There was something really quite exciting about seeing the deluge of support sweep across the twitterverse in real-time this morning. In a humbling display of defiance and solidarity, twittizens across the world ignited and united in support of one of their own, falsely accused and wrongly convicted.
His crime was to tweet 109 characters that went on to be interpreted by the judiciary as a menacing threat to blow up an airport: “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!” were the words he apparently wrote to a woman he was due to visit by plane from an airport closed by excessive snowfall.
So on the one hand I find myself rather impressed by the #IAmSpartacus campaign. It resulted in thousands of tweets replaying the offending message. It led to a pledge from the King of Twitter Mr Stephen Fry to pay the fine and associated court costs. It led to 360 news pieces on Google so far today…
On the other hand I chose not to join in all the fun and frolics because I do think that @pauljchambers was a touch foolish to tweet the words ‘airport’ and ‘blowing sky high’ in the same breath (as it were).
I’m sorry but was a bit silly.
But since when has being a bit silly become a criminal offence?
Anyone can see that there was no intent to cause alarm nor to be threatening in any way. In his own mind and in the mind of any right minded person, he was just engaging in a bit of harmless banter and bravado.
None of the pre-requisites of a proper bomb threat were in evidence. No contact with the airport. No intended victim. No attempt to hide his identity. No muffled phone call. No coded message. No known terrorist affiliations. No innocent bystanders at risk.
It looks like the police weren’t sure what they were dealing with. “I had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they’d never heard of it” @pauljchambers later told the Telegraph.
The real crime here was the blindingly obvious lack of understanding and common sense from the bench. The judge described the tweet in question as “menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed.”
I think not. That’s just crazy talk…