Guest Post: Thoughtcrime Is Real

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John Aziz of Azizonomics

Thoughtcrime Is Real

I am careful what I say on Twitter especially, and the internet in general.

The sad reality is that the internet is not the place for expressing views that you do not want the wider public — including law enforcement and intelligence agencies — to know you hold.

We already know that the National Security Agency will soon capture all communications — phone calls, search histories, web history, e-mails, passwords, etc — in their Utah data centre.

In Britain, a dangerous precedent is being set.

From the BBC:

A teenager arrested over a malicious tweet sent to Team GB diver Tom Daley has been issued with a warning.


Dorset Police said the 17-year-old boy was held at a guest house in the Weymouth area on suspicion of malicious communications and later bailed.


After coming fourth in the men’s synchronised 10m platform diving event on Monday, Daley, 18, from Plymouth received a message on Twitter.


It told him he had let down his father Rob, who died in 2011 from cancer.

Arrested and cautioned for expressing an opinion. Not for threatening violence. Not even for racial or sexual abuse — as happened in March when a student was convicted of incitement to racial hatred after he tweeted a series of racial slurs.

Just for expressing an opinion that the authorities found to be distasteful. 

I admit, it was a distasteful comment. But the idea that the government should arrest the person who made it is far, far, far more distasteful still.

Meanwhile, the number of bankers arrested for rigging LIBOR remains at zero.

This is a very salient example of the problems with the internet in its present state. If the state has the opportunity to gather and index citizens’ thoughts, these cases in Britain — supposedly a free country — illustrate that it is a very short and slippery slope toward the state punishing citizens for expressing their opinions.

While the First Amendment might seem to protect speech, the United States has already got involved in policing expression. And the First Amendment has a massive loophole — it only restricts Congress’ ability to legislate against speech. Other agencies — like the TSA — would seem to be be able to restrict speech under “administrative” grounds (the same rationale they use to gut the Fourth Amendment and search travellers without probable cause).

From the BBC:

Holidaymakers have been warned to watch their words after two friends were refused entry to the US on security grounds after a tweet.


Before his trip, Leigh Van Bryan wrote that he was going to “destroy America”.


He insisted he was referring to simply having a good time — but was sent home.


Trade association Abta told the BBC that the case highlighted that holidaymakers should never do anything to raise “concern or suspicion in any way”.


The US Department for Homeland Security picked up Mr Bryan’s messages ahead of his holiday in Los Angeles.


The 26-year-old bar manager wrote a message to a friend on the micro-blogging service, saying: “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America.”

US law enforcement represents the overwhelming majority of requests to Twitter for users’ private information.

From Reuters:

Law enforcement agencies in the United States are behind the overwhelming majority of requests for Twitter users’ private information, the social media company revealed Monday in its first ever public report on the subject.


Of the 849 total government requests for user information during the period spanning January 1 to June 30 this year, 679 — or 80 percent — took place in the United States, typically for use in criminal investigations, Twitter said.


Japan was in second place after the United States with 98 requests filed by police, followed by 11 requests from law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom and the same number from agencies in Canada.

Speech on Twitter — and on the internet in general — isn’t free.

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DougM's picture

There is no right to free speech in the UK, which is one of the reasons why we kicked those limey bastards out of colonies.

sqz's picture

For those interested in the charge details:

UK laws: "Malicious Communications Act 1988"

Also, article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply if it falls foul of one of the restrictions: "for the protection of the reputation or rights of others".


Fanatic's picture

He did write:

"?I??Y J??I?? @Rileyy_69
“@tomdaley1994 i’m going to find you and i’m going to drown you in the pool you cocky t*** your a nobody people like you make me sick”
30 Jul 12" 


And a tweet in response to another user:

"Oll @_OllyRiley

@Rileyy_69 @TomDaley1994 how dare you try and threaten someone who is diving for our country you little scum bag

?I??Y J??I??  @Rileyy_69

@_OllyRiley 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"


"Thought crime" or a death threat? Thin line. Looks like death threats to me.

mick_richfield's picture

I think it's swell.

When I achieve an unelected position of power , I will start having people arrested and harshly interrogated for writing 'your' when they mean 'you're'.

You can learn a lot more grammar with some friendly instruction and a little waterboarding than you can with just some friendly instruction.

Rahm's picture

We're gonna go out & paint the town (no need to call Shermin Williams)

rustymason's picture

And waterboarding for misuse of then and than, and to, too, and two. The electric chair for impact instead of affect or effect.

Michael's picture

Flash mob bad taste tweets by the millions should be organized where everyone makes an offensive tweet in a given time period. The idea is, they can't get all of us.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Um, yeah. It's a death threat on twitter. A little hard to take seriously. That diver looks fit enough to take care of himself, I'm sure he'd enjoy the opportunity to beat the living shit out of that jackass.

Great Britain is a hopeless cesspool of idiocy.

Aziz's picture

Yeah — it turns out he did make some death threats, which was missing from the BBC and Reuters reports I read.

However he was arrested for malicious communications, i.e. the first message. Had he been arrested for the death threats, the charge would have been intimidation or criminal threatening.

CH1's picture

And we must remember that "arrested" is a bullshit term. It really means "battered by armed men and locked in a cage."

Grinder74's picture

"battered by armed men and locked in a cage."

That's scheduled for 3:00 at King Barry's favorite Chicago bath house.

Disenchanted's picture



'They' say O'Barry likes being covered in man batter...Rahm gets the leftovers. that a thought crime?


Just wait until the Philip K. Dick style "precog" shit gets fired up...


pods's picture

He also does not know the difference between "your" and "your're."

The reply made me laugh.  "Diving for our country."  Haha, can we just turn the lights out on humanity now?

A real hero he is, diving for his country and all.  I guess that is better than bombing for his country?


Aziz's picture

Diving for your country seems a lot better than bombing for it.

floydian slip's picture

diving for mcdonalds and nike weeeeeeeeeeee



go mcdonalds, our hero


Precious's picture

Janet Napolitano hooking up with Ben Bernanke.  THOUGHT CRIME !

Manthong's picture

Oh man.. that just caused a lot of brain damage.. like a brain tissue eating infection.

strannick's picture

Dont the authorities consider fraudlent manipulations of interest rates causing trillions in damages 'distasteful'?


Lohn Jocke's picture

Yes, in the U.K., but in 'Murica it's called monetary policy.

Brother Sebastian's picture

Their romance was going fine, especially when Benny-boy took her to dinner and read his fortune cookie:  "Man who have woman on ground have piece on earth."  But, sadly, it ended when she read her's:  "Never trust man with short legs, brains too near the bottom."

Killer the Buzzard's picture

Dude WTF???   I'm trying to eat my lunch.

trichotil's picture

Get your facts straight, Jan lives in a luxury butch lesbian free love commune with those supreme court yentas.

trichotil's picture

After thinking about it this may be disturbingly close to the truth.

Acet's picture

In the UK one can be convicted of a crime for saying something about somebody else that they don't like to a 3rd person if you "knew or should've known that person would tell it to the first person".

If one does that twice, the other person can simply claim that one made "him/her feel distressed" and accuse one of Harassment, a crime.

Really, the law is extremelly broad. For example, if on two occasions you've criticized the shitty work of somebody else in strong terms, even if only to a mutual colleague, that's enough to fall fool of this law.

More in general, TPTB setup the system so that everybody is a criminal, but they'll hold off from going after you as long as you keep your head down and behave like a nice little sheep.

BigJim's picture


I remember chuckling as a teenager when I perused the back of Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage album and read about the new government policy of "Total Criminalisation".

What a joker! I thought.

Haager's picture

Distressed? LOL!

Sounds to me that the army needs to seize pubs and clubs in certain areas. Common talk.

ACP's picture

The Venetians used to do this hundreds of years ago, to preserve their government in the most draconian way; imprison or execute people for expressing their opinions. They no longer, but now the UK is picking up the slack. Great, one more place I'll never visit again.

Dr. Richard Head's picture

Well, according to Abby Martin, Sen. Paul doesn't like journalists asking him questions about endorsing NWO Romney and threatened to arrest her for asking a question.


Bob's picture

Alot of fascist freaks are hiding behind the "Liberty" banner these days.  Was the reporter a "deep penetrator" for the Muslim Bruthahood, perhaps?

J. Edgar was ahead of his time. 

flattrader's picture

That a cranky old nut case Christian Reconstructionist can somehow become the standard bearer of "Libertarians" speaks volumes about the state of that political ideology.

Arrest her for asking a question?  I guess "freedom of the press" isn't a plank in the Libertarian Platform.

CH1's picture

The Venetians used to do this...

LOTS of them have done this. In the states, Woodrow Wilson did it last century, and the Federalists did it just before 1800.

Rulers ALWAYS do things like this, but they prefer cnditioning and intimidation to armed men locking peope in cages. One must respect appearances!

ACP's picture

Absolutely correct! And boy has this government perfected the thought conditioning!

Dave Thomas's picture


We need more Mark Twain's running around.

neptunium's picture

No, sorry this whole post is dead WRONG.


This was the tweet he was arrested for:

'I'm going to find you [Daley] and I'm going to drown you in the pool you cocky twat, you're a nobody people like you make me sick."


Not that I think it's in any way a matter for the police, not that I don't agree with the main gist of this thread (that freedom of the speech in the UK is under continual erosion) but at least get the facts of the matter right - technically this arrest was for a violent threat (albeit clearly not much of one).


Aziz's picture

The initial report I read didn't actually mention the threat of violence, but yes it turns out he made one.

However he was not arrested for criminal threatening or intimidation. He was arrested for malicious communications, i.e. the first message. Whether or not he would have been arrested had he not made the later threats is dubious, though.

neptunium's picture

Sorry Aziz, you're wrong, it was the death threats that constituted the malicious communications, i.e. severe aggrivated harrassment.



Aziz's picture

You know "malicious communications" by definition could have technically referred to the initial message, and given that that is what the BBC initially reported (and what I based the article on) they would seem to have thought so too.

Anyway, even if I am completely wrong (and if I am, I apologise) the overall point of the article — be careful what you say on the internet, because everything is stored and can later be used against you — is still true.

BigJim's picture

 Sorry Aziz, you're wrong, it was the death threats that constituted the malicious communications, i.e. severe aggrivated harrassment.

When the BBC announced this on the news, they only mentioned the malicious communication, ie, the "bring shame on your Dad" nonsense, and not the threats... so Aziz' article was a perfectly reasonable response.


neptunium's picture


So what is your objection? He's wrong but you shouldn't point this out as the single article he happened to read about it wasn't adequate? Might I suggest not relying on single news articles, especially on sites like BBC News that are frequently edited by lobotomites. 

To Aziz, I did not intend any hostility, I just pointed out that it was the abuse culminating in threats of violence that got him arrested, not the initial tweet which, as I was pointing out, was quite contrary to the OP's misinformed post. If I wasn't sorry about pointing out your error I wouldn't have prefaced it with "sorry".

Quite honestly, I agree freedom of speech has taken a battering over the last decade but in this instance the guy was an idiot for saying something that would just have likely got him arrested before the era of Twitter - he may not have been able to broadcast his idiocy across the world in quite such spectacular fashion but there we are..

I know this is ZH and we all want to hear that the end of the world is tomorrow, that David Icke was right all along and there really are sinister shapeshifting reptillian intergalactic multidimensional timelords controlling the world but I still reserve the fucking right to point out clear factual errors when they are made.

: ) 

flattrader's picture

>>>but I still reserve the fucking right to point out clear factual errors when they are made.<<<

I appreciate this.

Actually reporting, which involves fact checking, is sorely absent from the blogoshere. At some point it's all regurgitation of the same falacious "facts" so people can be "outraged."

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Key word in your argument: "Technically". Threatening someone with drowning who has spent his life in a swimming pool, and is in incredible physical shape, is absurd. It's like bad satire.

But no-- in Britain this is actually taken seriously. It's almost like they are saying to the world, "fuck you, there's no speech that anyone can say that is so unrealistic or stupid that we won't criminalize it."

Come on people.

Abiotic Oil's picture

"We already know that the National Security Agency will soon capture all communications — phone calls, search histories, web history, e-mails, passwords, etc — in their Utah data centre."

They've been capturing it all for years.  Echelon, carnivore etc.


john39's picture

welcome to the NWO...

JPM Hater001's picture

I hope the NWO membership comes with a tote bag. I can keep my thought there...

Element's picture

The NWO is basically expressed as a bunch of high-handed self-important petty arseholes, pretending to be 'looking after us', by strangling us slowly. 

And don't resist us, or we'll be forced to stangle you much faster.


DosZap's picture

While I still can say this, the U.K. is even worse than the US,they are a complete fascist state.

ZERO freedom of speech.(Unless it offends no one).

Amazed no mass hangings there a while ago.Damn sure could use one.

DosZap's picture

We already know that the National Security Agency will soon capture all communications — phone calls, search histories, web history, e-mails, passwords, etc

Already are dude.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



In many courtrooms in Texas, such as Conroe, citizens are not allowed to wear, "t-shirts with messages," or they will be held in contempt of court.  This clear contradiction to the First Amendment is printed on Conroe's traffic tickets.

I think the following message should be worn on attendees t-shirts...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.