Brit Sean Duffy will serve 18 weeks behind bars for mocking deceased girls. The 25-year-old liked to taunt grieving families on Facebook and parody the victims on YouTube. His actions reportedly led one teen to overdose on drugs.
The ruling against Duffy is the harshest possible, said the Telegraph, and includes a five year order to stay away from social networking sites and register new internet devices with the police, according to the Guardian. The behavior at issue includes:
- After Natasha M., 15, was hit and killed by a passenger train, posted comments like "I fell asleep on the track lolz" to her Facebook tribute page and later uploaded a YouTube video called "Tasha the Tank Engine," which superimposed Natash'a face on a picture of the well known children's TV character Thomas the Tank Engine.
- Posted images titled "Lauren's rotting body" and "Lauren's epifit" to a mock Facebook tribute page for Lauren D., 14, who died at home of an epilepsy attack. Topped this off with a YouTube video proclaiming "Happy Mother's Day," depicting a coffin, and reading, "I don't know why you're all crying down there, it's soaking here in hell."
- One of Lauren's friends took a drug overdose after being incorrectly blamed for Duffy's hate campaign, according to the Telegraph.
- Defaced pictures of Hayley B., 16, who had died in a car crash, adding crosses over her eyes and stitches over her forehead. Commented under a picture of flowers at the crash site, "Used car for sale, one useless owner."
- For Jordan C., 14, after she was stabbed to death, "Duffy created a group called 'Jordan C. in pieces' with a profile picture of a knife with blood dripping off it," said the Guardian. "A further YouTube video was also made which contained pictures of his eyes crossed out and slashes across his face."
Duffy suffers from Asperger's, is unemployed, and drinks alone at home in a "miserable existence," the court was told. He was also warned about similar behavior two years ago.
Imposing jail time for this sort of speech would be impossible under the U.S. Constitution. From a civil liberties standpoint, that's a good thing, however cathartic this sort of ruling might be. That said, if some Congressman wanted to try and make internet hate speech illegal, Sean Duffy would be a horribly great poster child.