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Aug 01 2013

Not a joke

The BBC reports:

Police are investigating bomb threats made on social networking site Twitter against several female journalists.

Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman, Independent columnist Grace Dent and Time magazine’s Catherine Mayer all said they had been threatened.

Anonymous account-holders tweeted that bombs had been placed outside their homes, primed to explode at 22:47 BST.

Not a joke. Not amusing. Not “trash talk.” Not trolling. Not best dealt with by ignoring.

Freeman, who had earlier published a column entitled “how to use the internet without being a total loser”, reported the threats to the Metropolitan Police.

The anonymous author of the tweet had “failed to understand my column”, she wrote.

An investigation into the threats, which make the tweeters liable to be arrested, was then launched, a Met spokesman confirmed.

The anonymous accounts have since been suspended, but screen grabs of the tweets have been circulated on the social media site.

Ms Mayer said she had been tempted to ignore and delete the “not very credible-sounding” tweet.

But the police advised her, Ms Dent and Ms Freeman not to stay at their homes overnight and had searched her building for suspicious devices, she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.

The police don’t consider it a joke, or trash talk, or trolling, or best ignored.

Ms Freeman remained home as she “did not think it was worth taking that seriously”.

She explained there was no rationale for why she was targeted, adding: “There’s some kind of assumption that you have done something, that you must have written something particularly controversial…

“My great crime is that I’m a woman with some small amount of public profile – that is enough it seems.”

Yes: that is enough. I’ve been told that very explicitly – if I don’t like being abused and threatened, then I should stop writing and talking online. That simple. I’ve been told I’m a “public figure” and as such simply have to expect abuse from strangers. I’ve been accused of drama, and rage-blogging, and victim-feminism, and talking about it for the blog hits. I deserve – I asked for – whatever they choose to dish out. That’s just how it is, I’m told.

 

 

10 comments

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  1. 1
    cliobellenis

    “Not a joke. Not amusing. Not “trash talk.” Not trolling. Not best dealt with by ignoring.” Quite
    Time to call a threat a threat and deal with it as such.

    “That’s just how it is, I’m told.” Someone somewhere told you wrong! Time others knew that too!

  2. 2
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    I’m struck by the similarity of what you’re describing to the classic abusive relationship, with the horrible caveat that you didn’t choose a relationship with these people – not that such would make it the least bit okay, but it’s definitely a different dynamic than we had pre-Internet, where this kind of abuse from random strangers was much harder to crowdsource (cf. lynching, as the obvious counter-example).

  3. 3
    Pen

    My elderly father is disgusted by this spate of threats but his knee jerk reaction was still ‘don’t go on Twitter’. I was struck by the similarity of that idea to the one no longer so current in Western cultures that says if you don’t want to be harassed/assaulted/raped, you shouldn’t leave your house, at least not without a man.

    Good news, though – I talked my Dad round.

  4. 4
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    to the one no longer so current in Western cultures

    Still very current, though to make it seem less so it’s always voiced with a particular place or event specified so we can pretend that the caveat is special and not universal.

  5. 5
    MarkF

    I wonder if a few high-profile arrests will have an impact on twitter culture?

    It’s a shame that it took bomb threats to provoke a police response though. I guess it’s fine to threaten to rape and murder someone, as long as you don’t suggest that you’ll use explosives?

  6. 6
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Well, yeah, MarkF. A bomb could hurt someone with a pale penis, like a Police Inspector or something, and that’s some serious shit, not like some bullshit rape threat, which are generally only given to those without pale penises, who, y’know, earned it by being rude and stupid enough to be not white men.

    Didn’t you get the Police memo on this?

  7. 7
    MarkF

    pale penis

    Hah, that made me smile out loud. When did that phrase come into use? It’s so apt.

  8. 8
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Right about…August 1, 2013 at 6:32 pm (UTC -7)…then. :)

  9. 9
    leni

    I laughed at the pale penis too :)

    OT- It reminded me of something I read years ago on some occult forum. A guy said he was being spiritually tormented by a demon of some sort and described is as a “pale worm-like thing” that “even my wife said looked familiar” and and then posted a picture that he drew of it, which of course looked exactly like a pale pink penis with a mean monster face.

    When I suggested it may be his own penis tormenting him, he denied it. No, it was absolutely supernatural in origin! So beware also the pale ghost penis, for it mercilessly haunts even those of the pale flesh penis!

  10. 10
    Robert Alexander

    Comment submitted:

    “I wonder if a few high-profile arrests will have an impact on twitter culture? It’s a shame that it took bomb threats to provoke a police response though. I guess it’s fine to threaten to rape and murder someone, as long as you don’t suggest that you’ll use explosives?”

    “Well, yeah, MarkF. A bomb could hurt someone with a pale penis, like a Police Inspector or something, and that’s some serious shit, not like some bullshit rape threat, which are generally only given to those without pale penises, who, y’know, earned it by being rude and stupid enough to be not white men. Didn’t you get the Police memo on this?”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/twitter-threats-man-arrested-over-rapethreat-tweets-against-campaigner-caroline-criadoperez-8735594.html

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