Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Rangers fan jailed for being offensive on Facebook

Before the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill has even been passed into law, a Rangers fan has been given an eight-month sentence for offensive communications on Facebook.

The most extreme thing he appears to have said is: "Hope they (Celtic fans) all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha." 

This is an imprisonable offence? Blogger Dick Puddlecote  has for some time now been collecting offensive comments about smokers, by way of evidence of social hatred whipped up as a result of governments' treatment of smokers. I can add one more from last week
I honestly belive (sic) that these despicable odious creatures with their fags n cans of ale, who come to sponge off the proper folk of Blackpool; produce more fatherless kids at the expense of the taxpayer need a readjustment of attitude and edification of personal their (sic) ethics through the teutonic application of ZYKLON B. Problem solved, for EVER.
This is closer to inciting murder than Birrell's wish to see Celtic fans die. The writer has suggested a weapon, not simply expressed a wish. Should we ask why Sir Hubert Obadiah Finkleton is free while Stephen Birrell languishes in jail?

We're not asking for people who say stupid things to be jailed. Although the two insults arise from different places (the animosity expressed by Finkleton wouldn't have been fashionable six years ago, whereas bad feelings between rival football fans seem to be part of the national heritage), they are both  verbal abuse. Anyone taking the life of a murder or a Celtic fan would have to take full responsibility and would not be able to hide behind the fact that someone else said they wanted the victim dead.

Before the Act is even law, they imprison somebody for saying something. This will get worse: please sign the petition against the Bill and pass it around everyone who can get more signatures.


Thought Crime: Is Scotland becoming the most authoritarian country in Europe?

Following the 8 months imprisonment of Stephen Birrell for making anti-Celtic comments online, Dr Stuart Waiton of Take a Liberty ( Scotland ) has demanded a review of existing legislation and called on all football fans to protest against this draconian measure.

Birrell’s lawyer Iain McLennan noted that Birrell knew his comments were offensive but was finding it hard to understand the severity of his actions. He’s not the only one.

This ruling makes a mockery of the law; the judge even noted that no specific threats to individuals were made. In essence this was a football guy mouthing off online – that’s it!

As Waiton argues

This is a political imprisonment – carried out on the back of the government’s relentless campaign against football fans. In essence Birrell has been locked up for a thought crime, for mouthing off and saying bigoted things. Are we going to arrest everyone who has said bigoted things online? Perhaps all racist or sectarian jokes online should be tracked down. After all, using the Sheriff’s arguments, these things are ‘offensive’, the imprisonment would ‘send out a message’ and for many, these jokes and comments are ‘not acceptable in a modern Scotland’.

Tragically Scotland is looking more like a pre-enlightenment fiefdom than a modern tolerant nation that has the moral capacity to deal with different viewpoints. This imprisonment is not only authoritarian but illustrates the weakness of the Scottish elites who appear to feel the need to imprison those whose ideas they dislike.

For anybody serious about challenging the criminalisation of football fans this case is important and the imprisonment must be opposed.

Stuart Waiton can be contacted on 07866 998154 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            07866 998154      end_of_the_skype_highlighting


handymanphil said...

To me this is very simple! Every single time an anti smoker is offensive against an individual or a group, simply report them to the police and cite the above ludicrous case above as the precedent for doing so. This is very unfortunate for Mr Birrell but supremely favourable for all smokers! Bring it on.

Belinda said...

I would prefer to see a bid by Celtic fans to get Birrell out of prison. That would embarrass the idiot.

Belinda said...

Today's press release from Stuart Waiton

Sectarian jokes lead to arrest?

Following the eight months imprisonment of Stephen Birrell for making anti-Celtic comments online, Dr Stuart Waiton of Take a Liberty ( Scotland ) has raised the question about whether telling or passing on 'sectarian' jokes online will lead to arrest or even imprisonment.

Using the logic of the Sheriff ruling on the Stephen Birrell case it could equally be argued that a sectarian joke told online is, ‘offensive’, ‘not acceptable in a modern Scotland’ and that to arrest those telling these jokes would, ‘send out a message’ that such behaviour and attitudes are not acceptable.

In the Birrell case there was no incitement or threat of violence as the Sheriff noted, there was simply some offensive ‘sectarian’ comments. If Birrell ended up in prison for eight months for this why should the same not occur for online jokes as all the same definitions and arguments apply.

As Waiton argues,

The irony of all this is that it seems the correct way to act in a ‘modern Scotland ’ is to follow the pre-enlightenment model of intolerance and vengeance against those whose opinions you do not like. In essence we are creating a nation where people are being locked up for saying nasty things. In this respect Birrell’s bemusement at being carted off to prison for mouthing off online is understandable. We are also encouraging a more infantile culture of complaint to develop, one where people are encouraged to run to the police and play the offended victim.

One of the worrying aspects of this move to police offensive words is that genuine tolerance is being undermined. The consequence is that many many people are potentially going to be criminalised for an ever wider array of comments, a situation that is a threat to free speech and a free society.

seamos realistas said...

This piece starts by saying 'The most extreme thing he appears to have said is: "Hope they (Celtic fans) all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha."'

However the writer chose to ignore the other comments -

'On 4 March, the day after the game, he wrote: "Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers. Simple ha ha."

Four days later Birrell posted: "They're all ploughing the fields the dirty scumbags."'

You know something, that sounds very like racism to me.

Belinda said...


the point is not to defend his comment. But it should not be an imprisonable offence.

Verbal abuse is an issue for club discipline if anything.

Racism to me describes a situation where somebody can get away with hiring, firing, beating up or otherwise harrassing someone else with impunity. Not simply call them names, but do actual economic, social or bodily damage AND not get punished because the state colludes in the ill-treatment of that group to which the victim belongs.

Calling names is an issue of club discipline but I have seen worse abuse that calling someone a dirty scumbag and without condoning the insult I would not see a person imprisoned for saying something stupid.

Anonymous said...

sir hubert is jesus!