On Mary Beard and the censorship of digital expression.

Thanks to a comment of a (real) friend of mine on Facebook I looked into who the hell Mary Beard was (I am not very well versed on who the hell celebrities are, be they posh or chavvy). And so I read this article about it. My first thought was how much I like English journalism: the whole story is told trying very hard not to express any personal opinion about it. Love it. (Not being sarcastic, I mean it).

Then it started to make me mad. Twitter is like walking down a street. You walk down the street you make a statement out loud, you get hurled abuse in response or people smile at you. You walk down the street you are a lady who is for some reason known and recogniseable and someone “bomb threaths you”. Or shouts “I will rape you”. You close down the street? Filter people entering the street to ensure they have no evil intentions?

Abuse is rape. Abuse is violence, real, physical. Let us not get confused here. Twitter is words. On a screen. All you need to do, is block that person. He or she will create a couple of new accounts if he or she can be bothered, then he or she will vanish. Forever. From your life.

This person could stalk you in real life. It’s not like twitter is making you more vulnerable. This person could be sitting outside your house ready to throw dog shit at you. Surely that’s more of a threat? Are we going to change the whole national policing strategy for this? It is all lies.

What is truly happening is that England is bending down to censorship pressure, twitter too. But twitter doesn’t want to admit it is bending, so it responds to these cases and is probably happy that these cases are out there (I won’t go as far as thinking there is a media conspiracy to ease the public into thinking that “yes, actually, internet censorship is a good idea and definitely needed”. I won’t even think “is this woman a hit with liberals by any chance? If yes, might there be a connection between publicising this case and easing the liberals’ acceptance of the otherwise loathed internet censorship?”. I won’t do that.)

What I will say is, for crying out loud, if the words on the screen offend you, shock you, just bloody block that user, close the tab, erase the cache. It IS NOT ABUSE. You are far more at risk working your own vegetable patch and having some creepo sneak in on you. Just get over it and grow up already. Internet censorhsip is wrong wrong wrong. I don’t blog or blag about it because I am aware of what little power I have to change it. I am painfully aware of the ridiculously small audience I have on this blog and the effect (nul) this post will have on influencing the decision making process. I believe it is already happening and there isn’t much point in gaining visibility on reddit, or if there is, I am not the one who will gain it, so sod it, let cleverer and more visible people than me do something about it. And if they fail they fail. If I can make one person feel less threatened about the bloody internet, I have achieved my goal. If I can make one person consider that words are just words and it’s about time we stopped getting tremendsouly hurt by them,  and thus give them a power they should not have, that’ll be great. A punch on the nose hurts more, seriously.

But at least I have let out some steam. And when I am lacking a person to vent to I use the blog. So there. My job is done. Now get over “The abuse of technology” and the “threat of online discourse” and get a life, Mary Beard.


2 thoughts on “On Mary Beard and the censorship of digital expression.

  1. just had someone point me to this. lots to discuss here. actually i have a life (and a job). but there is a problem her.. either block and put up and shut up .. or saying NO. I am happy to take the rough and tumble on social media, but lurid comments about the stink of my vagina, or wanting to decapitate me and rape the head, is not rough and tumble. You have to call it out..


    1. You can choose to call it out, of course, it’s your prerogative. Or you could threaten to find measures to shut up the huge immense quantity of people, in everyday real life, close enough to touch you, who will insult you, speak ill of you, abuse you. You can see that the only way that would be feasible is by enforcing a terror-filled Big-Brother like state, checking your everymove and word. I would be all for a peaceful and harmless eradication of any contact, in my life, with unpleasant people! But I would start, were that even possible, with the physical people who surround me and interact with me in real life every day, rather than pixelated idiocy. Which can harm and hurt and offend on a psychological level, by all means, but the reaction is just a little extreme.


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