One Gregory Alan Elliot is battling in court in an unusual yet a-would- be common case of him against some comments he made on Twitter against some feminists. According to the National post, he is being charged with harassing Steph Guthrie and Heather Reilly online in 2012. Initially it was a case against three women but the third woman’s allegations were subsequently dropped.
Greg was a graphic artist who was fired from his job after his arrest in 2012 and since this is allegedly Canada’s first case of harassment via Twitter, he faces a jail term of six months if convicted. This impending jail term is “…astonishing repercussions given that it’s not alleged he ever threatened either woman or any other” according to a detective from Toronto’s Police department.
Initially, Greg and Steph were in good terms on Twitter. Greg had even offered to come up with a poster for Steph Guthrie’s Women in Toronto Politics group. The fallout was due to the fact that Greg disagreed with the two political activists (Steph and Heather) to “sic the internet”, which was a campaign against a guy who had come up with a video game where you can punch an image of a feminist vlogger.
Later on, Guthrie wanted to warn prospective employers about this guy and wanted his “hatred on the Internet to impact his real life experience”. Greg had disagreed with this plan where he allegedly said the shaming “was every bit as vicious as the face-punch game”. Guthrie ended up blocking Greg as a result of the disagreement.
Chris Murphy, Greg Elliot’s lawyer in his final arguments pointed out the ramifications for this case that would lead Greg to be convicted are serious but they would also affect free speech online. He continued by saying the idea to be charged for harassment because of engaging in a debate will “have a chilling effect on people’s ability to communicate, and not just on Twitter”. The judge, Brent Knazan is to make a ruling on October 6th after listening to the arguments made by the lawyers.
A video was uploaded by National Post on YouTube summarizing the case:
In this age where social media is part and parcel of our lives, the Judiciary will now be receiving an influx of cases that have a social media basis. These sort of cases will be common in the future as social media adoption in the country and around the world continues to grow.
Source: National Post