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Three Years in Prison for Posting Hatespeak 627

Posted by Zonk
from the don't-feed-the-trolls dept.
Vainglorious Coward writes "In the UK, a man has been sentenced to three years in prison for posting inflammatory messages to a website. Pleading guilty to inciting racial hatred on a site dedicated to the memory of a murdered black teenager, the 30-year old accused stated that he was not racist, and had intended to stir up an argument on the website, but did not believe in what he had written. The defending lawyer described her client as 'isolated and living in a fantasy world, spending hours on his computer in his room where his persona could be as he made it, good or bad.'"
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Three Years in Prison for Posting Hatespeak

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  • If only.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by kjart (941720) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:14AM (#16346681)

    ...they'd start charging all the -1 Trolls on Slashdot. Now that would be progress.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      First they came for all the Anonymous Coward, nobody speaks up.
      Then they came for the trolls... No one cares.
      Then the people that don't read the RTFA... (Half of /. gone)
      Then the jokes... (???)

      When are they going to come after the dups?

      Profit!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Das Modell (969371)
      Of course, many people get -1 Troll because the person doing the moderating is a fanatic with an agenda, so maybe Slashdot's moderation system isn't really all that accurate.
      • by Manmademan (952354) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @09:54AM (#16348095)
        ah, but that's what the purpose of a metamod system is. If an individual truly IS a fanatic with an agenda, he/she will find themselves unable to moderate for much longer. Plus, if mods are browsing at -1 as they should be insightful comments unfairly modded down should be modded back up in short order.
        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @01:45PM (#16349729)
          For example I don't think that "overrated" gets meta modded. At least I don't recall seeing it in there. That also, perhaps not coincidentally, is what my posts tend to get moderated most often when they go against the groupthink on Slashdot. I like Windows so I make posts that are unpopular from time to time. So I'll find a post getting moderated up insightful or informative, and down as overrated. Only happens to the posts that go against the groupthink, when I make one propping up OSS, or some that simply deals with another topic I never find it happening.

          Basically people are modding it down since they disagree with what I'm saying, and I don't think meta moderation catches them.

          Even if it does, that's no guarantee, again because of the whole groupthink thing. If a bunch of metamods decide that they don't like what I said and give props to the overrated mod then nothing happens (supposing it even shows up).

          The system isn't bad, but it still has the problem that the quality of moderators is checked by other moderators.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by bky1701 (979071)
            Yes, overrated and underrated avoid metamod, but they also do NOT add/subtract from Karma, so it's kind of a half way.
  • Trolls (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    3 years for trolling? Isn't it a bit too much?

    The blurb (IDNRTFA) makes it sound like he was posting in a private board. If it was, it'd be easy to just have him banned, and require new users to be approved by a moderator.

    The GNAA better watch out. The interweb is getting dangerous...
    • Re:Trolls (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:26AM (#16346741)
      Maybe you are not aware, but there is no free speech in Europe, at least not like in the US. It is not uncommon to get in trouble for written text or speech.

      If you read the article, it talks about child pornography as well, so I do not say it was unfair in this case.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Instine (963303)
        Try makeing any untoward comments about your almighty presedent, and how to depose him (violently or otherwise) and then see where your constitution gets you.... Inciting crimes is illegal here (in the UK), as it is in the US. And sedition is a thorny one both side of the pond.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by goldspider (445116)
          "Try makeing any untoward comments about your almighty presedent, and how to depose him (violently or otherwise)"

          Yeah, you'll NEVER see anything of the sort here!
        • Re:Trolls (Score:4, Funny)

          by Bionic_Baboon (684462) <professortorcoolguy@nospaM.gmail.com> on Saturday October 07, 2006 @08:44AM (#16347579)
          Ok. Bush sucks. I say we storm the Whitehouse and hang him. See? Nothing happened I'm stil jus&^)(*&SAJDH*()& ----NO CARRIER----
        • Re:Trolls (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Millenniumman (924859) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @09:00AM (#16347687)
          Try makeing any untoward comments about your almighty presedent, and how to depose him (violently or otherwise) and then see where your constitution gets you....

          Rubbish. Millions of people, famous and average, have said, openly and freely, that he is a bad president. They were not punished for it. Thousands of people have suggested that he should be impeached, openly and freely, and they have not been punished for it. Some people have even said that he should be murdered, and despite the fact that that would probably get you in trouble if you were talking about someone else, they were not punished for it.
        • Re:Trolls (Score:4, Informative)

          by takeya (825259) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @09:04AM (#16347717) Journal
          You're dead wrong my limey friend.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedition_Act_of_1918 [wikipedia.org]
          The Sedition Act was repealed in 1921. Although the Sedition Act was upheld by the US Supreme Court in Schenck v. United States, most legal experts view the Sedition Act as being antithetical to the letter and spirit of the United States Constitution, specifically the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

          And allow me to speak freely when I say that anyone wishing (albeit minor) financial support for a coup of my state or federal government, I'd be overjoyed to contribute. I'm positively sure that this is inciting violence under some reading of your laws, but under mine the only exception to the first amendment is falsely presenting a clear and imminent danger in order to severely disturb the peace.
        • by Virtex (2914) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @09:49AM (#16348063) Homepage
          Try makeing any untoward comments about your almighty presedent
          I hope the president dies! After he signed the order to have 100 good men and women killed by the cylons, I simply have no sympathy for him any more. President Baltar, I hope you get what's coming for you!
      • A-ahahahahaha, man that's the funniest thing I've heard all week.

        Oh the crippling irony ^^
      • Re:Trolls (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mjbkinx (800231) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @09:44AM (#16348029)
        Maybe you are not aware, but there is no free speech in Europe, at least not like in the US. It is not uncommon to get in trouble for written text or speech.

        It is very uncommon to get in trouble for written text or speech. To get in trouble, what you say or write must have the potential to cause violence against minorities.
        The reason is of course the Nazi history, which led to a stronger emphasis of the protection of an individual's dignity and safety.

        However, there was an interesting verdict in Germany recently, where public display of anti-constitutional symbols (read: the swastika, SS runes or similar) is illegal except for educational or artistic purposes. The owner of a mail-order shop was fined 3600 euros for selling anti-nazi items that contained the swastika (crossed out, thrown in a trash can, etc). The court ruled it was commercial distribution of an anti-constitutional symbol. Reactions to the verdict were between disbelieve and outrage and the Minister of Justice suggested that if the verdict holds, the law would have to be changed.

        If you read the article, it talks about child pornography as well, so I do not say it was unfair in this case.

        See, and that's quite a similar thing. One could argue child pornography was freedom of expression, at least as long as the children weren't harmed. But luckily, society has agreed on giving the protection of children a higher priority than pedophiles' "right" to look at such material. Similarly, European societies have agreed on giving the protection of minorities a higher priority than racists' "right" to express their hatred against them -- because last time we didn't, it didn't turn out well.

        What a society deems acceptable, or what it considers an individual's fundamental right, is based on it's culture and historic experience. Europe's history was very violent, with millions brutally murdered by the Nazis out of hatred against political, religious and racial minorities. That this experience had an effect on its culture can't come as a surprise to anyone. That this is reflected in its laws is only natural, especially since these laws have been written directly after WW II.
        Likewise, what US society sees as its fundamental rights, like "unlimited" Free Speech (which really isn't unlimited at all), or the "right" to bear arms, has its roots in the experience of King George's reign. Its strong Christian roots, on the other hand, have resulted in laws against sexual expression which most Europeans would find utterly ridiculous, like that you're not allowed to sell penis shaped vibrators in Texas and that you have to pretend dildos are to educate about proper condom use.

        • Re:Trolls (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Stalyn (662) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @02:39PM (#16350101) Homepage Journal
          What a society deems acceptable, or what it considers an individual's fundamental right, is based on it's culture and historic experience.

          You have to understand that this concept is very hard for Americans to wrap their head around. Americans tend to think in absolutes. It stems from our deeply religious past but also that our founding fathers believed in "natural rights"; there are certain "inalienable" rights that exist independent of our human institutions. This belief motivated the framers of our Constitution to codify these rights in the Bill of Rights.

          So when you say something like "well it's up to society to determine what are rights and what should be prohibited" simply does not compute to most Americans. Our rights are our rights by some "divine right" and not to be determined by the whims of society.
          • Re:Trolls (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mjbkinx (800231) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @03:02PM (#16350225)

            You have to understand that this concept is very hard for Americans to wrap their head around. Americans tend to think in absolutes. It stems from our deeply religious past but also that our founding fathers believed in "natural rights"; there are certain "inalienable" rights that exist independent of our human institutions. This belief motivated the framers of our Constitution to codify these rights in the Bill of Rights.

            I don't think we really see it that differently in Europe. It's just that where these rights conflict, like here Freedom of Speech and Human Dignity or the Right to Live, the priorities are different in some rare cases ("Hate Speech" really is the only one I can think of).

            So when you say something like "well it's up to society to determine what are rights and what should be prohibited" simply does not compute to most Americans. Our rights are our rights by some "divine right" and not to be determined by the whims of society.

            But it seems like society does that all the time. I'd say that with Sex and Drugs, you're generally better off in Europe. In Germany we don't have a general speed limit. We're allowed beer at 16. You can say swear words and show nudity on TV. There are several parties you can vote for to represent you in parliament...
            From an outside perspective, it seems there are parts of US society which have a huge influence on what must be considered, if not illegal, then at least political or commercial suicide.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by joto (134244)

        Maybe you are not aware, but there is no free speech in Europe, at least not like in the US. It is not uncommon to get in trouble for written text or speech.

        Maybe you're not aware, but there is no such thing as a country named Europe. Talking about "free speech in Europe" is like talking about "free speech in Asia" (from Iran to Japan). As for the members of the European Union, I can assure you that they all have legislation to ensure free speech.

        But there is no country in the world where you have absol

  • by Olix (812847) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:22AM (#16346719)
    Eeerk, I didn't realise we had laws like that in the UK... I need to step up my "move to sweden" plan.
    • it's there too (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's available in Sweden too, labeled "racial hatred incitement" ("hets mot folkgrupp")...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pharmboy (216950)
      At least you don't live here in the US. Oh wait, we have free speech here.... never mind.

      But seriously folks, this rather smacks of Thought Police. I can understand why it is illegal to yell "FIRE" in a crowded movie theatre, but I have always believed it is better to allow those who have repugnant ideas to voice them openly so the whole world can see how big of a nut they are.
      • by SWroclawski (95770) <serge@@@wroclawski...org> on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:57AM (#16346917) Homepage
        The reason these laws exist is that they're not merely tabletop dicusssions, they're incitements to violent acts. It's not illegal to hate someone because of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, height, weight or operating system, but when it moves into "You should kill this group.", then it's not just a thought, it's something serious, and dangerous.

        I agree that it's sometimes great to let the nutcases say their peice in public in order to ridicule them, but we also have to protect people from violent acts by these nutcases. It's obviously a fine line- the UK (and most of Europe)'s rules differ quite a bit from those in the US.

        I think the common ground here which we can all agree on is that racism is a problem, and that we want to protect the public. From there, we can have a dialog on how to best accomplish it while maintaining individual civil liberties.
        • by rs232 (849320) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @08:32AM (#16347499)
          While such comments are totally unacceptable, the establishment does seem to be very selective in who they punish. For instance why are the people who made these statments not being locked up. Does political correctness only apply to white anglo-saxon protestants.

          "I believe the whole of Britain has become Dar ul-Harb (land of war [jihadwatch.org])," the Syria-born Mohammed said. Therefore, "the kafir (non-believer) has no sanctity for their own life or property," - Omar Bakri Mohammed

          was Re:Crap, we have laws like that?
        • I heavily favor egalitarian ideals, but I'm sorry: Racism is a manner of thinking, an attitude. Tyrrany has its seeds in the idea that citizens' attitudes qualify as "problems" that the state needs to solve via criminilazition. The ideal of tolerance can be elevated in ways that are less threatening to a free society. China can call anything that glorifies democracy "incitement to violence" if you allow enough indirection in the definition of the crime.

          Incitement to violence is a legitimate thing to crimina
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Instine (963303)
        Thats fine until one of them is charismatic, and ritch, and the counries in a bit of slump, and theres just been a large increase in imergration, and then bang! what might normal be a preasure rease valve for nut case, becomes the reason your neighbourhood is getting rounded up by death squads.... The worset thing about the second world war, is that it wasn't whitnessed by the whole world. My Grandad's still alive to tell me what it was like to see storm troopers march through a town killing as they went. M
        • by qortra (591818) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @07:54AM (#16347255)
          So please take it from me, crushing race hate is worth losing some smaller liberties.

          No! It isn't!

          Everybody has a cause for which they believe it is worth the loss of 'smaller' liberties. But for whatever liberties we have (that do not infringe on the liberties of others), they are NEVER worth giving up.

          The most important goal in any modern country should be to insure civil liberties. This is so that we can protect ourselves from the government [wikipedia.org], the entity who has the largest ability to harm us. World War II certainly was catastrophic (over 60 million casualities by some estimations), but it will be nothing compared to the suffering in the future if our population of over 6 billion becomes subject to police states. For each civil liberty that we give up, we get a step closer to that future.

          Don't get me wrong, I haven't made up my mind on this particular case; I realize that some speech is considered a direct violation of people's natural rights. However, if a speech fails to rise to that threshold (and it is a very high threshold), than it ought to be free, and no number of casualities past or present should change that.

          Be careful what you say; true liberties are NEVER worth giving up.
          • by Instine (963303) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @08:32AM (#16347491)
            Read some Plato!

            Sadly the idealism of pretecting yourself from your government is a long lost cause.... They could destroy your country in a second. But! as long as you don't loose your society, the goverment knows its got something to loose by mistreating you.
            • by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @09:07AM (#16347755) Homepage

              Sadly the idealism of pretecting yourself from your government is a long lost cause

              This is a fundamental error that a lot of people make. The "government" isn't a group of aliens or some amorphous blob-like entity which is different from the rest of us. It is us. Its composed of people just like you and me, people who are your neighbours, friends and family. The only real difference is that they have been mandated by the rest of the people to do certain things, like enforce laws, or collect taxes. If you don't want these people to do certain things, the rest of the population needs to tell them that, change their employment contracts. Its when they refuse to listen to the rest of the people that a problem arises.

              I think that three years in this case is an excessively long sentence, probably handed down by a judge trying to make an example of this man (am I the only one who feels that lawyers, lawmakers and judges are terrified of the internet for some reason?), but it could have all sorts of knock on consequences for any clown who gets his hackles raised in a flamewar with a troll on the internet, with spurious suits and wasting the time of the courts which could be better spent elsewhere.

              Yes, what he said was very wrong and offensive. But three years in jail with rapists, murderers, violent criminals and drug dealers isn't going to make him any better a human being. If he was any way serious about his statements, what it will do is make him a much better connected hate monger. If he wasn't serious about his statements, he most likely will be by the time he makes it out.

              The judge in this case could well be accused of knee jerk reactionism, and frankly an abuse of powers.

              • by phorm (591458) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @09:11PM (#16352153) Journal
                With exemption for the smaller local fish, such as mayors, etc, I - nor anyone in my social circle - have never personally had dinner with, shook hands with, met, or otherwise associated with somebody whom is or has been in the upper balances of government. Moreover, if I had, said person would be very unlikely to have had any time for me.

                Why? Because I'm not rich, famous, influential. I am a normal citizen, possibly about average financially for my age, but by no means wealthy nor powerful. Don't kid yourself that I am other common folk are on the same scale as most politicians in this manner, as most come from wealthy or otherwise heavily influencial and/or powerful families.

                The last time I heard of a more common man in government in this continent, it was after the people rose up and overthrew the existing government.

                As for making an example of somebody, believe it or not but that is part of what the criminal system does. Not everyone gets a speeding ticket, not everyone gets a prison sentence, but the possibility that one might is supposed to be part of the dissuasive factor in the system. No, jailtime might not make this individual a better person, in fact I'd side with "probably won't", but it may dissuade others with similar notions.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by smchris (464899)
            Assault is the _threat_ of violence. Battery is committing the violence. Why shouldn't the threat of violence to a _group_ be a crime?

            This is an instance where the U.S. should probably learn from the sad experience of "Old Europe". The U.S. hasn't experienced a Hitler yet and is simultaneously more fragile and dangerous for the innocence.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              What do you mean "Experienced"? The US fought in WWII right alongside the allies. The US lost more soldiers than any European country (except for Yugoslavia) during the war. It was an attack on US soil that got them into the war, and it was US bombs that ended it. And after the war was over, it was US dollars that funded the Marshall Plan to rebuild the devastated parts of Europe. So just because the US didn't breed the dictator on its soil, don't say that the US didn't experience him or learn from the
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by mikael_j (106439)
                I believe the point was that it wasn't your parents' door that kicked down when they were looking for jews/communists/etc..

                Anyway, according to the statistics I found on Wikipedia (yes I know, I'm lazy), the US lost 407,300 soldiers during the entire war while Yugoslavia lost 446,000 soldiers. However, I think it's interesting that you didn't mention the numbers for any of the other allied countries, especially considering that the US population is a lot higher than that of your average european country.

                A

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RexRhino (769423)
          No, laws against hate speech increase and protect hate.

          If hateful speech is allowed:

          1. I can say things to counter hate speech.
          2. I can know who is hateful, and so I can be prepared if I suspect they may cause trouble.
          3. I can get an understanding of how wide spread a problem is.
          4. Hate speech isn't the forbidden fruit. When alchohol was made illegal in the U.S. in the 1920s, alcohol consumption actually increased, because it became "cool" and "dangerous" to break the law against alcohol.
          5. People who are i
    • by mikael_j (106439) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:49AM (#16346873)
      We have a law like that in Sweden as well, the basic idea of the law could be described as "You can say you hate jews and wish they all died but you can't say 'kill all jews'", its also about context, if you, a six-foot-seven skinhead run up to a short skinny black girl and start ranting about black people then your physical appearance and how threatening the situation could be considered to be should be factored in. Of course, like all laws this law gets misinterpreted by both sides...

      /Mikael

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Das Modell (969371)

      Eeerk, I didn't realise we had laws like that in the UK... I need to step up my "move to sweden" plan.

      You know what the funny thing is? All those Muslims who were inciting terror, violence and treason in the streets didn't get any prison sentences. They were standing in a public place in plain sight, saying things like "behead those who insult Islam" and "Europe is the cancer Islam is the answer." The guy in TFA was posting anonymous comments on the Internet. This is an obvious instance of "reverse" aparthe

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
      I really, really, strongly dislike these kinds of laws. I would never say I h__e them, of course...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:24AM (#16346733)
    He got 6 months of his sentence for child pornography charges.
    • by rking (32070) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @07:02AM (#16346949)
      Why was the parent post modded "troll"?

      From the article:
      He was sentenced at Liverpool crown court to two years and eight months' in jail for the race hate crime and six months consecutively for the child pornography offences.

      I think it's fair to say that makes the Slashdor summary "sentenced to three years in prison for posting inflammatory messages to a website" inaccurate.
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:25AM (#16346739) Homepage Journal
    TFA:
    After the verdict, Anthony's mother, Gee Walker, said she was satisfied by the sentence and did not accept a written apology Martin had sent her.
    Contrast with the reaction to five brutal murders, another five variously wounded, and a suicide:
    http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1469562006 [scotsman.com]
    Several Amish interviewed by Reuters said they were sad but not angry and emphasized the need for forgiveness of gunman Charles Carl Roberts, who as a non-Amish person was what the locals refer to as "English."
    "It's just not the way we think. There is no sense in getting angry," said Henry Fisher, 62, a retired farmer with five grown children and 33 grandchildren who has lived all his life in the town some 60 miles (100 km) west of Philadelphia.
    In the former case, some choose to place their faith in the government and legal system, and draw satisfaction at three years incarceration for ignorant speech, at the risk of social fragmentation.
    I think the Amish community would have simply shunned such a foul-mouthed fool, without putting money into lawyer's pockets, or wasting real estate on a prison.

    Social progress.
    • by edxwelch (600979) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @07:20AM (#16347043)
      The guy sent an appology because he didn't want to be charged, not because he was sorry.
      Maybe if you read about the murder of this guy (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/mersey side/4730559.stm) you can imagine what the family had to go through.
    • by GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) <curt.johnson@nospAM.gmail.com> on Saturday October 07, 2006 @09:52AM (#16348091) Homepage
      It's a mistake to believe Amish peity is somehow more civilized or superior to the court system. Amish forgiveness cuts both ways, they also forgive their teenage boys who rape and molest their daughters. In fact daughters going to the outside world for protection from predators in their own community has resulted in retaliation against the victims by the community.

      Impressed by their piety, courts have permitted the Amish to live outside the law. But in some places, the group's ethic of forgive and forget has produced a plague of incest--and let many perpetrators go unpunished.

      Amish forgiveness has just as much chance for arbitrary tyranny as any other system. Only a rational, secular legal system can successfully remove arbitrariness from the social order you live under.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RexRhino (769423)
        Incest/rape is a boogy man. While it probably happens to a very small extent in all societies, it is against the social norm of virtually all societies and cultures for the last 500 years.

        However, rape, incest, and sexual deviancy fears are very useful to disparage a religion, culture, or group. From the old Nazi propoganda posters of charactures of "hooked-nose" Jews stealing away virtuous German woman, to the stereotypes in deep south U.S. about black men without sexual control, or the alternate stereotyp
  • Bizarre (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 26199 (577806) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:31AM (#16346757) Homepage

    It sounds like the guy needs help. Trolling is one thing, but trolling on website dedicated to the memory of a recently murdered teenager? Combined with the child pornography aspect, it's very worrying indeed.

    So how does locking the guy up help anyone? He may have problems but that doesn't mean he's dangerous now; conversely, if he is dangerous now, then he needs psychiatric help, not prison. In either case prison is not the answer.

    • by Tim Ward (514198) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @07:18AM (#16347031) Homepage
      We do have a bit of a problem with that in the UK. (This is a general comment, without reference to the particular case under discussion about which I know nothing other than what has been in the news.)

      Once upon a time people who were unable to lead a normal life in society were locked up in mental hospitals. But we've closed all those and replaced them with "care in the community". This policy, which in fact is implemented as "neglect in the community", has a variety of outcomes for the people concerned.

      Some do actually cope with life on the outside (maybe they didn't need to be in the mental hospitals in the first place), with or without any extra support that they are lucky enough to receive. Some don't cope, and end up homeless and living on the streets, maybe dying of drug overdoses or exposure in winter. Some cope fine with keeping themselves alive but end up in prison because their behaviour, which they can't do anything about, is unacceptable to society.

      Prison is generally reckoned not to be a suitable place to keep these people locked up, as you say ... but we no longer have anywhere else.
    • Re:Bizarre (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jugalator (259273) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @08:55AM (#16347671) Journal
      Trolling is one thing, but trolling on website dedicated to the memory of a recently murdered teenager?

      Yes, that's exactly what trolls in general do. Where else if they are most succssful there? It's the same thing when they troll here about Linux if it's a Linux article, or on an IMDb Star Wars original trilogy thread if it's about how good the original trilogy was. Just not as gruesome, but the very same philosophy behind it anyway.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:32AM (#16346759) Homepage Journal
    as if millions of GNAA trolls screamed out in horror then were thrown in prison...
  • hmm?? (Score:5, Funny)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:32AM (#16346761) Homepage
    The defending lawyer described her client as 'isolated and living in a fantasy world, spending hours on his computer in his room where his persona could be as he made it, good or bad.'

    How did she know that he read slashdot?
  • by ephedream (899351) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:33AM (#16346769)
    "Hitler started with an idea, slavery started with an idea, so it is good that this was stopped in time."

    *Shudder*

    Eerie resemblance to "thoughtcrime"...
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Eerie resemblance to "thoughtcrime"...

      Yes, but some of the voting public will think it is doubleplusgood.

  • Bad Summary (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Inverted Intellect (950622) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:33AM (#16346773)
    Bad submitter, bad!

    TFA doesn't say anything about what crime in particular he was jailed for, and his sentence may have been partly or completely due to his having 33 images of child pornography on his computer.

    TFA is also very lacking in details, and doesn't say anything about the reason for the search warrant, and the aforementioned lack of explanation for his sentence.
    • Re:Bad Summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:41AM (#16346813)
      Read TFA:
      He was sentenced at Liverpool crown court to two years and eight months' in jail for the race hate crime and six months consecutively for the child pornography offences.
  • Why stop at race? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by physicsphairy (720718) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:34AM (#16346783) Homepage
    Why not impose the same penalties for, oh, I don't know, "anti-capitalist speak." Oh, that's a bit familiar, isn't it?

    Regardless of what you think of hate speech, once the infrastructure for persecuting people on their thoughts/attitudes/opinions is in place it becomes quite trivial to make it encompass your personal/ideological enemies. All you have to do is redefine "hate."

    Anti-government speech --> anti-American speech --> hate.

    Anti-religion speech --> hate.

    Pro-religion speech --> hate. (look at verse X of book Y! so intolerant!)

    . . .

    Maybe it would would end up being more specific, or more round about, but what matters is that motivating ideology is now on the table as something that can be legislated for/against.

    • by joe 155 (937621)
      what if I said "physicsphairy should be killed" (...I know you shouldn't be killed, but it's an example), would you not be offended? I would if someone said it about me. Now imagine that I'm using your real name and location... gets a bit more serious still. If I was talking to people who might think that doing such a thing was a good idea it gets even more serious. Now this example isn't exactly the same because the person was already dead, but if he was saying "all black people deserve to die and shoul
    • by Tx (96709)
      We know from historical precedent [wikipedia.org] that the masses can be talked into doing seriously unpleasant stuff by suitably persuasive individuals and organisations. If your argument is that it isn't possible for lawmakers to target suitably dangerous messages of race/religious hate, personally I'm willing to give it a shot, especially since living in a democracy, I get a say in what the lawmakers do.
  • When he was arrested in September, officers also found 33 images of child pornography on his computer.

    Martin, from Maghull, Merseyside, pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to publishing material likely to stir up racial hatred and to making indecent photographs of children.

    He was sentenced at Liverpool crown court to two years and eight months' in jail for the race hate crime and six months consecutively for the child pornography offences.
  • FTA: When he was arrested in September, officers also found 33 images of child pornography on his computer.

    And there went any stirrings of sympathy I was feeling for him for getting jailed for trolling.
    • by moongha (179616) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:56AM (#16346911)
      If you knew anything about the case in question, you wouldn't have any sympathy period.

      Anthony Walker was a nice black kid, waiting at a bus stop with a couple of white friends when a bunch of thugs starting shouting racist abuse at them. After they attempted to walk away from the abuse, the thugs chased then down, and murdered Walker by plunging an ice pick into his head.

      It was a shockingly brutal and unprovoked attack that shocked the vast majority of people in the country.

      Then less than a week after this happens, this guy anonymously posts on a memorial website that white people should celebrate the murder, that Anthony's family should be burned and made references to slavery and a "banana boat".
  • So... he defending lawyer described her client as 'isolated and living in a fantasy world, spending hours... in his room where his persona could be as he made it, good or bad.'"

    I guess being in a prison cell will be a whole lot different.

  • Sad Day in the UK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:41AM (#16346811)
    The UK in recent years has been claiming the right to take away the freedoms of its subjects, despite the fact that it was once on the forefront of individual liberty. First, it banned guns, contradicting at least 400 years of common law, and now it's going after people for free speech. The authoritarians can invent a rationale for their tyranny against the people, but they'll never stop going after one freedom after another.
  • - The guy's an obvious live-in-his-moms-basement nutter.
    - They also found child porn on his 'puter.
    - It may not hold up on appeal as it is, indeed, questionably opposed to the freedom of speech.
    • by bmsleight (710084)
      - It may not hold up on appeal as it is, indeed, questionably opposed to the freedom of speech.

      In the UK, we have laws not a constitution. Right or wrong - his is 'Banged to rights'

  • In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drsquare (530038) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:43AM (#16346829)
    There is a crisis as Britain's prisons are full...
  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Saturday October 07, 2006 @07:02AM (#16346951) Homepage Journal

    While I am all for Free Speech, there is a limit when someone starts actually calling for murdering specific persons. According to TFA, the perpetrator posted in response to the killing of Anthony Walker, a black teenager:

    Martin suggested that white people should celebrate the murder, that Anthony's family should be burned and made references to slavery and a "banana boat".

    That's incitement to murder, hardly a category of protected speech.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @07:32AM (#16347129)
      That's incitement to murder, hardly a category of protected speech.

      Only if there is a reasonable chance that it might actually incite someone to murder.

      Considering that the writer was essentially a random net.kook posting his "incitement" on a website specificly for mourning the death of a member of that family, it is extremely unlikely that he would have convinced anyone to go out and kill the rest of the family because of it.

      If just saying someone should be killed is incitement to murder, just about every talk-radio host would be in prison by now.
    • Brandenbug v. Ohio (Score:5, Insightful)

      by caveat (26803) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @09:51AM (#16348079)
      Martin suggested that white people should celebrate the murder, that Anthony's family should be burned and made references to slavery and a "banana boat".


      That's incitement to murder, hardly a category of protected speech.

      Just calling for violence doesn't automatically exempt speech from protection - SCOTUS ruled [firstamendmentcenter.org] in 1969 that "[f]reedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

      One can hardly argue that a posting on a web forum is an incitement to imminent lawless action - if he had been speaking at a rally of armed white supremacists who were already whipped into a race-hate frenzy, his ass would be hanging out in the breeze, but in this situation he would be untouched in the US. I doubt there would even be an investigation. One of the few good things left about this country - I don't agree with his beliefs; I find them downright repugnant, but I believe he has every right to express them and certainly don't think he's crossed the line in this case.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @07:11AM (#16347001) Homepage Journal
    Is just one step worse then trying to legislate morals.

    Its my right to hate who ever i want, for any reason i want, AND to tell people about it. You dont like what i say? Then dont read/listen .. pretty simple. ( yes, i know , its all about state control of the population, but i dont have to agree with it )
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Detritus (11846)
      When you start telling people that I'm a subhuman and should be exterminated, I'm going to exercise my right to defend myself.
  • by cluge (114877) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @07:47AM (#16347219) Homepage
    I may not agree with what you say, but to your death I will defend your right to say it

    - Voltaire

    A quaint idea in todays world.

    In the US if you were thinking the wrong thing at the time you commit a crime, your guilty of a hate crime. In France you can be charged with a crime for selling, and or distributing NAZI items. This UK example isn't unique to that isle. The ideal of free speech is being eroded, and nothing shows that more than the self censorship and reaction to the Mohammad cartoons.

    It causes myself to ask questions like -

    If we do not shun, or speak out against vile (but currently legal) speech, do we eventually loose the right to hear such speech because the state steps in?

    Why are we (as a society) so afraid of words and their potential impact? Are we so imature, violent and framented that speech alone will destroy the cohesion of our societey?

    While there are aspects of this case that seem to cry out for some attention, on the face of it, this guy committed a thought crime and is being sent to jail for it.

    cluge

    • by phorm (591458)
      Thoughtcrime is in your head. The premise was that cops with brain-scanners could read your mind as you thought seditious thought. This was out-load-and-person, in a public forum dedicated to the victim, calling for further violence against his family. I couldn't say yes or no as to whether the idiot who posted it was kooky enough to try something, or gather others, but I could see people such as KKK members and other gathering to this call.

      When somebody is stuffed in jail for thinking - just thinking -
  • Sensationalist Title (Score:3, Informative)

    by gamer4Life (803857) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @08:35AM (#16347511)
    This is what happens when editors don't do their job and actually *edit* the title to reflect what the article is about.

    The article says that the offender was charged with speech to incite murder. Not just hate, but calling upon other people to kill the remainding family members. In addition he also was charged with carrying child pornography on his computer.

    However, the title tries to incite the deep feelings of the /. community for protecting freedom of speech and thus all the responses are diverted away from the actual topic.
  • by Money for Nothin' (754763) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @11:06AM (#16348587)
    That damn Dubya! Always taking away the freedoms of Americans that us Europeans enj--

    Oh, wait...
  • This is a copy of a post I made some time ago, but still is worth mentionning because it directly relates to free speech, of which, you will notice, I am a stark proponent in the finest (cough) libertarian sense :

    Well, this may be a bit off topic, but what the heck. I've just been out with some friends, and, as always when we get moderately drunk, we talked about politics, religion, philosophy etc. (when we are real drunk or when no babes are present, we usually talk about sex ;-)

    Well, anyhow, being all european, and all friends (birds of a feather) we fully agreed on a lot of topics. Israel, Iraq, USA, etc...opinions didn't differ much there. But then it came to a typical european concept of free speech, which, I presume, may strike USA-citizens as a bit weird. While, seen at large, we have the same concept of free speech as in the USA, this opinion, curiously, always seem to shift to a more restricted idea of free speech when it concerns things as racism. In this respect (one of the few, I might add), I think the usa concept of it is much more honest and fair. This has undoubtably to do with our historic heritage, notably WWII.

    I was argumenting that revisionistic books, as an expression of an opinion, should be allowed. Thus, not agreeing with the law(s) in most euro-countries, where such books are forbidden. To my astonishment, many of my friends agreed with this censorship, however. This is something I do not understand; you CAN NOT claim to be for free speech and expression of opinion, and then say "exept when it's *that* opinion". Allowing free speech only if you agree with it, but forbid it when you totally disagree with it, is not allowing free speech at all. I've tried to argument it, but it just didn't seem to get through to them; they started with the premise that it's wrong, and therefor it should be forbidden, whatever. The fact that this leads to hypocrytical contradictions was something they ignored too. One said: 'it's a fact, and thus it shouldn't be disputed' another said 'it hurts the jews'...but, are that, on itself, enough reasons to forbid an opinion? Is there a 'fact' so absolute, it can't be disputed? Can't anyone feel hurt be an opinion of another dude, and should we thus, forbid everything that someone claims is hurting their feelings?

    These arguments do not make any sense, and what's more, to forbid an opinion is EXACTLY what ultra-right wing or despotic governments would do with the opinions that my friends (and I myself) hold dear; that of being non-racist, etc. The difference is, they start with the presumtion that they (the idea they have about it) are right, and thus oposing views can be forbidden, while I think people are allowed to have racist opinions, even when I totally disagree with them... After all, that is EXACTLY what a dictator (or ultra-right-winged-government) would do, if he ever got the power: claim something is a 'fact' and forbid oposing views. The REAL difference, thus, between a democracy and a dictatorship is that that the one alows (or should allow) diffirent opinions, while the other does not. Thus, in conclusion, this is a treat, not of democraccy, but of a dictatorship, and unworthy to be used in a democracy, IMHO. It also shows that laws are not always justified, and, again IMHO, should not ALWAYS be regarded as an absolutism, something that should be followed blindly. (Of course, it happens to be my opinion that revisionists are telling crap too, but the point is I think they have a right to express that opinion).

    I got a bit worked up about it, really, because, after all, it restricts other people, because of the mere opinion of others, who think they have the right to forbid it (and have the power - which is the dangerous part, because; what if the power shifts?). Why am I writing all this? Well, because it made it clear to me again, why I'm doing all this trouble for a project such as Freenet. Sometimes, with all the tech babble and the problems and all that, I ask myself why I'm doing all this. And I gues

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