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British Teenager Jailed Over Facebook Comments

Lancashire teenager sentenced to three months in prison after posting 'abhorrent' jokes about missing girl on Facebook

by Steven Morris and Dan Sabbagh | The Guardian

A teenager who posted explicit comments and jokes about April Jones on his Facebook page has been jailed for 12 weeks.

Matthew Woods, 19, from Chorley, Lancashire, made comments about April and Madeleine McCann, the three-year-old who went missing during a family holiday in Portugal in 2007.

Woods was arrested for his own safety after about 50 people descended on his home. He pleaded guilty at Chorley magistrates court to sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive. The chairman of the bench, Bill Hudson, said Woods's comments were so "abhorrent" he deserved the longest sentence the court could hand down.

Hudson added: "The reason for the sentence is the seriousness of the offence, the public outrage that has been caused and we felt there was no other sentence this court could have passed which conveys to you the abhorrence that many in society feel this crime should receive."

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2 things come to

2 things come to mind...first, I think these types of events are fostered to put more fear into the public about communicating with others and make people insecure about free speech until they fear talking with even family members about issues that my get them in trouble with the state (like USSR.) Secondly, we should all keep in mind that the Britain is the testing ground for whatever they launch next in the states. I've been noticing this for a long time that whatever they roll out there that is controversial, whether it be the street cameras or other intrusive nonsense, eventually comes over here after they have perfected their response to public outcry over there.

I think it's more a case that the constitution so blatantly

Forbids attacks on free speech the UK doesn't have anything like that.

Nor does the UK have anything like the NDAA, they can only keep you for 28 days without charge here after attempts to make it 128 days were strongly opposed by MP's. Attacks on freedom face different opposition depending on where they take place...


having experienced an extreme amount of loss and grief in my life my first reaction was intense anger that someone would get amusement out of someone elses pain.. I would probably have been one of the 50 out to get him.. now I am trying to feel reasonable about it but it's tough..

Daughter of 1776 American Revolutionists

i say, ignore all idiots! mean people will hurt us--

it's inevitable. as difficult as it is, we should realize they're idiots and refuse to give them power in our lives!

Christians should not be warmongers! http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance87.html


I'm trying.. I really am~

Daughter of 1776 American Revolutionists

How do we know if this is even true?

After all the deceitful things that we have witnessed the government/media/etc. do, why do we keep believing ANYTHING they say?


Drop FB Now!!!! U know what FB is don't U;-((((
Sheeple corral!!!!Man don't even need the dog to herd them anymore.
They all went in willingly;-(
Fight The Power To Be Anyway U Can!!!Be The Sand in Their Gears!!! Get out of MOST all their paper schemes.
Gold, Silver

Monty python black kight

That sucks!

But I am glad I found out about Sickipedia, to keep up on my sick jokes.

I dont care what he said

He shouldnt be going to jail over free speech!!!

Do they have "free speech" in the UK?

I know they don't have a First Ammendment, because it is a different country, but I was wondering what laws they have over there regarding free speech.

I'm with hutteto on this one

The guy is a prick for writing shit about missing children but I defend his right to say that shit.

He should have known that when people read the shit he wrote, they were going to attack him verbally and possibly track him down and give him a kicking. That is the consequences of his stupid actions.

Locking the guy up is atrocious and shows just how politically correct the masses have become in the UK not to mention the US.

As for your question ralph: "what laws they have over there regarding free speech" I would say we have the UN's "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" in which it states: Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

“I have joined your revolution and I’m proud to be part of what you want to do.” - Ron Paul

Hey Phantom, are you quoting

UN "rules"? I have no idea if this is in UN regulation or whatever they call it, just curious.

Yes, we have free speech; but

Yes, we have free speech; but that does not mean you can say what you want in a public arena, no matter how offensive. Why do Libertarians have difficulty with a sense of responsibility?

This space available

No Solly, you can say whatever you want without...

having to worry about getting in trouble or penalized. Sorry if your offended, but it really doesnt matter how you feel about it, its your RIGHT. You agree with free speech but then say you shouldnt have a right to say what you want. lol Im sorry dude but it doesnt work like that. I will assume your either drunk or high, and as a result disillusioned, or dont know the definition of "we have free speech" which is EXACTLY what you typed. You are in conflict with yourself.

Please decide which argument you want to stick with, and then come back and we can offer you some clarification, but we cant argue with your 2 arguments when they are in 180 degree opposition to one another.

1- Facebook isn't "public", it's privatily owned

2- Free speech goes hand in hand with responsibility in the sense that you'll inevitably get "blowback" from it (negative/good reaction, bad/good reputation...) and you have to be ready to deal with those consequences. It isn't the government's role (in America anyway) to "regulate" free speech. On the contrary, liberterians tend to be the ones understanding the self-responsibility that free speech - and any other type of liberty - inevitably requires.

3- Unless there was a credible threat made, there's no grounds to arrest someone for a facebook post. Did he break a law?

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom — go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, an

I agree

I agree with where you're coming from in this comment. I think some of the comments below are a result of poor wording on your part, followed by a question that evokes simple-mindedness and invites negative response. Keep in mind your asking this question to libertarians.

"Why do Libertarians have difficulty with a sense of responsibility?"

I suggest a better way to ask libertarians this question and receive intelligent-minded positive responses, would be maybe something along the lines of...

Is there a distinction between "freedom" and "liberty" in the libertarian philosophy?
Freedom, Liberty, is there a difference? Whats the difference?

...and see if that alone doesn't provide you with answers to their "sense of responsibility".

reedr3v's picture

Here's the misunderstanding. A libertarian society

would encourage far more responsibility than the current authoritarian culture in which the government is expected to make everybody conform to popular p.c. standards. The courts facilitate keeping the serfs in line, with brutal jail time and police brutality as threats to any who might not agree with arbitrary government dictates.

In the case of the insensitive young dolt who posted comments beyond community acceptability, many libertarians think the community itself, the families involved, peers, religious or helping societies etc. would be a much more stabilizing influence on the young. This is not a simple answer, there is none. We have just endured a century of more and more transfer of responsibilities from real people to bureaucracies,with predictable results including the breakdown of families caused by school systems designed to produce obedient and unthinking citizens with little self respect and even less for others.

We can never restore civility and kindness by coercive violence. When people accept the Nonaggression Principle as readily as they accept that slavery is abhorrent, humanity will finally be able to rise to its full potential as caring, loving beings.

If you'd like to explore ways peaceable liberty could benefit a society, I highly recommend Mary Ruwart's Healing Our World In An Age Of Aggression.

Have you lost your mind?

I don't care how repugnant this guy's speech is, that is the "price" of living a free society. His words were in no meaningful way injurious to someone's life, liberty, or property.

Let me tell you I find your own comment about free speech reprehensible, illogical, and, frankly, disgusting. I'm willing to wager a vast majority of the DP community would agree with me.

Does that mean we should lock you up? Or even forbid you from posting here? Of course not.

This has got to be the most disappointing comment I've seen on here in a longgggg time.

Where's your head?

As long as he didn't

threaten anyone he should be able to say whatever he want's. Words are just that, words, and sometimes the feeble minded get overly sensitive and want people jailed for their words, you know, rudimentary sounds that are made in ones throat. Yes, people should think before they open their mouths', but no one should be jailed for speaking their mind.

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire

Now, ponder on that quote, and realize what it means.

“When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” – Dresden James

Yes lets ponder

In this context, let us answer the all- important question, “Liberty and morality: can we have both?” The answer is, absolutely yes! Not only can we have both, but we must have both, or eventually we will have neither. As Sir James Russell Lowell said, “The ultimate result of protecting fools from their folly is to fill the planet full of fools.”

Our motto should be, “We teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.”

Freedom without responsibility only leads to the destruction of civilization, as evidenced by Rome and other great civilizations of the past. As Alexis de Tocqueville said, “Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot.” In a similar vein, Henry Ward Beecher added, “There is no liberty to men who know not how to govern themselves.” And Edmund Burke wrote, “What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue?”

The Voltaire quote reminded me of that little excerpt from "Persuasion vs Force" by Mark Skousen

[I'll post the rest of the excerpt as a reply to the obscene comment a few posts below this one.]

I'm offended by that remark

Off to jail with you.

Fuck off.

Fuck off.

continued from above

My challenge to all lovers of liberty today is to take the moral high ground. Our cause is much more compelling when we can say that we support drug legalization, but do not use mind altering drugs. That we tolerate legal abortion, but choose not to abort our own future generations. That we support the right to bear arms, but do not misuse handguns. That we favor the right of individuals to meet privately as they please, but do not ourselves discriminate.

and umm....
That we favor the right of individuals to use obscene vulgar language in the public square, but do not ourselves be vulgar and use obscene language in public.

In the true spirit of liberty, Voltaire once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” If we are to be effective in convincing others of the benefits of a tolerant world, we must take the moral high ground by saying, “We may disapprove of what you do, but we will defend to the death your right to do it.”

With that in mind, I disapprove of using that kind of language on the DP, Forever Liberty.

So what you're saying is that you don't have free speech

As Ron Paul said, "We don't have free speech so you can talk about the weather."

To better understand the issue: Who determines what is "offensive?" Perhaps the government will one day deem that speaking ill of the government is offensive. That is usually what they do. See the case of Brandon Raub in this country.

Responsibility falls to the individual. If this young man makes such jokes, he will be reviled by his community. If his parents have not taught him well, he will learn, over time, what is and is not appropriate in his community.

But to jail a person over words? It seems rather barbaric, doesn't it?

allegory - ˈalɪg(ə)ri/ - noun - 1. a story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

That is not the proper response

If a private company (Facebook) doesn't want to have the user submitting offensive comments, then they should cancel the account of the offender, not send them to jail. Forums and blogs ban offensive trolls all the time. They don't call the police because someone posts a sick joke. It is absurd that people equate Facebook with a government authority or a public arena. Facebook is nothing more than a private company that offers a service that you can choose to use or not to use.

Facebook comments are suppossedly viewable only by those who agree to have access to view them ("friends" and "likes" and such). Even if Facebook decided not to ban the offensive user, anyone offended could block or de-friend the offensive person. The whole arrest is outrageous.

Because being able to offend

Because being able to offend someone is critical in expressing a dissenting view. You have any idea how many times Ron Paul supporters have been called disgusting for their views? If this were Europe they would be in jail instead. Speech is just that..speech, it hurts no one....after all they are the ones offended. Now you have a young man whos record is ruined...getting a secret clearance for instance is now impossible for him...all over some facebook post no one forced those people to listen to...if you dont understand freedom of speech you dont understand liberty at all