Man and woman in UK given jail time for abusive tweets

Criado Perez Twitter abuses court case

A man and woman in Britain have been given jail time for sending tweets that were of an abusive nature.

The two in question are John Nimmo, 25, and Isabella Sorley, 23. Their Twitter-hate campaign began as a response to the decision by the Bank of England to have Jane Austen’s face on a £10 note.

For some reason that is very hard to fathom, the two seemed to be against putting Jane Austen’s face on the note and directed their hate towards Caroline Criado-Perez. Criado-Perez is an activist and journalist that has been involved in a movement that centers around putting more women onto the U.K.’s currency. Stella Creasy, an MP with the Labour party, was also targeted.

Nimmo will be spending 8 weeks in jail for sending tweets such as “shut up b****”, “Ya not that gd looking to rape u be fine”, and “I will find you (smiley face)”. Sorley, on the other hand, has received 12 weeks in jail for sending tweets like “f*** off and die you worthless piece of crap”, “go kill yourself” as well as “rape is the last of your worries”.

One of the more annoying aspects of the internet has definitely been people using it to say whatever they want to other people, no matter how horrible it is, seemingly thinking there would be no repercussions. It is nice to see some people actually getting in trouble for it finally… but where will it stop? Whatever happened to free speech? I realize free speech does not cover hate speech but does saying stupid stuff on Twitter really count as hate speech? I guess so.

[via The Verge, Metro]

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  • Scott Hedrick

    “I realize free speech does not cover hate speech” The problem with “hate speech” is that defining it can be problematic. It would certainly be possible to declare any statement that disagrees with the government to be “hate speech”. If it offends someone, ban it! Of course, that leads us to Fahrenheit 451. Progress isn’t made by happy people. Make no mistake, I think these folks needed to be punished, but by their peers, not the government. Being an obnoxious jerk isn’t and shouldn’t be a crime. There’s no evidence in this story (admittedly, the court has access to much more information) that these people ever had any intent to act on their statements, and it’s the mens rea part that is required for a crime.

  • Peter

    [@Mike S.] How I feel or would feel is irrelevant. The law isn’t based on personal feelings. The standard has to exist outside of personal feelings. It’s based on facts. That’s what makes it “law”. Ditto for how many women would or might feel. I’m not unsympathetic to feelings. I’m simply recognizing that a legal system based on “how I feel” or “how others might feel” is a poor legal system.

  • Mike S.

    [@jayesstee] Exactly on point; thank you.

    [@J C Graham] But an issue here is, the tweets here indeed can be taken as threats.

    [@Peter] But with the greatest of respect, Peter, would you feel the same way if your wife, sister or mum had been threatened as here? I think that many women would take these comments as intimidation and potential real threats of physical violence, leading one to be fearful for oneself.

  • Peter

    The US Constitutional doesn’t apply in the UK, it not being under US control. The UK has speech/expression protections under its Human Rights Act that have limits. In my opinion those limits are too restrictive because they allow for the silencing of language that is considered (not proven) hateful, inflammatory, obnoxious, glorifying terrorism (what is that anyway?), and imagining the death of a monarch (how do you judge what someone is imagining?). I think these people were asses but a criminal conviction is ridiculous.

    By the way, the notion that the US Constitution gives a person the right to speech/expression without limit is false.

    The prohibition against preventing free speech/expression applies to government sanction, not private dealings. For example, I have no right to have this message posted. It’s a private matter.

    As for the law… You cannot give evidence you know to be false (perjury). You cannot call on others to do harm to an identifiable group (hate). You cannot incite others to do harm as a mob (riot). You cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. :-)

  • jayesstee

    [@Jeff Belanger]  You said:
    “Whatever happened to free speech?”
    The rules for free speech on the web should be the same as off the web.
    If these two mutants had published these comments elsewhere, or had said them directly to the recipients, then they would have been equally liable for legal reaction.
    These mutants were cowards who thought they were anonymous. They found out they weren’t.

    For all the good uses of Twitter and FaceBook, there are too many inappropriate uses by scum such as these two!

  • J C Graham

    To my knowledge, under the First Amendment, there is no prohibition on so-called “hate speech” unless accompanied by an actual threat.

    Anti-hate speech is a slippery slope that could include deceits like this:

  • etim

    Well, at least their mothers will have a month or so to air out their basements.
    And please, God, don’t let them reproduce.