What You Can Get Away With » the law is an ass

You may not have heard of Paul Chambers, but you should. Back in January, he made a comment on Twitter that any sane person would have realised was a joke made in a moment of frustration.

Unfortunately, it seems that there are many people around who aren’t that sane, who instead thought he was seriously planning to blow up an airport. As a result of their actions, Paul Chambers has now been arrested, lost his job, been fined, got a criminal record and now faces even more costs after his appeal was dismissed today.

If you want to help Paul out, there’s a legal fund here you can donate to. Or you can help expose the laws under which he was convicted as ridiculous, idiotic and completely against the sort of thing we proclaim to believe in in whatever way you see fit. Me, I’m going to become a co-conspirator in the infamous Betjeman gang, threatening Berkshire towns with destruction:

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who’ll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women’s tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It’s not their fault that they are mad,
They’ve tasted Hell.

It’s not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It’s not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren’t look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

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Via all sorts of places, a video they don’t want you to see on the BBC:

I’m beginning to think that Carter Ruck have changed their purpose to become a performance art collective dedicated to interpretations of the Streisand Effect. Or that they’re a group of Streisand haters who want to see it renamed – perhaps this is a wholly new 21st century phenomenon of corporate culture jamming in an effort to get their name attached to a popular culture phenomenon?

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If you haven’t read this or seen this, you might never have heard of the oil company Trafigura before. Indeed, they could have stayed nicely below many people’s radars, just they way they like to be, except for the fact they took their desire for secrecy a bit too far.

Apparently, it’s possible to use the law to stop a newspaper from reporting on proceedings in Parliament, which is the sort of revelation that should send chills down the spine of anyone with a commitment to democracy, debate and freedom of speech. Specifically, it would seem that the Guardian is not being allowed to report on a question being asked in Parliament, so if I was working for the Guardian I might not be able to do this (taking a question entirely at random, of course):

61 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.

But, the science of internet communications is about to get some fascinating data points, as we discover just how many blog posts one injunction can generate, and just how quickly it takes from obtaining a court ruling to get your company’s name as a trending topic on Twitter.

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