One of the joys of being in a new place for a writer is having new media to absorb. Whenever I’ve visited London, I enjoy getting newspapers to read on the train. I think that’s where they’re supposed to be read, actually – none of this breakfast table pish.
I’ll always go for the tabloid option, for two reasons: the circulation is invariably bigger than the ‘quality’ newspaper, so it’s interesting to see what the broad population is having served up for them, and second, they have the best headlines.
FACEBOOK TROLL JAILED.
Really? Yes, a 22-year-old has been given a four-month prison sentence for starting up an “offensive” Facebook page. Him and a mate started a page that rated the sexual performance of women:
“David McRory, 22, pleaded guilty in Bendigo Magistrates’ Court yesterday to using a carriage service to offend, and publishing objectionable material online.”
That first charge is an odd one. Sounds like he took a dump on a tram.
But what is objectionable? The article doesn’t go into any detail as to whether these were women that Mr McRory knew, or had had sex with. One presumes there’s some sort of privacy violation here, although it’s hard to be sure:
“The defence counsel said in court that McRory – the Facebook page creator – did not mean to cause long-term harm.
But he was still given a four-month jail term, which the magistrate said would send a strong message to the public about what was acceptable behaviour online.”
This is an extraordinary precedent. Jails the world over would quickly be overflowing if we started putting people away for offensive behaviour on Facebook. How many months for people who share pictures of their crap meals? I say at least five years. Double that for people who share inspirational quotes with a sunset, and nothing short of lethal injection for people who post pictures of abused animals to guilt trip us into doing something about animal abuse.
One of the great things about Facebook is the ability you have to report offensive material, and the speed at which stuff that genuinely crosses the line is removed. The ability one has to block a person, so that you never ever have to see one of their obnoxious snitty sentences again has to be the greatest feature since cup-holders were added to cars. If only it were so simple to block arseholes in real life.
Seriously, I don’t like bullies, and bullying behaviour online can get quite nasty. I’ve written before about the infamous Douchebags of Grindr site, where racists and narcissists get their comeuppance but also those who the site’s editors consider to be simply weird-looking or abnormal. Would the creators of this site be up for a prison term if they happened to live in Bendigo, where David McRory resides?
Law Institute of Victoria spokesman Robert Stary told the paper that although the ruling was rare, it was becoming more common:
“Any parent would see as a result of this case that they have a responsibility to intervene and monitor what is being said online by their child.”
When I think of what I went through at school at the hands of bullies, and the far worse treatment dished out to people like James Hope who featured in my documentary Men Like Us, this makes me shake my head in dismay.
Four months for being a knuckle-dragging lout online – what’s the sentence for those who bully in real life?
As usual, it’s handed down to the victim.