I suppose it will be an imprisonable offence to offend people on Facebook here too.
The whole subscription list of El Reg will be locked up for years.
The Aussies are a funny lot though.
Two men who erected a Facebook page which allowed users to rate the sexual prowess of women have been jailed. The page in question was called “Bendaz Root Rate”. “Bendaz” is a proper noun and “root” is, in Australia, a slang term a little coarser than “shag” is the UK, but still a fair way short of the F-word. The two men in …
Rate your girlfriends by all means, whisper it to each other down the pub, write it out on edible paper, swap lists then eat quickly to get rid of the evidence.
But what ever you do, if you do rate them, don't make derogatory comments, just class them as average. If they are offended you might go to jail.
So it's illegal to "use a carriage service to offend, or publish offensive material on an information network"? That's basically half the internet: people being offensive in blogs, on twitter, in website comments. Freedom of speech means nothing if it doesn't include the freedom to offend. The most offensive comments are being driven underground - witness the rise of Sickipedia.
Freedom of Speech does not equal freedom to be a complete dick. While I find hard to understand how they are responsible for what other people posted on that page, the page should have been shut down and the people who actually made the comments charged, do you really see nothing wrong with comments of a sexual nature about 13 year old girls?
If freedom of speech means I can say what I like, and offend who I like, can I post rascist comments on the Reg?
1) freedom of speech should mean I can say what I want, and if its false & derogatory, sue me for libel / slander, NOT the owners of the page... If I want to be a dick, its my choice to be a dick....
2) if it is true there are comments of a sexual nature of 13 year old girls, if its false, then the people posting them need to be punished, if its true, well sorry but at 13 you know what your doing.. at 13 you should be held responsible for your own actions...
We don't have free speach, we have a limited right to free speach. If you slander someone, commit fraud, incite hatred etc then you get punished. This is not a bad thing, depending on who decides on the limits.
With rights come responsibilities, at least thats how it should be. I'm not entirely sure I agree with punishing them for comments other people made, although they did facilitate it. The crimes were the defamatory comments, so maybe it would be more accurate to describe them as acomplicies or aiding and abbeting?
I think perhaps it was too difficult to prosecute everyone who left a comment so they found any law they could to nail these two who started it to disuade others from doing the same?
I do agree with everything you've said, although I would take issue with the authorities on one count. Are the comment defamatory? That all depends on your position really. They can assume that some are (probably not an unreasonable assumption), but the only body that can really rule on this is a court. So, how can the authority prosecute them for aiding and abetting something which has yet to be determined as a crime?
Very true. You have a right to an opinion and a limited right to express it. The 'pub banter' exemption in slander law. It also comes down to the difference between expressing an opinion and making a claim of fact and how explicit the details are. For example I could say I beleive the house of lords a bunch of gin soaked coffin dodgers and probably be fine, its a vague opinion and mildly defamatory. I could say that I heard X mp liked a bit of sheep action and probably be ok, but if I made a very explicit detailed comment such as X mp shagged Y who was 12, then I would likely end up in trouble. It is an explicit accusation that has passed from opinion into an alledged statement of fact. Now if I said that to you after 12 pints of old peculiar down the fox and hare I might not end up in too much trouble, if I published it in some form i.e. widely disseminated it, I would likely be judged to be willfully making an attempt to defame. Writing on facebook for all and sundry to see fits that bill.
If everything on the page was true, which is unlikely but possible, the only other issue that a very well paid council may look at is breach of confidence but thats a huge stretch.
Without seeing the comments it's impossible to say for sure. My feeling is basically they googled for any law that might vaguely be applied in an attempt to cut the head off the snake. I think prison is harsh, a fine disbursed to those that could prove defamation would be more appropriate imho.
I'm no expert in law, I could be entirely wrong, thats just my understanding based on discussions with council re protecting a company from comments.
"very explicit detailed comment such as X mp shagged Y who was 12, then I would likely end up in trouble."
Yes you would end up in trouble and presumably you would be expecting trouble. Perhaps you would not say it if it was not true. Better still you would be able to prove it. If you say something that is serious enough you might drown in a lake or die in a plane crash after meeting Obama. See what I did there, I linked a couple of facts and made an insinuation. I don''t think I will get into trouble for that because what I have said is already reported in the news. I never said Obama held her head under the water or cut the hydraulics on the plane.
Wayland Sothcott 1
'Yes you would end up in trouble and presumably you would be expecting trouble. Perhaps you would not say it if it was not true. Better still you would be able to prove it. If you say something that is serious enough you might drown in a lake or die in a plane crash after meeting Obama. See what I did there, I linked a couple of facts and made an insinuation. I don''t think I will get into trouble for that because what I have said is already reported in the news. I never said Obama held her head under the water or cut the hydraulics on the plane.'
You may or may not. It all depends on circumstances and context. I fully appreciate this. All I'm saying is that the comments on the forum in question are no different to conversations people have all the time. if you ever use public toilets in the UK, you'll see tons of grafitti saying exactly this sort of thing. X loves Y. X is a dirty whore. X shagged Y. etc.etc. Are you going to prosecute the local council for providing the 'forum'?
We have to treat the forum in question in the same way. it may control some truth, some lies and some people posting stuff to 'have a laugh'. Anyone who treats anything on that forum seriously is really mad. All they're doing is effectively taking peoples conversations and writing them down. If we prosecute people having this sort of conversation, let's prosecute them as well. If we don't, let's not.
Your comment is really around whether the posted comment is open to libel, slander etc. If so, let the courts decide. Anyone named on the forum presumably has the right to all the usual remedial actions. Same as if these were published in the press, or someone stands on a street corner shouting it out.
I don't think it is a freedom of speech issue. I think it's a harrasment issue. The two don't have to go together. If there were a website rating guys and you're name appeared at the top saying: "dick like a worn out pencil - you'd have to be desperate"... Would that negatively impact your life? There will of course be people here who post: "No, because (insert reason)", but they don't speak for everyone. Particularly think how you would feel if you were a thirteen year old boy being mocked by the world.
It's not about freedom of speech, but it's still malicious and harmful.
I don't disagree with much of what you're saying and certainly its the work of people with some strange ideas of fun etc.
However, all they're doing is essentially providing another format than the pub for men, or shopping trips for women. Both men and women already discuss this and make comments like this anyway, just the forums changed. Yes, the forum is more public, but that only applies to people who know the target. The fact I can read about some named Australian in Britain does not impact on them at all, as I don't know them and almost certainly never will. It's simply a laugh or amusing site to me. it has no relevance to my life. So, we're talking about the difference between people in a small area (say part of a town) talking about these things and writing them on a forum.
Now, maybe talking in these terms is harrasment as well? I don't know. If someone gets a 'reputation' in an area (say as a 'bike'), is that harrasment? Are you going to go round and prosecute anyone who ever made any comment and the owners of the properties where the comments were made? I'd guess not. So, what's the difference? Does it matter if people in a small area are saying this or writing it on a forum? Surely both are distressing if the person finds out?
So, whilst I agree it's in bad taste etc., I don't really see it's any different to whats been going on for years. Just the forums changed.
Anyone discussing this sort of thing about underage girls/boys should be identified and prosecuted on that basis alone. Adults, that's different.
Good, because you're wrong.
Freedom of speech should not allow you shout profanities outside a nursery; shout "fire" in a crowded theatre; gratuitously insult the barman for some perceived slight; or, as you say, be a dick.
Freedom of speech allows you to be a dick, it doesn't allow you to force your dickishness on others.
Well the first part of point one is what I said in my post. For the second half, do you think it should be legal to make rascist or homophobic comments?
As for point two, what a pile of bull ox. At the age of 13 you are classed as a minor, and there is a reason that underage sex is illegal, its because at that age aren't fully capable of understanding your actions. Why does the judicial system differentiate between adults and children?
"If freedom of speech means I can say what I like, and offend who I like, can I post rascist comments on the Reg?" Well actually it should be up to the moderators. If you can say something good about race then you are in effect saying other races are not as good. If we are all the same then you have no right to be proud of who you are and what you stand for since you're nothing special. The Olympic games for instance show that people are all different and so some can be proud of winning a gold medal. The fact that some races and some countries are better at some sports is a racist fact. The truth does not follow politically correct protocol.
If you stop offensive speech you are censoring truth as well as lies.
@Wayland Sothcott 1.
It's absolutely amazing to me that the law has made it illegal to sometimes say the truth. On average, if you want a long distance runner, you're better off looking at African people, especially Kenyans, Ethiopians etc. On an average basis, they're better at running long distances. Other things are true of other sports. Rather than thinking of this as racist, why can't we simply deal with the statistical truth? What we need to do is stop racially based comments that are not based on truth. This also applies to crime, another common target. Whether people like it or not, the black community in London is responsible for a completely disproportionate amount of gun crime. Therefore, should the police not target this community to stop it? It's not racist, it's statistical fact. Something different would apply to Moss Side. If you want to stop gun crime and have a limited budget, it makes sense to target the people that tend to cause most of it. That's simple common sense.
Now, I'm not saying here that picking on someone due to their colour, sex etc. is OK. There must be other good, factual reasons. Just hating someone because they're black or treating a woman different to a man, because she's a woman is simply not on.
Having said that, what about all the comments in the press today that are totally sexist. Louise Mensch talking about rape as if it is a totally female issue. She also refers to other sex crimes in the same fashion. Talk about a sexist person. Sex crimes apply to everyone and rape applies to men as well as women. Maybe the numbers are not the same (although it is though the vast majority of male rape is unreported, much higher than for women), but that doesn't make it right to treat it as a single sex issue. Of course, it's not that long ago that the law didn't even acknowledge a man could be raped!!
It's incredible that we don't have any common sense on the issue. We should be celebrating our differences and the fact that different sexes, races etc. are better and worse (on average) than others at some things. We accept this in other species without any problem. We don't expect the male and female of other species to be the same, so why for humans? We accept some species have evolved where the male and female are radically different so they can perform different roles better.
@Arclight: "Freedom of Speech does not equal freedom to be a complete dick."
Actually, yes. It does. It'd be rather pointless if it didn't.
What it doesn't mean is "Freedom from consequences."
"do you really see nothing wrong with comments of a sexual nature about 13 year old girls?"
I do, but as the mainstream media have been shovelling the "young" = "sexy" meme down our throats for generations, I can't say I'm particularly surprised. Have you seen what can be found on YouTube lately?
Wouldn't you rather have people tell you what they really think and believe, or would you prefer they kept it all secret and never, ever, let on why they passed you over for promotion yet again? I'd rather racists and the like felt free to express their beliefs; at least I'll know where I stand. (Don't like "coloureds" working for you? No problem! Just slap a notice up to that effect and I won't even waste my time applying. Your loss!)
What I do NOT want is the anodyne "political correctness" bollocks that have been imposed on society by a very vocal minority of holier-than-thou Mary Whitehouses over the last few decades. How the hell are we supposed to make informed decisions when people are so terrified of saying what they genuinely believe? How are we supposed to root out ignorance when political correctness goes out of its way to hide it?
And, of course, how do you know whether any of the comments about underage girls aren't from other underage children? Facebook is, I believe, rather popular with the youth of today.
"If freedom of speech means I can say what I like, and offend who I like, can I post rascist comments on the Reg?"
No. Your rights and freedoms are inherently limited to public areas and your own property.
The Register's forums are NOT a public space; they're akin to a company's office entrance lobby or meeting room. You have no more "right" to go on a racist rant on these forums than you have to enter the offices of PIXAR and rant away in their cafeteria. Doing either of those will get you very forcibly ejected. With extreme prejudice.
Because owners of private property DO have a right to tell you to f*ck off. It's their space, not yours.
Every action has consequences, the freedom to say whatever you wish included. You can shout "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre—that's your freedom right there. But that freedom ends at the point where it impacts upon the freedoms of others; it's therefore the theatre owners' equally valuable right to have you arrested and charged for the consequences of your action.
The Facebook page in the original article is an interesting case: the posters themselves could theoretically be prosecuted too, but it'd be a legal nightmare: many posts will have been made by underaged users who can't be held to the Facebook terms of service anyway. Trawling through every post and trying to find out legally admissible information about them would, in any case, take ages and cost a fortune.
However, the Facebook page itself is also subject to those terms of service and THAT is why they are facing jail. Facebook is not a "public" space; it's a private service.
But is it true?
If its untrue then surely there are libel/defamation remedies available.
If its true then people have brought the trouble on themselves. You can't live without having consequences to your actions, despite the quest for "freedom." There's usually a simple way to avoid such trouble, but instant gratification (or not) appears to be all people think about.
If it was my offspring that was posting negative comments about sexual partners, I'd tan their hide!
If it was my offspring that was being posted about, I'd ask if it was true, if it was then I'd give advice to ensure they improve their performance & partner selection! I'm sure after some sex advise from their parents, sex would be the last thing on their minds :-D
Can't say I agree with the judgement providing that there was no harassment involved. A comment should not be illegal simply because it is offensive and accessible by the public, there must be a greater reason such as libel or incitement to violence. Obviously posting comments about under-age kids is never acceptable.
What I really don't understand though is why the creators of the page are facing prosecution rather than the people who posted the comments. AFAIK the comments posted weren't moderated in any way by the page's creators.
<-- I've had a few. Apologies if this post isn't all that coherent.
Why unfortunately? 'Freedom of Speech' does not give you the right to shout 'Fire' in a cinema.
Yeah, no one wants journalists shot for criticising political types, for sure. So we make a song and dance about 'freedom of speech' ... okay.... but what do get? Stories about Katie Price or Brangelina.
For a long time authorities have known the workaround to 'freedom of information', too - release the wheat, but release even more chaff.
Poetic justice would be for for every woman in Australia to pass around photos of these two blokes, marked Do Not Root.
.......is a complex one and not easy to define. Once one accepts that there have got to be some restrictions (your example with regard to falsely shouting "fire" in a cinema) one then enters very contentious territory and the subject demands perhaps rather more than we can give it on a thread like this. However, I can at any rate give you an unreserved thumbs up for your last line.
Poetic justice would be for for every woman in Australia to pass around photos of these two blokes, marked Do Not Root.
Apart from being extremely entertaining it would indeed be justice in this instance.
Of course you have the right to shout 'fire' in a cinema. How else might you alert people to the presence of flames? Technically you also have the right to shout 'fire' without any evidence of a conflagration being present although, were someone to be injured in the ensuing panic, you might be on sticky ground.
The shouting of "fire" in a cinema example is classically used to illustrate the limits on free speech contra responsibility for ones actions. The point with the example is somebody shouting "fire" as a practical joke when they have no reason to believe that there is in fact a fire. Under those circumstances they might well cause a panic in which people are injured or killed. That is the point with that "parable" - and no, you do not have the right to abuse free speech in that way. Saying that you would have to answer for your actions in the aftermath if it was a false alarm and you had caused injury or death would be of no help to the victims of the "joker's" sense of humour.
@artic fox - thanks for your long explanation. Of course I am familar with that use The point I am making is that it is mine and everybody else's right to shout fire in a cinema. You are of course assuming that I need the parable explaining to me. Thanks for that but there's no need. I did understand it. I might like to offer a counter explanation to you. Personal responsibilitty does not lie just with the person shouting 'fire' but also with those responding to the call and context can also play a big part in this. Perhaps there is a fire in the film and I am shouting to warn one of the characters, in much the same way as I might shout 'behind you' to warn a character at a pantomine (if you're not English you might want to look this up);or perhaps one of my testicles has self-combusted and I am keen to share this occurrence with you all. If I shout 'fire' you run for the door, perhaps injuring yourself in the process, without first checking that there is any sign of a fire then, in the real world (i.e. not America) that should be your responsibility. In the same way that if I am in the middle of a pavement and shout 'bus' (or airplane) I would not expect to be sued by every moron who dived for cover without first checking that a large public transport vehicle is not immediately bearing down on them.
> Technically you also have the right to shout 'fire' without any evidence of a conflagration being present
This neatly demonstrates the utter pointlessness of 'rights' without 'responsibilities'. To defend and demand the right to shout 'Fire' unnecessarily is to turn ones rights into such a weak and vapid abstraction that it is an insult to those who fight for the right to speak out against REAL oppression.
Really, why demand the right to offend for no other reason than 'because I can'?
And yet again another example of the abdication of responsibility by the masses. If someone shouts fire, plane, elephant, martian spaceship or anything else and you run and injure yourself without first taking the time to determine whether there is any threat then I am afraid that you are just as culpable as the 'idiot' who shouted it in the first place.
And with regards to your last line - does that also apply to the right to bear arms (as opposed to bare arms which is a right that should always be inalienable).
> Yeah, no one wants journalists shot for criticising political types, for sure.
Indeed, there are other reasons one might want journalists shot...
> So we make a song and dance about 'freedom of speech' ... okay.... but what do get?
> Stories about Katie Price or Brangelina.
The stories only appear because people buy them. If you all stop buying, then the stories should stop. I say "should" because I expect that what would really happen is that there would be even more lurid barrel-scraping stories instead... which leads to the perverse suggestion that I should buy trashy newspapers and magazines and visit trashy websites in order to stop the moral fabric of society from deteriorating any further...
What one is saying is that one has to accept that "freedom of speech" has consequences if you misuse it. If you howl (falsely) "fire" in crowed cinema you have not exercised freedom of speech, you have been a total slag, end of.
How many commentators in here would change their mind about this decision if a similar network of women's sites starting giving ratings on their sexual prowess, or even their ability in other areas. I think most men would be rather shocked to have their personal details proclaimed to all and sundry. I also wonder if these commenter are the same who complain like mad about Google or similar and their datamining of their other personal details.
Free speech for everything is great, until others start making claims against you.
Not many of the commentators here are obviously women, so my judgement is that few of the commentators here would change their mind if women were being prosecuted as well as men.
On the other hand, there are many women out there who are not commentating here, and many of them would change their mind if the same standards were to be applied to women as are applied to men.
"How would you feel if it happened to you?" is a useful test, but it requires intelligent imagination and empathy; which doesn't really apply to the people who make those sort of public comments about others.
In the real world, these people would be punched in the mouth or kicked in the nuts on a regular basis, but in the virtual world they are free to post as they wish.
This is neither the first or the last 'database' of rating people on sex or relationships... as to if they should be shut down as being abusive or praised as helping to sort the wheat from the chaff... I don't know.. but I don't really like them myself.... as to your question as to how men would feel if there was a womens site giving ratings.. have a free one on the house :)
Being rated for my sexual prowess in a public forum?
IF I slept with someone likely to do that (which to be honest is the bigger issue I see, bad partner selection)
I'd be fine with that, I'd simply suggest to others that the only way to find out for sure is to try ;-)
And in all honesty I am confident in my sexual ability!
Because on one hand I think this sort of crap should be shovelled into a deep dark cesspit and on the other I don't trust any government to do it - even without the possibility of corruption the law is a very blunt instrument. But on the third hand - sexually rating minors? They crossed a line there and they got a slap on the wrist. I won't be shedding any tears for them or for the future of freedom and democracy in Australia.
Shouldn't the bigger issue either be that the minors were having sex, OR that the age-of-consent laws are clearly outdated and need updating with a lower age of consent to reflect the cultural changes?
Remember parts of the developed world have an age of consent of 12, some have an age of consent of 18, some higher...
Personally I think an AOC of around 13-14 is about, with extra protections in place to prevent abuse/rape.
I would say that the problem here is that I do not have the full story.
If it was these 2 blokes who were rating minors on their sexual abilities, then why were they not prosecuted for statutory rape?
If it was not them, then the fact minors were being rated is irrelevant to the case. The cops should go after the people who rated them, not the guys who set up the page. They are obviously dicks, but that in itself is not a crime.
I really do not see why they should have been prosecuted, let alone jailed, for setting up such a page. I wouldn't even say this falls under freedom of speech: They weren't prosecuted for what they, personally, "said", but for setting up somewhere for others to "speak".
"She may THINK she's old enough to consent, but she isn't."
For a loving father, she will never be old enough to consent.That bloody bastard is taking away your little girl.She´s going to make it anyway, one has to face it.All,one can do is to fit her with the brains not to fall for theJohn Travolta in class.
The itching starts anyway at some point, with 12,14 or 16, depends ... but not on Daddy or whatever he does trying to "control" her.
It´s called "biology" ( a string of reality,that can not be broken down to "0" and "1")
Once she´s done it, and as a caring Daddy you will know it the moment she faces you after that, don´t go ballistic, get a bottle of your best,mourn the dead of your baby and the next morning welcome the new young woman in your family.
The British have a saying: Old enough to bleed,old enough to breed.
Again: It´s about how she is prepared by her parents to choose the right time and guy (for her, not for you) and what her body tells her.
It´s time for me to face the same situation with my baby as well and i swear,i´m going to kill anyone of those horny bastards who is trying to put his dirty hands,or worse, on my Sunshine!
There's a difference between your 14 year old daughter getting topped by some 17 year old scrote down the local youth club and by 65 year Mr Jones and his pals down the news agents. By leaving the age of consent as it is there is the possibility to enforce, or not enforce, the law depending on the context. It's usually the horny old bastards who fancy a bit of underage action who tend to advocate the lowering of the age of consent. Might we be expecting to see you in one of our tabloids before too long Mr Altman?
It's clear that these guys were total pillocks, but:
is it really proportionate to jail them for being offensive?
I would definitely go for jailing anyone with first-hand info on how good the children were - that's smiple [paedophilia - but jailing them for being rude about others?
This seems a little OTT for my liking...
I don't see a problem with making people who host a website responsible for what is posted on it. Of course you can't stop filth getting posted, so the rules should make you responsible either for moderating the content, or for reacting once you know about such content.
e.g. if we started a discussion about how great sex with under-age people was, and El Reg didn't do something about it then they should get in trouble.
'I don't see a problem with making people who host a website responsible for what is posted on it. Of course you can't stop filth getting posted, so the rules should make you responsible either for moderating the content, or for reacting once you know about such content.
e.g. if we started a discussion about how great sex with under-age people was, and El Reg didn't do something about it then they should get in trouble.'
Indeed. Maybe we should make this a law. You're responsible for what's posted on your websites and a takedown law something like that for copyright violation. Of course, in some cases the takedown is obvious. In others, it may be that you simply don't know. Someone says it's a lie, the poster says it's true. What then? if you just takedown by default, it's going to prevent a lot of legitimate comment.
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