Thursday, August 18, 2011

Two men in Britain have been sentenced to four years in jail for trying to stir up last week's riots using facebook...

Two men in Britain have been
sentenced to four years in jail for
trying to stir up last week's riots
using Facebook. They both
posted messages on the social
networking site calling for their
friends to join in the unrest.
The two men, Jordan Blackshore
and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, later
said it was just a joke and no
rioting broke out as a result of
their posts. Investigative
journalist Tony Gosling, however,
says that what they say is a joke
is nothing less than a serious
“I think it’s a little bit rich of
Jordan Blackshore and Perry
Keenan to say that this is a joke,
because clearly in the sort of
situation that we had here in
Britain a week ago, that the
people who were really afraid to
go out because of robbers
rampaging around the streets as
they were in some of our cities –
this was not a joke at all,” Gosling
said. “I think, actually, it’s quite
right for the courts to take this
very seriously. This is incitement
to criminal behavior, and of
course these people should go
through the normal channels and
possibly go to jail for what
they’ve done, which is inciting
rioting – [a] very serious
With all that, the journalist went
on to explain, the way people are
sentenced in the UK is itself quite
controversial, and a certain
backlash against the recent stiff
sentences can be expected.
“I think what will happen is, for
certain with the more extreme
cases with this rioting, is that
people will actually get much
lower sentences, possibly even
be released because they’ve been
in jail for a certain amount of
time – after they’ve gone to
appeal,” he said. “And I know at
least one of these two Facebook
people, actually, is going to be
definitely appealing against this
four-year sentence.”
British Prime Minister David
Cameron said the free flow of
information can be used for
criminal purposes, and Gosling
believes that the UK government
may already be controlling it to a
certain extent. He agrees that
making sure that social networks
are used properly is a sensible
issue, but the government’s
reaction should not affect
people’s ability to communicate.
“We have to separate the
difference between ordinary
communications and those kinds
of communications which involve
incitement to riot, incitement to
other kinds of criminal behavior,”
he said. “So, I think we’ve got to
separate the two. Let everybody
communicate freely, but if people
are actually inciting criminal
offenses and making things
worse, generally they are
criminals and should be arrested
as such.”
David Bowden, a commentator
for, a social
issues website, says the
authorities' attempts to regain
credibility have gone too far.
“Having had their authority
visibly shaken last week, with
being unable to keep the streets
safe, I think that we are seeing
quite a superficial and
dangerous knee-jerk reaction
now from the police and the
authorities as they try to regain
that authority,” he said. “It’s
superficial, because we’ve seen
people being handed quite
severe sentences for often
playing quite a minor role in the
riots and often for crimes such
as stealing a bottle of water or
some ice cream.”
“It’s dangerous because we are
now seeing a knee-jerk reaction
to people using social networks
to say they want to have a riot,
even if they haven’t followed that
up with organizing the riot
itself,” Bowden added.

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