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Inciting An Online Hate Campaign Does Not Make You ‘Relevant’

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Friday, July 22nd, 2016
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Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan in the reboot of Ghostbusters. Photograph: CTMG
Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan in the reboot of Ghostbusters.
Photograph: CTMG

A grimacing emoji face to Leslie Jones, one of the stars of the new Ghostbusters, who is probably spending this weekend recalling a happier era when Hollywood stars were protected behind electric gates and their only view of the great unwashed was through the tinted windows of their Cadillac Escalade. This week, Jones encountered what are referred to in the media as “trolls” and what more weary souls now merely refer to as “Twitter”.

Encouraged by one of the many attention-seeking tragics who fill Twitter’s bandwidth, the hordes pilloried Jones this week with racist and sexist abuse and physical threats. The self-same idiot responsible for this, who I shall refer to hereon as Mr Loser, then shared with his followers fake tweets mocked up to look like they were from Jones using homophobic slurs, and his loyal retinue renewed their attacks on her. Jones eventually left Twitter, fed up with seeing photos of her face Photoshopped to look as if it was covered in semen every time she picked up her phone, and, after Jones complained, Mr Loser has been banned from Twitter. Given that he once went to the White House – literally, the White House – to complain that Twitter took away his verifying blue tick, we can only assume he will now launch an inquiry into this latest development that will make Chilcot look like a mere work experience kid.

Sensing a rotten carcass of an issue, the vultures soon arrived. Louise Mensch, a former MP, took a break from calling a man whose child was having an operation a “scumbag” and “loathsome tit”, desperately gripped on to Mr Loser’s coattails and demanded that Congress “look at” this vital issue of someone not being able to log into their social media account. Poor Mensch, it must be so hard for her stuck in boring New York City when all she cares about is how many mentions she gets on Twitter. One day we will look in more detail at this strange new demographic of adults who confuse “becoming online hate figures” with “staying relevant”. Another time.

For now, we’ll stick with the popular confusion between “constitutional rights” and “inciting harassment”. Jones has been accused of infringing Mr Loser’s freedom of speech, which I guess is true, if you believe a woman telling a bus driver that a fellow passenger is shouting abuse at her is a denial of free speech. “Why didn’t she just get off the internet?” sneered people who presumably would tell someone who was just mugged they should get off the street.

For now, Jones is taking an understandable break from social media. Those who tweeted pictures of apes at her, meanwhile, are getting hard-ons that a celebrity noticed them and people such as Mr Loser continue to try to get a hundredth of her fame by being talentless asshats. To paraphrase Norma Desmond, the celebrities might not seem so big any more, but the public is looking pretty small.

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