BEING able to say exactly what you think can be either fraught with perils or leave you basking in smug immunity.
It all depends where and what you say and to whom.
Make a film that ribs Christianity (The Life of Brian) and the Church of England gets mildly annoyed and a few councils around the country ban its screening.
One person makes a rubbish film about Mohammed and riots break out all over the western world and any number of innocent parties get caught up in violence so bad that even Iran’s rabble-rousing president Ahmedinejad calls it unacceptable.
Meanwhile the laws of libel prevail for words written in print and lawyers hover for those who transgress.
But on the internet and Twitter there is a completely different set of standards. Issuing the most outrageous slurs and unfounded allegations appear to be permissable.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a big champion of free speech. But this concept of trolling has nothing to do with that. Making sick and hate-filled comments about those two policewomen who were killed last week can in no way be justified and in this instance an arrest has been made.
Within hours, though, a ruling had been made which said that internet trolls who post one-off offensive messages may escape criminal charges.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said court action would only be taken where there was a “sustained campaign of harassment” or a direct threat. He said this after announcing that a semi-professional footballer who posted a homophobic tweet about Olympic diver Tom Daley would not end up in court.
Well if that doesn’t give the green light to more of these morons I don’t know what will.
All they have to do now on to avoid any sanctions is to spread their vile comments around rather than concentrating on one target.
And of course, as is often the case with online opinion, these cowards don’t have the bottle to identify themselves, sniping and spewing their maniacal bile from the safety of a pseudonym.