“You can’t imagine Osama Bin Laden using emoticons”
“I was angry at the Paul Chambers verdict and I’m not a man who gets angry very much. It was so stupid – the guy made a bad joke, but it’s obviously a joke. Clearly, if you genuinely intend to blow up an airport you don’t put it on Twitter. The fact it’s gone this far is astonishing and shows there’s a complete lack of understanding in the legal system, not just of Twitter, but of humour, too.
You have to interpret the intention of the tweets, and he plainly intended them for his girlfriend, not the public. The judge ruled that ordinary people would see his tweet as menacing but I think any ordinary person would see it as a joke. I don’t know who the judge sees as ordinary people, but they’re clearly very different to who I see as ordinary people.
Do we now, every time we tell a joke, have to put in an LOL or an emoticon to clarify our intentions? I don’t think the IRA back in the 70s made threats like “Crap! I’m going to blow up Birmingham city centre, exclamation mark, exclamation mark…” You can’t imagine Osama Bin Laden using emoticons, unless there’s a really threatening emoticon out there. Actually, there probably is…
You can’t write jokes for the stupidest audience or the person who understands Twitter the least. Every time I tell a joke
there’s one person who takes it seriously and complains. The consequences of the Twitter joke trial are that you have to write for the lowest common denominator in understanding humour.
I like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, she’s one of my heroes, and I thought what Compton wrote was appalling but it was also a joke.
Follow David on Twitter @davidschneider
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