An Englishman made a joking threat that he was going to blow up an airport, and many Twitter-users re-Tweeted it to show support like in the movie Spartacus.
In January, Paul Chambers, 27, was about to miss a flight from Robin Hood Airport near the town of Doncaster in central England. Upon finding out that the airport was closed, he rattled off an angry joke on Twitter. Police thought that the Tweet was an actual threat and Chambers was arrested. He lost his job as an accountant and was eventually fined £1,000 by a judge who took the threat seriously. Many civil liberties advocates, talk show hosts and comedians thought that Chamber's conviction under a 1930s law to protect "Post Office telephonists" was ridiculous. An ingenious plan was concocted to repeat Chambers' original joke in support on Twitter with the hashtag #IamSpartacus. Thousands of people jumped at the chance and as of this morning, #iamspartacus was leading the trending subjects on Twitter and it still has many responding even now.
Chambers' original Tweet is not something that seems out of the ordinary for a disgruntled air traveler: "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"
His lawyers attempted to appeal Chambers' conviction today by saying that he shouldn't be punished for a "foolish prank" but the motion was thrown out of court by Judge Jacqueline Davies who said that the message was "menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed."
The Spartacus campaign in support of Chambers was begun by Twitter-user @christt who said, "I think we should all Tweet Paul Chambers' original joke, Spartacus style. Thousands of us. Would that work? #twitterjoketrial" He then followed it up by repeating the joke and added the #IAmSpartacus tag, in reference to the scene in the gladiator movie when all of the fighters claim that they are called Spartacus in support of their leader.
It was a hilarious gesture for a very ridiculous story. Let's hope that Chambers is able to pay the fine and move on with his life. And to never complain about air travel by threatening bodily harm ever again.
Thanks for the tip, The_root_of_all_evil.