X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Coffee House

What kind of regime imprisons people for what they tweet? Oh, hang on…

4 November 2012

5:57 PM

4 November 2012

5:57 PM

The King of Bahrain certainly doesn’t seem to like it up him. In this week’s Spectator, Kirsty Walker said her last complaint – before quitting journalism — was from the King objecting to her being rude about his regime. A Bahraini man has just been sentenced to six months in jail for ‘defaming’ the king on Twitter. Three similar Twitter users are up on similar charges next week. David Cameron should be making clear how appalled he is at this repression – except he is not in a very good position to comment.

After last year’s riots, police threatened to arrest users for inciting the looters. It seemed daft: would you really arrest people for writing posts, mostly moronic, on Twitter? Nowadays we regularly hear stories about members of the public being arrested for posting their ramblings on the site. During the Olympics one user was arrested for tweeting abuse at the diver Tom Daley, while another was jailed for almost two months for posting racist comments about a footballer. And it’s not just Twitter – Facebook users have also been jailed for similar postings. There is a fundamental difference in degree between what Brits can say, and what Bahrainis can say. But the idea of imprisoning people for what they say rather than what they do is accepted by both.

In the US, the First Amendment prevents congress from limiting peoples’ freedom of speech, thereby stopping the US courts for imposing the kind of penalties that both the British – and now the Bahraini courts – have become such fans of. In Britain, freedom of speech is not very well defended at all. The odds are that Lord Justice Leveson will propose that government tries to regulate the press, which as Alexander Chancellor says in the current Spectator, would be unthinkable in America.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close