Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Free As A Bird?

Some maybe aware that blogger Old Holborn was under investigation for posting offensive tweets about the Hillsborough disaster and Denise Bulger the mother of 2 year old James Bulger who was tragically murdered. It now seems that he will not be prosecuted for offensive tweets after the Criminal Prosecution Service said "there is no case to answer".

In some ways one appreciates that common sense has prevailed - Twitter is only a medium with which to express views and opinions which largely should be unhindered by prosecution expect for obvious cases like incitement to violence.

But there for me any sympathy ends for the predicament Old Holborn found himself in. With freedom comes responsibility.  He complained bitterly that his tweets led to death threats against his work colleagues and family. While one doesn’t condone such threats, the only person who put his family and his work colleagues in that position was the man himself.

He wrote those tweets knowing full well they would provoke a reaction. Writing jokes about tragedies where people, particularly young people who have perished, will provoke a reaction. To pretend it won't is dishonest. For example walk into a pub on a Friday night and randomly insult the nearest bloke you can find then you can expect to leave with your nose smeared across your face. Free speech eh? Simply to say “just ignore me” as Old Holborn tries to argue is either woefully naïve or at worst deceptive.

And it is with some irony that Old Holborn who so dislikes authority and the establishment so much mocks a city that has been royally screwed by those very same institutions.
I still have the right to upset a few grief city victim whores 
It makes me wonder which side he truly is on.

Of course he "still has the right to upset" but it's revealing that he does so behind a mask of internet anonymity. It's the equivalent of ‘smoking behind bike sheds’ at school, daring to challenge authority but not quite being brave enough to smoke openingly in front of teachers.

One is reminded of the time that opposition football fans used to, not long after the Bradford fire in 1985, set light to tissue paper and wave it at Bradford fans to mock them - to provoke them. That was its purpose. Offensive it was, free speech it was, but crucially it was only done with "safety in numbers" and anonymity by virtue of being in a crowd. Making such a gesture while being on your own, for obvious reasons, was not going to happen.

Thus if Old Holborn truly cared about testing the limits of free speech then he could take his views about "a city of grief victim whores" to the city itself. Appear on their local radio making his case or even stand along Scotland Road and make his case in public. He won't of course and we all know why.

Rather like Iain Dale he's a coward. Hiding behind a mask of anonymity and egged on by supporters also hiding behind anonymity it's much easier to make these points on the internet.

It's about time the man grew up.

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