Anger over Gwent mens' racist Facebook abuse

FACEBOOK ABUSE: Richard Orzel, 29, of Newport, left, and James Rogers, 21, of Caldicot

FACEBOOK ABUSE: Richard Orzel, 29, of Newport, left, and James Rogers, 21, of Caldicot

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

EQUALITY groups and politicians reacted with fury, after two Gwent men abused a Muslim man on Facebook.

As the Argus reported on Thursday, labourer James Rogers, 21, of Deepweir, Caldicot and his friend Richard Orzel,29, a plasterer from Kensington Gardens, Newport, pleaded guilty to making offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing comments on a public electronic communications network on March 25.

The pair were told by District Judge Richard Williams, at Cwmbran Magistrates' Court, that they had put "corrosive and offensive" words into the public domain, after they mocked and threatened violence towards a Muslim man Rogers saw praying at Magor services.

Rogers mocked the unknown man, calling him a "rag head" and said the sight of him praying "made him sick," while Orzel suggested he would "spit on the ****."

Rogers and Orzel were handed 28 day prison sentences, suspended for 12 months and ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work.

Ian George, defending the pair, described the exchange as "a bit of banter."

But a Newport equality group hit out at that comment. David Phillips, CEO of SEWREC (South East Wales Regional Equality Council), said: "I fail to see how such comments could be described as banter among decent people.

"The majority of people are quite clear that racism is unacceptable, but there are a minority that still need to learn, it is important that they learn it sooner rather than later.

"SEWREC is seriously concerned about the way in which social media is being increasingly used in anti-social ways whether that is to promote racism, to perpetrate harassment or to bully.

"But we are very pleased with the response of Gwent Police and the South Wales Argus who have recognised that real crimes with real consequences can take place in virtual communities on line."

Mohammad Asghar AM, Shadow Minister for Equalities and Sport, said: "I welcome the verdict in this trial. Racism is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated in any form and that includes comments made on social network sites. I hope this will serve as a warning to others that freedom of speech is no defence in such cases."

Comments (2)

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3:03pm Sat 23 Jun 12

valleysminx says...

'SEWREC' must be new to the internet. For it is patently absurd to suggest that sites are being used in an increasingly anti-social manner. They have always been used this way. The difference is in the politicisation and policing of such content.

The article does not make clear whether the terms used were on profile pages or in a public area. While offensive they are indeed generic and widely used. The sad reality is that some people speak this way offline and bring such language online with them.

Quite what singled out this pair, I know not but we haven't a hope of policing all such content. For it is simply too vast even for our nanny state.
'SEWREC' must be new to the internet. For it is patently absurd to suggest that sites are being used in an increasingly anti-social manner. They have always been used this way. The difference is in the politicisation and policing of such content. The article does not make clear whether the terms used were on profile pages or in a public area. While offensive they are indeed generic and widely used. The sad reality is that some people speak this way offline and bring such language online with them. Quite what singled out this pair, I know not but we haven't a hope of policing all such content. For it is simply too vast even for our nanny state. valleysminx
  • Score: 0

5:14pm Sat 23 Jun 12

Mervyn James says...

Surely we have to try,free speech is a gfllacy anyway, and the ONLY time you see consternation with 'censorship' is when people have actually ABUSED free speech to attack other people. Perhaps abusive terms are 'common', maybe that is an issue in itself that it is 'acceptable'. The real issue is the way terms are deliberately used, and here t seems it was purely racial. I get annoyed with other races/migrants and whatever but the key to proper response is to zip it regarding offensive terms and stick to the issue,or, you lose.
Surely we have to try,free speech is a gfllacy anyway, and the ONLY time you see consternation with 'censorship' is when people have actually ABUSED free speech to attack other people. Perhaps abusive terms are 'common', maybe that is an issue in itself that it is 'acceptable'. The real issue is the way terms are deliberately used, and here t seems it was purely racial. I get annoyed with other races/migrants and whatever but the key to proper response is to zip it regarding offensive terms and stick to the issue,or, you lose. Mervyn James
  • Score: 0

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