It's a ******* slippery slope we're heading down. Or the thin end of the wedge. I was thinking about this at weekend, and it's not just any old wedge. It's got a spring behind it, like the rear drum brake adjusters on those bastard French cars (renault 5s I seem to remember). It works by having a long triangle with a spring which pulls it. After each brake application, when you release the brake, the wedge gets pulled slightly further in, never to be released until the shoes are fucked for whatever reason.
And the law relating to what was previously known as free speech is subject to the same thing. I mean, obviously there are limits, but most people know what's ok and what isn't, they don't need laws to tell them. But that's the problem. There are more and more laws coming in to limit what we can do and say in real life and on the twunternet. Even the Protection from Harassment Act is an example of a noose which is forever tightening around the necks of it's unwitting victims, who might not even realize they are victims until it's too late. The act was brought in to address high profile stalking cases, like obsessed fans sending their underwear to pop stars. But now, a lot of what the police do on a day to day basis involves harassment allegations. The trouble is, you don't even need criminal intent for a harassment charge.
According to the act, you just have to "know, or ought to know", that whatever it is you're accused of is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. It might have been well intentioned, but it can mean almost anything the CPS want it to mean. I'm lucky, I haven't been involved in an acrimonious divorce or separation, but I know people who have. Some of them deserved the shit that descended on them from a great height, but some of them didn't at all.
There's a site called Criminal Solicitor dot net, which I joined last year. For libel reasons, I'll can't accurately describe my impression of it. It's a bit clicky, and they say they don't allow their members to give legal advice to the public. But even legal professionals who join up to ask questions sometimes get hassled or threads get binned. And anyway, what's legal advice ? If someone asks which form you need to request a default judgment in a county court claim, then posting a link to the HMCTS website isn't advice, it's just information. But I remember a thread (argument) that raged on for ages on there about Harassment Warning Notices, which can be issued by plod, even if a person is never charged or convicted of harassment. The argument about this seemed to centre on the question of CRB checks, and the suggestion that depending on which police force area you happen to be in, a harassment warning notice can be put on the PNC and in some cases, will show up on an enhanced CRB check. All very well if you sent her 700 threatening or abusive texts, but if you didn't, then it's a bit of a ******.
Earlier this year, an individual was also prosecuted for creating a webpage which glorified an alleged murderer. We have also seen use of the Public Order Act 1986 and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
That's the problem, it's a question of definition. Who gets to define these words, ie what does "Glorified" mean ? It's a bit too subjective for my liking. Even a picture with a funny caption can potentially fall foul of this. If a bench of magistrates or a judge thinks it fits the definition, you're in shit street. I've put videos on the internet which are shall we say, political, in that they take the piss out of a certain attitude or situation, but what worries me and lots of other people, is that almost anything can be taken out of context. I did a pisstake song and one of the lines was about being given Raoul Moat's phone number. It's only done in the name of comic irony, but what if the wrong person takes it the wrong way, or takes offence at it ? I'm looking at getting charged under some stupid act of parliament in a situation that probably wasn't even envisaged when they wrote the sodding thing.
The awful truth though is that Twitter and Facebook have become the moronasphere. Within seconds a lie or even an unfortunate truth can be all round the globe. The lie can become 'truth' just be the amount of its repetition.
Someone, maybe out of spite, maybe as a joke, posts on the internet SWJ99 used to procure children for Jimmy Savile. Now immediate friends know you and know this is a joke, they don't leave a comment but they do like your post. Because they have liked your post their friends (who don't know you or that it's a joke) get to see the original post. A couple of the, by now thousands who may have seen the post take umbrage and decide to place a warning; Beware, known paedophile SWJ99. If he tries to approach your children etc. None of their friends know SWJ99 so a few comments like dirty pervert, should be shot etc are left, someone else vaguely recollects having seen this about SWJ99 somewhere before (they were friends with someone who liked the original post, they can't remember the circumstances just the name and the association with being a pervert. Eventually SWJ99's boss, friends, work colleagues, the teachers at his children's school etc have all seen the paedophile warning and the vitriolic comments attached to it. None of them realises that it started with a joke from a friend who knew SWJ99 used to work for Savile Recruitment.
That's a possible accidental scenario. Imagine if a skilled agitator wanted to sew the seeds of unrest or assassinate someone's character? We aren't talking about the spoken word whereby a silliness can disappear in a second we are talking about an officially recorded word that can be seen all round the world and mostly out of context. If you want to destroy a public career then what better way than to start a whispering campaign on the social media?
Of course the big difficulty is the people who can't spot an obvious joke and/or pisstake and report perfectly harmless 'in jokes'. SWJ99 how's the donkey by the way?
As my granny used to say, "You are the master of the spoken word but the written word is master of you". Nobody is compelled to add their penn'orth to Twitter or Facebook or even ARRSE and they need to assume that their identity can be penetrated however clever they think they have been.