Policing Twitter is dumb

29 Jul

So the whole Jane Austen banknote thingy caused quite the uproar in the UK these past few days, particularly for a woman named Caroline Criado-Perez, who apparently spearheaded the push to have the banknotes that depicted 100% women.  The Queen is on the face of ALL banknotes, so they automatically have a woman on them, but whatever.  Some of the notes should have ONLY women, and none of them will have ONLY men.

bank notes UK


Well, not until Charles becomes King, and then William after him, and George after him.  Christopher Hitchens was pretty pessimistic that the Royal Family would last that long, but if they do, THEN there will be some validity to the argument that there are no women on banknotes.


Further down the scale, though, the monarchic principle constitutes an obstacle to precisely that sense of responsibility about which we hear so much. It can’t be good for people to lead vicarious lives, made up partly of prurience and partly of deference, and fixated on the doings of an undistinguished and spoiled family.


I like how Hitchens disliked the monarchy because it’s an obstacle to the idea of responsibility. Hitchens was a big fan of owning your own shit.


At least since Einstein, we have lived in a world where the discoveries of physics and genetics are far more awe-inspiring, as well as infinitely more liberating, than the claims of any religion. Yet somehow, our very idioms and vernaculars fail to rise to the moment. Even worse, we preserve the literal-mindedness of the age of ignorance; the epoch when our ancestors were taught to believe that the universe was man-centered and that everything revolved around us.

At the heart of this is the absurd and contradictory notion of “humility,” whereby believers consider it humble and self-effacing to appoint themselves the mere executors of a superior being. (“Don’t mind me — I’m just doing God’s will.”) This false modesty would be no more than irritating if it was not accompanied by insistent demands for real money, and real secular power over other humans, in the here and now.


Denial of personal responsibility, prurience, deference, living vicariously in a world conceptualized as revolving around ME ME ME, pretensions of humility when the real goal is to control others – sounds an awful lot like the Twitterverse, doesn’t it?


I’m not much of a sports fan, but apparently there are a bunch of people in the UK who are really, really into watching grown men dressed in matchy-matching outfits chase a ball around, and they get really super emotional when the ball doesn’t go where they want it to.


Not something I can relate to, but whatever.

There are all kinds of reasons sports fans get riled up at these games, and some fans are not very nice. When one of the players fucks up whatever he was supposed to do with the ball, he will be called all sorts of nasty, vile, mean, jerky, stupid things by the spectators in the crowd.  Some of those nasty, vile things will be racist.


That’s terribly unpleasant,  but par for the course when you make your living chasing a ball around, no? If fans were NOT deeply emotionally invested in where that ball goes, there would be no demand for professional sports at all.

The normal constraints on behavior tend to get chucked out the window when it comes to sporting matches, and people generally feel safe screaming and shouting and carrying on in a way that would be frowned upon in the supermarket. The Terry Tate, Office Linebacker ads are hilarious precisely BECAUSE they highlight the differences in what we consider acceptable behavior on and off the field.

I’m not a sports fan, and I think the Terry Tate ads are hysterical.

Sometimes the players get rough with each other, and they get a penalty for doing so, but we don’t view their behavior in the same light as we would view the exact same behavior out of the context of the game. Zidane didn’t like another player calling his sister a whore.  He responded with a head butt. Not something we would tolerate off the field, right?

Jesus, hockey players beat the crap out of each other, but in the context of the game, it’s all good clean fun.

The normal constraints on behavior simply don’t apply when it comes to our faux gladiators, and most people appear to be able to comprehend that what you can get away with in the arena is vastly different from what you can get away with on the street.

Twitter is just another arena. The normal rules don’t apply.  You can say things you would NEVER  say in real life.  That’s social media.  And if you don’t like the rules, well, get off Twitter.  No one is REQUIRED to be on Twitter or any other social media.  There are features on Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter that allow users to control their privacy settings, block annoying commenters, or restrict access to their information. The social media universe can be manipulated to conform to how a particular user wants to use that media.


It’s up to the user to determine what they are comfortable with.

Unless, of course, the user is a woman, and then it’s up to everyone else to conform to what she decides is acceptable behavior.


So here is what happened with Caroline.  She started a campaign to get the Treasury to issue bank notes that feature 100% women. The Queen on one side, and another woman on the other. She used her professional, public profile to garner support on social media, and on Twitter in particular.  Fair enough.  There’s the power of social media.


And, inevitably, not everyone agreed with her.  People called her all sorts of nasty things, and then some gigantic jerks decided Caroline is a good candidate for rape.


People are jerks.  Some people are super giant jerks.  Super giant jerks get really, really brave on Twitter and say shit they would never dare to utter in real life.

Who knew?

Caroline, naturally, wants all the benefits of social media, but she doesn’t want to face any pushback unless it comes in precisely the terms she finds acceptable. Now she’s on Twitter to change its entire business model so that she doesn’t have to deal with jerks.

She wants a “report abuse” button.  Report abuse to whom, Caroline?  To Twitter?  They are supposed to set up an entirely new system and monitor it so that you don’t have to deal with Twitter assholes?  There is already a system in place to ensure that.

It’s called “delete account”.

At this point, Twitter is pretty much ignoring Caroline other than to point out that there are terms of agreement for all users and that super vile users can in fact, be reported and have their accounts closed.


Are rape threats nice?  Nope, they’re not.  They’re pretty disgusting.  But Caroline, you are not a child, you are not entitled to decide what rules apply to everyone everywhere at all times and you do not get to impose your own sense of propriety on everyone else.

The United Kingdom is taking a very strange approach to how the rules work in cyberspace.  A 21 year old man named Liam Stacey was JAILED for posting an offensive tweet about an injured soccer player, on the grounds that it incited racial hatred.

“LOL. Fuck Muamba. He’s dead!!!”

No doubt, there were thousands of other people at the match saying the exact same thing to their seatmates, but Liam decided to reach out to all his absentee friends on Twitter and the courts responded by jailing him.


Because Liam is such a danger to the public, right?

Now, IF the UK is going to jail Liam, then yes, they should also be going after the troglodytes that threatened to rape Caroline.  And it looks like they are doing just that.


But it’s stupid.

If the police in the UK are prepared to arrest and jail everyone who has said shit on Twitter that they would never say in real life, they better get busy building a lot of new jails.  If the police are going to start arresting everyone who has made a rape or death threat on social media, they can stop by my site.

I’ll give them a whole bunch of names.

And in my case, those threats came from OTHER WOMEN.

But you know what?  I don’t want any of my little cowards arrested.  When I decided to write this blog and put my thoughts out in cyberspace, I accepted that it wasn’t going to be all love and kittens and unicorns farting sparkles and rainbows.


I don’t need the Man to come and police my site.  I do that myself.  I don’t need the Man to come and arrest my haters.  I have a delete key that serves the same function.  And if it ever gets to the point where I don’t feel like I can handle the nastiness, I have an option:

Delete blog.

That isn’t gonna happen, no matter how many haters stop by with their lovely sentiments about rape and bloodshed.  Because I am able to grasp, for some strange reason, that trolls are really just cowards.  I wouldn’t be afraid to face down any of them in real life.


Twitter is an arena where gladiators match wits with retards, all too often.  Sometimes those retards are really nasty and hateful.  And sometimes they are whiny suckholes who can’t take a hit once in a while.


Personally, I like the game.  For the most part, people on my Twitter feed and blog comment in thoughtful, interesting, provoking, amusing and generally intelligent terms. And every one in a while, an asshole shows up and gets all brave.  That is the price for engaging with people I would never, ever have a chance to meet, if it were not for global social media.  I’m more than willing to pay it.


The game doesn’t need to change. Practically speaking, it’s not even possible to police every thought on the internet.  It’s a dangerous precedent to even try.  The players who don’t like the game have two choices:

Get out of the arena


Learn to play better

It’s that simple.

Lots of love,


48 Responses to “Policing Twitter is dumb”

  1. HRH Prince Fred of Flange July 29, 2013 at 15:09 #

    Police Twitter? Sure, easy peasy. Just have your group of Catholic-League-type censors decide whether a tweet ought to be banned in Boston or something.

    Then they can try their hand at policing comments on YouTube videos, or even better, try imposing “respectful speech codes” on the users of that wild west cesspool, 4Chan.

    Good luck with that. Especially since those 4Chan fucks like to retaliate by hacking you and making remix videos out of your private shit.


  2. Opus July 29, 2013 at 15:38 #

    What’s the betting that what the guys really said, was merely that they wanted to fuck her. She claimed to be getting 50 tweets an hour. How can anyone waste their life even attempting to read all that unless they are looking to become upset. This Perez is the UK’s answer to Rebecca Watson.

    I deleted my Twitter account because the UK being as it is I knew that sooner or later I would be bound to say something they don’t like. In the meanwhile I would merely worry that I had.


  3. The Real Peterman July 29, 2013 at 15:43 #

    Yet another strong, independent woman who wants a bunch of other people to watch out for her.


  4. Amanda Wood July 29, 2013 at 15:44 #

    You rock. Love this post. It is getting out of hand..but as with most things many people sre unable to think latterly.


  5. Bob Wallace July 29, 2013 at 16:03 #

    So Caroline wants men to come save her from getting her feelings hurt?


  6. mikebuchanan1957 July 29, 2013 at 16:19 #

    JB, yet another priceless piece – thank you. LOL’d at the unicorn graphic. I honestly think you’ve had the final (intelligent) word on this matter. We’ve just repeated a public challenge we first made to Caroline Criado-Perez seven weeks ago:


    Mike Buchanan

    (and the women who love them)



  7. Wilson July 29, 2013 at 16:33 #

    There is no freedom of speech in the Her Majesty’s Kingdom, and “offensive” communication is in general a jailable offense, so this gentlelady’s displeasure is only natural. The best course for Twitter is to block the entire island, though of course there are too many princess sympathizers in other parts of the world to do it over this issue.


  8. feeriker July 29, 2013 at 16:54 #

    If the police in the UK are prepared to arrest and jail everyone who has said shit on Twitter that they would never say in real life, they better get busy building a lot of new jails. If the police are going to start arresting everyone who has made a rape or death threat on social media, they can stop by my site.

    What makes you so sure that they aren’t and that they won’t? :)~

    I don’t need the Man to come and police my site. I do that myself. I don’t need the Man to come and arrest my haters. I have a delete key that serves the same function.

    Ah, but The Man doesn’t give a damn about what you don’t want and don’t need. The Man is omnipotent (for now) and will do what he thinks is in your best interest – even if it isn’t. To The Man, you’re just a helpless child who can’t own your own shit or live your own life without his “benevolent” help.

    I have an option:

    Delete blog.

    That isn’t gonna happen, no matter how many haters stop by with their lovely sentiments about rape and bloodshed. Because I am able to grasp, for some strange reason, that trolls are really just cowards. I wouldn’t be afraid to face down any of them in real life.

    But to continue with the point I made in the paragraph above, The Man might decide that your blog is causing too many people to think critically and question the real value of the “pearls of ‘wisdom’” that he has been dispensing to the masses of helpless unwashed for so many decades. That means that he might just decide to delete your blog himself – with or without your consent. (This, incidentally, is why feeriker is devoting no small portion of his “leisure” time to working with his fellow network engineers to find new ways of preventing The Man from co-opting the internet and trying to control it. Fortunately, the internet was designed with that beautiful concept of decentralization in mind, which will make The Man’s attempts at co-opting cyberspace a very difficult one.)

    The game doesn’t need to change. Practically speaking, it’s not even possible to police every thought on the internet.

    Like I said, The Man will give it his best shot. But I agree, it’s going to cost him more in resources and effort (and will cause some very destructive socioeconomic side effects that will not be to his advantage) than it will yield any possible benefits.


  9. B July 29, 2013 at 16:58 #

    Caroline, naturally, wants all the benefits of social media, but she doesn’t want to face any pushback unless it comes in precisely the terms she finds acceptable. Now she’s on Twitter to change its entire business model so that she doesn’t have to deal with jerks.

    typical feminist logic.


  10. zykos July 29, 2013 at 16:59 #

    Caroline Criado-Perez is a COWARD. If the people who tweeted threats are cowards, it’s mainly because they chose the easy, responsibility-free way of engaging her, and that’s exactly what she herself is trying to do. Death threats are illegal because, if you receive them by mail, you know the person making the threat knows where you live, took the time to write it, send it to you, and to some extent cover his tracks, so there is a real possibility that person is serious. But a death/rape threat on twitter? Not a chance you’re in any kind of danger, and I don’t believe one second Criado-Perez really fears for her life. If she was, she’d go to the police, not Twitter and the media.

    It’s the good old push for “your rights end where my feelings begin” we see in the liberal media and academia. And it’s frightening to think that a new generation is raised thinking freedom of speech “goes too far” (http://www.unlearningliberty.com/first-amendment-center-finds-evidence-younger-citizens-are-unlearning-liberty/#.UfaemRZjNUQ) even with so many examples of countries where that speech really is limited.


  11. RS July 29, 2013 at 17:34 #

    Just another example of women wanting to do whatever they want consequence free. If she can force Twitter to shield her from the outcry over her own words she will. All the special snowflakes believe they deserve such protection.


  12. LostSailor July 29, 2013 at 17:45 #

    One of the cardinal tenets of feminism is that no woman anywhere and at any time shall ever be made to feel uncomfortable. It seems to be fast becoming a criminal act in the UK. Remind me to not visit there again.

    And from the “Daily Life” linked article, the author Clementine Ford comes up with this gem that nicely encapsulates the idea: Of tweeted rape threats she says

    It is a theft of emotion, and it is unforgiveable.

    Now, I’m not a big fan of threats of any kind, rape or not. But note the precipice of the slippery slope. Hurting a woman’s feelings in an act that can never be forgiven. The next step is to punish it severely. Is that a feminist gulag I see on the horizon…?


  13. Dude Where's My Freedom? July 29, 2013 at 18:10 #


    Not sure if you’re aware, but Facebook has already caved to this sort of nonsense.


  14. Alex July 29, 2013 at 18:24 #

    we need to do away with political correctness, really. it’s a free pass for people to get government help with removing people who hurt their feelings, and i wish i could punch everyone that tries it. bullshit like this is so moronic, it’s making it difficult for me to think. i think i’ll oil up my twitter account and confront caroline, see what happens. maybe she’ll learn something


  15. feeriker July 29, 2013 at 19:07 #

    Once again, yet another reason I feel vindicated for never having had anything whatsoever to do with that organization.


  16. Copyleft July 29, 2013 at 19:20 #

    It’s already been proposed that ugly men should not be allowed in public places, for fear that they might approach women and express interest, thereby making the women uncomfortable, i.e., ‘harassment.’

    And surely locking up undesirable men is a trivial price to pay for keeping women feeling safe and comfortable?


  17. Dude Where's My Freedom? July 29, 2013 at 19:46 #

    Ah, well then you must be much more optimistic than I am if you think Twitter is really going to dig in its heels and tell these crazies to get over it.

    I suspect that if they keep the pressure up, Twitter will cave, just like every major corporation always does. Twitter itself also has a history of caving in to demands of censorship from foreign governments, rather than standing for free speech.



  18. Goober July 30, 2013 at 00:04 #

    If one thing has ever been constant for the entire existence of humanity, it is that we’ve been absolutely exceptional at being bastards to each other. When someone is a bastard to you, you should consider three things, and act accordingly:

    1. Option 1 – the person who is being a bastard to you is an actual bastard, that is being a bastard from no fault of your own. If said bastard presents no threat to you and your family other than just calling you names and such, then ignore said bastard and don’t even give him the satisfaction of complaining about his bastardry – whether it be to moderators or twitter or whomever;
    2. Option 2 – the person being a bastard to you is merely responding to your bastardry. If this is the case, stop whining and suck it up, buttercup – you say bad things, controversial things, or bastardy things, get ready for people to disagree with you – vehemently, even. It’s called the marketplace of ideas, and some people aren’t mature enough to handle dealing with other people that disagree with them.
    3. Option 3 – The person being a bastard to you presents a clear and real threat to the physical well-being of you and your family. In this case, you don’t whine to the twitter moderators to stop him from being a bastard, you either load for bear or call the police.

    Did anyone else notice that in none of the three examples above was it appropriate or prescribed that one complain to twitter about the bastard? This lady didn’t do the right thing here – if she felt threatened, she should have called the police. If she didn’t, then she needed to shut the fuck up and take her medicine, because guess what sugar?

    There have been a lot of men who bled and died for England over the years. The only reason England exists is because of men who stood on a line somewhere and died screaming in the bloody mud so that you could live your carefree little life of grievance mongering without having to salute the Furher every morning and learn to speak German (or before that, French). I think that should earn men the right to be on your goddamned paper money, you ingrateful scrunt…


  19. A Kelly July 30, 2013 at 00:19 #

    What has been lost in all this TwitterGate stuff is that Caroline Criado-Perez IS NOT responsible for Jane Austen appearing on banknotes. A couple of months back CCP was on “Women’s Hour” banging on about the “conspiracy” to prevent having women on (the back) of banknotes. I had the misfortune to hear this load of twaddle.The Bank of England promptly responded to this by saying that it had been decided a while back that Jane Austen will replace Charles Darwin on the £10.00 note in 2017. However CCP isn’t going to let the facts get in the way, so hey presto! We’re getting Jane because of Caroline and her “campaign.” CCP is just a self-publicised who unfortunately for us seems to have a lot of high placed friends in the BBC. As for all the Twittering, as someone who has had people coming to my front door threatning harm to me and my windows and has a harassment order out on someone, I suggest she just hit the delete button and gives us all a break.

    PS A good few years ago, The Bank of England made plans to have Jane Austin on a banknote but after some test prints with the only likeness there is of her, which does not have many “brushstrokes” to it, they decided the note could be forged easily so dropped her. Obviously, they have now rectified that problem.


  20. judgybitch July 30, 2013 at 00:25 #

    Now that is some interesting information!

    Thank you


  21. Dude Where's My Freedom? July 30, 2013 at 02:02 #

    Maybe. Or maybe they haven’t rectified that problem and just decided that caving into PC trolls was more important than preventing counterfeit currency from coming into being…


  22. Marlo Rocci July 30, 2013 at 02:17 #

    If someone called my sister a whore, I’d probably shoot back with something like “at least it’s honest work.” but since I don’t have a sister, no one can say that. Too bad, I have the comeback ready.

    But I can’t imagine worrying about what someone says to me on twitter.


  23. Emily July 30, 2013 at 03:04 #

    Wow, are you seriously this immature?
    If i sent you letters every day detailing how I was going to rape you, would your answer be to move house?
    Why is Twitter or a football field suddenly free from Human Rights laws? Laws that say you should be able to live without threat of violence or racial, sexist or homophobic slurs.
    if you are so immature that you can’t cope with your football team losing a match without resorting to racial slurs you shouldn’t be allowed out in public, because you have the mind of a child.


  24. Emily July 30, 2013 at 03:06 #

    She went to the police you complete berk.


  25. The Real Peterman July 30, 2013 at 03:40 #

    Who proposed that?


  26. A Kelly July 30, 2013 at 07:01 #

    If you read my post again, you will see that The Bank of England decided before CCP’s “campaign” to have Jane Austen on bank notes. I have done some further checking: The Bank of England decided TWO YEARS AGO to replace Charles with Jane.


  27. Goober July 30, 2013 at 14:57 #

    There are no laws that say you have the right to live without homophobic and sexist slits, dipshit.

    Its called freedom of speech, look it up. Your hurt feelings don’t trump my rights you drooling moron.


  28. Goober July 30, 2013 at 14:59 #

    Slurs. Autocorrect.


  29. Goober July 30, 2013 at 16:57 #

    Good. And I hope the police are laughing their asses off at her case of butthurt in the first degree. Because that’s all I can see here, unless someone can point me to an actual actionable threat that she’s received (sure haven’t seen any yet)


  30. Spaceman! July 30, 2013 at 18:07 #

    Are you guys fucking mental? These arenr just a few nasty words being mentioned, its actual threats of rape, some including details of how they’ll find her and what theyll do to her. She shouldn’t have to leave twitter because of this in the same way she shoildnt just stay indoors if she doesnt want to be raped. Shes not complaining about people being mean to her but making very real threats against her. She doeant want things on ‘her terms’. She wants them on the terms that surely all sensible, moral people would want them.


  31. Dude Where's My Freedom? July 30, 2013 at 18:09 #

    “Threats of violence” and “racial, sexist, and homophobic slurs” are NOT the same thing.

    That said, there is a very big difference between someone sending you letters to your actual residence on a daily basis with a detailed plan for committing an act of aggression against you, and someone random douche posting one twitter message saying “I hope you get raped.”

    The fact that you cannot appreciate this difference means that you’ve obviously never experienced a REAL threat in your life. If you had, you’d appreciate how silly the non-threats from Twitter actually are.


  32. Wilson July 30, 2013 at 20:31 #

    You’re her fool if you actually think she believes they’re serious threats. Also the vulgarity of your comment could sexually damage children, and it stigmatizes the mentally disabled: you should be locked in a cage for the rest of your life or be shot dead by the police


  33. Cid July 30, 2013 at 22:33 #

    I knew way back in the mid-90s that as the internet caught on it would start to fill up with people who don’t understand the culture on it aaaaand I was totally right.

    Getting people together to flood some dumbass with troll posts is not hard and coming up with the worst shit you can think of is encouraged. Reacting to it, especially with threats of getting a lawyer, is the best way to keep it going on and on and on.

    Seriously, none of these people have any desire to actually make good on these threats. All they’re doing is trolling someone and having a laugh at the reactions they keep getting. If you don’t start getting shit sent to your house, they aren’t serious in the least. I haven’t heard of this happening in cases like this either.. it’s always just between people who know each other (and often having fights on facebook oddly enough…)


  34. Goober July 31, 2013 at 01:01 #

    Show me the threats then, cringer. Unless they’ve been removed, all I’m seeing is distasteful, childish rhetoric.


  35. Goober July 31, 2013 at 01:05 #

    Bingo. I’m sick of this Lilly livered hand wringing “butthurt inthe first degree but trying not to look like a censorious test by couching it in terms of being threatened ” bullcrap.

    Harden up pansies. Your forefathers died screaming in the bloody mud to secure for you the right to free speech. Don’t spit on their graves just because someone said mean things to you and hurt your feelings.


  36. Goober July 31, 2013 at 01:06 #

    Goddamn autocorrect. “Twat “. Not “test”.


  37. Master Beta July 31, 2013 at 12:40 #

    “if you are so immature that you can’t cope with your football team losing a match without resorting to racial slurs you shouldn’t be allowed out in public, because you have the mind of a child.”

    Are you saying that children shouldn’t be allowed out in public?


  38. Master Beta July 31, 2013 at 12:46 #

    “basic human right to respect”

    You’ve made this up. No one has a right to respect, because respect is something that other people have to willingly give to you.


  39. Copyleft July 31, 2013 at 15:38 #

    Tell us, what constitutes a “very real threat on Twitter”? I’d be fascinated to learn how to tell the difference between actual violence somehow delivered through a computer screen and simple obscenity.


  40. Brian July 31, 2013 at 15:47 #

    So where’s the outrage over this one then:


    Read some more charming responses here:


    Quick sampler:




    Some of the guys had some pretty nasty things to say too 😉

    I doubt if the staff of GQ will be calling in the police to arrest these nutters, and I don’t expect to see any hysterical media hype over it either. It’s just Twitter. Nobody with any common sense takes it seriously, which is pretty much the point of this article.


  41. LostSailor July 31, 2013 at 18:12 #

    Her comment seems to have been removed, but I agree completely: there is no basic human right to respect. Society generally requires common courtesy to function, but respect is earned.

    Then again, she may have been referring to the new Feminist Right to never be offended by anything, ever. Which, like most things feminist, is a contradiction, since one of the main pillars of feminism is being perpetually offended…


  42. MRDA August 1, 2013 at 22:32 #

    Not that it changes the message of your piece in any way, but Liam Stacey said much more than “Fuck Muamba he’s dead!”: http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17hqe3pwxhtjqjpg/original.jpg


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