Twitter joke trial: They just don’t “get it”

UPDATE: Paul Chambers appeal of his twitter conviction has been rejected

The Twitter joke trial is the clearest indication yet that the world is divided into two sorts of people at the moment. The people who “get it”, and the people who don’t.

The people who get it are those who are living in a world that the internet has created. A new world which would have been unimaginable as little as 15 years ago. Few predicted that this place of cat videos and porn would also allow ordinary people to create content, to engage in citizen journalism, to organise peaceful online protests that bring about actual change, or to do any of the other countless, enriching things that it has made possible.

The people who don’t get it are the people in charge. Politicians (for the most part), judges (for the most part), the policemen who came to Paul Chambers’ place of work and arrested him for posting a piece of frustrated, jokey hyperbole on Twitter. These are the people who, more than anyone, need to understand the modern world. And they simply don’t.

From what I understand, much of the Twitter joke trial has involved trying to communicate to judge and prosecution what Twitter actually is. And if they don’t understand it, then how can they be trusted to make proportionate, reasonable or just decisions about it?

This is the kind of case that would make me refuse jury service. It obliterates my confidence in the judicial system. Why should I let people who don’t “get it” have any power over me or anyone else?

We’re trying to evolve here, and the people who don’t get it are slowing us down. If they can’t keep up, they need to get out of the way.

Graham Linehan blogs at, and tweets at @glinner

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  1. Posted 11Nov10 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Is it not more because they are tied within the realms of the hideously outdated law, though? With a smidge of self-preservation? I mean, avoiding a ruined career if someone (god forbid) *did* turn out to be a terrorist, dim enough to reveal their heinous plans on such a public notice board.

    I do struggle to understand how there are people out there who don’t ‘get it’, mind. It worries me that if they can’t grasp such a simple idea, how can they seriously be in charge of the country??

    Peronsally, I think they’re afraid. You know, to become part of modern society.

  2. Posted 11Nov10 at 3:50 pm | Permalink


  3. Posted 11Nov10 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    But that is exactly why you should do jury service. Because then you can at least share what you “get” with others, and presumably also get their perspective (which at the moment I find incomprehensible myself). Self-ghettoisation is not the answer, especially when the ‘non-getters’ have most of the power.

  4. Posted 11Nov10 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Most trials start with the assumption that a crime has been committed and then try to ascertain whether the defendant did it. This one started with the assumption that the defendant did it and then tried to ascertain what the crime was. Thin end of a very worrying wedge.

  5. Posted 13Nov10 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
    Ebony Ghost

    Ditto what Carla said. Who is going to protect us from this type of turd-brained idiocy if we don’t? There has to be someone in the room who understands that, in a free society, the people are in charge and will not be bullied. The only reason such a charge can even be brought against a person is the common knowledge that people don’t think.

  6. Posted 16Feb11 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    This is a free speech blog so I can say that this is great for us to express our freedom to say something what’s from us

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Graham Linehan, Tim Ireland, Index on Censorship, Joe Cassels, Stephen Curry and others. Stephen Curry said: RT @Indoncensorship: #twitterjoketrial: they just don't get it: Graham Linehan (@glinner) writes for Index [...]

  2. [...] is. And if they don’t understand it, then how can they be trusted to make proportionate, Read more Share and [...]

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  7. [...] Thursday, comedy writer Graham Lineham wrote an excellent piece for Index on Censorship: “The Twitter joke trial is the clearest [...]

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