The Trolling Sun And Bullying Ulrika Johnson Call Stan Collymore A ‘Vile Hypocrite’ Over Twitter Abuse – Oh, The Irony
THE Sun’s columnist Ulrika Johnson was once punched in the face by her then lover Stan Collymore. The footballer-turned radio DJ has been complaining of being abused and threatened by his fellow tweeters. He invited all tweeters – and his half a million followers – to tell the police about any abuse by anyone with a Twitter “hate profile”.
Collymore wanted the State to clamp down on internet offensiveness.
“In the last 24 hours I’ve been threatened with murder several times, demeaned on my race, and many of these accounts are still active. Why? I accuse Twitter directly of not doing enough to combat racist/homophobic /sexist hate messages, all of which are illegal in the UK.”
He’s now deleted his account.
At which point, we turn to Steven Berkoff:
“There’s a lot of talk about people being abused on Twitter, women being savagely insulted and degraded. I think, why get into that in the first place? If I jump into a garbage bin, I can’t complain that I’ve got rubbish all over me.”
His approach is not to become a police nark but to expect a certain amount of abuse and then ignore it.
Emma Barnett disagrees:
For a whole generation, of which I am very much a part, we don’t believe that our actions online matter. We think it’s fiction. Slowly it’s changing. But typing something you wouldn’t say out loud to someone under your name on the internet is real.
Isabella Sorely has been in court for sending abusive tweets to Criado-Perez. She told her 75 followers:
“You’re in the public eye, you’re on Twitter then you should expect some sort of abuse. People take it all the time, why are you different?!”
In recent days, three Spurs fans have been arrested for calling themselves Yids. We wrote about the nonsense of that here. When the State turns what you say into a matter of right and wrong, your thoughts are being policed. Get a load of this advert on the London Underground:
As Brendan O’Neill puts it:
Nope, I don’t judge them any differently – they’re both pigs.
What you think is now a police matter.
Stanley Cohen wrote about this sort of thing in his 1972 book, Folk Devils and Moral Panics. “Cohen said that once a folk devil has been fingered as a source of social and moral rot, it isn’t long before the experts are out in force to pontificate about this new deviant sickness at the heart of society and to suggest some social remedies for it, normally some variant of the ‘control culture’, as Cohen called it. ‘Socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions’, he said. And then, he said, the ‘moral barricades’ – that is, the allegedly flimsy barrier between these devilish deviants and the decent society they long to pollute – come to be ‘manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people’.”
So. To Collymore, who has been on the receiving end of racist abuse.
We hear from sometime Sun columnist Ulrika:
STAN Collymore has been branded a “vile hypocrite” by ex Ulrika Jonsson for his campaign against Twitter trolls. The former England ace, 43, beat up the TV beauty in 1998 — but has complained about online death threats and abuse.
Ulrika, 46 — who was kicked in the head — said: “If he’s so against death threats, why did he say he’d ‘f****** kill’ me? It’s a disgrace.”
Maybe he knows that was wrong. Maybe he’s changed for the better? Maybe two wrongs so not make a right? Maybe the Sun doesn’t like Collymore, the player whose dogging it exposed. Maybe the Sun is the troll?
“It must be horrendous to be vilified for your beliefs, your colour or your sexuality. In no way do I agree with trolling or abuse on Twitter. The people that do it are pathetic cowards. But Stan is too. He is actually one of the people he’s criticising… If Stan is so against death threats, why was he so insistent on making many death threats against me? In a public place, Stan shoved my face to his and said at least twice he would ‘f****** kill’ me. But now he’s the poster boy against threats online. No one should give this man a platform to claim he is a victim. With his history of violence, it’s beyond ironic.”
She then adds:
“In no way am I trying to belittle the message he is putting across.”
Which is why you’re calling him a “hypocrite” and “poster boy”? Is this akin to the “bullying” Ulrika hates, raking over a man’s life on the front-page of the country’s biggest-selling tabloid?
She then raises the bar:
“I don’t condone … those idiots who’ve threatened Stan’s life.”
Not wanting an innocent man dead is some way to show off your good moral credentials.
“What I do take the greatest objection to is Stan — in the guise as a man of the people — taking on this campaign without the briefest reflection on his own behaviour. Everyone deserves a second chance but I’ve lost count of the chances Stan has had. He still proves himself to be a callous bully.”
How does he still prove himself to be a bully? In her front-page screamer about “VILE” Stan, she doesn’t say.
Collymore went for Jonsson at a Paris bar during the 1998 World Cup finals in France. She relives the moment:
“It makes my blood run cold to think what would have happened if they had not stopped him. When I went back to our hotel room I found he had cut up every item of my clothing. He even cut the wire on my hair curlers and ripped open my make-up bag. Those were the actions of a malicious bully.”
The Sun then cites Collymore’s former lover Lotta Farley, who said in 1998 how she spent four years “living in fear” of him. We learn:
In 2007 he divorced wife Estelle Williams and was held over claims he threatened to burn down her parents’ house. The charges were dropped.
Unproven allegations are front-page news when you’re trolling – sorry – reporting on Stan Collymore.
But the Sun is getting away from the bigger story. It’s about so-called internet trolling.
When Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said, “The time has come for an informed debate about the boundaries of free speech in an age of social media”, we shuddered. You can’t limit freedom. You can’t ban words. You can try. But you mustn’t. What you do is make the idiots explain themselves in an open debate.
Collymore was right to complain and spot on when he retweeted the abuse to his masses of followers. The idiots can debate with the welter of tweeters heading their way.
India Knight understands:
…the sanest thing to do is just to let it be. Let the trolls troll on. So they’re full of bile and sexually unfulfilled: as punishments go, it’s not a bad one.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold social media providers to account and ask them to moderate their pages to stop death threats getting through. Beyond that, though, the internet is self-policing: it has its own troll bins, it understands the power of ridicule, and its wrath is swift and mighty.
Online, as in the real world, we’re all free to say what we like, no matter how stupid or offensive. That’s a beautiful thing, and we should not lose it over ugliness. I look forward to reading Starmer’s guidelines, but I would respectfully point out that free speech has no “boundaries”. That’s kind of the point of it.
People say things that garner applause and laurel wreaths, and other things that evoke disgust and condemnation. They’re all part of free speech. You can’t start carving bits away, online or elsewhere.
Why not try beating the idiot with humour? Like James Blunt – “When you reply with humour, they realise you’re human and become more human themselves” – Deborah Ross prefers to mock the online assassins. She offers tips to trollers, such as:
You must, at all times, ensure your spelling is apauling, unspeekable, a traversty.
You must know 23 words for “gay” and 47 for “feminist”.
You must alleviate your sexual frustration by calling all women “slagz” and “horz” and offering to “do” them as a favour because they are so obviously gagging for it.
You must pluralise everything with a “z”.
You must feel excluded from the worldwide Jewish conspiracy and all those Jewz, huddled in corners and busy plotting for global domination, which is due to start next Wednesday, 4pm-ish, just after Countdown.
You must commit yourself to reading every single word written by any journalist/blogger you cannot stand. (Actively seek out this work if necessary.)
You must never recognise you have serious mental health and social isolation issues, even though you’d be doing yourself and everyone else a massive favour because hate met by hate only increases the amount of hate in the world.
So. Trolls are just people. Some of them might be tabloid journalists…