Twitter Twits

 Police overreact to trivial insults via Twitter and Facebook



17th November
2010
  

Updated: Twitter Twits...

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Newspaper columnist threatens to call police after being easily offended by stoning jibe on twitter

yasmin alibhai brown The newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has said she will report a Conservative councillor to the police after he posted a message on Twitter saying it would be a blessing if she was stoned to death.

Birmingham councillor Gareth Compton  called it a glib comment in reaction to the writer's appearance on Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Live breakfast show.

Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really, he tweeted from his iPhone.

Alibhai-Brown ludicrously claimed that she regarded his comments as incitement to murder. The journalist, who writes columns for the Evening Standard and the Independent, told the Guardian: It's really upsetting. My teenage daughter is really upset too. It's really scared us. You just don't do this. I have a lot of threats on my life. It's incitement. I'm going to the police – I want them to know that a law's been broken.

She added that she regarded Compton's remarks as racially motivated because he mentioned stoning.

The councillor claimed she had said, with reference to David Cameron's trip to China, that no politician was morally qualified to speak out about human rights abuses, including the stoning of women, bar the likes of Nelson Mandela.

Compton, who later apologised on Twitter, added: Twitter is a forum for glib comment of the moment. It was a glib comment. Who could possibly think it was serious? Obviously I apologise. No offence was intended.

Update: Throwing Stones at Gareth Compton

12th November 2010. Based on article from  bbc.co.uk

West Midlands police logo A Conservative Birmingham City councillor has been arrested over ludicrous allegations that he called on Twitter for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to be stoned to death.

Erdington councillor Gareth Compton made the remark about the newspaper columnist on his Twitter page. He called it a glib comment in reaction to the writer's appearance on Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Live breakfast show. Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really, he flippantly tweeted from his iPhone.

Police said he had been arrested under the Communications Act 2003 and bailed.

He has since apologised.

Alibhai-Brown said she found his attitude loathsome and that a flippant apology was not enough.

The Conservative Party has said his membership has been suspended indefinitely pending further investigation.

Roger McKenzie, Unison's West Midlands regional secretary, said he had been inundated with complaints from city council workers outraged at Compton's comments and he called on Compton to resign from the council. He said: Birmingham is a multicultural city and the council's workforce reflect this. It is clear that Councillor Compton is out-of-touch with both his city and the council staff. It is wholly unacceptable for a public official to make such racist comments. Councillor Compton must resign his seat immediately.

Update: Radio 5 Live

15th November 2010. Based on article from  guardian.co.uk by Evan Harris

Radio 5 Live logo As the Telegraph reports the controversial tweet included the hashtag #R5L at the end. This would alert those who see the tweet to the fact he is responding to something he had just heard on Radio 5 Live. In other words, it provides important context.

Alibhai-Brown had, on the 5 Live programme, been arguing, in the context of David Cameron's China visit, that no western politician who supported the war in Iraq had neither the moral authority to lecture China about human rights nor lecture Iran about stoning.

Compton clearly thought this was a ridiculous point and expressed that view aggressively via his tweet:

Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really.

Update: Moralising about easy offence

16th November 2010. Based on article from birminghampost.net

yasmin alibhai brown The easily offended newspaper columnist who threatened to call the police after a Birmingham councillor joked that she should be stoned to death has announced that she does not want him to face charges.

Newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said: My objections have been made and there is no need for more . She said she had decided not to press charges against Birmingham Councillor Gareth Compton (Lab Erdington), who made the comment using internet messaging service Twitter last week.

Writing in The Independent, she said: Some crazed demons on Twitter believe anything goes. Written words matter and hold meanings beyond that narcissistic urge to send off instant thoughts. The Tory councillor who sent out a vile and scary message about me says it was a joke. After some thought I decided I will not press charges. My objections have been made and there is no need for more.

But she said she was disturbed by some of the comments made about the incident, and her response, in blogs and on Twitter: Yet having read many blogs and tweets that followed the incident, I do wonder whether our manners and morals will survive and if English itself, the best thing about us, is now seriously endangered.

Of course the Crown Prosecution Service may yet decide to press charges themselves.

Update: Prosecution Continues

17th November 2010. Based on article from  birminghampost.net

West Midlands police logo Police are continuing an investigation into allegations that a Birmingham councillor called for a newspaper columnist to be stoned to death, despite the journalist announcing she did not want him to face charges.

West Midlands Police said it would be up to officers and the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to charge Coun Gareth Compton (Con Erdington) who made the comment using internet messaging service Twitter last week.

 

3rd February
2011
  

Update: Stoners Stand Down...

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Councillor escapes prosecution after offending Yasmin Alibhi-Brown with a jokey tweet

yasmin alibhai brown The authorities will take no further action will be taken against a Birmingham Conservative councillor who joked that a journalist to be stoned to death.

Councillor Gareth Compton made the remark about Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on his Twitter page in November after he took issue with what she said on a radio debate. Compton, who remains suspended from the Tory party, later apologised.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has dropped the case after Ms Alibhai-Brown refused to make any complaint. The member of the public who initially reported the incident to police also failed to provide a statement, the CPS said.

Alibhai-Brown appeared on Radio 5 Live's breakfast show discussing human rights in China. Afterwards, Compton tweeted: Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really.

Speaking at the time, Alibhai-Brown said she had been upset that somebody felt it was OK to say such things: If I, as a Muslim woman, had said about him what he said about me then I would be arrested in these times of the war against terror .

 

21st March
2012
  

A Total Policing State...

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Facebook poster of angry rant charged with 'sending a message that was grossly offensive'
facebook trial soldiersPolice have dropped charges of racial aggravation against teenager Azhar Ahmed for comments he posted on Facebook last week.

He is now being charged under the Communications Act 2003 with sending a message that was grossly offensive on March 8.

He has denied the charge, according to The Yorkshire Post.

So that means if you say anything the police deem grossly offensive on social media you can be hauled up in court.

Comment: Total Policing State

16th March 2012 See  article from  guardian.co.uk

Comments about the army on a Yorkshire teenager's Facebook page seem to be too much for the new total policing state. By Richard Seymour.

...Read the full article

Update: Court Adjourned

6th July 2012. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

Azhar Ahmed appeared in court charged with making offensive comments on Facebook about the deaths of six British soldiers. He has been accused of committing an offence under the Communications Act of sending a grossly offensive message.

The District Judge heard no evidence and adjourned the trial until 14 September due to an unexpected legal problem.

Around 20-30 far right protesters appeared at Huddersfield Magistrates Court for the hearing and packed out the public gallery.

 

 Offsite Comment: Who the f-word does this protect?...


Link Here 13th July 2012  full story: Twitter Twits...Police overreact to trivial insults via Twitter and Facebook
Re the John Terry case. The BBC reporting of what he is supposed to have said on the field is side-splittingly awful. It was 'an f-word, black, c-word'.

See article from timesonline.typepad.com

 

 Offsite Article: Choc Ice Jibes...


Link Here 19th July 2012  full story: Twitter Twits...Police overreact to trivial insults via Twitter and Facebook
The lunacy of police trawling Twitter for so-called hate crime. By Steven Glover

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 Update: A Costly Rant...

Man found guilty of grossly offensive communication after a Facebook rant about dead soldiers


Link Here 15th September 2012  full story: Twitter Twits...Police overreact to trivial insults via Twitter and Facebook

HM Courts Service A teenager has been found guilty of posting an offensive Facebook message following the deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan.

Azhar Ahmed, 19, was charged with sending a grossly offensive communication.

He told Huddersfield Magistrates Court he accepted the message had been unacceptable but had denied it was grossly offensive .

The judge said his comments were derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory .

The six soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device in March. The offending message, which said all soldiers should die and go to hell , was posted by Ahmed two days later on 8 March.

Ahmed told the court he was only trying to make his point that many other deaths in Afghanistan were being ignored and added he had no idea it would cause so much upset.

He will be sentenced later.

Do western democracies protect free speech?

See  article from  indexoncensorship.org

In the age of social media, the European Union needs to defend free expression. But it often falls far short, says Padraig Reidy.

Update: Sentenced

10th October 2012. See  article from  indexoncensorship.org

Azhar Ahmed has been given a community order after being found guilty of sending a grossly offensive communication . Ahmed, 19, from West Yorkshire wrote on Facebook that All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL! This morning at Huddersfield Magistrates' Court he was fined 300 and ordered to complete 240 hours of community service over a two-year period.

 

 Update: 'Racist' Police insult British Tradition of Free Speech...

Ludicrous police investigation of Alan Sugar joke about child labour


Link Here 6th October 2013  full story: Twitter Twits...Police overreact to trivial insults via Twitter and Facebook
alan sguar tweet Celebrity business man Alan Sugar has been investigated by police after being ludicrously accused of posting a 'racist' Twitter message.

He posted a photograph of a crying Chinese child to 3.2 million Twitter followers, joking that the youngster was upset after being told off for leaving Apple's iPhone production line, a reference to child labour in Asian factories where the phones are made. He tweeted:

The kid in the middle is upset because he was told off for leaving the production line of the iPhone 5.

The tweet prompted a single complaint to the Metropolitan Police from an easily offended Twitter user, who referred to Sugar as a vile racist .

No matter how ridiculous, and much police action infringes on free speech the police always consider that the complainer is always right. Police contacted the complainant twice, urging her to make a statement at a police station, which she eventually did. The police confirmed that police from Merseyside's Hate Crime Investigation Unit took several days to decide whether a crime had been committed by Sugar's joke.

In the end the trivial tweet was somehow classed as a hate incident -- which means no further action will be taken, but details will be kept on file.

The TaxPayers' Alliance condemned the police investigation, insisting police should not waste time and money chasing ill-thought-out tweets .