Jail For A Tweet: Coming to America?

jail twitterA few weeks ago a 21 year old British man was sentenced to 56 days in jail after being found guilty of inciting racial hatred.  His crime?  A tweet.

After a British soccer player collapsed on the field due to a heart attack, Liam Stacey sent a tweet that said, “LOL. F*** Muamba he’s dead!!! #haha.”

He was arrested by police the following day.  The judge who sentenced Stacey called his comment “vile and abhorrent.”

Meanwhile, back here in the States, the legislature in Arizona has passed House Bill 2549, which would include electronic or digital devices in an existing state law that makes it illegal to threaten or harass someone using a telephone.  Using a cell phone, tablet or computer to communicate obscene, lewd or profane language would be a violation of the law if that communication is done with the intent to annoy, offend or terrify. 

Annoy?  Offend?  Really?

Using that criteria, most of the users on Twitter should be arrested, starting with Spike Lee.

Arizona legislatures say the bill is intended to stop cyber bullying.  They may have good intentions but it appears, according to David Horowitz of Media Coalition, that the language in the bill is too broad and it risks criminalizing the all too common practice of acting like a jerk online.

Since the bill isn’t limited to one-on-one communication, all open communication on the Internet could be considered a crime if someone is offended by what you say.

As of April 3, the bill passed the Legislature and was awaiting a decision by Gov. Jan Brewer.

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2 comments to Jail For A Tweet: Coming to America?

  • Anonymous

    I would imagine that the new law would be unconstitutional in America?
    Sadly, we don’t have a Constitution in the UK.

    The Liam Stacey trial was an outrage and the European Commissioner for Human Rights says that it was excessive and wrong.

    The case involved football and race, which are two very emotive subjects in Britain, and unfortunately, an inexperienced judge appeared to get caught up in the hysteria.