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Hung, drawn and quartered on the internet


WHY any supporter of President Trump would have ventured into the midst of the demonstrations in Parliament Square is inexplicable, especially since the demonstrators would include an over-representation of the most odious kind of Leftist.

And so there turned out to be. A 30-second video clip posted on the internet showed an elderly Trump supporter being subject to an enraged mob as well as being hit by the Molotov cocktail de nos jours, a McDonald’s milkshake. However the victim and the assault were not the main subject of the clip.

A short woman in her thirties with platinum blonde hair in a pageboy cut was the unintentional subject of this short video. In it she is screaming abuse at the poor man well within his personal space such that he has to fend her off. When he is hit by the milkshake, her face changes from a grimace of pure hate to a radiant smile. The demonstrators then try to push the man to the ground and this woman shoves him in the back.

The video of this incident was initially posted by LBC Twitter feed, where it was retweeted a hundred times. The video was posted on to YouTube and then used in a Spectator USA article, a link to which was tweeted by Andrew Neil. This was retweeted about six hundred times. Then the video was seen by millions.

Ostensibly being about the poor man’s predicament, the woman’s conduct was the most prominent feature. About three hours after the video was posted, her Twitter handle was identified. People made further tweets using other images of the woman from her social media feed. The woman in question must have realised something was wrong when she started receiving tweets from strangers. She first hid her Twitter profile, and then re-emerged, having deleted a tweet which made clear her delight at the victimisation of the Trump supporters using quite vulgar terms. She issued an apology, blaming herself for her actions. However people online did not accept this. They pointed out that she was apologising only because she had been identified.

Her actual name then entered the public domain. People mounted Google searches against the name, and her online information, including her employment, was posted on to Twitter. She deleted all her social media accounts. Someone created a parody Twitter account using her real name and started posting comments reminiscent of the spoof character Titania McGrath. Others started believing this was the actual person rather than a parody, rather like some of the responses to McGrath.

Only LBC and Spectator USA had posted articles, and these had only been online. The video was now used as part of a Sky News package. The 30-second clip was edited down such that the woman’s full part in the man’s misfortune was not seen by the TV audience. But this was to change. There was enough to make an article about this without any further inquiry. Journalists had the visuals, a name, and quotes from the victim and from the woman’s Twitter account, as well as where she worked. Online versions of the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Sun, Metro, Daily Express and Evening Standard all ran stories that just aggregated what was already in the public domain.

This woman will forever be associated with barely fifteen seconds of unpleasant behaviour that was relayed on the Internet. She has the misfortune of having a distinctive name, not Jane Smith or Fred Jones. Any search against her name on Google will find more than 100,000 results. She is the kind of person for whom the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ laws were written. She has perhaps three score years of life ahead of her, but she will be remembered for these few seconds.

She is responsible for her actions, but was part of a baying mob that have been by comparison ignored. Her participation might have provided the cathartic validation and realisation of some of her darkest thoughts into precipitate action. Humans are social creatures and will surrender individuality to the group in some situations with little consideration. Unlike the rest of the mob, she has been forced out of her job after her employer was identified.

The UK has not been without public disruption over the years, and there has been a lot of disgraceful behaviour. However video technology has not previously been present to capture this in detail before. A policeman received a serious head injury during the Grunwick dispute of the 1970s. The pickets were recorded baying for the man to be killed. But no individual was singled out because the BBC took wide-angled shots and did not want to risk their expensive cameras amongst the crowds. Modern replaceable smartphone cameras make things different. For the first time, we can be virtually transported to the heart of the thronging mass. We can now see events in perhaps far too intimate detail.

The internet has become this All-Seeing Eye, assuming an omniscience that was once regarded as the preserve of the divine. However, judgments are passed on controversial images by thousands of mortals, and they are decidedly not divine with their lack of forgiveness.

Trespasses have to be forgiven lest there be never-ending escalating feuds or vendettas. Perhaps in previous ages when death due to violence, disease, infection, poisoning, want, or just plain hazard was prevalent, people were inhibited in their actions as they believed that every day could be their last and that they could receive final judgment thereafter. They atoned and sought forgiveness. Today, most of us will pass after a life prolonged by science when our bodies simply lose their last vestiges of vitality or we tire of living and ask not to be resuscitated. With the unforgiving internet, judgment is instant and permanent. People have yet to adjust to the new omniscience.

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan worked in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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