Twitter and a terrifying tale of modern Britain

From today’s Observer.
The head of MI5 has warned we must take the threat of new Islamist atrocities seriously. If the abuse of antiterrorist legislation in the Paul Chambers case is a guide, the people who most need reminding of the importance of seriousness, are MI5’s colleagues in the criminal justice system.

The 27-year-old worked for a car parts company in Yorkshire. He and a woman from Northern Ireland started to follow each other on Twitter. He liked her tweets and she liked his and boy met girl in a London pub. They got on as well in person as they did in cyberspace. To the delight of their followers, Paul announced he would be flying from Robin Hood airport in Doncaster to Northern Ireland to meet her for a date.

In January, he saw a newsflash that snow had closed the airport. “Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed,” he tweeted to his friends. “You’ve got a week… otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”

People joke like this all the time. When they say in a bar: “I’ll strangle my boyfriend if he hasn’t done the washing up” or post on Facebook: “I’ll murder my boss if he makes me work late”, it does not mean that the bodies of boyfriends and bosses will soon be filling morgues.

You know the difference between making a joke and announcing a murder, I’m sure. Apparently the forces of law and order do not.

Carry on reading

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