The Plastic Hippo

August 4, 2013

Three billy goats gruff

Filed under: Express and Swastika,Law,Media,Politics,Rights — theplastichippo @ 12:07 am
Something must be done

Something must be done

When three indistinguishable scrubbed up school boys compete in a screeching contest to see which can produce the loudest outrage and shrillest condemnation, we descend once again into “something must be done” politics.

Public revulsion at each new horrific event is met by the bloated political classes falling over themselves to assure the public that “something must be done”. After cutting funding to social services to the bone and then cutting some more, freeloading rich men in suits with grave faces point the finger at stressed social workers and demonised teachers. Forgetting that the two vile creatures with a duty to care for; protect and love a small boy actually murdered him, a febrile press are more interested in pointing out, usually in upper case for emphasis that the guilty killers are from Poland. When other monsters commit unspeakable acts of barbarity, political opportunism demands some advantage and so because the accused are already guilty of “looking at the internet”, the important something that has to be done is stricter control of the internet.

The latest manifestation of internet control has come about due abuse on Twitter and has resulted in demands for a “Report Abuse” button for every tweet. Threats of violent assault, bombing, rape and murder cannot be defined as “abuse”. They are criminal acts under a variety of legislation not least the Communications Act 2003 and are subject to police investigation, arrest and prosecution. Rather than a “Report Abuse” button, Twitter might instead consider a “Report Criminality” button which is more likely to deter the rather sad keyboard moronic misogynists who get their kicks threatening women. If such disgraceful aggression took place away from social media, or the “real world” as some of us remember it, the charmless little oiks would be up before the beak faster that you can type hashtag Daily Mail. The difference in cyberspace is that if victims are quick enough with a screen shot or a deft RT to the old bill, the evidence of malicious and threatened communication is irrefutable and, more importantly, permanent. Anonymity is not an issue as we now know that all our communications are being monitored by GCHQ and the NSA so tracing the idiots is relatively simple. Perhaps we should consider some definitions.

Crucially and contrary to what most drunk, late-night bobble-hat wearers believe, a tweet is an actual publication and as such can be judged by the laws governing other publications. They are not a conversation in a pub. We may wish to recall the Twitter Joke Trail when the legal system made a complete ass of itself. However, dragging the good and great of Twitter`s management before a commons committee to demand that “something must be done” is as logical as demanding that the woman who appears on postage stamps is responsible for hate mail and poison pen letters. Perhaps the dwindling readership of the Express and Swastika intend to lynch the paper boy when the next bigoted rag plops through the letterbox. The problem is not with Twitter; it is with a society that still has deep-rooted and very disturbing prejudice. The women targeted by both abuse and intolerable threats have shown great courage in standing up to these pathetic Onanists. Mary Beard, a national treasure if ever there was one, spoke on the radio of the vile comments she had received and then received even more. The mentality of these numbskulls was revealed when the culprit offered an apology after being threatened with the wrath of his own mother and so we come to the definition of “troll”.

A Troll is an ogre who lives under a bridge and eats goats without the nicety of introducing the domesticated ruminant to a decent jerk marinade or delicious peas and rice. They have an unfortunate habit of being duped by goats and then head butted into rivers. A Troll is not someone on Twitter who threatens rape and murder; the definition of that behaviour is associated with unlawful actions, malicious intent and criminality punishable by a custodial sentence. A Troll is not someone using social media who happens to disagree with you. A Troll is not someone who refrains from automatically clicking the “like” button against the latest piece you offer to the infinite internet. This is where the “Report Abuse” button becomes impractical. This feature will allow jerks hiding under bridges to report any disagreement with their words of wisdom as “abuse” regardless of how preposterous their views might be and any challenge to arrant nonsense could lead to the suspension of the accounts of those that offer any criticism. Bizarrely, the inaccurately defined troll will be able to eat as many goats as he or she wishes.

The Twitter “Report Abuse” button is clearly a politically led knee-jerk reaction to prove that “something must be done”. Perhaps Twitter should expand the policy to offer improved feedback between users. A “What are you on about?” button, a “Report an Idiot” button and a “Report Mild Irritation” button could all be incorporated and avoid so many arguments. An author I greatly admire has suggested that we should remain silent on Twitter for 24 hours to show that abusive comments are unacceptable. Sadly, I disagree with her. Staying silent over threats of rape and murder is not something that will make them go away. We should be shouting them down and demand further arrests and prosecution. She may disagree in return, but I would never report her for abuse.

Meanwhile the politicians point fingers and demand that “something must be done”. They are unlikely to share with us their secret delight that another channel of criticism and freedom of speech is about to be blocked.

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