Freedoms

#IamSpartacus

Supposing you all get prosecuted?  You should, because the judgement was clear, it was a clear menace.

Let’s settle a few things before we start and I get the hate mail.  I was pretty ignorant this morning, and tweeted my two-pennies worth really just for my friends on Twitter, but my tweets are not protected, they are public, so anyone can read them.  I said, and have repeated,

You wouldn’t shout fire in a crowded cinema.

Paul Chambers himself acknowledges that with hindsight, perhaps his frustration was expressed in a ill thought out way…

…and I certainly realise now, it was ill-advised. But it was clearly frustration, caused by heavy snowfall grounding flights and potentially scuppering my own flight a week later. Like having a bad day at work and stating that you could murder your boss, I didn’t even think about whether it would be taken seriously.

So at the time I would have said “you daft bugger, you know everyone is a bit freaky about this sort of thing.”

But since this morning I’ve read a lot more about this, and I am concerned.

Paul Chambers certainly has had a severe battering since the initial case, he has lost two jobs, and is landed with the costs of the case, which various famous people have offered to pay.  But having the case paid for isn’t going to make this pain go away, there is a livelihood to recover, and a criminal conviction to write down on many many forms in the future, including all job applications.

The deeper pain, however, is the attitude of the authorities.  I didn’t know for example that the Robin Hood Airport staff had seen the original tweet and dismissed it as the obvious expression of frustration that it was. http://armyofdave.com/2010/11/12/something-important-happened-here/ has a much more concise blog entry and a link, http://cripesonfriday.tumblr.com/post/606531386/paul-chambers-related-links-in-one-post relaying all the information gathered in news sources about the matter, I confess I have not read all of it.

So as far as I can see, the authorities went a bit mad.  I’m sure we can agree about this if we review the material, and a lot of people think Judge Davies judgement was wrong, I’m certainly swinging around to this view myself, even if for no other reason than the idea that so so many people think that it’s an unreasonable judgement.  I’m not one to follow the crowd, however.

The various reactions have been appalling, I didn’t know Paul Chambers had lost jobs, naive of me?  Maybe, but I thought this matter was a personal matter and I would have expected to remain as such.  Not a very good employer I fear, but I don’t know who they are, so can I pass judgement?

Ah, judgement.  look we all do it, we have to make judgements about things every day, and Judges are supposed to be experts in this sort of thing.  They must know the law.  They are human and can get it wrong, but they are supposed to be experts, what did Judge Davies think about this that we didn’t?  I would have to see the full text of her judgement to know, and that won’t I suspect happen for while yet.

But look, I said at the beginning that we wouldn’t shout fire in a cinema.  And I have said that this SHOULD have been tested in open court, we need to know what is ok and what is not.  Everyone seems to be up in arms because our freedom has been impinged, our freedom to speak, express, even moments of frustration and hyperbole.  That does worry me, but what worries me more is that we don’t seem to have a rational, harmless and fair way of the state criticising its citizens for doing something that was a moment of foolishness.

Wait a minute.

We do, it’s called a caution, and it carries no penalty, but is warning that in the opinion of an officer you’ve done something wrong.

Or godamnit the discretion of a sensible police officer who could have nipped around and said, “well that was a bit daft wasn’t it?”

The mechanisms are in place, but over-reacting is a way of the state “making an example” and keeping us under the thumb.  Yeah I said that.

We’re scared enough of terrorism as it is, let’s keep up the rage of the people.  This should have been a trivial matter, and it is occupying all our minds, because it was made important by the actions of the state machine.

I said that it should have been tested in open court.  I was wrong, wrong, wrong.  It shouldn’t have been tested at all, because there was no real threat here, just a frustrated man expressing feelings which we express, collectively, every day, that sometimes we’d like to see something crumble to the ground.

You wouldn’t shout fire in a cinema, and Paul Chambers didn’t.

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Actually I’m not scared of terrorists at all.  You’re just big bullies.

And as for Paul Chambers, I hope he gets another job, or better still writes a book and makes a fortune and never has to work again.

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