So the Prime Minister is seemingly furious about the public sympathy for Raoul Moat, as expressed on a facebook group. I can't believe he could think ordering facebook to remove the group (as requested by Chris Heaton-Harris MP, unsurprisingly a keen brand new Tory safe-seat occupying backbencher) is any kind of answer to his problem.
There are those who are publicly sympathising with, lauding and mourning Moat. That fascination will only increase with time is the Krays or the Yorkshire Ripper are anything to go by. As much as David Cameron might not like that, the cult of celebrity killers far predates facebook. He claims to be a Morrissey fan - he probably needs to have a good listen to 'Last of the Famous International Playboys'. And then sit down and have a think about chickens and eggs. Social networking sites don't produce or manipulate public reactions, they merely provide a space for them.
Here's a thought. Maybe if you don't want the people's imagination to be caught by a tragic, horrific incident what needs addressing is the behaviour of the media. If you feel a public discussion of all possible points of view to be tasteless, why allow The Sun to publish a picture of Raoul Moat's mother with the headline "YOU'RE BETTER OFF DEAD, SON" - or is that different? What do we think caused more grief to the victims and their families? Interminable hours of rolling news channel footage that consisted of packs of reporters harassing every passer by and breathlessly repeating a heady mix of eyewitness reports and pure conjecture to camera, *live from the scene as police attempted to negotiate with the gunman*; or a few thousand idiots who are so short of a viable candidate for a hero, or the sense to distinguish real life from the movies, that they've decided to talk shit to each other on the Internet about how praiseworthy the gunman was, after he's dead and gone and the whole episode is over with? It's a horrible time for the victims and their families. But you know what's worse? Speaking for them, deciding what they should be allowed to hear. Stop bloody nannying them. There are idiots out there that have shitty opinions. You can't stop them talking shit down the pub, facebook is really no different except in the respect that if you don't like it, you can click a little 'x' in the corner of your screen and stop being subjected to it, making it that much easier than physically walking away.
You know what the saddest part of all this is? The lack of a sense of humour. I've had a look at the facebook group Heaton-Whatsit got so het up about. I'm fairly sure it's a parody - deliberately badly typed [EG "I DONT GET SUM PEOPLE :/ IF YOU ARE SOO AGAINST THIS GROUP Y DID U JOIN IT!?"], designed to garner the nowtrage expressed about everything by all the Daily Fail readers out there with a stick up their arses. And whoever put it together is probably rolling about laughing right now, not only at the Daily Fail lunatics but at the man who is supposed to be running the country jumping on their righteous raging bandwagon. For all their efforts to be the government of web 2.0, the coalition are hampered by the inclusion of the party that brought us the hilariously misconceived #cashgordon site and ensuing debacle a few weeks back. The thing about the Internet, and Brits on the Internet in particular, is that NOTHING is sacred, everything is up for being taken the piss out of and taken apart, all opinions are given an equal platform for expression and for ridicule. And that's exactly the way it should be. Sadly I don't think the tories are ever going to get it.