A blogger, who uses the pseudonym of Old Holborn, made a handful of tweets that were, to be fair, a bit near-the-knuckle. This is his habit; there are no sacred cows to OH, and everyone comes under fire at some point.
On this occasion, he got himself into a spat with a number of Liverpudlians over that city's lasting grievance over the Hillsborough tragedy. As is becoming increasingly normal, a number of scousers called him a paedophile for doing so, to which he responded that the killers of James Bulger were themselves scousers. Not particularly relevant, but then neither was the paedophile comment. Rather ugly, but with such is what happens when you argue with people who are, shall we say, somewhat below the salt.
Things became rather heated, with several twitterers making threats against Old Holborn. Some of them then managed to identify him, or at least obtain a name and address for him, which they then published online.
This is a vile thing to do; to publish the personal details of an individual in the full knowledge that there are people out there who are sufficiently unbalanced as to physically seek out the individual involved.
And seek him they did. His employers were contacted; death threats were made to OH and his wife, and his children may also have been threatened. Naturally enough, he has shut down his Twitter account and facebook account.
And he has been arrested. In a country where we are supposed to have free speech, a man has been arrested for saying something unpleasant. You will notice, of course, that no mention is made in the linked article of the death threats received. These are insignificant when compared to saying something tasteless. And I very much doubt that those who have threatened Old Holborn, or those who published his details, will ever face any kind of charge. I would be surprised if the police even bother to investigate the matter.
And this is the worst part of it all. The police are involved now in a matter where someone has said something that wasn't very nice - but what business does the law have in becoming involved in this at all? It doesn't. Why is the law siding with those that make death threats against their fellow citizens?
We have now reached a point of almost full inversion.
Making death threats is not seen as much of a crime. Saying something offensive, however, is.
The law involves itself in matters that no law should ever try to influence, yet divorces itself from those areas with which it should be concerned; it is a greater crime now to hurt another's feelings, but their body may be harmed - or at least threatened - with impunity.
Under the law, offence is now given, not taken. Whether a crime has been committed is determined not by the thought or action of the perpetrator, but by the emotions of the alleged victim - or anyone else who cares to take offence.
This is only going to get worse.
If buttercups buzzed after the bee,
If boats were on land,
Churches on sea,
If ponies rode men,
And if grass ate the corn,
And if cats should be chased
Into holes by the mouse,
If the mammas sold their babies
To the Gypsies for half a crown,
If summer were spring,
And the other way 'round,
Then all the world would be upside down.