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Blog Posted in avatar   Barry G Wood's Blog

Do the British police have anything better to do than investigate Twitter comments?

By Barry G Wood
Posted Aug 2, 2012 in Internet
When a series of nasty tweets were aimed at disappointed Olympic diver Tom Daley there was outrage among the UK's media classes.
Specifically, the tweeter rebuked Daley for "letting down" his own father who died last year, by failing narrowly to win a medal in the synchronised diving.
Tasteless and even insulting - sure. But did it merit police action? An unnamed 17-year old has already been arrested and has made a statement. A decision as to whether he will be charged will come later.
All of which prompts the question. Do the British police have anything better to do than investigate Twitter comments?
For the Daley twitter storm is only the latest in a number of recent controversies in which a flurry of drive-by Twitter incidents have led to demands that police take action.
Only last month Derbyshire Police took it upon themselves to investigate a black soccer player who is said to have branded another black player with the racist epithet "choc ice".
Rio Ferdinand was criticising another black player Ashley Cole who had spoke up in court in defence of another player John Terry, who had himself been accused of making racist comments on the pitch.
The "choc ice" reference was a derogatatory reference to Ashley Cole and was meant to imply that he was black on the outside and white on the inside.
This tortous affair had already reached the courts and the football regulatory authorities were already in action - until, heavily prompted by the media, the police decided the situation needed their intervention and Ferdinand was duly questioned.
In another instance the police were urged to take action over a twitter comment from acerbic Glasgow comic Frankie Boyle that a female swimmer looked like a dolphin. Loud demands for police actions followed this rude tweet.
And there was a wave of outrage aimed at Conservative MP Aidan Burley who dared to deviate from the narrative and tweeted that the opening Olympic ceremony was multicultural c***. His views were even denounced as "idiotic" by the Prime Minister David Cameron.
What strikes this observer is that the whole culture of twitter seems to lend itself to small minded pettiness, no sense of perspective and no acceptance at all that people are entitled to freedom of speech even if others are offended.

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