A UK man who used Twitter to terrorize women over their efforts to get Jane Austen on the £10 banknote has been sentenced.
"If you can't threaten to rape a celebrity, what is the point in having them?" That's just one of the disturbing tweets Peter Nunn, 33, sent during what prosecutors called his "campaign of hatred" during 2013. Nunn began sending abusive tweets to member of Parliament Stella Creasy, after she voiced support for Caroline Criado-Perez's work to get Austen on the note. According to Ars Technica, Nunn was charged under section 127 of the Communications Act, "which prohibits electronic messages that are 'grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene, or menacing character.'"
Nunn began his Twitter attacks around July 29, 2013, five days after the Bank of England announced that the Austen campaign was successful. "Hi, it took Twitter 30 minutes to ban me before. I'm here again to tell you that I'll rape you tomorrow at 6pm" is one of a handful of tweets Nunn directed at Creasy. The message did indeed originate after the suspension of another of his accounts from which he was tweeting threats. Nunn also used a number of tweets to brand Creasy and Caroline Criado-Perez, the activist who spearheaded the Austen campaign, as witches. Another of Nunn's works: "Best way to rape a witch, try and drown her first, then just as she is gagging for air, that is when you enter."
During the trial, Nunn described himself as a "feminist" and said he had only sent the tweets as part of his right to free speech and to satirize trolling. OK.
Nunn was sentenced to 18 weeks for his crimes. District judge Elizabeth Roscoe said she had considered giving Nunn less time so as to lessen the impact on his girlfriend and his three-year-old daughter (yes, that's right—he has a daughter) but reconsidered.
"I'm not convinced that that would give the message that this is entirely unacceptable," Roscoe said during his sentencing. "It was really all about you and your opinions and what you wanted to do."
"Today's sentence for [Nunn] is a step forward in recognising the distress and fear online harassment can cause," said Creasy in a statement after Nunn's sentencing. "We now need to ensure our police and criminal justice services are better trained to identify the risks anyone receiving threats faces, whether these are made on or offline so that we can protect those being stalked."
The Mary Sue's Carolyn Cox takes issue with the sentence, which "hardly seems sufficient punishment considering the emotional trauma online harassment can impart to its victims." She offers a pretty great addition to his jail time: "May your days be full of the Brontë sisters moaning about the moors, Mister. May Shelley interrupt your amorous passions for all of eternity."
Nunn is the latest Twitter troll to be charged with sending threats over the Austen bank note. In January, John Nimmo and Isabella Sorley pleaded guilty for bombarding Criado-Perez with rape and death threats.
As the BBC reports, the Jane Austen banknote is expected to come into circulation in 2017.
Screencap via Ars Technica.