It never ceases to astound me, at just how utterly, utterly phlegmatic some men can be. And I'm not talking about Mankind in general here. No, I mean male homo-sapiens, of which I am one of them.
What is it with some of you guys?! Why do you seem to want to turn everything into a them-and-us war between the sexes? I write this because of recent events that have occurred in the past 72 hours that make me ashamed to be a man. I am appalled at the lack of respect and courtesy that has been extended to our fellow sistren, because of a few knuckle-dragging neanderthals.
You see, these pieces of misogynistic effluent - because, that's pretty much all that they total up to be - have decided that it would be a charming display of macho bravado, to post misogynistic drivel on Twitter in the form of abuse against Caroline Criado-Perez: a woman who has done nothing more, than request that more women feature on British bank notes. At the time of writing, only the Five Pound Note features a woman - Elizabeth Fry. Thanks to an Internet campaign, the new head of the Bank of England, Canadian financier Mark Carney decided that one of his first acts in his position, would be to remove the current face of the Ten Pound Note - Charles Darwin - and replace him with Jane Austen instead, from 2015.
The Tweets were deeply offensive. However, so that you can see exactly what was said, here are some screen-grabs. Be warned, they are absolutely not safe to view at work, and the language is graphic and explicit.
Link One - Tweets on Stella Creasey's Twitter feed
Link Two - Tweets on Caroline Criado-Perez's Twitter feed
Other comments on Ms Criado-Perez's feed included the delightful:
Everybody jump on the rape train . . . Caroline is the conductor.And the even more tasteful
Wouldn't mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you are ready to be put in your place.And this...
Rape threats? Don't flatter yourself. Call the cops, we will rape them too.
These parasites think that it's really sophisticated and mature, to post messages threatening to rape and murder Ms Criado-Perez and another lady, MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy.
Over a period of about 12 hours, several hundred Tweets were being posted on Ms Criado-Perez's Twitter feed, threatening actual harm and sexual violence towards her. Why? Well, it would seem that her campaign caused a bit of a storm amongst some of these pieces of effluent, and they didn't like it. Thus, they proceeded to berate her on Twitter, over the course of half-a-day and fill her social-media feed with degrading, vituperative bile that I would expect to see in scripts from no-budget British gangster films starring the likes of Danny Dyer. MP Creasy also experienced similar behaviour in the past few days, on her Twitter feed. Thankfully, yesterday, a man had been arrested on suspicion of a campaign of online harassment - see here for the details.
Now, I need to be careful here. An arrest and a suspicion, are not the same as convicted and guilty. Not by a long shot. However, if the 21-year-old Mancunian is the felonious little turd behind the offensive Tweets, then I sincerely hope that he serves a minimum of a year in prison for his crimes.
I know many people will think that if you don't want to run the risk of being abused or harassed online, then you shouldn't join sites like Twitter and Facebook. Likewise, there are plenty of people who think that sending abusive messages online should not be treated by the English Legal System in the same way, somebody in the street saying the same thing to your face might be treated. However, in my view, I think we need to nip this seemingly endlessly abhorrent behaviour in the bud now, today! The online world is something that is, to many people, a place that is not that far removed from the real-world. And online, we do many things, we would happily do in the real-world as well, e.g. shopping, paying bills, research, etc, etc.
The Internet is a tool. (I could make a cheap joke, and say that the people who post "I'm going to rape you" Tweets, are also utter tools, but I won't..! That would be far too easy a joke to make!) It is nothing more than a device that helps us communicate. It is really no different to the telephone call or the written letter. So why should the Law treat online abuse and harassment any differently, or any lesser a crime, than that which might take place in the city or village that you happen to live in? To excuse such behaviour purely because it takes place on an electronic screen, rather than in-person, in my mind, is just that - an excuse. (And a pretty petty and sophomoric excuse at that.) If you wouldn't accept somebody walking up to you, and shouting "I'm going to kill you tonight" to your face, why on earth should you accept the same behaviour from a moronic keyboard warrior, who thinks that laws shouldn't apply to them purely on the basis that they "didn't really mean it"?!
Are you freaking kidding me?! You "didn't really mean it"?!
So what you really meant to say was, "Sorry to bother you, but I vehemently disagree with you on this subject", right, but by some awful, technological disaster, that actually turned into "Wouldn't mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you are ready to be put in your place."?
Now, if anyone had said that to me, to my face, then providing I could identify them, I would be able to contact the police and have them arrested under numerous laws, such as the Criminal Justice Act 1967. Likewise, if someone had telephoned me, sent a text message to me, or written anything even remotely like that and posted it to me in a letter, or simply stuck the note through my letterbox, then the Law would be behind me 100%, offer me protection and would seek out the offending ejit.
So why are we treating electronic messaging differently?!
I accept the fact that in this country, with a population of about 66 million people, there are some who think that it is fair game, nigh acceptable, to say whatever you want to someone, no matter how offensive or distasteful that comment might actually be. After all, we live in a land of free speech, don't we?
Well, actually, no, we don't.
In the United Kingdom, you cannot say whatever the hell you want. There are very specific and explicit laws that exist, that state that "malicious communications" can be grounds for criminal or legal action. Such ground, include the obvious ones, such as discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality or disability. Other less obvious one include perceived discrimination - e.g. someone with mental health issues - where the discrimination may not be obvious to the outside world.
But even when those laws are used, for some reason, the Law is reluctant to use electronic malicious communication via social media sites, as being grounds for action to be taken. The Law and the Police think that if you receive such offensive material via Twitter or Facebook, you should just "block" that person.
The problem with that, is three-fold:
1) That doesn't change the fact that someone has sent you a malicious communication in the first place.
2) The sender of the communication may just re-send the offensive material to you again, in another manner, or by re-joining social media sites under a new name.
3) That the malicious communication is still a breach of the law, even though it may have been sent by an electronic system, rather than spoken, or written down.
The Law and Government needs to start tightening up the regulations and dealing with "trolls" and "troll-like" behaviour online. Despite what they and others may think, it is not a victimless crime. It is not something that people should just have to put up with. It is a crime. It does upset and cause distress to the victim on the receiving end, and it absolutely should be punishable by law.
Alas, until English Law and politicians decide to act, then such behaviour as has been meted out to Ms Criado-Perez and Ms Creasy will continue to go on, often without making headlines. Men need to stop treating women in this abhorrent manner. I really don't know why men think that threatening a woman - or anyone of any gender for that matter - is good, cool, clever, witty, or whatever other derivative you wish to use. Instead of being classy behaviour, it actually make you look about as fashionable as a freshly-laid pile of dog turd. Threatening to rape someone isn't funny. It's not remotely laughable. It's just low, and deeply, incredibly unimaginative... that you are, in fact, someone with about as much imagination as a septic tank on a caravan site.
How classy is that?