Of course, I’m not plotting to blow up an airplane, despite the intentionally provocative headline above, and anybody who would believe for moment that such a headline constitutes a threat that should make me the subject of a terrorism investigation, let alone criminal proceedings is a complete and utter idiot.
And yet, that’s exactly what happened to Paul Chambers for venting his frustrations over airport delays with the following harmless tweet:
“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high.”
And the thoughtful, calm response of British authorities?
He was held under the Terrorism Act on suspicion of conspiring to create a bomb hoax and questioned for seven hours.
Mr Chambers was eventually released on bail until February 11 pending further enquiries.
His Twitter post was deleted and his laptop, iPhone and home computer confiscated.
He also been banned from Robin Hood airport for life and suspended from his job while an internal investigation is launched.
Yeah, because we all know that real terrorists always publicly tweet their intentions before striking.
Now I know that some of you trolls will respond that a bomb threat is a bomb threat, and should be punished accordingly, regardless of whether this poor schmoe actually had the means or intention of carrying it out, but, well… get a life. It’s not even like this guy made the comment while sitting on an airplane, or standing in line at security, or even passing time in an airport bar. Context matters, and both the context and content of the tweet make it clear that there was no threat, implied or otherwise. (Is it actually possible to blow up an airport? And had he said the same thing, or worse, in a comedy sketch, would that have been equally prosecutable?) And yet in the name of security theater, Chambers now finds himself banned for life from his local airport, out of a job, and potentially facing huge legal bills if not an actual prison term.
Reportedly, when Chambers tried to explain to investigators what Twitter is, and the context behind his tweet of exasperation, the officer merely responded “It is the world we live in.” A shameless cop-out if I ever heard one.
As the wise folks at Gizmodo opined:
Indeed, it’s the world we live in, giving up on all our civil liberties for a sense of false security, and allowing morons to run the world.
Well, if that’s the world we live in, I might just have to blow it sky high.
The post has been up for four hours now, and I haven’t been arrested yet. I guess there are benefits to being an American.
24 hours later, and the feds still haven’t busted down my door and hauled me away. What’s up with that?