Thursday, 15 July 2010

Up Onto the Bandwagon and Round the Moat

Never one to miss a bandwagon, I thought I'd chime in on the raging media storm concerning serial attacker Raol Moat. Now I've been in a bit of an internet blackout for the past couple weeks, so I didn't catch the story as it was coming in, but I've read a couple articles, and listened to an interview. I may not be informed, but that doesn't stop The News of the World from going out every day, so why should it stop me?

Now I want to make it absolutely clear that of course I think that the acts committed by Raol Moat were atrocious, and I do not agree with any of the dissident opinions concerning him. I do, however, take issue with the nation's reaction to the Facebook group declaiming him 'a legend'.

Now these kinds of groups and fan pages are commonplace. They're basically the home take-away option for internet trolls. Instead of having to go out to YouTube videos and cause consternation in the comments there, they simply set up an obscene group and let the indignant come to them. They are nothing more than a cheap laugh for those that enjoy such a thing. Obviously there will be people coming to these groups that do harbour unsavoury opinions regarding their content, but overall, they are made up of bored idiots convincing themselves of their brilliance.

Now aside from the tabloid reaction to the papers being a dire case of 'feeding the trolls', the public demand to Facebook to remove such a group, and indeed, the Prime Minister's plea to the website, is something worth looking at. Although the page was indeed a joke, the government's sudden decision to tell us with whom we can and cannot sympathise is unacceptable. Enforcing moral character is not a governmental responsibility.

Unfortunately, in this case, the person behind the Facebook group did have the intellect of a particularly small amoeba. In this stunning interview with Ian Collins*, it is clear that Siobhan O'Dowd** doesn't have the brain cells to understand just why her case was important, neither did she have the wit to counter Collins' not overly challenging questions. The country missed what could have been a vital chance to openly debate the nature of opinion and how we can and should express it. Instead we got a half-assed, botched attempt at humour that was dragged on longer than necessary by a press waiting with baited breath for any possible chance at outraged indignation.


*A man who clearly sees himself as a halfway house between John Humphrys and Jeremy Kyle but instead comes across like Tim Westwood trying to 'get politikal'.
**Who by no means deserves to share a surname with George or Chris

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