Troll Trolled
September 13, 2011 6:28 PM   Subscribe

This post was deleted for the following reason: This maybe needs to be rewritten tomorrow with accurate information and maybe more backstory. Otherwise this is just "asshole guy gets in trouble" and feels a little axe-grinding. -- jessamyn



 
The article says 18 weeks.
posted by Salieri at 6:30 PM on September 13, 2011


My bad, sorry.
Still too long for saying things on the Internet.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:32 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So when does it count as bullying behavior towards the friends/family and when does it count as "saying things on the Internet"?
posted by Salieri at 6:34 PM on September 13, 2011


I'm not sure how I feel about this. Obviously I think this dude is a raging asshole and part of me feels like people should be held accountable for their words and actions, but it still leaves me a little uneasy/unsure/unsettled about it.
posted by SoulOnIce at 6:37 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


That wouldn't be legal in the US. On the other hand, it seems like the sort of thing one could sue for very easily. I've heard proposals about that in relation to sexual harassment, but not in regard to trolling as such. I think most people prefer to get a restraining order in such cases.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:37 PM on September 13, 2011


Still too long for saying things on the Internet.

How is this any different from harassing a grieving family over the phone or in person? The guy sounds like a dick.
posted by piratebowling at 6:37 PM on September 13, 2011


So when does it count as bullying behavior towards the friends/family and when does it count as "saying things on the Internet"?

Well, I'd say for it to be any kind of bullying there has to be some kind of expressed or implied threat. No evidence for that here.

You might justify calling it harassment.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:38 PM on September 13, 2011


Er, that is to say it wouldn't be legal to jail him as a criminal in the US.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:38 PM on September 13, 2011


I guess I'll sort of cover my bases and say that I was totally appalled at this guy's actions and also don't think it should be (remotely) a jailable offense.
posted by threeants at 6:39 PM on September 13, 2011


mocking a dead kid is gross but this is some bullshit. fuck an ASBO, i am so glad i do not live in england.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:39 PM on September 13, 2011


The day after Natasha's death in February, Duffy posted comments including "I fell asleep on the track lolz" on the Facebook tribute page created by her brother James, 17...Bricking him into a tunnel for 18 weeks, the Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt, told him: "You have caused untold distress to already grieving friends and family.

"The offences are so serious only a custodial sentence could be justified."

posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:42 PM on September 13, 2011


Asshole, yes. Criminal, no (or shouldn't be). I say they just let 4chan have him.
posted by cmoj at 6:42 PM on September 13, 2011


Internet troll jailed after mocking deaths of teenagers

ROFL!! LOL!!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:43 PM on September 13, 2011


However, our investigation shows that offenders cannot hide behind their computer screens.

In the US he wouldn't have to hide. He'd get a job working for TMZ.

I'm pretty conflicted on this. 1. He's an asshole. 2. The reporter made sure to use every joke the offender had made. 3. Why isn't the reporter an asshole and going to jail too? Ah, yes, because he's doing a job to inform the public of the offensive things they need to know about.

I bet the (original) offender had few followers or viewers or whatever they are called on youtube. I bet this article shines a much bigger spotlight on this than those families would have otherwise faced.

I don't think he should do any jail time personally. But then I use my real name online just to keep me from crossing this line.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:44 PM on September 13, 2011


not your personal army
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:44 PM on September 13, 2011


I'm surprised by this, and wonder if there isn't more to the story. If it was repetitive and disruptive then I supposed it could be justified under harassment. Otherwise, it doesn't seem a good conviction to me.
posted by Jehan at 6:45 PM on September 13, 2011


I imagine this could easily happen in Australia. Free speech isn't a universal legal value.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:46 PM on September 13, 2011


This guy goes to jail, but Murdoch only testifies before Parliament? This guy should have stuck to fucking with their voicemails.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:46 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So when does it count as bullying behavior towards the friends/family and when does it count as "saying things on the Internet"?

wrong question - the right question is, "when does it count as free speech and when does it count as a criminal act?"

i would set the bar for "criminal act" very high - and in this case, he hasn't come to it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:46 PM on September 13, 2011


No comment.
posted by Shit Parade at 6:46 PM on September 13, 2011


The charge is malicious communications. (to "send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety".)

Is this distinction meaningful: posting these comments on his own site would have been awful but legal, but posting on the kid's tribute page is illegal. I can write whatever I want, but I can't put it through your mailslot.

Rightly or wrongly, that seems to be British Law.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:47 PM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


For interested in the legal context, the crime in question is a violation of s. 1 of the Malicious Communications Act, 1988.
posted by modernnomad at 6:48 PM on September 13, 2011


snap, justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow -- you owe me a coke.
posted by modernnomad at 6:48 PM on September 13, 2011


I imagine this could easily happen in Australia. Free speech isn't a universal legal value.

You posted a story about the UK in order to take a dig at your favorite target? Really?

Also, the Internet is real life.
posted by DU at 6:50 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


mocking a dead kid is gross but this is some bullshit. fuck an ASBO, i am so glad i do not live in england.

List of countries by incarceration rate:

Rank/Country//Prisoners per 100,000

1/ United States/743
92/United Kingdom/150

posted by dng at 6:51 PM on September 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Malicious Communications Act, 1988.

Here it is:

1 Offence of sending letters etc. with intent to cause distress or anxiety.

(1) Any person who sends to another person—

(a) a letter, electronic communication or article of any description] which conveys—

(i) a message which is indecent or grossly offensive;

(ii) a threat; or

(iii) information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender; or

(b) any article or electronic communication which is, in whole or part, of an indecent or grossly offensive nature,

is guilty of an offence if his purpose, or one of his purposes, in sending it is that it should, so far as falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above, cause distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom he intends that it or its contents or nature should be communicated.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:51 PM on September 13, 2011




I imagine this could easily happen in Australia. Free speech isn't a universal legal value.

You posted a story about the UK in order to take a dig at your favorite target? Really?

Also, the Internet is real life.


No, I posted a story about the UK because I thought it was of interest to Metafilter.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:53 PM on September 13, 2011


Is this distinction meaningful: posting these comments on his own site would have been awful but legal, but posting on the kid's tribute page is illegal. I can write whatever I want, but I can't put it through your mailslot.

Yes. Reading the act it seems to require an intent to both cause distress and cause a specific person to receive it. It's less to do with free speech than we imagine, but I'm still unsure of how criminal such an act should be regarded.

On preview, HTWRT has posted the section.
posted by Jehan at 6:53 PM on September 13, 2011


Jailing this guy is such a violation of his rights. They should have just horse whipped him.
posted by jcworth at 6:54 PM on September 13, 2011


I sent the Archbishop of Canterbury poems about S&M and a guy pretending to be religious so he can get laid. I am never going to visit Britain now.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:55 PM on September 13, 2011


List of countries by incarceration rate:

Rank/Country//Prisoners per 100,000

1/ United States/743
92/United Kingdom/150

Your point is there's one more thing we're the best at? I'd do the USA chant except we suck at chants. No one does the good one.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:56 PM on September 13, 2011


From what I read in the Guardian, the fellow is living with an autism-spectrum disorder (eg, Aspergers) and does not understand the pain his activities have caused others. His condition has also caused him to become socially isolated (bullying at school and in the workplace), and, likely, an alcoholic.

The guy needs help more than anything else, and it's just a sad situation all around.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:00 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I imagine this could easily happen in Australia. Free speech isn't a universal legal value.

It's not a 'universal' or unfettered value anywhere. Not one single place. The classic example: try shouting 'Fire' in a crowded, fireless theatre in the US, and see what happens.

In Australia, and in the UK, the position is summarized thusly:

‘[f]ree speech does not mean free speech; it means speech hedged in by all the laws against defamation, blasphemy, sedition and so forth; it means freedom governed by law…’ (at [56])
James v Commonwealth (1936) 55 CLR 1 (UK Privy Council, on appeal from the Aus High Court)

Australian courts have taken a similar approach to the freedom of communication (i.e., 'political communication'). Freedom of communication has been long accepted as the subject of an implied Constitutional guarantee: see, for example, Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd and Ors V Commonwealth Of Australia (No 2) - (1992) 108 ALR 577. However, that freedom is also recognised as not absolute, but subject to other competing rights and laws.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:03 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The real issue to me is that the troll has Asperger's and does not seem to have understood the effects his behavior was having on his victims. If the troll had been some random, cruel person who delighted in the suffering of others, I do think a short prison term is not problematic, provided it wasn't a devastating situation like we have in U.S. lockups (ie, where he'd be likely to get raped). This should have been dealt with in some way that took into account his condition and used a noncustodial sentence that involved working to change the behavior.
posted by Maias at 7:03 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: I imagine this could easily happen in Australia. Free speech isn't a universal legal value.

You mean the US Constitution only applies in the US? That's a horrific outrage!

All countries draw the line on where free speech crosses over into harmful action. I believe in your country the standard example is shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre (that's how old it is).

In the UK they don't like it when a 14 year old dies after an epileptic fit and someone then sends her mother, on Mother's Day, a video featuring a coffin and the caption "Happy Mothers Day". Barbarians.

Wake me when they start censoring political speech or herding people into "Free Speech Zones".

(And, yeah, as one of the fathers points out in the article, the guy has his own problems and clearly needs help).
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:04 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The classic example: try shouting 'Fire' in a crowded, fireless theatre in the US, and see what happens.

*cannons go off*
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:04 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]



The real issue to me is that the troll has Asperger's and does not seem to have understood the effects his behavior was having on his victims. If the troll had been some random, cruel person who delighted in the suffering of others, I do think a short prison term is not problematic


What about MeFits mocking that Jackass guy or gloating at the death of, I dunno, Henry Kissinger? People say mean shit on the Internet. People say mean shit everywhere. They shouldn't be arrested.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:06 PM on September 13, 2011


Maybe people should be less mean.
posted by dng at 7:06 PM on September 13, 2011


Also, the Internet is real life.

i hope not though
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:09 PM on September 13, 2011


What about MeFits mocking that Jackass guy or gloating at the death of, I dunno, Henry Kissinger?

What about it?

Perhaps you could read the legislation quoted above.
posted by pompomtom at 7:10 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm.
I like free speech and everything -- as a concept -- but I don't know that we have a better iteration of it in the United States.
Should I rejoice that I have the right to troll dead kids' families -- but not (in practice) to say unflattering but demonstrably true things about certain celebrity religions?
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 7:13 PM on September 13, 2011


dng: Maybe people should be less mean.

Sending the guy to prison is a hell of a lot meaner than anything he's ever done. You sound like the people who suggest things were more civil when duelling was an acceptable response to an insult.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:13 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


From what I read in the Guardian, the fellow is living with an autism-spectrum disorder (eg, Aspergers) and does not understand the pain his activities have caused others.

That's OK, the judge just put him away for the lulz.

People say mean shit on the Internet. People say mean shit everywhere. They shouldn't be arrested.

When they're going out of their way to upset vulnerable people, maybe they should. I'm very pro freedom of expression, but not so much for freedom of harassment.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:14 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


What about MeFits mocking that Jackass guy or gloating at the death of, I dunno, Henry Kissinger? People say mean shit on the Internet. People say mean shit everywhere. They shouldn't be arrested.

Henry Kissinger is still alive. Send him some hate mail. Let us know how it turns out.
posted by Jehan at 7:15 PM on September 13, 2011


Sending the guy to prison is a hell of a lot meaner than anything he's ever done. You sound like the people who suggest things were more civil when duelling was an acceptable response to an insult.

I don't think this man should go to prison. I still think people should be less mean. On the internet. And everywhere.
posted by dng at 7:18 PM on September 13, 2011


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