Don’t be a dick and stay out of prison

Matthew Woods, a Facebook user, has been jailed for publishing offensive jokes. This is the most recent in a long line of jailings for saying things on social networks.

It seems that people are split along traditional lines on this one. The right-wing, Daily Mail lot are outraged. They believe that people who do such a thing should be jailed to teach them a lesson. The left-wing, Guardian lot are saying that this is the end of free speech.

Being a soft-arse leftie myself, I think that free speech should be protected but things aren’t as simple as that. If you offend people in a public forum, which Facebook is, you run the risk of the right-wing lot getting together with their flaming staffs and pitchforks, turning up outside your house and causing you trouble. This is clearly a concern for the police and, as they say, prevention is better than the cure. Matthew Woods was arrested for his own safety. Quite why they felt the need to jail him as well comes across as a little strange.

I do not think that free speech should be curtailed. The trick is to not be a dick, I think. Simple as that. However, people are people and will be dicks, regularly.

Not easy is it?

I think Victoria Coren put it best:

It’s easy for us peaceable western liberals to make a fuss when a likeable musician or poet is censored in a faraway country. But when it’s a revolting moron being offensive in our own country, the point is still the same: you can’t start sending people to prison for saying something you don’t like.

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About Scott

Motorsport, football, AFL, noisy music, Pez. Web designer from S. London/Kent, lives in the north. Lapsed punk drummer. Probably craving a walk in the hills

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