Context Matters

By Anna Ellis

Of all the heartbreaking things that can happen to you, the worst has to be the loss of a child.

The needless death of a young lad, hit by a car as he was riding his bike, tore the heart out of those who knew and loved him.

Friends, family, neighbours. Shopkeepers and school teachers. All broken by the tragedy. All trying to show their love for the boy and his grieving family in whatever way they could.

This lad had a favourite song. Snap Dogg’s “I’m Trippin'”. His Instagram bio is just eight words. Snap Dogg’s lyrics.

So his friends and others in his community reposted those lyrics on their own social media accounts.

Just their way of saying, “We care”. “We remember”. “We will never forget”.

Because you never do forget.

His favourite song has 1.73 million YouTube views for its official video alone. That’s 1.73 million people who’ve listened to a song that is standard rap language. Language that some might find offensive.

But, hey, it was his favourite song. So the lyrics got shared. And shared again. Because nobody expected what happened next.

Somebody took offence when Chelsea Russell changed her own Instagram bio to those same eight words.

And as we all know, taking umbrage is all that’s needed for a hate crime report.

Cue the long arm of the law.

Cue the inevitable prosecution for sharing “grossly offensive” content online.

Cue yet another abuse of hate crime legislation, not to mention section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

Cue another life ruined because somebody took Chelsea’s tribute out of context.

Because Chelsea now has a criminal record, thanks in no small part to the testimony of the hate crime PC, Dominique Walker, and CPS’s grim determination to tick the right hate crime boxes in every possible prosecution.

All for eight words. Just one of which generates almost 400,000 hits from just one lyrics website alone.

So you have to ask, why?

Why was Chelsea singled out? Why give a grieving teen a community order, a fine she couldn’t hope to pay and a curfew?

We don’t expect an answer. But we will be there to provide a civilised and supportive demonstration outside court when Chelsea attends her appeal hearing on 16 November.

Because this isn’t an isolated case. More and more people are having their freedom of expression taken away from them thanks to misuse of hate crime and Communications Act legislation.

Please join us. You can find more details here.

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