A blogger from Wales has just learned the difference between ‘Freedom of Speech’ and ‘grossly offensive and menacing messages’. After being arrested and charged with over 19 theft offenses 24 year old Gavin Brent used his personal blog to ‘let of steam’. He wrote that he was being mistreated by the officers who arrested him.
Apparently one of the officers had later told him why one of the arresting officers wasn’t present when Brent was charged: he was at home with his new-born baby. The blogger decided to end his post with a dramatic message:
“P.S. – D.C. Lloyd, God help your new-born baby”
Mr Brent explained to the courts that he simply meant that he hoped that the police officer would treat his new-born baby better than he had treated mr Brent. Detective constable Steve Lloyd, and his wife, read it differently and accused the blogger of threatening them and their child.
Brent claimed “You can write on websites because it’s freedom of speech.” The court disagreed and convicted the blogger for his ‘menacing’ rant and fined him £150 with £364 costs. The original blog entry has been removed but Brent is still blogging about his adventures so far.
It sometimes seems like bloggers can say anything they want on their blogs. The ‘Publish’ button is just one click away and mistakes are easily fixed. Besides, most blogs aren’t read by anyone except he blogger (and his mother?) so who cares what you write? Reality is that your words are out there for anyone to read and often forever. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can insult, slander or misrepresent subjects. Voicing an opinion and threatening are two very different things.
The fact that you can say and write anything on your blog doesn’t mean you should.