Offensive Remarks on Twitter Should Not Be Punishable by Prison, Let Alone Death

Should trolls who say disobliging things about people on Twitter face imprisonment or death?

Well the answer is now in and, depressingly, it appears to be “yes”.

Today, we read the news that a woman who tweeted under the name “@sweepyface” has been found dead in her hotel room, after having had her identity publicly exposed on television as the author of some unpleasant tweets about the parents of the missing child Madeleine McCann.

A week ago, we saw a man named Peter Nunn jailed for 18 weeks for sending a series of abusive tweets to Labour MP Stella Creasy.

Well I’ve read some of Nunn’s tweets and they’re really not nice.

One of them (a retweet, rather than something he thought up himself) says: “You better watch your back, I’m going to rape your arse at 8pm and put the video all over.”

Horrid.

So yes I think we can all probably agree that Nunn sounds a bit of a warped individual – well in line with that recent study from Canada which suggested that trolls tend to have cruel, psychopathic, Machiavellian personalities.

But where, I suspect, the more sane among us would differ from Stella Creasy and the presiding judge is over the idea that being an unpleasant piece of work ought to be a crime punishable by a prison sentence.

Nunn was found guilty by the judge of “sending indecent, obscure or menacing messages” which, according to the prosecution, had had a “substantial” effect on Creasy who felt “increasing concern that individuals were seeking not only to cause her distress but also to cause her real harm which led her to fear for her own safety.”

I suppose if I were shallow and vindictive enough to want someone put away for being rude about me on social media that would be the line I’d take too. Probably, I might also claim – as feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez did in a supporting statement – that the “fear and horror” generated by these nasty tweets had given me “dizzy spells.” Why stop at mere offence and upset, after all, when you can up the ante to actual physical symptoms?

But I’m not that shallow and vindictive and, even if I were, I simply don’t think I’d have the brazen hypocrisy, the moral dishonesty, and the naked cynicism to pursue such an utterly dishonest case.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

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