There was a rather interesting case July last year of one Gregory Alan Elliot who was failing jail time because of some comments he made against two women on Twitter. This case was touted to be a benchmark of how to deal with the rising cases of incidents that happen on social media in Canada.
What did Gregory do? Well, he had a disagreement with two women, Steph Guthrie and Heather Reilly back in 2012. In an interesting twist, Gregory was friends with Steph initially. The fallout happened when Greg disagreed with Steph and Heather about the idea of an online campaign against a guy who had made a video game where you punch an image of a feminist vlogger. Gregory’s lawyer had argued that if he was to convicted, it would affect online free speech. It was an important case that had serious ramifications for future cases with a similar theme.
Last Friday, there was a court ruling of this case and as CBC News Toronto reported, Gregory was acquitted of criminal harassment by Judge Brent Knazan. Knazan was quoted to have ruled that “Gregory’s tweets contained nothing of a violent or sexual nature and there was no indication he intended to hurt them.” However, Judge Knazan pointed out that the language Greg used was “vulgar and sometimes obscene.” After the ruling, Greg was quoted as saying “”I’ve always loved and respected women, but I also love and respect freedom of speech” and hew was thinking about going back to Twitter.
This is was indeed an interesting ruling made by the court and it exposes a unique challenge to courts worldwide. They have to update their laws so as to keep up with the increased social media use and we have seen such a case in Kenya with the new amendments on the security laws.