Woman May Face Jail Time for #killallwhitemen Tweet
A female student diversity officer at the University of London has been charged with making racially motivated malicious communications after she tweeted using the hashtag #killallwhitemen. Bahar Mustafa, who works in the Students' Union of Goldsmiths, allegedly used the hashtag on her since-deleted Twitter account.
Mustafa had sparked a controversy by asking straight white men not to attend an event for black and ethnic minority students in April. She's now facing a possible six months in jail for the tweets.
A Credible Tweet
Female Twitter users, many of whom face specific rape and death threats every day, may be wondering why Mustafa was singled out for prosecution. Miranda Ching, a criminal lawyer at Peters & Peters Solicitors in London told the website Broadly:
"The police don't have the time to target all of the millions of frustrated, angry, disgusting and lewd comments that flitter about. Under the prosecutor's guidelines there must be very high threshold to pass before it would be in the public interest to intervene. Strictly speaking, the [police] don't need to satisfy the high burden of credible threat--those in themselves trigger more serious offenses, such as threat to kill--but the credibility is taken into account as to whether or not there was an intent to cause real distress or anxiety. It's very difficult because there is no definition of what is grossly offensive, and how the courts have interpreted it over time depends on the facts of the case."
England and Europe tend to have stricter controls on speech than the United States, but one has to wonder how much real distress or anxiety the white male population -- the vast majority of who had no idea they were about to be killed until Mustafa was charged -- felt when threatened on Twitter.
Just because we love the First Amendment in America, doesn't mean you can say whatever you want on Twitter. You can be arrested and charged with a crime if you:
- Tweet a fake terror threat to an airline's Twitter account;
- Tweet a Boston marathon-related bomb threat during a Red Sox World Series;
- Tweet slashing threats to the NY Mets;
- Tweet slashing threats to Nancy Grace;
- Tweet "Let's kill the president," (obviously);
- Tweet death threats regarding Scott Walker (less obviously); or
- Tweet a death wish to a poor kick returner who fumbled a punt.
Look -- don't threaten people on Twitter. Threats are a very soft part of the area between protected free speech and unprotected speech. And based on this case this UK case, especially don't threaten an entire race and gender with a hashtag.
If you've been charged with cyberbullying or some other online crime, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
- Browse Criminal Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw Directory)
- London woman charged after alleged #killallwhitemen tweet (The Guardian)
- Facebook Threats Could Get You Arrested (FindLaw Blotter)
- Teen Arrested for 'Threatening' Cops via Gun Emojis on Facebook (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
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