back to article Dead baby taunting troll feels wrath of law

Do not piss off the moderator – or a jail sentence could await you. In fact, do not generally piss people off on the net, or the same may apply, as unemployed Colm Coss of Ardwick, Manchester is likely very soon to be finding out. Mr Coss is a troll, with the particularly unpleasant habit of seeking out online tribute sites – …


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  1. John 144

    likely to cause gross offence to those to whom it relates

    I'm grossly offended that you have not commented on the potential for abusing this legislation and so demand that you be prosecuted.

  2. A. Lewis


    "His downfall came about only after he distributed photos of himself to residents on his street, saying he was an internet "troll". His neighbours rang police."

    I think I spot his second mistake. His first, of course, was all the obscene trolling...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      exactly what I was thinking....

      His downfall came about only after he distributed photos of himself to residents on his street, saying he was an internet "troll".

      1st: Why would you do this? was it a bet/dare

      2nd: why did the neighbours think this was alarming enough for the police? - men in white coats maybe.

      I suspect this troll could actually be devoid of grey matter...making him a proper troll afterall.

      1. Dave Murray Silver badge

        Re: Neighbours

        "why did the neighbours think this was alarming enough for the police? - men in white coats maybe."

        They probably thought troll meant paedo.

        Got to think of the freakin children!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Scorchio!!

      Perhaps not...

      ..perhaps his other mistake was failing to learn about and use Mixmaster encrypted remailer systems. Then the dotty judge would be left to grind his teeth in the night.

  3. Peter Simpson 1


    Unemployed, acting like a six-year-old and proud of his accomplishments. His photo should grace the Wikipedia page for "Loser".

    1. Sigmund Fraud


      Under "troll" too ...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i stopped reading b3ta

    Not because be its not funny, but because there seemed to be a user or two who constantly made fun of the McGan family whose daughter was taken in portugal a few years ago.

    Being a little offensive is one thing but really hurtful and mean is just not very nice.

    1. Ian Ferguson

      The difference...

      ...there is that the b3ta users are joking between themselves, not trying to send offensive comments TO the McGanns. I'm fairly sure the b3ta users in question wouldn't stretch to that.

      By the way, author: I think you mean 'slash genre' not 'slashdot genre' - might have a thing or two to say about that :)

      1. The BigYin

        I still read b3ta...

        ...and I will agree to being offended at times. The question is, does the poster mean to cause offence or am I simply taking offence? Hell, I get offended by the cover of 'Private Eye' at times. Some of the most offensive posts are also the most thought provoking and the posts are not usually targeted *AT* the person or event, but at the media's reaction to said person or event.

        Also, as Ian Ferguson says, none of this is being punted directly TO the McCanns (although I am bemused by the fact that you can't even be bothered to get their name right).

        B3ta is also a very mixed community with its own rules and these rules are (surprisingly) rigidly enforced by the community. Just post a link to the main board, I dares yah. The most caustic exchanges are usually between the people who know each other best and are not to actually offend the recipient. If a third party chooses to take offence, that is entirely the problem of the third party,

        Now, if you will excuse me, it's squirrels this week and I'd like to get my yiff on.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        I must agree with Ian

        and also point out that b3ta members know exactly what kind of site it is and therefore wouldn't be surprised about the content they find. I must assume that Jeremy was a lurker rather than a member. Jeremy also seems to be so concerned about poor Maddy that he can't even remember that her name is actually McCann.

        On a wider note, regardless of what an unpleasant individual this guy is, it should not be an offence to offend somebody. After all, it's purely subjective as to what is offensive. I find Simon Cowell grossly offensive. Can I get him arrested?

        1. Jerome 0

          Thin end of the wedge

          The problem here is that in five years time, when the government is feeling the need to crack down on all the offensive "free speech" that's bringing down the tone of their internets, they might find this legislation rather handy. At that time, the distinction between Mr. Coss's actions and those of your average b3ta member might be somewhat lost on the 80 year old judge who's about to set precedent.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC I must agree with Ian

          When did it become acceptable to poke fun and laugh at people who have lost someone they loved? I write as the father of a profoundly disabled daughter whose own life often hangs by the slimmest thread. She will die young and when she dies, even though her mother and I have prepared ourselves for it a dozen times or more, our devastation will be total.

          Any of you fancy exercising this right you believe you have to take the piss out me and a child who only ever wanted to live a long and normal life?

          Sometimes the freedom to do something that is grossly offensive to someone is a freedom too far. The law is nothing in this; common humanity and an acceptance that there are times when it is best to shut the f*ck up should be all the "law" we need.

          1. Anonymous Coward


            Nobody is taking the piss out of you, nor are they defending this vile moron, but you can't use an emotional situation as a substitute for legal argument.

            It makes for bad law.

  5. phil mcracken

    Clearly a troll fail...

    As he didn't obey rules 1 and 2.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I think running around telling everyone it was you

      falls more under the 7 Proxies Protocol

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Some of the worst trolls and commentards are on the Guido Fawkes political blog at . Some of the people there could do with locking up or failing that, Sectioned. Well over 75% of the comments are the full on foaming-at-the-month hate filled vitriol type.

    If The Moderatrix thinks the comments posted here are bad, I'd would think she's quit after an hour if she had moderate those comments.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      everything in moderation

      I think you'll find that moderation on a site such as order-order, would create more problems as by moderating them, he would be effectively agreeing with them. IANAL, but I think I read that on

      I agree that comments there make the comments here look like vicar's tea party banter, occasionally, though, there's a real gem.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Do feed the troll(s)...

    then get them nicked and removed - result!!

  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    "...the late UK Big Brother star, Jade Goody."

    Ah, I guess that's the new description since everyone realised the significance of section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

    She always used to be: "that fat ug........

    <Battering ram>

    <Door off hinges>



  9. Bugs R Us
    Thumb Up

    In danger of abuse or not...

    ...S127 is a good thing for society in general. Trolling is bad. Abusing legislation is bad. The legislation itself is not a bad thing.

    1. Jim 59


      Poorly worded or ambiguous legislation can invite abuse. Whence the local council using terror laws to spy on your wheely bin.

    2. The BigYin

      Trolling is bad?

      Ooo, that nearly made it past me irony filter.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Internet shminternet

    I felt a great disturbance in the t'interwebs, as if millions of trolls suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

    Posting an opinion about something or someone on the net is one thing, going out of your way to target family and friends of the deceased clearly demonstrates a flaw in this individuals perception of the effects of his actions. I bet he wouldn't dream of saying anything face to face.

    i.e. It's the internet, it doesnt matter, the people aren't real.


    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      The required title is here, and contains letters and/0r d1g1t5

      "I bet he wouldn't dream of saying anything face to face."

      From reading what he did, (and knowing people with similar mental faculties) say that he probably would.

      In fact if he carries on that way, he may not be that safe in prison!

  11. jake Silver badge

    That's not trolling.

    That's being an asshole.

    There is a major difference.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not a troll.

    Nothing like a troll. Trolling is an art, this guy is merely an asshole.

    1. Charley 1


      Trolling is a science.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whether the law is good or bad

    This piece of shit needs locking up.

    1. A J Stiles
      Big Brother


      But however much someone needs locking up, a bad law is *never* *ever* the right way to go about it.

      Better to have the Internet become totally unusable due to trolls (and figure out its own way to recover), than to have laws like this on the statute books.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Trolls can be dealt with

        They can be punched you know!

        1. The BigYin

          There's a talk I'd like to see

          "Method for jodan-tsuki over TCP"

        2. LaeMing

          [Trolls] can be punched you know!

          I believe the traditional method of dealing with trolls is to refer them to your big brother for a good head-butting.

        3. J 3
          Dead Vulture

          @Trolls can be dealt with

          Sure, that's why they are so much more common on line than in meat space, eh? I mean, people behaving like the Westboro Baptist Church members, for example, are few and far between out of the net, I think. (by the wayt, how er... interesting... would it be if one day they mistakenly picketed the funeral of some Russian mafia guy...)

        4. Roger Varley

          Trolls ...

          For much the same reason, you never here of animal rights activists demonstrating at a bikers rally.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The internet is pernicious.

    Ordinary people become someone else. The problem is lack of meaningful feedback.

    Some people are made without in social inhibitors, it's not their fault, but it was unnecessary before the advent of the internet, because you got direct feedback of your behaviour.

    With the fire and forget nature of the internet, you just don't get that feedback, and like stress, or mental illness, the gone too far nature is detectable by all the people around, but not the person themselves.

    1. GrahamT


      ...especially when you post as "Anonymous Coward"

      1. Francis Boyle

        If that's irony

        Your name's Alanis.

  15. DT

    Whilst I disagree with what you say, I'll defend etc...

    Most people quoting Voltaire's "defence to the death" remark about free speech don't seem to have the balls to follow it up when it comes to this guy, Abu Hamsa, or various Dutch politicians...

    Truly free speech doesn't exist in this country, and whilst laws on liable/slander, threats to life and racial hatred are one thing, "offensiveness" is very much in the eye of the beholder. There's a definite thin end of the wedge; look how criticism of religion was effectively outlawed as "blasphemy" until relatively recently. It's a technique of silencing detractors; the weaponised taking of doesn't even need to be genuinely felt, all one needs to do is claim that their opponent has grievously hurt their feelings!!!

    It's as disingenuous as the cop shows where on an empty street (with only the police in earshot), those they encounter are threatened with public order offences for using bad language. I'm of the opinion that if no public complaint has been made, no offence has been committed; if the police are too sensitive to cope with hearing bad language; they should seek other employment.

    This is a major step backwards; especially in a country without a defined constitution....first they came for the internet trolls... "so what?" you might ask, yet comedians like Rowan Atkinson seem more acutely aware of the direction this trend has the potential to take us in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This person had nothing to say

      There is no free speech argument here.

      Being vulgar to cause distress with no opinion or analysis is not supportable under this argument.

    2. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Down

      You miss the point

      I fully agree with the sentiments of "I disagree with what you say..." however with the Right of Freedom of Expression comes the Responsibility to use it sensibly.

      Posting messages (as this idiot did) with the *deliberate intent* to cause others distress goes way beyond the limits of responsible comment, consider the difference between my saying "I don't agree with what you're saying" and "Hey, everyone, let's go around to DT's house and give him a good kicking for saying this!"

      1. Rogerborg

        Interesting you should mention "good kicking"

        3 drunken stockbroker-scum who gave a chap a "good kicking" on a train for asking them to quieten down - a sustained, vicious, thorough good kicking, all caught on CCTV, including their celebrations afterwards - just got 4 months each, SUSPENDED - i.e. walked free and laughed their stripey braces off.

        Let's see how much this 'tard gets for hurting someone's FEELINGS.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      He did have the right to say what he wanted - after all, he did - he wasn't stopped from writing it by a filter or firewall etc.

      But, he also had the responsibility to accept the repercussions of saying what he wanted, and this is what this is about.

      A great deal of what's wrong with this country is the attitude of "I can do what I want" without expecting any consequences.

    4. Anonymous Coward


      I hereby invoke the Niemöller corollary to Godwin's law.

      1. RichardB

        Pretty Sure

        Quirkes exception would apply here.

        1. jake Silver badge


          Eh? I'm pretty certain that's pronounced "Quirk's Objection":

          But I think you really mean Formosa's Law:

    5. copsewood

      Free speech rights don't cover psychosis

      Free speech rights are needed because we are not a perfect society, because without free speech those with power and influence have no accountability. But free speech rights don't extend in our imperfect society to shouting 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre, or certain kinds of incitement to hatred or to psychotic behaviour like this.

      Someone who frequented a cemetery to hurl abuse at those mourning their departed loved ones would probably be sectioned under mental health legislation. So maybe this response to him would be more appropriate than using the criminal law to curb his online equivalent behaviour, which seems equally psychotic, disturbed and unacceptably hurtful to those in grief.

  16. Bilgepipe

    Lessons to be Learned

    There's a lesson, there. Don't go around insulting people on the internet "anonymously" because it'll come back and bite you on the *rse. You bastards.

  17. Tron Bronze badge

    Welcome to China.

    That effectively illegalises most online jokes, forums, and a substantial chunk of blog posts and social networking traffic. Because most things are offensive to someone.

    Consider how often the BBC publishes an apology for something that 4 viewers complained about, but the other 9 million didn't.

    From now on, be warned. You can only be nice online.

    And as for ebooks. Well fiction may have a degree of protection when it is printed on paper, but online it could come under an entirely different set of laws.

    1. Rolf Howarth

      Online or offline, no difference

      This law seems eminently reasonable. Why should cowards, hiding behind a mask of anonymity, think it's acceptable to say something on the Internet that wouldn't be acceptable if you're talking to your work colleagues in the pub? Do you feel the burning need to be GROSSLY offensive to others, or think you're incapable of expressing yourself without doing so?

      On the other hand, this principle should work both ways. People shouldn't be prosecuted for saying something online that they could have said with impunity down the pub (an obvious joke about blowing some airport sky high, for example).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    What if you're grossly offended at somebodys gross offence?

    "saying he was an internet "troll". His neighbours rang police."

    This is pure gold.

    "Officer? Please get over here as soon as you can. There is an internet troll IRL."

  19. Jim 59
    Thumb Up

    Bring it on

    "the use of this legislation in this way is yet one more strand of regulation that is increasingly likely to be used to tame the net in future".

    Yes and bring it on. Why should cyberspace be lawless, any more that your local high street ? In the internet free-for-all, many netizens commit appalling acts that they would be rightly ashamed of, were it not for the shield of anonymity. Perhaps a bit of light policing is in order, just as in other public spaces, where it is freely accepted.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge


      What country do you live in, where this mythical policing of public places actually takes place? the only time I see a copper is when there's a chance to hand out a speeding ticket, bang someone up for eyeballing an officer, or count coup on the arrest of some kid for playing football with intent to enjoy.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "Why should cyberspace be lawless, any more that your local high street ?"

      Because what happens there is real and can actually cause you harm where as the Internet goes away as soon as you turn off the screen.

      Also you do not need to put spaces before question marks.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @Ghost 1977

          So Ghost 1977 is your real name is it? No? Then you are just as much an anonymous coward.

          Gotta love the irony.

      2. Rolf Howarth

        Other way round

        Sadly, it's the other way round. What you say on your high street or in your local pub is usually forgotten the minute you walk out the door, whereas anything you do and say on the Internet will stay around forever and potentially come back to haunt you years or decades later.

      3. Jim 59

        Ever and anon

        Thanks. The punctuation snark strengthened my point.

      4. J 3


        "where as the Internet goes away as soon as you turn off the screen"

        Really? Why are you posting as AC, then, if it is so harmless and consequence-less?

  20. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    Does El Reg's moderatrix now have power to imprison? Of course, with so much of the readership doing 20 years hard time in a cube farm, it may be hard to intimidate them.

  21. Jo 5

    Build more prisons

    Surely this is a green light to jail 97% of the commenter's at the Daily Mail website?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Sadly, I fear not, because this guy went out of his way to offend others, the Daily Mail commentards just do it as part of their normal speech.

      I was thinking that the above would be a joke, but I'm not entirely sure no I re-read it...

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Trolls can be Big Billy Goated

    Troll picks on person A, person B receives details from person C who was picked on before, and traced IP addresses.

    Person D confirmed identity.

    Person B passes details to person A.

    Person A is a hard case, who visits Troll

    Troll stops trolling.

    No goat icons so I used a penguin instead.

  23. Gordon861

    Real Life

    At the end of the day, don't post anything on the web that you wouldn't do face to face or don't have the bottle to admit to posting to family and work collegues.

    If he'd done the same things to these people in person he would also have been locked up, so doing it on the web is no defence.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Does this make teh interwebs ghey?

    A bit odd.

    I would be interested to know if he sent messages directly to individuals which offended them.

    If I send a letter to Jade Goody's mother saying that the world is better off without her then it's a very nasty thing to do. If I make a joke about Jade Goody being a fat moron in public and Jade's mother happens to be there without my knoweldge then tough titty. Same should apply on the interwebs.

    If you go public with your shit you should expect to get some standard public responses...i.e. vitriolic hatred!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This law misses the point.

    The "girls (scream) aloud" case I'd easily argue that the prosecution was way out of line for the simple fact that the author didn't go out to offend, quite contrary to this "troll". It's the difference between sharing something (even if highly offensive--I haven't read the work and probably never will) that you wrote with acquintances sharing (some of) your interests, and seeking out people you know are in mourning, then stalking them or repeatedly ringing them out of bed and shouting abuse at them for no other reason than that "it brings reaction".

    This law quite misses that point. The law only cares about whether some message might be deemed offensive by someone else regardless of who receives it or even whether someone else receives it. That's a law waiting for an opportunity to sneak up and drop your pants and shouting to nearby prosecutors "COME GIT'IM BOYS!" In that sense, it's an overly broad law and abuse-of-law waiting to happen. Laws inviting abuse are arguably worse than the abuse they seek to punish and deter.

  26. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    He's too stupid to be a Troll

    Way too stupid...

    1. Adam Salisbury

      All Trolls Are Stupid

      But some are more stupid than others

  27. lee harvey osmond

    "but also for the entire slashdot genre"?


    I know what a 'slash' genre is ... either, it refers to use of '/' as a lexical operator to conflate two or more otherwise unrelated subjects, or it refers to somewhat febrile horror fiction. Or maybe both.

    I fail to see what the article's subject has to do with Slashdot, which I understand to be a website for generally argumentative individuals of the beard/sandals/tinfoil-hat persuasion.

    1. Galidron


      The effect is that since Slashdot is primarily about posting comments legislation like this has the potential to reduce the number of commenters as they become fearful of offending someone. Slashdot is largely about arguing your beliefs and that sort of thing can easily become offensive to those who disagree with you.

  28. Semaj
    Big Brother


    So it's now illegal to be mean? Where does it end and what are the implications for satire?

    I wonder if the outcome would have been different had he been a face to face heckler.

  29. Dex

    Maybe i'm lost here but...

    surely i'm poking fun at dead people for whatever reason then i am not causing offence to that person as said person can not voice such an opinion to say i am offending them? Their relatives can sure, but my comments wouldn't be directed at them but at the deceased and so a judge wouldn't be able to say that if offends the person it relates to as said person can't actually answer back (for obvious reasons)

    not that i'm a troll or anything it just seems a bit....stupid (the legislation i mean)

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What a load of tosh

    Let's face it, everybody has the right to be offended. After all, offence caused by anything is subjective.

    But you just cannot have the right to *not* be offended. For almost every opinion that is evoked there will be a third party who will be offended. Fine! Be offended! It's your right to be, and you can go round telling people not to commit the offensive act, or campaign against it, or protest in the streets for all I care, but you just *can't* tell people what they can and cannot say.

    This guy could easily be done for harrassment of his neighbourhood or something similar. On the downside he's probably loving the publicity that articles like this are giving him as his trolling is just getting a wider audience. His aim is to offend as widely as possible, and now he's getting his wish.

  31. Glyph

    mod me troll

    and send me to jail. /. will be a dangerous place...

    Please don't hit the down-vote! I'm too pretty for prison!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At the end of the day

    the saying "Do Not Feed the Trolls" is not enough. Maybe "Hit with heavy blunt object" would be better.

  33. Graham Bartlett


    Welcom to civilisation, more like.

    The problem isn't that it's offensive to someone. The problem is that he *intended* it to be offensive to the specific people he targetted.

    Same with Russell Brand. Saying "I shagged Andrew Sachs's granddaughter" on your radio show is one thing; actually ringing up Andrew Sachs is something else entirely. Hence the complaints. Most people don't care who Russell Brand shags, or what language he uses on his show, but *do*care that he's decided to leave obscene messages on an elderly man's answerphone.

  34. Maty

    a case in point

    Recently, in British Columbia a young girl was battered to death in a random attack in a local park. Her school friends put up a memorial page on Facebook. A troll posted just as nasty a comment as he could think of, and followed this up with a modified photo of the victim with a baseball bat.

    I don't think you need any special legislation to get this guy locked up. A good guide would be to ask would this be illegal if it were not done on the internet - for example on a public notice board?

  35. Ian Sawyer 1

    I'm a troll

    You lot are a bunch of arse munching fuckwitts. You are all turd burgalars with as much nouse as a cheeseburger. Your family tree is a stump and you take it up the Garry frequently.

    Bring it on....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Help! Help! I'm offended!

      Calling 999 now...

    2. Beelzeebub


      You must be one of mine, then.

    3. John Dougald McCallum


      Is that the best that you can do?Pathetic!!!!!

    4. Tilman Ahr


      Although, somewhere else, a post like this might actually be a very clever, underfunded (I love the way Android's spellchecker works. Typed as "underhanded", naturally) , troll, bringing on a huge flamefest, but on here, I'd rather put money on "never seen a proper troll, and now that they're near extinct irl, probably never will. And couldn't recognize one if lettered in 72pt and jumping screaming in your face...".

      Ah, there's my coat, thanks.

  36. MinionZero

    What a sick twisted attitude towards others.

    This twisted case highlights a number of problems. The first problem is that everyone's definition of grossly offensive is different, so how far do we as a society go about applying such an open ended law?! Its also very bad (and scary) how they can even be allowed to bring in such an open ended law.

    But anyway, back to this sick twisted guy's behaviour. This kind of person very often hates being exposed for what they are. Their ability to abuse others and so (in their mind) feel they have power over others is dependent on others not being able to see through them. So I'm going to expose this sick twisted behaviour for what it is. (Knowledge is as they say power and with these kind of people its the best way to see through and deal with them).

    This twisted guy's behaviour combines a Histrionic's endless need for attention with an aggressive Narcissist's endless need to bully others to feel power over others. When combined that is some very seriously messed up behaviour. Its interesting how he so clearly demonstrates his need to repeatedly seek people to victimise which wins him both attention from his offended victim as well as giving him a feeling of power over his victim, as he seeks to cause them emotional pain. He even wants attention from his neighbours and is determined to show to everyone he can take whatever they say back at him. (Its a way to show he is powerful (in his mind) its like saying “hey look at me, I can do all this and none of you can affect me whatever you say” its that level of thinking ... at least that is what he is trying to do).

    The Histrionic behaviour is caused by a child feeling a prolonged lack of parental attention over months and often even years and in extreme cases outright parental neglect.

    The Narcissist's behaviour is caused by a child determined to avoid anyone ever having power over them ever again, the way they suffered prolonged violent abusive power over them as a child.

    This twisted guy clearly shows strong warning signs of both these behaviours. (Both are cluster B personality disorders). I could have sympathy for someone like this, right up until they seek to cause others harm, at which point they become the enemy within society that has to be finally isolated, sidelined and ultimately stopped by everyone in society.

    The thing is in an ever more connected world, these twisted people are more able than ever before to reach out and abuse others for their own satisfaction. But on a positive note, the more they show how they behave, the more people then get to see these repeating patterns of behaviour, so its helping to educate everyone about these evil and often dangerous people in society we all need to learn how to avoid.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    starting to understand

    The UK truly IS the nanny state. Fuck that

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ian Sawyer 1

    Nice one. Doesn't quite flow as well as it should but good try. You certainly qualify as apprentice troll and maybe even as high as YTS troll.

    Your spelling is a bit poor though and your reliance on homophobic rhetoric is somewhat 1980s in its simplicity and quaintness.

    However, insulting people here is one thing, we all kind of deserve it and certainly expect it. If you go to stonewall's website and rant on them being "turd burgalars" sic and "take[ing] it up the Garry (sic) frequently" then you shouldn't be surprised if they get a little upset. Possibly even as far as sicking the fuzz on you. However they deem it appropriate to do that.

    Equally if someone has died and you post bad things here then expect to either get moderated or slagged off by the rest of us at worst. Even if the family of the deceased are regular visitors then it si just one of those things. Arguably so even if you knew they visited here - it would be bad taste and severely douchbag-ish but hell, El Reg exists to be El Reg not to be a meeting place for teh recently bereaved.

    But if you actually go to the bereaved's website / facebook page or whatever and post intentionally offensive material then I think most people would agree that a custodial kicking and a new close "friendship" with Bubba is about what you got coming to you.

    But, and there is always a "but" - I think we all, as a nation, nay a human race, need to separate good usages of legislation from bad and not get blinded either by supporting potentially bad laws because they [at least initially] are used to do things we agree with or hating on the same laws when they do good things just because teh potential is there to oppress us.

    If we took the El Reg commentard view on legislation we would have absolutely no laws left. Which would be areally bad thing because in a survival of the fittest anarchy you pasty faced, overweight, sandal wearing, straggly bearded, long haired, balding, bookworm nerds ain't got no fucking chance.

  39. lotus49

    Free speech does not mean the freedom to say anything you like

    If my baby had died and someone taunted me over it, I would be more than merely offended.

    This is grossly objectionable behaviour and that fact that this piece of scum thought it was fun to taunt the bereaved goes way beyond making a few stupid insults on a forum like El Reg. Anyone who gets his kicks from causing great distress to complete strangers deserves to be banged up whether he does it in person or online.

    Enjoy your porridge scumbag.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Free speech does not mean the freedom to say anything you like

      Yes, yes it does. If it doesn't mean that it's not "freedom of speech" so much as "freedom to say anything we/I consider OK", which isn't the same thing at all.

      OTOH I agree this is grossly objectionable behaviour and I would also be extremely upset if someone did this to me, but then I would get the admin to IP ban them, or I'd post the messages somewhere very public and get other people to join me in insulting the fuckwit back until they crawled back into the hole they crawled out of. Or changed their behaviour for the better (which would be the more desireable course of action).

  40. The Messiah by Handel


    Interesting that both the UK and the US are both debating the limits of offensive speech. The US Supreme Court will be making a decision with regards to the banned-from-Britain Fred Phelps and family's odious protests at military funerals across the US. The Phelps cunts and this cunt are horrible people, but I would rather have the freedom to say horrible things than have a potentially variable line of what is legally sanctioned and not. My 2p.

    1. Oninoshiko

      There are certain boundries, although it saddens me that we even have to define them

      Actually the US has a legal concept (and you will have to excuse the "redneck" language of it, but it is actually called this) "fighting words." Basically, if what you are saying, where and when you are saying is such that it is intended to or likely to incite violence, you are not allowed to say it.

      So the religious in Mr. Phelps family (by all accounts, his family are the vast majority of the members of his church) are allowed to protest the military, they can even say "we want more solders dead." They just aren't allowed to say it across the street from a ongoing funeral. If they want to come back the day after, they can.

      Really there are a number of limitations on speech which are necessary to maintain order. The one that often comes up is "yelling fire in a crowded theatre," but that seems a little distant from this situation. it's more like people in nazi uniforms walking their pigs in front of a temple on the first day of passover. The difference is that this location and time was chosen, not to help the actual message they are trying to send, but to actively hurt and try to illicit a response from the members of that community.

      The US policy is that you do have the right to say horrible things, you do not have the right to do it in a fashion that specifically attempts to victimize others. (This doctrine was established in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942))

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @The Messiah by Handel and others

    Fully free speech is not a universal right. Not here , not in the US and not even in Burma. You may not like the law but that is just unfortunate. Go to an airport and claim you have a bomb, knife and 2 kilos of columbia's finest in your luggage and see how free your speech is. Or pick your celebrity of choice and publicly accuse them of raping your 2 year old child and see what happens.

    Still looking for more? walk into the US embassy in London with your hand in your pocket. keeping your hand in your pocket extend your undex finger and point it at a random embassy worker whilst excercising your right to free speech with the soliloquy "Every one down on the floor now. I have a gun and I am not afraid to use it. Death to America!!!"

    Although I doubt you will get all of that out and I suspect you will no longer be in a position to record your thoughts in this erstwhile online forum should you in fact chose to exercise your freedom thusly*

    In short - freedom of speech as an absolute is a myth, even in regimes where freedom of speech is enshrined in whatever medium they chose to enshrine their enshrinements. The UK however, sadly or happily depending on your point of view is not one of those places.

    I like the word "thusly".

    1. The Messiah by Handel

      Free speech

      Your every example of contraindicated speech is tied to a threat of violence (airport claims of bombs and knives; simulated seizure of an embassy), or in conjunction with another crime (drugs smuggling) or itself an already clearly defined crime (slander). The only example you provided that might possibly be considered a limit on free speech is slander/libel.

      The horrible things the troll said were neither tied to another crime nor slanderous/libelous, they were merely horrible things to say to someone. He didn't suggest he was going to kill other children, threaten an embassy or a public transit system, talk about his nose candy sales, or claim that Girls Aloud are selling underage prostitutes; he was just a horrible person.

  42. John H Woods Silver badge

    Salman Rushdie ...

    ... was on Open Book (R4) this week. One of the things he said was that we were too timid as a society, because we tried too hard not to give offence. This is problematic, he said, because increasingly large and vocal groups define themselves by what offends them.

    AC above put it very clearly by saying that everyone has the right to be offended, but no-one has the right to not be offended. Existing laws are available to deal with specific cases like these. Creating new laws, however well-meaning, to protect people from being offended, are going to disproportionately benefit those who like to be offended by nearly everything: we risk handing our "freedom of speech" - or what little of it we have - over to puritanical minorities.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    This law isn't a slippery slope

    it's a vertical overhanging cliff with its bottom in the very depths of Orwellian hell. Granted that these trolls are not nice people, dealing with them in this fashion makes a complete mockery of freedom of speech. What if a politician gets "offended" at someone's post about the government being oppressive? This is what amounts to a sedition law. This act could very easily be used to stifle criticism of the government, of corporations, or any of their myrmidons. It is the last and final stage of becoming a police state.

    Anonymous because I'll probably offend some politicians with this post.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    Probably made the mistake of irritating someone rich and famous

    Can't see plod investigating this otherwise.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Rule 34?

    I would be willing to bet that Anonymous can't find even a single bit offensive rule 34 material that makes use of this trolls photo.

  46. Fubar75

    Re: Trolling

    All trolls are assholes period.... his asshole is bigger than goatse, full of sh!t!!!! Hope he learns his lesson and for him to realize his time to *GROW UP*

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vivaldi: Corrupter of the Youth.

    The problem with the Act is that phrases such as "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character", and even with such limiting precedent as "a message is 'grossly offensive' if it was likely to cause gross offence to those to whom it relates" is that it's they're largely in the eye of the beholder no matter how extreme they are.

    It also opens up the law to stupid contradictions.

    For example: The term 'menace' is a term used in law which tends to imply that there must be some high degree of coercion in order to force an individual to undertake a particular course of action ( I consider taking someone to court a fairly coercive course of action. Therefore I consider legally threatening emails to be menacing. Does this mean I could have the sender of a legitimate but legally threatening email prosecuted under the Act?

    It's even worse with words like 'obscene' or 'indecent'. To be obscene something needs to "tend to deprave and corrupt" (, but what if I don't have the same kind of philosophical system-of-morals approach beloved of Victorian England? What if I don't consider there to be such a thing as a singular moral path which can be denoted as 'the good'? What does the word 'deprave' mean in those circumstances? Does it even have a purpose?

    The word 'corrupt' is even worse. Corruption is the means by which something is changed from a "sound condition to an unsound one, spoiled, contaminated, rotten, deteriorated from the normal or standard" (see previous reference). For there to be corruption in the legal sense there has to be a normal, sound, or standard 'state'. Judges rely on the idea that such a thing exists, but I have my doubts that this idea would stand up to any thoroughgoing scientific investigation. What is considered 'normal or standard' varies from population to population, from person to person and from time to time.

    In addition perfectly innocuous events can be shown to 'corrupt' via arguments such as the following:

    1) Your actions are upsetting me.

    2) My normal state is to not be upset.

    3) My being upset constitutes a deterioration of my normal state.

    4) One kind of corruption causes a deterioration from one's normal state.

    C) Thus your actions are a corrupting influence.

    I can use this argument to prove that Vivaldi's music constitutes a corrupting influence, thus:

    1) Vivaldi's music make me cry like a child.

    2) My normal state is that of not crying.

    3) My crying constitutes a deterioration of my normal state.

    4) One kind of corruption causes a deterioration from one's normal state.

    C) Thus the aforementioned music constitutes a corrupting influence.

    All of which proves:

    a) You can use Aristotelian logic to prove any bollocks you like;

    b) The legal definitions of 'corruption', 'depraved' and 'obscence' are as leaky as a colander.

    On top of all that - what if you consider someone's attempts to stop you indulging in your chosen trolling behaviour as "grossly offensive, or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character"? Can you prosecute the state for pursuing the law using that self-same law?

    All this is food for thought when thinking about 'taming the Internets' and while I'm tempted to say I don't think this particular conviction constitutes a major miscarriage of justice (the guy was quite clearly being a twat and was stupid enough to distribute posters of himself saying "I'm a twat!!!!LOL!1") I'm wary of doing so because there's a voice at the back of my mind that keeps saying "thin end of the wedge, thin end of the wedge ..."

    That same voice leads me to believe that being a twat can be funny: David Thorne, Chris Morris, Jeremy Beadle, Lenny Bruce all made their careers from offending people. OK, so Jeremy Beadle's not funny, but you get my point. So at what point does humour become an offence under the Act? When the average non-existent man says so, apparently. And now we're back to where we started.

    Say, is that Nigel Kennedy on the radio?

    1. Scorchio!!


      Well, not really. Closer to sophistry, with non sequitur argumenta, premisses that are valid but not true, and so on. Must try harder!

      1. sig

        Casting of stones

        If you're being picky about logic, premises are true or not, arguments are valid or not

        1. Scorchio!!


          That is quite so. This was of course dashed off during the heat of other battles on this side of the screen, some 27 years after graduating in philosophy, but thank you for your pickiness.

          Now for a finisher I'll point out to you that the Jimmy Edwards icon is not appropriate since it's for grammar. :-)

          Do HAND.

  48. Colin Millar

    Fettering freedom of speech

    Bad idea.

    The courts have no framework for responsible use of freedom of speech because there is no legislation covering it.

    The current legal restrictions are to do with inciting racial hatred or criminal acts. Some piece of rushed through legislation covering a narrow area should not be used to introduce major new directions in such a fundamental area of life.

    The EU would like to introduce restrictions on criticism of government institutions on the grounds that they undermine confidence in public institutions. Various religious groups would like to shut you up with new blasphemy laws to stop all discussion of the rights and wrongs of their various agendas.

    And the standard they all plan to use is "causing offence". If you can get enough of a constituency to say they are offended you can shut up all your critics.

    And all this is apparently OK to some because at least it shuts up some mindless troll.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does it matter who can access it?

    There are plenty of things that I might email a lover about that I wouldn't email a friend's grandmother about. One would hope that the law includes a defence for people who email photos of medical procedures to people in the medical profession who have a legitimate reason to receive them and actively want them.

    A proctologist may actually want to see a goatse-esque image. I do not but wouldn't want to ban emailing it to someone who does.

  50. David 66
    Thumb Down

    bad law

    You can't punish people for saying things, and stay fashionable.

  51. Edison
    Thumb Down

    Bad Taste, Yes

    I really think it's wrong to jail someone for trolling the Net. No one was hurt, no property stolen; people need to grow some thicker skin.

    Jeez, what a bunch of pansies.

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