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British comedians defend freedom of speech in court

A report from comedian Al Murray in the Guardian:

In a fit of frustration at his flight being delayed by snow, Paul tweeted this message – and hold onto your hats, this one's all zinger – "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!!" It's not brilliant, but I'd say it has many hallmarks of the humorous remark – it starts with a mild profanity, leans heavily on exclamation marks, and has a pathetic threat at its heart. Would anyone who was not joking but actually issuing a threat give an airport "a week and a bit"?

This got Paul a conviction for "sending a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character contrary to the Communications Act 2003". He lost his job; his life has been pretty much kind of ruined.

Lots of people, including platinum tweeter Stephen Fry, have rallied round to support Paul's right to banter of varying quality. Graham Linehan, writer of Father Ted, The IT Crowd and recent West End smash hit The Ladykillers has been deeply involved, a master absurdist in a state of bewilderment at the real thing – his face in court is a mask of disbelief.

"Read the whole thing" as Instapundit might say. Loss of freedom of speech in Britain is no #joke.

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