Twitter comes to the fore again. This time, two individuals have taken it upon themselves to submit abusive tweets focusing on Mark Halsey.
Now a couple of years ago Halsey had treatment for lymphoma and had a tumour excised from his throat. One would imagine that he is recovered now, although I obviously don’t have access to his medical records.
Halsey is a referee in the English football Premier League and he was the man in the middle for Sunday’s match between Liverpool and Manchester United, always a combustible fixture.
Liverpool lost the fixture, and as is often the case the blame for their defeat does not lie in the fact that they failed to score more goals than the opposition. They were obviously not beaten by the better team (on many occasions I will accept this, it is one of the best things about the sport that the underdog can conduct a ‘smash and grab’, the best team does not always win), the defeat is not attributable to the sitter that the centre forward missed, nor the goalkeeper’s poor positioning at a corner, or unwarranted eagerness to come rushing out for a one-on-one, the defeat is not the fault of the foul committed or slip suffered by the centre back. No, for the unthinking tribal moron of the football supporter they were robbed by a referee who is either incompetent, biased or corrupt. That’s a much more likely explanation for the defeat, isn’t it?
Many Libertarians dismiss football with the old bread and circuses line, but all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy. Yes, football and sport in general is a distraction, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing, and it is very important to many people. Feelings run high.
So when the game finished, two people sent tweets to Halsey that read ‘I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies’ and ‘Mark Halsey should’ve died of cancer’. These people are clearly cretinous idiots who are unable to accept the result of a sporting contest that seems very important during the ninety minutes, but really doesn’t matter.
Halsey has gone to the police.
Look, right or wrong you know when you sign up as a referee that you will be subject to the scorn of the crowd for your performance and mistakes, whether perceived or real. You know that as soon as you get on the elite list that the crowd will number in the tens of thousands. I didn’t see the match, but I’m betting that over the course of the game you did some things that attracted the ire of every single person sitting in that stadium, you’d have had 45,000 people calling you every name under the sun, and then after the game you go to the police because two people said offensive things on twitter?
Yes, they weren’t very nice things to say, yes they were offensive. And? Are these comments going to make Halsey’s cancer come back? No? I mean what if the cancer actually did return? Would the specialist be sat there saying ‘Sorry Mr. Halsey, your cancer has returned because two fuckwits mentioned it on twitter’?
Is this really a matter for the police and courts? It’s not just this, there’s the Tom Daly affair, the whole Fabrice Muamba thing. Stupid comments made by stupid people. Well, I’m sorry but this world is full of stupid people making stupid comments, not all of them on twitter, indeed most of them not on twitter. Are we to complain to the police about them as well? Just go and read Inspector Gadget and see how much time the police spend chasing about because some lackwit said something about some other lackwit on Facebook. Ask yourself if it is a reasonable use of police time, because if one complaint is entertained, then every complaint must be entertained.
The whole thing about it being on twitter is a red herring. There’s the old line that people will say things on twitter that they wouldn’t say elsewhere. Well, yes. And? People act in different fashions in different environments. If the referee takes a tumble in football, people will point, laugh and give a big cheer, probably followed with the chant ‘SHE fell over! SHE fell over!’ If you were in the office and your boss fell over, you’d probably go and check that they were OK. Standing on your chair, laughing and chanting probably wouldn’t be well received in the office. Likewise, at the stadium if the ref goes arse over tit, try walking onto the pitch to check if he’s all right and see what reception you get from the guys in hi-viz jackets.
Nasty people say nasty things, they always have and always will. You can’t change that. If we have freedom of expression, then there must be the freedom to cause offence. Mainly because offence is completely subjective. If I were Halsey I’d have dismissed the tweeters as idiots and forgotten about it, there’s no harm done, they’re just morons. It doesn’t matter. If they had incited people to harm, injure or kill him then that becomes a different issue.
By running to teacher you’ve given these playground bullies the oxygen of attention.
No doubt further calls will be made to ban twitter. Because that’s a great idea. Honestly, when did we become so pathetic?
I refer you once again to the magnificent Steve Hughes: