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COLUMN: Would the Twitter guy have got-off if he was Muslim?
2:50pm Friday 27th July 2012 in Columnists
Earlier today Paul Chambers; the man who sent a tweet ‘threatening to blow-up’ Robin Hood Airport won his challenge against the conviction.
A huge relief and finally some sort of common sense has prevailed. It was unnecessary for this to have even gone to court.
But the question remains would this man have got off if he had been Muslim? In fact let us just say he was a Muslim with a long beard and prayed five times a day.
For good measure his wife wears a niqab too.
Mr Chambers was fined £385 and ordered to pay £600 costs in May 2010 after being convicted of sending "a message of a menacing character", contrary to the 2003 Communications Act.
Today, three judges headed by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, allowed his appeal against a Crown Court judge's decision upholding the conviction.
Mr Chambers, of Corby, Northamptonshire, said he sent the tweet to his 600 followers in a moment of frustration after Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire was closed by snow in January 2010, and never thought anyone would take his "silly joke" seriously.
It read: "Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your s*** together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"
Mr Chambers, said "It's been two-and-a-half years. At the moment I'm just feeling relieved. The Lord Chief Justice just seemed to get it."
He added: "It's an important decision as far as social networks are concerned and as far as Twitter is concerned.
"It has established that there has to be an action that is menacing and is intended to be menacing.”
"It's a very big decision for people doing what human beings do - telling a joke sometimes, even if it's a bad one."
Broadcaster Stephen Fry immediately took to Twitter to congratulate Mr Chambers and his legal team.
Comedian Al Murray, who was in court to lend his support, wrote on Twitter "He's won", before adding: "Colossal relief here in court. Short and sweet.”
All very well. And it was wonderful how national celebrities rallied round to ensure justice was done.
Now, not to sound completely paranoid but will a Muslim ever consider sending such a message on Twitter?
Even now I would be very careful before I sent anything of this nature.
I would have many things I like to joke about. Some of them, I must say are quite controversial. But there is no chance I would ever use the word ‘bomb’ in one of my tweets.
The reason is simple. I actually don't think people would get the 'joke'.
Hey, I might be joking but I’m not entirely sure 'they' would believe me?.