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.
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!