August; week 1

Yesterday we had a bank holiday. It was a bit meah if I’m honest. My circadian rhythms believe this time of year a bit of a glitch, and would be just as glad it didn’t exist at all. I wonder if this cranky feeling is the basis for all the vacations taken in this month. I didn’t feel like this in July, not June. But I can say one thing for certain, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be driving a backseat full of my kids a few thousand miles through Europe feeling like this. The thing is I tend to forget each year and am a bit surprised when it comes round again.  You see I picture driving in the south of France with a fractious witch in the seat beside me and the product of our loins doing their best to kill each other and I thank God this hasn’t occurred so far.

There would seem to be oddness going on with Twitter these days too. Mary Beard, yes her real name, is one of the professors of Classics at Cambridge has had a time of it these past few months. It started when she was on Question Time, a current affairs show on the BBC. There she commented upon the ludicrous position of the far right parties where they have targeted the emigrant community of Poles and Lithuanians around the town of Boston in Lincolnshire. The Poles and Lithuanians are there to pick fruit and vegetables, jobs that the locals won’t do. And especially won’t do on the wage offered by the growers. This has led to a degree of friction. Not least because the Poles are Catholic. Itself not a problem but it adds a dimension to the situation which is truly nasty and it brings up all the old demons of sectarianism to add to racism.
Anyway the professor took the stance of evidence. Where all the statements about more crime, to taking school places, to inundating the health service. even to destroying the fabric of the town on a weekend while they spent their meager wage in pubs was nothing but bullshit. There was not one scintilla of evidence to support the assertions. Yes, the center of Boston and other town in the area became vomit filled and virtually unpoliceable but it wasn’t the migrants causing this. It was their own native nasty dirty little sons in string vests with enough tattoos to cause a shortage of ink and skanky daughters with so little covering that frostbite seems a certainty who are causing the mayhem.
Since then she has been a target for all sort of nasties. Recently it’s taken a bit of a twist. A few weeks ago she got a vile tweet from someone who forgot they had their photo on the profile. She sent this out to her gang and lickety-split, she got back his name and moms address, for it was a youngster who sent the bile. It calmed for a while, then this last week she got death threats culminating with a time when a device would go off at her home.

Twitter was remarkably slow in reacting to this, something you can only understand when you realize the volume of tweets reach into the hundreds of millions daily.
We’ve all met people. Nay, we’ve all been the person who needs telling to ‘get off that cross, we need the nails’ when we enter a state of imaginary persecution, in this twitter seems to attract or at least draw it out of people. It could be the epigrammatic shortness forces the essence of the writer in that moment of composition to come out. Or it could be that some are downright nasty little bullies.
To my mind the brouhaha about this is conflating two very distinct issues. First we have criminal threats and that’s the business of the courts to sort out not Twitter in a flurry of righteous indignation. Second, we have those that believe Twitter or anything they are involved with should be tightly selective and who act like they’ve been stung by a wasp when they encounter anything they’ve decided isn’t in that narrow world view. Who to my mind should be ignored not pandered.

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6 Responses to August; week 1

  1. Kimberly says:

    I feel the same about August, but that’s because the product of others’ loins are joining me beginning this month. 🙂
    Between Caroline Criado-Perez’s twitter issues and this about Mary Beard, twitter has been causing a bit of an uproar over your side. There’s something kind of poetic about the user who recognized Beard’s harasser and threatened to tell his mom.
    The issue is so convoluted – has social media created a bully culture with people who can’t respectfully debate a difference of opinion, should these threats be taken seriously or do they fall under exaggeration, do the platforms have an obligation to protect their users. I think the first is definitely true, the others I don’t know. I like the way Beard handles her abusers – using her followers to bully the bullies, but I personally find those threats frightening and they weren’t even directed at me. I agree, if they are threats it’s a legal issue, but our courts are so behind the times. Whether it’s twitter or fb’s responsibility or not, I do feel until the laws catch up to this culture they do have an obligation to protect their users from abuse. I think they have some things in place to a point, and it seems that they have increased their measures in recent days. I’m not on twitter so I can’t comment about what those are or will be.
    And at the top, you bring up an even bigger issue, in my opinion, the spewing of statements void of any evidence whatsoever. A culture is also being created that, if they like what they hear, they don’t seem to care about whether it’s true or not. Then it seems that those who make threats do so towards those who actually have the facts. Kind of an interesting parallel.

    • V.H says:

      Yes, uproar. I’m less concerned about the other one. She makes a living being controversial. Granted she doesn’t deserve the threat of harm. Nonetheless she’s better equipped to deal with what occurred than Beard. And while Beard is no shirking Violet she doesn’t court controversy outside her day job. The other one is very militant and actively searches for just that type of issue and exploits it. She will also have a ready made support system. I will say this though. A blanket of protection is forming about Beard.
      On the internet, my worry is that incremental controls turn it into nothing more than a shop. The English prime minister came out lately with a notion for internet service providers to ‘opt-in’ if you wanted porn. This was designed to protect children from arriving on a site. But legally, EU rules prevent him from doing that with a Law. The thing is kids know more how to circumvent all these measures. And if not illegal then Authority should leave things be.

      • Kimberly says:

        Oh, see, we’re not familiar with her in any other context except what they’ve reported in the stories. I guess some thrive on the controversy, which probably doesn’t help matters.

        • V.H says:

          As far as I’m concerned she can hold whatever opinion she darn well likes. And I find the laws about ‘incitement to hatred’ a bit dubious. They are too movable and can be deployed for pretty much anything anyone disagrees.
          I do think some court controversy and they had better be ready when it gets ‘all up in their face’ as it is guaranteed to do. As you said a while ago they’d better have their big girl pants on. But there are degrees to this.

  2. Kelly says:

    Fortunately, my children always spent the majority of their time on a car trip sleeping – not that we braved many lengthy car trips.

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