No Marshmallows, Just Term Papers
Facebook ruling exposes online misconceptions
Authorities urged to prosecute over racist comments
The fine and suspended sentence handed down to a 24-year-old for making anti-Pope comments on Facebook has exposed misconceptions that users have the freedom to spout whatever comes to mind online.
Karl Farrugia, who posted a "joke" - wishing somebody shot the Pope in his hands, feet and side to imitate Christ's wounds - on the Facebook group 'No To Pope Benedict XVI In Malta', was sentenced last Thursday.
This judgement, closely monitored by researchers of new media, was considered heavy-handed by some and led to online comments that Big Brother was watching and accusations that Malta was a totalitarian state.
However, when contacted, lawyer and columnist Andrew Borg Cardona as well as blogger and media lecturer Fr Joe Borg both warned that the internet is not an extension of people's living room.
Dr Borg Cardona said people had to mind what they said in public, whether it was online or on the street, because while they had the freedom to say what they liked they were not permitted to break the law.
The ruling raised several questions such as had the police overreacted by arraigning Mr Farrugia? And if not, why were the police not prosecuting those inciting racial hatred online?
A case in point is a comment posted by a Maltese user on a Youtube video about illegal immigration which calls on co-nationals to kill immigrants.
Dr Borg Cardona confirmed that those fomenting racial hatred could be prosecuted in the same way; and "even more so".
Asked if the law should be changed, Dr Borg Cardona said a provision was required that prevented people making overt incitements to violence, especially against heads of state and religions.
"It would have to be applied sparingly and when there is clear and present danger, not when there's a facetious remark like this," he said, referring to Mr Farrugia's anti-Pope remark.
When it was pointed out that...
Join now to view this essay and thousands of others on PaperCamp.com. It's free Join Now!