy a shovel if they were actually going to do this...no, they'd bring one with them from England.

We have a seriously disproportionate number of dumbshits in our police agencies, it seems.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152495)

We have a seriously disproportionate number of dumbshits in our police agencies, it seems.

When it comes to government, I've learned to attribute malice over stupidity no matter how adequately it would explain it.

Probably they knew perfectly well it wasn't meant literally. They just wanted to make a very public harrassment so other people might be sufficiently scared into censoring themselves.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

golden age villain (1607173) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152767)

And complaining about airport closure because of snow did not provide enough of a context? Seriously?

Re:Even free speech has its limit (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150899)

How can a threat to bomb an airport be considered as a joke?

Isn't there some meme here about "nuking things from orbit just to be sure"...

If we can routinely make posts advocating total annihilation by nuclear weapons and that can achieve meme status and no one here is even put off by it then I'm pretty sure a twitter threat to bomb an airport could be both sent and understood as a joke by a lot of people.

Now the actual context:

The message Chambers sent to his 600 followers in the early hours of 6 January said: "Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"

Now I don't use twitter but I could easily see myself saying something like that to my friends in jest.

If I say I want to kill somebody, it's a threat, and should not be considered as "free speech" anymore.

Because people should be criminalized for saying something like

"I'm going to kill the neighbors kid next time she lets their dog shit on our driveway..."

Lots of people say things like that all the time. Its not a threat. Its not serious. Everybody but a few uptight twats know there is no weight behind it.

Zero Tolerance is Maximum Stupid.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40151843)

I remember there was a court case about a decade ago where one guy sent his friend, who lived across the street, a letter with a "mysterious powder" in it after they had been talking about the anthrax mail scare. While the recipient got the joke, his wife didn't, and she sued the sender, although the letter was not addressed to her and she didn't open it. The judge found for the defendant, help by the fact the recipient testified on his friend's behalf. Talk about some people not getting the joke...

Re:Even free speech has its limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40151865)

I feel the same way about retarded. I hate retards who try to get me to stop saying shit like that

Re:Even free speech has its limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40151981)

So then, what is the governments motive for pursuing this? Imagine the governments huge lexical analytical computers running up against phrases like this in daily parlance. A computer just isn't going to know if this is a serious threat or not. What he said takes human investigative resources.

If the government can make an example of this one case, they have just changed the mindset of millions of people. This greatly reduces the number of false positives that they have to manually process. I believe that is what is going on here.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152401)

Actually the tweet was:

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

The version you've quoted is a recent misquote which lazy reporters in various media outlets propagated - the original tweet is even more clearly not a serious threat.

Well, you find some things funny, I find other thi (-1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152421)

Well, you find some things funny, I find other things funny. Why can't this guy just see the joke in being arrested, losing his job etc etc? I find it hilarious! Oh, it is alright to threaten people in public jobs with their lives as a jest BUT an account losing his job is not funny?

Maybe both YOU and this account should FIRST learn a bit about tolerance yourself AND not immediately resort to threats of violence just because you don't get your way. Or the cops are called in and they really like a good laugh.

Real story, over entitled prick of an accountant can't keep his mouth closed and gets in trouble for it. Hands up who does not give a fuck. Whoa! HURRICANE!

Re:Well, you find some things funny, I find other (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152531)

the interesting thing is that it's taking them over two fucking years to decide if the guy should have a criminal record or not.

it would be fairly simpler if criminal record wasn't such a simple binary thing.
because why the fuck shouldn't an accountant get to keep his job if he gets a criminal record for making a tweet? lying on their tax statement yeah, for that it would be appropriate.

and for the record you can in usa apparently advocate people to beat up their children for acting queer without getting slapped with a criminal record too - but no, can't say that you want the fucking airport to open in street slang.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152569)

Very important: you have quoted the edited version. Until I and others complained, the BBC was only reporting an expurgated quote. The full quote is as follows:

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

Now, even without context, there's no way that's a threat.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150901)

When heavy snowfall threatened to scupper Paul Chambers’s travel plans, he decided to vent his frustrations on Twitter by tapping out a comment to amuse his friends. “Robin Hood airport is closed,” he wrote. “You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

Like that.

Kinda like the way many people 'threaten' killing people in a figurative sense.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40151057)

Totally agree, context is everything. I can't remember how many times people in online games have said they were going to "rape" someone else, but nobody ever takes it as an actual admission of intent to sexually violate or plunder anyone.

Or as you said about "killing". I'm always telling my friends that my girlfriend is "going to kill me" over something or other, but they don't go running off to report her to the police.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

daniel_mcl (77919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150905)

Did you read his twitter post? It was an obvious joke. No reasonable person could possibly interpret it as an actual threat. Most unreasonable people would even understand it was a joke.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151039)

Did you read his twitter post? It was an obvious joke. No reasonable person could possibly interpret it as an actual threat. Most unreasonable people would even understand it was a joke.

Let's say you are a government (that is, party leaders, financiers of campaigns, and other power brokers within that government). You know that it is politically difficult or impossible to pass law severly curtailing the existing level of free speech. You also know what a chilling effect is. You want to expand your power and make people more afraid of government.

What do you do? You take laws that may have started out in a reasonable way. You then use them in an unreasonable way and make someone's life hellish when you know they don't really deserve it. What's the result? You set a precedent. Everyone else double-checks and carefully tiptoes around everything they want to say because they don't want to be next.

Objective accomplished.

I'll never understand this insatiable lust for more and more money and power, but then I am not an insecure fevered ego. Its machinations, however, are very easy to understand because they repeat over and over again throughout history (a subject that isn't properly taught anymore, at least not by the gov't sponsored schools, though you can remedy that for yourself with some reading.).

Re:Even free speech has its limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40151695)

While I agree with you that free speech does have limits, any reasonable person reading his message would not assume that this person is an imminent threat.

Accepting that this is perceived as a legitimate threat, the police will have arrested him and seized evidence. Was a bomb or any bomb-making equipment found? Did he possess literature and know-how to produce a bomb? Was there any correspondence with other individuals showing that a bombing was being planned?

No? GTFO.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152489)

How can a threat to bomb an airport be considered as a joke?

When it's not even a threat?

How the fuck is this a meaningful threat:

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

And he's an accountant so that makes the risk even lower, engineers are more likely to be the ones that blow stuff up.

Re:Even free speech has its limit (1)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152503)

A bomb announcement on Twitter is not exactly the same as shouting 'Fire' in a theater, despite the desperate efforts to make you believe so. Nobody would have known of the tweet if the police wouldn't be wasting money and man hours on monitoring Twitter. Do they really think that the next OBL will announce his 9/11 on Twitter? Seriously? Is this false sense of security really worth having an accountant losing his job over? Is the only allowed way of communication now honest, straightforward and without double meaning? What a 'fun' society people must envision.

Re:Seriously though... (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151147)

It's not really about that tho, it's about being able to joke without being arrested.
Imma kill all presidents of the world!
then next morning im arrested. that .. doesn't make any sense.

and then we get history lessons about how 200 years ago people got jailed, fined, and/or killed for a yes or no from more powerful people.
it didn't change all that much.

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Re:Seriously though... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150487)

Who uses their real information anywhere online.

Oh... wait...

Seriously, though. My rule of thumb (whether using Twitter where I don't use my real name or on Slashdot where I do) is: Would I feel comfortable saying this to my parents, boss, wife, kids (for topics that are kid-friendly in general), in-laws, etc.? If the answer is no, then I'm probably not going to say it online. After all, no matter how anonymous you feel behind a screen name, these things have a way of getting out to your family/co-workers/etc.

Re:Seriously though... (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150679)

Seriously, who the hell uses their real information on a goddamned twitter account?!?!

"Paul Chambers", because he is the bomb.

Don't make stupid jokes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40150441)

It's that simple. Comedians know it. Amateurs should as well.

Re:Don't make stupid jokes. (5, Funny)

moozey (2437812) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150665)

A few months ago I had a domestic flight in Australia, the first time I'd flown in years. Amusingly, I get swabbed for explosives by security. Afterwards, sitting around waiting for my flight I came very, very close to making a Facebook status a long the lines of "Just got swabbed for explosives at the airport, lucky I left my C4 at home". I'm glad I was smart enough not to.

Re:Don't make stupid jokes. (2)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150971)

A few months ago I had a domestic flight in Australia, the first time I'd flown in years. Amusingly, I get swabbed for explosives by security. Afterwards, sitting around waiting for my flight I came very, very close to making a Facebook status a long the lines of "Just got swabbed for explosives at the airport, lucky I left my C4 at home". I'm glad I was smart enough not to.

It's too bad that the criminals we really have to worry about aren't stupid enough to even joke about such things. They're the ones who would never mention a thing to anyone under any pretext until it's too late.

Re:Don't make stupid jokes. (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151181)

But your post, at least, would have been mildly amusing, unlike his.

Re:Don't make stupid jokes. (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152423)

A few months ago I had a domestic flight in Australia ... I'm glad I was smart enough not to.

Irony is more acceptable in Australian culture and you are a lot less likely to get in trouble for that sort of thing here. The problem really occurs when we travel overseas.

Recall the Australian violinist who when checking trough Canadian customs responded to the question "what have you got in that violin case" in the only acceptable manner "whatdya reckon, a machine gun ..." (ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer being the accepted norm in Australian English), which caused the shutdown of Toronto (from memory) Airport and earned him a (short) custodial sentence. No bloody sense of humour those Canadians!

OK, the fact that it was the 12th or 13th of Sept 2001 didn't help any, "tragedy plus time" and all that ...

Doing that here would more likely have earn you the reply "don't be a bloody dickhead mate!" Indeed, a few months afterwards I saw signs plastered all over Kingsford Smith Airport (Sydney) to the effect that "Making jokes about bombs is NOT funny." Which clearly evidences a rash of such behaviour, which while obviously not appreciated did not get the Tactical Response Unit called out or cause a major international incident.

OK posting on Facebook is a little more dangerous, since your tone of voice can't be assessed. And imagine what Today Tonight would to if the coppers missed it and someone really did have C4 at home. So maybe instead of putting it on your FB status you should reserve such comments for the person swabbing you, who will give you a dirty look and point at the sign and maybe get even, by making you unpack all your belongings, or conducting a cavity search or something. On second thoughts...

Re:Don't make stupid jokes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152791)

"Smart" or "cowed"?

Refraining from obvious jokes in that manner is self-censorship, brought on by a rampant lack of accountability combined with increased power for the authorities.

Not quite the fascism of yore, but getting there fast.

Re:Don't make stupid jokes. (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150795)

Don't make stupid jokes.

It's kind of like when I walked into a biker bar and said loudly "Well fuck me raw!", and seconds later some neanderthal in a leather jacket bent me over a pool table and gave me a serious ass pounding like I had never had before.

Something like that.

Re:Don't make stupid jokes. (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151153)

Don't make stupid jokes. It's that simple. Comedians know it. Amateurs should as well.

Tell that to Jeff Dunham.

I'll kill those festering scumbags! (4, Funny)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150445)

Who made it illegal to be an internet tough guy? I'll kill them and feast on their children.

When someone perfects rStabInEye, then we worry.

Re:I'll kill those festering scumbags! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152247)

No shit. I WILL BOMB THE QUEEN!!!!!!

This case should not even be heard. Our governments are in a nervous breakdown. What's the definition of "intent" again?

How many of you parents with teenagers have heard this: "I hate you! I wish you were dead!"

There's a lesson here... (4, Funny)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150463)

Make all your threats on MySpace, kids. It's technically public.

New Rule: Mark your jokes. (1)

LostCluster2.0 (2637341) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150595)

This is so easy... leave some emoticon, shorthand, or just plain the word "Joke" to mark all jokes so they don't get taken the wrong way.

Re:New Rule: Mark your jokes. (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150707)

This is so easy... leave some emoticon, shorthand, or just plain the word "Joke" to mark all jokes so they don't get taken the wrong way.

LostCluster2.0 is a dead tween.

Re:New Rule: Mark your jokes. (1)

LostCluster2.0 (2637341) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151015)

Stop it with the insults... I am the LostCluster (See me on Twitter!) and my account got stolen. I need DB Admin help to get it back. I can be authenticated as me.

Re:New Rule: Mark your jokes. (0)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151199)

Stop it with the insults... I am the LostCluster (See me on Twitter!) and my account got stolen. I need DB Admin help to get it back. I can be authenticated as me.

I maintain host security. I use good passwords. I don't share passwords with untrustworthy people (nor do I share this one with anybody). How, precisely, would someone steal my Slashdot account? Without me doing something irresponsible or stupid, I mean. Without compromising this entire site's database and doing damage to many more accounts than just mine, I mean.

And when I do something irresponsible or stupid, which does happen occasionally, I take the lesson. I don't whine and I don't beg to be bailed out of it. A side-effect of being an adult is that I don't end up trying to put DB admins into awkward and unwanted positions like playing a he-said/she-said game of guessing who the real one is.

I don't speak for Slashdot staff so consider this an educated guess. But the position you're trying to put them in is probably the reason they don't want to help you. You really blame them?

Re:New Rule: Mark your jokes. (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150979)

and wait until all serious comments start being tagged with the same mark. Go back to square one.

Re:New Rule: Mark your jokes. (5, Funny)

LostCluster2.0 (2637341) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151183)

Yeah, I hate it when I write something serious and get back 3:Funny. Maybe mods should be limited to the serious mods for posts declared serious and Funny only for posts tagged as a joke. I'll send the Wicked Early News team after this story...

Re:New Rule: Mark your jokes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152309)

This is so easy... leave some emoticon, shorthand, or just plain the word "Joke" to mark all jokes so they don't get taken the wrong way.

What a wonderfull idea!

If only Bin Laden could had thought on it 10 years ago...

Re:New Rule: Mark your jokes. (2)

troc (3606) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152807)

You mean like:

"DESTROY THE INFIDEL AMERICANS!, lol"

(here is some random text because Slashdot is being wanky about caps again :) )

categorise him (1)

ozduo (2043408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150687)

you could say that this guy was a real TWIT. Or you could categorise him as an idealist attempting to create a legal precedent for twits.

pathetic... (1)

johnjones (14274) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150717)

to quote "As far as I know both professional [chartered etc.]accountants and acuaries are exempted occupations under the Rehabilitation Of Oggemnders Act so employers can if they wish require disclosure of *all* convictions, whether spent or not, just the same as happens when working in health care or in contact with children or vulnerable adults. But it is then up to the employer to decide upon overall suitability for the role." so as I thought its up to the employer

so he did not loose his job because of the conviction...

worst case he lost his job because he threatened to bomb somewhere in a public forum...

frankly I have little sympathy for multiple reasons

regards

John 'real name' Jones

Re:pathetic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40150857)

he lost his job cause he is an obvious retard

Re:pathetic... (0)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40150985)

so he did not loose his job because of the conviction...

Did the conviction tighten his job?

Re:pathetic... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152359)

Or he lost his job because his employer has a 'no convicts, no exceptions' policy.

context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40150749)

This was said in Robin Hood airport, Hood being a mediaeval Guy Fawkes.

Of course, Chambers should have expected, at best, a good barrister - not the Spanish Inquisition.

Re:context (2)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151083)

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Re:context (1)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151227)

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Nobody expects the repetitive meme!

Re:context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40151361)

Denigrate not the Python.

and in other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40150975)

the conservative party of canada got a severed human foot mailed to them .....
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/05/29/ottawa-suspicious-package-cpc-hq.html

yup corporations gone too far i'd say when peace loving canada people start acting like this....

Rickrolls back into UK courts (2, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151067)

That's what I read.

This isn't tech news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40151371)

Joke about bombs -> get in trouble.

It doesn't matter if it's by UUCP, email, twitter, Google plus, in person, on a dial-up BBS, by postal mail, on the bathroom stall, etc.

The only place that it's probably safe is MySpace, since there would be no other users to see it, but even then, Google would probably index it.

If you make a stupid joke (5, Informative)

MsWhich (2640815) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151673)

If you make a stupid joke in public about killing the president, blowing up an airport, etc., I think you can reasonably expect to have some polite men in black suits show up at your door to ask you some very serious questions. Maybe you might even have to go with them for a while to answer some questions in a secure location.

But I don't think it is reasonable to expect that you will be arrested, charged with a crime, and lose your job over what is clearly and obviously a joke to anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together. It was a stupid joke, and a very badly-thought-out one, and I have no problem with someone facing reasonable consequences for doing something like that. But what happened to this guy has gone way beyond reasonable.

Re:If you make a stupid joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152039)

Tell me, since you thought it was so clearly a joke, what would someone who really intended to blow up that airport say differently? What's the part that made it obvious that he didn't mean it?

Re:If you make a stupid joke (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152371)

Anyone who intended to blow up the airport wouldn't announce it on a public twitter account days before the bang. If they did announce it, they would do so ten minutes before. Just long enough to make sure they get the credit. They'd also probably link to a manifesto, because there is no point in terrorism if people don't know why you did it.

Re:If you make a stupid joke (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152519)

Since you have to ask, the words 'sky high' - this sort of hyperbole undermines the message, and marks it as an obvious joke.

This sort of silly threat *might* merit investigation (though frankly I think it is such an obvious joke investigating would be pointless, there are plenty of real crimes to investigate), but on finding someone without the means, motive, or motivation to actually bomb an airport, perhaps the police and CPS should have thought better of wasting public money on a trial and incarceration.

Re:If you make a stupid joke (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152077)

"obviously a joke to anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together" -> Funny you should mention that. Rumor has it, the policy enforcement agencies in the US do employ a battery of intelligence tests to ensure that they only admit applicants who will not become, well, bored with the job. The kinds of people who find tying their shoe-laces to be somewhat challenging. That sort of thing.

But I have heard that occasionally some of the brighter variety slip through the net. I believe they're the ones who do not feel threatened by the presence of a video camera, nor are they inclined to shoot the family dog during a raid. One or two of them might even offer opinions on current law issues that are not considered "going with the pack."

Rules for life: 101 (1)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151737)

1) Security people don't have a sense of humour
2) Always talk nicely to someone with a gun
3) You can't fight city hall

The ex-accountant forgot #1. He's about to come up to #3.

Re:Rules for life: 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152275)

1) Security people don't have a sense of humour
2) Always talk nicely to someone with a gun
3) You can't fight city hall

The ex-accountant forgot #1. He's about to come up to #3.

Clearly, it must be time to bomb city hall.

AGAIN? (1)

milkmage (795746) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151795)

WTF is up with British tourists and their "tweeter" accounts.

this guy was sent home from LAX because he said he was going to "destroy" America (the same way a hungry person would destroy a burger)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16810312 [bbc.co.uk]

and Stephen Fry offered to pay Paul Chambers' fees. /stephenfryisawesome

Reinventing the wheel (1)

chicago_scott (458445) | more than 2 years ago | (#40151823)

The ''sending a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character" law could have been rolled-up into the pre-existing "issuing a threat that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character" law.

No wonder law school is so expensive.

Re:Reinventing the wheel (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152545)

well, the lawmakers saw easy money in copycatting the companies patent procedures.. old stuff + "with a computer".

Not a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40152061)

I don't care what the guy says, that was not a joke. He might not have really meant it or ever have gone through with it, but what he posted was a threat made out of anger and frustration, not humor. It's exactly the kind of thing that somebody who's reached his breaking point might actually do.

Re:Not a joke (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152323)

I hope you never ever meet someone like you. I don't think you will survive the encounter.

Idiocracy (2)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40152245)

I have nothing else to say.

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