I Am Spartacus!

Last week Paul Chambers lost an appeal for a tweet (a message left on the social networking internet site Twitter) that he wrote when he thought he was about to miss a flight. The offending tweet exclaimed his anger at the airport being closed and ending with a threat to blow it up if they didn’t get their act together within a week.

One of the problems with Twitter (and for that matter email in general) is that it is very easy for what you have written to be read in a very different way to how you intended it. One person might read this statement as being a real threat, or menacing at least (in this case the judge), whilst another might believe it was an ironic statement, humour, or a simple letting off of steam with no real intent behind it, in this case this is what Chambers claimed it to be.

In the original case, Chambers was fined £1000, after the appeal this was increased by a further £2000. Fellow Twitterers leapt to Chambers defence, in anger either at the loss of free speech or at the misunderstanding of the intent or humour of Chambers tweet, and spontaneously thousands began reposting his message on Twitter in their names with the tag #IAmSpartacus, including the likes of comedians Marcus Brigstocke and Dara O’Briain, mimicking the cry of the slaves in the 1960s film in which Spartacus’ fellow gladiators refuse to let him be singled out for punishment by all crying out ‘I’m Spartacus!’ Their point was quickly heard and reported in the mass media.

This protest caught my attention and got me thinking about Jesus’ example. Jesus was not a hands off person. The thing that is most striking about his public life (besides his claim to be God) is his habit of identifying himself with the poor or outcast or defenceless or downtrodden. He wasn’t afraid of associating with sinners – to the extent that often he was confused as being one by his critics. I am sure that in the original film, had Jesus been in it, he would have joined the others crying ‘I’m Spartacus!’ We may or may not agree with Chambers, but how ready are we to associate with those who are unjustly treated?

It also made me wonder about Jesus. If ever there was a man who was unfairly treated, it was him. How quick would we be stand with him or to tweet #IAmJesus


Church Newsletter article for Sunday 21st November 2010

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