Defend Edwina Currie!
Padraig Reidy: Defend Edwina Currie!
29 Jun 12

Paul Chambers, the man at the centre of the “Twitter Joke Trial”, has had a torrid two-and-a-half-years since he joked that he would blow Robin Hood airport “sky high”. He was back in court on Wednesday. This Al Jazeera report sums up the issue nicely.

Anyway, in spite of his woes, Paul hasn’t lost his sense of humour, as demonstrated on Twitter last night. Former Conservative minister Edwina Currie, discussing the case on Twitter, wrote: “I’m blowing the airport sky high” is not a metaphor. Can be construed as a threat. [Chambers] was a damn fool, paid dearly for it.”

Clear cut then: making what are obviously jokey “threats” on Twitter is the action of a damn fool. But it didn’t take long for damn-fool Chambers to dig up this tweet from Edwina Currie herself: “oh I’d shoot tax exiles! When they need high quality health care they’re back in the UK double quick. Never make connection”.

Surely a threat? Read the full exchange at Russell Garner’s Storify.

This is funny, but it does illustrate the whole problem of the Twitter Joke Trial: everyone uses over-the-top language, and we often express our anger, outrage and frustration with words alluding to violence. What’s happening to Paul Chambers could happen to any of us, even Edwina Currie.

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.