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Anorak | Liam Stacey’s sentence is an attack on free speech

Liam Stacey’s sentence is an attack on free speech

by | 29th, March 2012

HAVING seen Liam Stacey, 21, sent to prison for his racist tweets aimed at footballer Fabrice Muamba and twitter users, what has happened since? Well, the righteous have been congratulating themselves on their successful twitter hunt.

For this tweeter it was an “I was there” moment:

Saska Shepherd ‏ @saskashepherd  – I’mgladLiamStaceyhasbeenjailed. I’msureI’moneof100’swhoreportedhisracisttweetstothepolice. #prayformuamba

This tweeter thought of Liam Stacey’s death:

Milan Enslin ‏– I wouldn’t really care if Liam Stacey died.. He’s a sick man, fromthe scum of the earth… #moreracistthanjohnterry

These tweeters wanted to focus on rape, one hoping that “lifers” – murderers, rapists and child molesters – get to enjoy themselves:

Craig Edwards ‏ @craigsedwards” I wonder if that Liam Stacey ‘s hoop is like a blood orange yet?#DontDropTheSoap

Paul Scott ‏ @PscottSAFC – 56 days in Jail for the racist twerp who was tweeting for Muamba to die.. I hope some of the lifers take a fancy to him #dontdropthesoap

One tweeter saw black men as rapists and fitting to a stereotype of jive talking sex objects:

Glad the dickhead Liam Stacey is in jail, I hope he gets made bitch to the biggest black dude going

One tweeter reacted:

IvorSawbottom ‏ @ivorsawbottom @ScoobyDrew93 your tweet is an incitement to violence. I amreporting you to @metpoliceuk

Charmless stuff. As it was when Emma West was hounded on twitter.

Mindful of that what do we make of this?

A London blogger who wrote that Jews must be “attacked wherever you see them” on the Scotsman newspaper’s website has escaped jail, after pleading guilty to posting the comments.

Mohammed Sandia from Wembley said Jews were a “genetically mutated inbred tribe. Jews are not fit to breathe our air and should be attacked wherever we see them. Throw rocks at their ugly, hooked-nosed women and mentally ill children, and light up the real ovens.”

He changed his plea to guilty after initially denying the charges in November 2010. Sheriff Gordon Liddell expressed regret he could not impose a longer custodial sentence, suggesting a short sentence would “only have the effect of turning you, in your own eyes, and in the eyes of your supporters, into a martyr. I choose not to do that.”

Is Liam Stacey a martyr? Unlikely. His tweets were revolting. But is he a victim of the clampdown on free speech? Very possibly. At Swansea Magistrates Court, District Judge John Charles told Stacey:

“It was racist abuse via a social networking site instigated as a result of a vile and abhorrent comment about a young footballer who was fighting for his life. At the moment not just the footballer’s family, not just the footballing world but the whole world were literally praying for his life. Your comments aggravated this situation. I have no choice but to impost an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you have done.

A tweet to Stacey’s 300 followers aggravated the situation of a young footballer stopping breathing on the pitch? This looks like an attack on free speech. The tweets were odious. But did they create a climate of hostility? Did they trigger a mass outpouring of racism on twitter? No.

The judge added:

I have no choice but to impost an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you have done.

Because the public on twitter were outraged and offended – and keen to display that offence taken – the judge had to comply with their will? And you don’t think this is an attack on free speech..?



Posted: 29th, March 2012 | In: Key Posts, Technology Comments (33) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink