Robbie Farah’s hypocrisy, Stop The Trolls and data retention | Wednesday 12 September 2012

This is Australia. Today.

Well, today was a big day for meta-trolling.

If by some chance you haven’t as yet seen it, this is the front page that the Daily Telegraph ran with. Apart from presenting the best concept for a logo aping t-shirt in years, it also inspired some great commentary on the nature of a tabloid like the Tele accusing others of offensive speech.

Geordie Guy wrote a post that expertly draws everyone’s attention to the fact that it’s rather convenient that the furore over Robbie Farah being bullied over his mother’s death on twitter has been picked up around the same time that Attorney General Nicola Roxon is floating the idea of data retention. He also makes a solid point (and one that I find myself increasingly making to people who don’t spend as much time online as I do) that a threat is already prosecutable under existing laws.

Coincidentally, Roxon and Senator Stephen Conroy actually did put out a joint press release later in the afternoon supporting the “Stop the Trolls” campaign. Make of that what you will.

After many people pointed out that Robbie Farah had actually suggested last year that the Prime Minister (who has invited him to meet with her and discuss the prospect of tougher laws against online bullying/harassment) should be given a noose for her birthday, he came out this afternoon with a media release to apologise to the PM.

What he didn’t apologise for was actually threatening to rip someone’s face off (illegal over a carriage service).

He also didn’t distance himself from the campaign to “stop the trolls”, when it became clear that he is just as guilty as those he accuses.

After the initial tweet, Farah also called in his supporters, who piled onto the original poster.

Comedy Chat, a blog on the UK comedy scene, has a fantastic post on the disproportionate power celebrities wield on social media despite the appearance of a level playing field and the fact that some (in the case of the post Ricky Gervais, Noel Fielding and Simon Pegg) will happily bring down the weight of their followers on critics.

Let’s not pretend that anyone but a celebrity would have got this response in the first place:

I think the thing that is made most clear by Farah’s apology, is that anyone can be guilty of saying things that are distasteful on twitter, or any social media platform. And if you think you deserve to be forgiven after apologising for an ill-thought out remark, you can’t be a public advocate for punishing others.

Everyone has the ability to block those who say things to them or about them that they find offensive.

Threats of actual physical violence are the line that should not be crossed and the law already provides for this.

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