Arrested For A Mean Tweet?

If this is all the relevant information, this English arrest seems unjust to me:

After coming fourth in the men’s synchronised 10m platform diving event on Monday, the 18-year-old from Plymouth received a message telling him he had let down his father, Rob.

Rob Daley died in May 2011 from brain cancer.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested at a guest house in the Weymouth area on suspicion of malicious communications.

Dorset Police said they acted after being contacted by a member of the public at about 22:30 BST on Monday.

A spokesman was unable to confirm whether the arrest was specifically over the tweets to Daley or subsequent Twitter conversations with other users.

The boy eventually apologized. He should not have been so cruel of course. But cruel words that do not cross the line into threatening or debilitating others should be dealt with with private measures according to the rules of private groups and informal moral sanctions from others.  The police should not be involved.

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Edit at 1:08pm: The Guardian has more details which make the issue more complicated. Trigger warning, it contains threats of violence and some of the language is very harsh and upsetting. Do you think the following threats and harassment rises to the level that arrests should be made?

“@TomDaley1994 I’m sorry mate i just wanted you to win cause its the olympics I’m just annoyed we didn’t win I’m sorry tom accept my apology.”

He added: “please i don’t want to be hated I’m just sorry you didn’t win i was rooting for you pal to do britain all proud just so upset.”

Later another tweet to Daley read: “i’m going to find you and i’m going to drown you in the pool you cocky twat your a nobody people like you make me sick”.

Tweets to other users who criticised his earlier message were spiked with profanity. One read: “i dont give a shit bruv i’m gonna drown him and i’m gonna shoot you he failed why you suporting him you cunt” and another, to a different Twitter user, read: “do you want me to come to your fucking house now with a rope and strangle you with it”.

Read more. Thanks to Ze Madmax for calling this to my attention. Future readers, remember the first comments on this post were by people not yet apprised of this information about the content of later tweets.

Update: 1:22pm:

AsqJames reports firsthand observation of the tweets, in the comments section of my post:

When I looked at his tweets last night there were several explicit threats to identified (by their tweet name) individuals (who I assume had taken him to task over the “you let your dad down” tweet). The threats were violent and in some cases threatened death (e.g. something about hiring a shotgun and coming round to blow someone’s head off).

At times he seemed to veer wildly between apologies (to Tom Daley and others for previous tweets/threats) and further threats and/or foul abuse when those apologies were not immediately accepted, followed by further apologies and appeals for forgiveness.

Based on what I read I suspect he’s more messed up than anything else (but then what do I know?). On the other hand if it had been me he was sending death threats to I’d certainly want the police to check him out and at least let him know that doing so was against the law.

Your Thoughts? (And please be honestly critical, without being malicious to each other or to the parties discussed.)

 

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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