Sometimes, I read stories in the press that get right on my last nerve.  Lately, this has happened a lot … and the one thing these two particular stories have in common?  An opposition to freedom of speech – and that’s something that is always going to really irritate the hell out of me.

If you’re not a fan of Twitter (and if not, why not? – it rocks,) this first story may have passed you by, but just because it happened on Twitter doesn’t mean it doesn’t have much wider implications for everyone else. 

Paul Chambers sent his partner a message on Twitter and made, what he and a lot of people considered to be, a joke – borne out of frustration that his local airport had closed.  He tweeted:

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

In hindsight, I suspect Mr Chambers is thinking it wasn’t the smartest thing to say, considering what a damned sensitive society we seem to be living in these days, but his story has raised several salient points.  Firstly, does posting on Twitter count as ‘publication’ or should it be seen as a semi-private exchange between one person and one of his/her followers.  After all, the airport in question wasn’t a ‘friend’ of Chambers, so did they have the right to act on intelligence (and I use that term loosely) that had inadvertently come to their attention?

Not only was Chambers detained for a day, had his home raided and computer seized.  He even lost his job.  He was taken to court, was convicted and now a subsequent appeal to overturn this decision has now failed in the High Court.

The presiding Judge, in her infinite ‘wisdom,’ described Chambers’ message as “clearly menacing.”  She should hear what I’m calling her now!

We all have our own opinion on what constitutes a ‘threat.’  How many times have we said we ‘could murder/kill’ someone/something just because we’re frustrated or stressed?  Are we now saying that if someone, somewhere, were to overhear that comment, we could be arrested?  Could you or I have our computer seized?  Be arrested?  Lose our job?

Not only does Chambers have Stephen Fry in his corner, who has offered to pay all legal costs, but the whole of the Twittersphere is up in arms as a lot of people are now scared to say what they want for fear of having their words well and truly twisted.  A lot of, however, have re-tweeted Chambers’ Tweet in a show of solidarity and support.

So the next time you Tweet, blog or text (let alone, God forbid, telephone,) bear in mind that Big Brother is well and truly watching.  But will it ever stop me saying what I want?

Hell no!

The other story that I found just as shocking, is the recent story of Anna Antell, who posted a photograph of her mastectomy scar on Facebook – only for Facebook to then take the photograph down, claiming she had breached its no nudity rules.

Why the lady in question decided to post this photo is her own business, (she was involved in a ‘Dear Cancer’ fundraising exhibition.)  Personally, I can only see it in a positive light if someone wants to raise awareness of breast cancer and if she felt this was the right forum for her to do so, I think she should bloody well have been allowed to do it!  How many times have young women posted pictures of themselves in barely-there bikinis, the intention only being to get laid.

Common sense seems to have gotten totally overruled by bureaucracy these days.  What happened to someone in authority standing up to be counted by saying, “You know what, I’m going to make a judgement call.  That Tweet wasn’t malicious.  He didn’t ring the airport up and threaten them – hell, we shouldn’t even be listening in to his conversation, let alone taking action on it.  And while we’re at it, if that woman wants to show off her scars to encourage awareness, let her!  If it saves the life of one woman, it will be worth it.”

But alas, the world is now an overly sensitive place and these people just don’t seem to exist.

I know I’m getting a little ranty in my old age but sometimes things just need to be said, or Tweeted …

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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.