NPR logo 'I Am Spartacus:' Man Convicted For Tweet; Virtual Protest Erupts


'I Am Spartacus:' Man Convicted For Tweet; Virtual Protest Erupts

Kirk Douglas played Spartacus in 1960. An internet rebellion is making Paul Chambers a modern-day version. AFP/AFP hide caption

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Earlier this year, Paul Chambers was concerned that he would miss a flight to Belfast. In jest, he tweeted:

Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week..otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high.

Well, the government came after the 27-year-old accountant and in May convicted him of sending a menacing electronic communication. He appealed the conviction and the 1,000 pound fine but the Guardian reports that, yesterday, he lost.

The BBC quotes a civil rights group analyzing the verdict:

"The verdict demonstrates that the UK's legal system has little respect for free expression, and has no understanding of how people communicate in the 21st Century," said the [Index on Censorship's] news editor Padraig Reidy.

As news got out, thousands of twitter users all over the world decided to protest virtually by reposting Chambers' exact tweet. They identified the protest with the hashtag #iamspartacus in reference to the scene in the 1960, Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus. In it, one-by-one slaves proclaim that they are Spartacus in order to keep the real Spartacus, a gladiator leading a slave rebellion, from detection.

Minutes ago, the #iamspartacus hastag was the second most popular on all of Twitter. You can delve into the stream here.