By now, it should be a secret to no one that whenever you post something online, it’s there to stay. Never has this fact been clearer than with the advent of social networking sites, such as Facebook. There have been many stories over the years where people have lost their jobs because of things they’ve said or done online, and others where people have gone to prison. As it appears, there’s no country quite like the UK where what you say online can get you into real trouble.
During an FA Cup match a couple of weeks ago, Bolton midfielder Fabrice Maumba collapsed on the field with no one around him. As we discovered soon after, he experienced a cardiac arrest that resulted in his heart not beating for a staggering 70+ minutes. By some sort of miracle, Muamba survived and is currently recovering. But where there’s good news about a story like this, there’s always many reminders that there still exists much racism out there. And sometimes that racism can bite you, bad.
Take Liam Stacey, for example. When Muamba collapsed, he tweeted: “LOL. F*** Muamba he’s dead!!! #haha.” After he received a bit of ire from fellow Twitter users, he started tossing around some racist remarks, such as telling those targeting him to “go pick some cotton”.
After authorities caught wind of Stacey’s behavior, he was sentenced to spend 56 days in jail for being guilty of “inciting racial hatred”. This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened in the UK, but it’s a definite reminder that it’s wise to watch what you say. You might say something you find funny, but if the wrong authority catches it, you could regret it fast.
While I find some sweet justice is being served with this punishment, I can’t help but be bothered by the fact that there is an absolute lack of freedom of speech in this case. Stacey didn’t threaten anyone (to my knowledge), but rather was just racist. Right or wrong, it seems a little bizarre that any sort of jail term could be handed out for such a thing.