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Warning: Beware what you say on the net. Humourless bastards are after you.

Written By: - Date published: 1:42 pm, January 21st, 2010 - 23 comments
Categories: humour, police, scoundrels, Spying - Tags:

No Right Turn has a post about the weirdness of the police forces in Britain at present. Elements of our own police force have been acting just as weirdly about ‘terrorism’ over the past years bringing a new era of police stupidity and police doing actions that are subsequently found to be illegal1.

Joking about terrorism is now ThoughtCrime

We all know that its a bad idea to make bomb jokes in airports, as humourless security officials will not see the funny side. In the UK, that principle has now been extended to the internet. Last week, frustrated by the threat of snow disrupting his holiday plans, a man named Paul Chambers made a perfectly unremarkable comment on Twitter:

“Robin Hood airport is closed,” he wrote. “You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

As a result, he was arrested under the Terrorism Act, interrogated for seven hours, suspended from his job, and banned from the airport for life. The humourless security state has expanded well beyond the airport, into our private conversations with our friends. Civil libertarian Tessa Mayes hits it on the head when she says:

“Making jokes about terrorism is considered a thought crime, mistakenly seen as a real act of harm or intention to commit harm. “The police’s actions seem laughable and suggest desperation in their efforts to combat terrorism, yet they have serious repercussions for all of us. In a democracy, our right to say what we please to each other should be non-negotiable, even on Twitter.”

That right is now seriously under threat. Its not one we should give up. And if the security services want to take it off us, maybe its time we got rid of them.

This is seriously weird. According to the Independent, the police in question didn’t even seem to know what twitter was. That isn’t surprising – I know what it is, but I’ve never used it2. But I’m a programmer in my 50’s which is probably far more GenY literate than some policeman.  Anyway someone dobbed this poor bastard into the police and the police appear to have taken a frustrated joke about an airport closed by the weather at its face value. Lets hope that they never go near a pub and listen the conversations there.

Much the same types of rules apply in NZ as well now, but with some interesting extensions. For instance being able to hack into your e-mail traffic at the ISPs, authorized by a warrant issued by the police themselves with no significant judicial oversight, and being able to track all of your contacts via txt.

Based on this type of case an innocent remark that may be looked at by a policeman in one of the paranoid security units (like the TUA and others) as being possibly related to terrorism can seriously screw your life. Moreover, if someone doesn’t like you or has a seriously flawed sense of humour they can anonymously dob you in just for the hell of it.

Bearing in mind the number of explicit or implied threats against various politicians, individuals, and institutions that I see here, there are a lot of you heading for interrogation. But of course we moderate out the worst offenders. The sewer should probably be classed as a terrorist organization and immediately banned. Whatever Cameron is involved with probably has enough problems already….

But be warned. The paranoid humourless technically illiterate bastards are watching you!

  1. For instance illegal actions by the police prior to the October 15th ‘terrorism raids’ – which I’m unable to discuss due to suppression orders. This case is rapidly descending into a farce for the police and a tragedy for those arrested. The raids happened in October 2007 and current court date is now set down for August 2011. I suspect that a lot of the delay is from the police side because they must have preferred to not have their illegal activities discussed prior to the passing of the Search and Surveillance Act.
  2. Rocky was surprised to realize a few weeks ago that for the first time in her life of being a programmer, she knew a lot more than I did about an area. This whole area of social networking on facebook, twitter, bebo, etc has simply never interested me. However under her urging I’m now starting to have a look at the facebook API’s. However I suspect that in terms of using social networking, I’ll leave it to the GenY.

23 comments on “Warning: Beware what you say on the net. Humourless bastards are after you. ”

  1. vto 1

    Lets test it out.

    All of us make those sort of jokes and report back on resultant authoritarian actions.

    Swamp the system.

    Someone else go first ………

      • Whale Oil 1.1.1

        Ok, I’ve put a HUGE bomb in Auckland Airport. In fact it’s nucular.

        And as soon as I’ve paid my fines, I’m off to the UN to assasinate Helengrad with my new gun.

        [lprent: Figures. Don’t you have enough problems with the police already? ]

  2. logie97 2

    “That right is now seriously under threat.” Absolutely and given some of the vitriol passing as comment that The Right commenters express on blogs and on talk-back radio, one would assume they should be concerned, unless of course they have friends in high places.

  3. rocky 3

    But I’m a programmer in my 50’s which is probably far more GenY literate than some policeman.

    Until you actually join facebook as a regular user like the 1 million other New Zealanders, and start to realise its benefits in both political activism and on a personal level, I’m not going to agree in any sense that you are gen y literate! Or for that matter modern technology literate! 😉

    Nice post though!

  4. ben 4

    Not often I like a post on the Standard, but this is spot on.

    What I don’t understand about the Left is why freedom of thought and speech is so jealously protected (hear hear) yet other important freedoms like freedom of contract are not. When I read about police coming down on a citizen like a ton of bricks for something harmless, I see essentially the same thing as when government forces me to buy ACC’s overpriced and arbitrary compensation, or buy railways, or go along with a recycling scheme I do not believe does anything, or subsidise this that and the other. To me these are two sides of the same coin: the state overstepping its mandate and operating against citizens on the basis of some imaginary harm.

    • Pascal's bookie 4.1

      Good comment, hate to hit and run on it, (cooking dinner), but a few questions that hopefully point to my position. (rather than, theleft’s)

      i)- where does the state’s mandate come from?

      ii)- is the extent of that mandate permanent, or is it subject to change?

      iii)- if the latter how does that mandate change?

      iv)- what is necessary to enable that?

      • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1

        ‘k, I’ll expand a wee bit, and answer me own questions.

        i) The people. A states mandate comes from the consent of the governed.

        ii) given i) the extent of the mandate cannot be fixed. If the people wish for their government to do / not be able to do something then that is the mandate the government has. If we said that the governments mandate could not extend to building roads or providing insurance, we would be denying the people the right to have the government they wish to have. The government they then have, becomes illegitimate.

        iii) that mandate changes through citizens deciding about and activating for the type of government they wish to have.

        iv) this requires civil freedoms of speech, thought, religion. Without these freedoms the citizens cannot act to change the mandate that their government has. So by necessity, to maintain government legitimacy these freedoms must remain intact.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      I see essentially the same thing as when government forces me to buy ACC’s overpriced and arbitrary compensation, or buy railways, or go along with a recycling scheme I do not believe does anything, or subsidise this that and the other.

      So, the cheapest, most efficient accident compensation scheme in the entire world is overpriced?

      Railways are a natural monopoly, is actually a necessity (especially with Peak Oil) and should be kept out of private hands to stop price gouging.

      Recycling brings us closer to sustainability and so is, again, a necessity. Your belief makes no difference to this reality. It could possibly be done better but the present government took away the R&D tax credits that would encourage actually doing something about it.

      Some things need to be subsidised as they are a needed service and yet will never be commercially viable. This is a prime reason why we have a society and why we pay taxes.

  5. vto 5

    I can’t believe nobody has posted something likely to attract their attention yet.

  6. Rex Widerstrom 6

    Well call me paranoid but I envisage a backroom conversation something like this:

    Politician: Shit, we need to stop all this criticism of us! We’ve got most of the daily editors in our pockets, but this proliferation of bloody twatters and facejournals and things means if I search on my name plus any derogatory term you can think of, there’s thousands of people saying bad things!! Do something!!

    Police Commissioner: We’re doing our best sir, but the proles tend to get uppity if we suugest we have any right to censor what they say. I mean we’ve got away with blue murder in terms of controlling what they do… we can stop and search them for no reason, lock ’em up for days with no charge, hell we can even stop ’em seeing a lawyer for ages. But actually stopping them voicing an opinion?

    Politician: Brilliant! How did we get away with all those civil liberties violations? We said they were needed to combat terrorism! And because the proles think anyone who looks a bit different is about to blow them to kingdom come, even if it’s just a bloody Sikh bus driver, they lay down and let us walk all over them because that was the “price” of being “safe”.

    Police Commissoner: I don’t getcha, sir. Not that me and the lads don’t like getting the long baton and the tazer out at the first sign of lippy protester…

    Politician: Look, just get one of your younger constables to stop spending all day on line pretending to be a 12 year old schoolgirl to entrap sad old fantasists and have him search these twatter things for anything that sounds like a terrorist.

    Police Commissoner: I’m told terrorists don’t usually put their plans online,sir.

    Politician: I said sounds like. I don’t care if it’s an accountant from Milton Keynes bitching about the weather. If it sounds vaguely terroristy, arrest the bugger. The proles will grumble, but but we’ll tell ’em we can’t afford not to be vigilant when protecting them from harm. Once that’s established as okay, we just start including people criticising the government.

    Police Commissioner: Some of these mouthy civil libertarians will kick up a stink though sir. What if the proles start to get antsy?

    Politician: Good point. On your way out tell my secretary to put the broadcasting fuinding people through. It’s time we had some more reality TV.

    • lprent 6.1

      So very cynical…

      Of course it could just be silly politicians giving powers to people who know bugger all about anything.

  7. ianmac from Abu Dhabi 7

    Yesterday the UAE paper, the “National”, reported a case of a 60 year old man who when asked by another passenger on his flight if it was OK to leave a parcel on the empty seat between them, said “I hope its not a bomb.” A flight stewardess heard him and reported it. The man was arrested and removed from the plane at the Abu Dhabi airport, taken before the court, and is reportedly in prison. A funny joke?

  8. J Mex 8


    When I read the header I thought the post whould be an update on The Standard’s moderation policy!

    Sorry – couldn’t resist 😉

    [lprent: I’m sadistic when I reluctantly have to moderate – not humorless.. 😈 Afterall some clown just chewed up come of my valuable time]

  9. randal 9

    how big a nucular bomb would blubberguts need to blow his hat off. if brains were dynamite he wouldnt have enough of that.

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