Overreaction = overcriminalisation

From Lori Drew To Dharun Ravi, Punishing People Based On Others’ Suicides Is A Mistake | Techdirt.19 March 2012

The post is quite a long one and cites Paul Butler a former US prosecutor who argues for jury nullification (systemic verdicts of non guilty) of prosecution policies to put behind bars anybody who actually wrongly in the moral sense rather than strict legal sense.

the idea is that cyberbullying is not murder or manslaughter. The chain of causation is too feeble to warrant a charge of that severity. and yet, some people seem to swallow the legal argument quite easily.

Another overaction is in the UK about the tweets by a second year student in Swansea. He was charged for incitement to hatred. He admitted the charge , so no trial. But I find the facts difficult to relate to “incitement”. The tweets were clearly racist, thus conveying racial hatred. They are insulting. But are they likely to stir up racial hatred and had the person intended to stir up racial hatred? I don’t think so. I would even argue that the reactions of the public, with the amount of complaints to the police, show that the tweeter failed badly in stiring up racial hatred. I am not arguing that I am pleased to read such words or that his attitude is admissible. It is clearly not. But what is morally wrong is not necessarily what is legally wrong.The money spent for his trail/sentencing would be better spent in education programmes.

For the tweets, see the Huffington Post UK 27 march 2012 – I copied the important bits.

For comments: “In The UK They Jail People For Being Obnoxious Jerks On Twitter?“, TechDirt 28 March 2012



The first of Stacey’s messages began with “LOL (laugh out loud). **** Muamba. He’s dead!!!”

A number of people took him to task for his views and he responded with a further string of offensive comments aimed at other Twitter users.

About Audrey Guinchard

Senior Lecturer @ University of Essex (UK)
This entry was posted in Countries - UK, Countries - US, Education, Freedom of speech, General - Criminalisation, Offences - Harassment, Offences - Incitement/provocation. Bookmark the permalink.

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