Forgive me having a little chuckle about the arrest of John Nimmo, wanted on suspicion of harassing Labour MP Stella Creasy. “‘When police came round the other night they were banging and banging on the door,” his neighbour said. “The police were walking round the garden and shouting up at the windows. Eventually, he came down and they took him away. They had his computer and I saw the officer with his mobile phone in a plastic bag”
There aren’t many smiles in the recent tales of online abuse. but I do have wry smile playing about my chops each time they arrest or caution one of these alleged keyboard tyrants. Moments of fleeting schadenfreude are all women really have in the face of those cheering, oddly specific messages sent by recreational internet sociopaths vowing to break into my home (I KNOW WHERE U LIVE, bitch you making me ANGREE!) with ambitious plans to rape my corpse (seems a bit churlish) and slide about in my entrails (the cruellest blow of all. I have a sisal carpet that’s an absolute bugger to clean). Or that man last week who promised he’d made a bomb.
I’ll wager he would be flummoxed let loose making a baked bean Breville but he was breaking the law nevertheless and there have been no arrests for it. We live in peculiar times. If there seems to have been a lot of shouting and railing in the media about “trolls” this week - oh that bloody troll word, we need a better more dismissive term for tedious hobby abusers - this is because none of us has any clear-minded ideas how to cope with the dark societal shift.
Who are these men’s wives, sisters, grans and mothers? Why is causing fear now funny? You with mask and the knife sending “time to die” shots to women politicians - does your mother know you’re using her best Sabatier cleaver?
Once there was a comforting rarity in recreational weirdos; men who wanted to call a woman’s BT land-line, breathe heavily while jerking off, then repeat the process 77 or so more times drunk on impotent rage and hollow power until the police found them. Oh for the sweeter, gentler times of the occasional penis flasher in the park and the feeling that the police cared about finding him.
Today, August 2013, we live in a world where so many men have the relaxing after-work hobby of role-playing online as rapists and killers that we quite literally don’t have the law-enforcers to deal with it. None of these people expects a knock on the door from the police or some time in a cell or even the wrath of his own mother. They do it for the laughs. They are righteous, hilarious and in their own minds within their rights.
When schoolgirl Hannah Smith (pictured) committed suicide this week due, it is said, to abuse received on Ask.fm, with total predictability the attacks then moved on to her sister. Well, of course. A grieving child. Doubly exciting for the LULZ.
Internet-providers wash their hands of blame although I’m not entirely sure how tracing offenders seems so impossible. Freedom of speech enthusiasts believe any smite to these people akin to a slippery slope to fascism. Nothing can change as no one wants things to change and speaking about it publicly causes more spiralling anger towards the victims.
With the abuse of female politicians, writers and campaigners, many believe the aim is to stop women moving forward in public life, and to intimidate and silence our quacking. I don’t honour these men with any grasp whatsoever on gender politics, I don’t honour them with enough intelligence to wipe their own bums hygienically, but if they think they’ll shut me or any of my female colleagues up in our move towards equality, they’re far, far stupider than their Panto-horror death threats even suggest.
Wahlberg provides free advice for Bieber: ‘pull up your pants’
Pop-star Justin Bieber is a boy clearly surrounded by yes men, most of whom live merrily on his payroll. There would be slender advantage for any of his retinue in telling him the harsh truths of his spiralling behaviour – the flouncing, the late curtain calls, the spitting, swearing and run-ins with police, and worse than this, the solemn intention to make the world witness his underpants.
Step forward Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg, with a spot of life coaching. “Be a nice boy,” he advised this week. “Pull your pants up, make your mom proud and stop smoking weed, you little bastard.” Bieber must pay many advisers, but Wahlberg offered this advice for free.
Marmite: love it, hate it – or just forget it
“I'm like Marmite, me, you either love me or hate me!” is the modern-day clarion call of the wearying idiot. That person with terrible manners whom you didn't even want at your house party and now they've broken your coffee table. They're like Marmite!
For years, the makers of Marmite have traded on this catchphrase, dividing human beings into two distinct groups - those who relish the thick black salty goo, and their rivals who know it tastes like George Galloway's belly-button wax. Marmite's new campaign is a much more honest affair, showing a team of spoof “neglect” officers rescuing dusty jars that consumers have bought, used a smattering of occasionally, and have no real strong feelings about either way.
“Marmite, it's about as important as lemon curd or a jar of antique pesto” seems to be the new, more honest message. The ASA says it has received 250 complaints about the wholly harmless, good-natured, nicely acted and scripted advert within 24 hours. This seems incredibly high for something so wholly non-offensive. I'd never have noticed the new campaign at all without these complaints. The ad agency must be both shocked and wholly devastated.