The decision to prosecute and jail the 21-year old Swansea University student Liam Stacey is depressingly sinister. Stacey admitted posting ‘racially offensive’ comments about the footballer Fabrice Muamba and has been jailed for 56 days.
The notion that this young man stirred up racial hatred is, at best, fanciful. His tweets are clearly the work of a catastrophically drunk idiot, looking to shock a few people. I’ve seen so-called ‘comedians’ on TV try the same kind of thing. The folk who chose to spread his remarks (some of them presumably through a sense of outrage) certainly did a great job of exposing Stacey to a wider audience than he could ever have expected. I’m sure he thought (if thought was ever part of the process) that his idiotic remarks would be read mainly by his (presumably) idiotic friends and the handful of people he was goading.
There is no doubt that he said some stupid and horrible things, but that shouldn’t be enough to merit a jail sentence. We shouldn’t be comfortable with the idea of imprisoning someone for being an offensive idiot. Now that that door has been forced open, it's not too difficult to imagine the various dismal roads it will be possible for us to go down.