It seems pretty straight-forward: you make a public threat to torture someone to death, you get arrested.
But Gareth Compton's case is a little more complicated. Here's the timeline:
--On November 10, 2010, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown gave a radio interview in which she said that British politicians don't have the "moral authority" to criticize human rights abuses, including execution by stoning.
--Compton, who happens to be a British politician critical of stoning, took umbrage.
--He tweeted something to the effect of: ""Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really."
--Alibhai-Brown got wind of this (she's probably one of his "followers) and filed charges.
--And she alerted the media!!!
Compton was arrested, although at the moment he's out on bail. He's also been suspended from his position (he's a city councillor) and news outlets all over the world have been carrying the story.
Or...part of the story. Most accounts mention his tweet, but they don't mention that Alibhai-Brown publicly stated that stoning is beyond criticism.
In a statement released in a series of tweets, Compton said: "I did not 'call' for the stoning of anybody. I made an ill-conceived attempt at humour in response to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown saying on Radio 5 Live this morning that no politician had the right to comment on human rights abuses, even the stoning of women in Iran. I apologise for any offence caused. It was wholly unintentional." (guardian.co.uk)
Birmingham, where all this took place, is struggling to assimilate a large Muslim population that has been trying to apply sharia law to British citizens. One of the tenets of sharia is that Islam cannot be criticized, ever, and that criticisms shall not go unpunished. Compton criticized sharia, and he certainly got punished...even if the charges don't stick, his career has been ruined and he's been discredited. All for mocking someone who supports stoning!
Isn't it interesting that police in the UK are now enforcing sharia?
Alibhai-Brown, by the way, hasn't been called to task for saying that Brits should tolerate human rights abuses--that they have "no moral authority" to be critical.
Of course they do. EVERY civilized person not only has the right, but the obligation, to criticize human rights abuses with the hope that they will one day be eliminated.
Perhaps Alibhai-Brown also thinks Britons should not criticize other elements of Islamic law and culture, such as honor killings, slavery, forced marriages of children, prison terms for naming a teddy bear Mohammad, death sentences for fortune telling, and beating the crap out of non-Muslims for not observing the Ramadan fast.
It is unfortunate that Compton's tweet has allowed this woman to play the victim. Twitter is a tricky medium, and it is easy to be misunderstood. Anyone who uses it can learn a lesson here.
If Compton is guilty of anything, it's that his use of irony was too subtle for someone like Alibhai-Brown.