‘ve a piece in the Observer about the shocking treatment of Paul Chambers. To summarise, 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!”
He wasn’t a terrorist nor was he making a bomb hoax call in cyberspace. As I say,
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.
A plain-clothes detective from South Yorkshire Police arrived at Chambers’s work. Instead of quietly pointing out that it was best not to joke about blowing up airports, he arrested him under antiterrorist legislation. A posse of four more antiterrorist officers was waiting in reception.
What is so startling is that all down the line public officials know that this was just a guy who wants to see his girl making a weak joke.
Carry on reading