[lit-ideas] Re: What a day! Context is everything

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2012 16:34:35 +0100 (BST)

That the court noted [without citing Robert Paul] 'context is everything' was 
reported elsewhere:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/jul/27/twitter-joke-trial-high-court

Personally, I would advise anyone to heed the words of warning from the lawyer 
at the end of the report. Courts need quite some context to accept that 
something was just a joke: certainly those who tried to run a 'just a joke' 
defence, for inciting others to riot on social media, last year received short 
shrift. And in a case some twenty years it was held that while not giving your 
name at all could not be regarded as 'obstructing the police in the course of 
their duty' (where the police asked for it in the course of their duty), it was 
obstruction if you answered 'Micky Mouse' (and your name was not Micky Mouse). 
The High Court did not make clear whether this result is because 'Micky Mouse' 
is a name of extant persons (and so might not obviously be a joke) or simply 
isn't funny enough. The decision was criticised by Sir John Smith, which - with 
a name as common as that - is perhaps only to be expected, but remains the law. 
The appellant should be
 thankful he used clearly non-serious expression, but even then anyone trying 
the like remains vulnerable to changes in actual terrorist expression: should 
terrorists adopt a bright and breezy tone in their threats ['With some 
aplomb/We have planted a bomb/Act fast/Or you may breath your last'], we may 
find the courts no longer accept there is a way of expressing yourself that 
clearly puts you beyond menacing. All those baddies in superhero movies, who 
express threats as idiotic wisecracks presumably to circumvent the law, take 
note. 

Donal
Who found out on Monday he will not be lighting the flame tonight
London

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