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Olympic 'Races' of the Wrong Kind

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Well, more sexes than races really, but the headline caught-your-eye... without further ado, it borders on a national disgrace that, in a week in which Britain should be basking in the glory of the Olympics and marvelling at our islands' contribution to the social and cultural development of the World - as painted by Danny Boyle in his dream-scape at the Opening Ceremony, Mitt Romney please note - one of our female Olympians is being hounded and harassed by internet trolls simply because she's a 'woman weightlifter' - and sadly in some quarters, one suspects, because she's of 'mixed origin'.

I'm very glad to say that the delightfully pretty Zoe Smith stood-up for herself admirably and responded to her tormentors with both wit and dignity. But - again sadly - her case is just one of thousands and represents an ever-growing trend of vicious abuse by gangs of largely male 'trolls' targeted at individual women in what, in some cases, is almost a form of gratuitous, on-line gang-rape... highlighting this disturbing development - that seems to have no boundaries, with pop stars, actresses, athletes, writers and house-wives all among its many victims - is the case of Anita Sarkeesian in the US... this blogger simply expressed her views about the equally valid issue of misogyny in on-line video games and was immediately faced with a torrent of male abuse, that culminated in one troll creating a 'game' that consisted of pummelling Ms. Sarkeesian's face and giving her virtual black-eyes and bruises etc.

Back in the UK, Nicola Brookes - a single mother with a physically debilitating medical condition - was targeted and brutally attacked by gangs of trolls on Facebook, very bravely she took-on these faceless cowards, winning a landmark victory in the High Court and compelling Facebook to hand-over all of their data on the individuals concerned - who now face what's left of Summer waiting for that-knock-on-the-door from Ms. Brookes' litigators and the Police.

It won't come as any surprise to learn that we've had to deal with such cases ourselves and one particular client, a female BBC news-reader (see any patterns emerging?!) having been subjected to months of appalling abuse, before the alarm was raised and we sent the culprit packing in less than 24 hours. Not everyone is so fortunate, however and not everyone knows who to turn to in such circumstances... in fact they ought to simply be able to turn to Facebook or Twitter or Google or whichever other 'social' media site is the source of their misery - but, as we've seen all-too-often, corporations such as Facebook seem to be far more concerned about the issue-price of their shares than they are about the safety of their members, who are the ones that actually enabled Facebook to engage in their multi-billion-dollar flotation farrago in the first place... maybe one day, when people start deserting the site in droves and it starts to affect their bottom-line, they'll finally deploy some of those billions towards pro-actively and professionally policing their own web-site and protecting their own members against the industrial-scale disregard for Facebooks' grandly titled but poorly enforced 'Statement of Rights and Responsibilities'.

With 37 year-old Marissa Mayer recently named as the CEO of Yahoo (she's pregnant too - so Congrats on both counts), here's hoping that Yahoo will now lead-the-way in taking a tougher stance against this seemingly unbridled misogyny and sexism, that is currently in danger of taking sexual equality and women's rights back to the Dark Ages.

In other internet news, a man who tweeted about blowing-up Robin Hood Airport as a 'joke' has had his conviction overturned on appeal while, in the US, a tweeter who uses a photo of George Clooney as his profile image is being sued for allegedly hacking into the servers of a national newspaper group - oh and the latest video to go viral consists of a Chinese singer performing a Justin Bieber song whilst sitting atop a rather disinterested looking cow, which eventually manages to buck him off (the beast-of-burden clearly having better musical taste than its owner).

On a more positive note, the Olympic Organising Committee decided to change its previous and rather mean-spirited policy by now allowing spectators to post-up images from events and stadiums on-line and, even more amazingly, 120,000 people somehow managed to watch BOTH rehearsals for the Opening Ceremony WITHOUT ruining it for everyone else by posting photos and tweets etc... will we ever see such mass selflessness again - true to the ideals of the original, Olympian Spirit no less - in this digital age? I doubt it, but here's hoping.

On the topic of 'race' issues, it's good to note that some witless Greek athlete was slung-out of the games for tweeting overtly racist remarks. Although, on the subject of race - and as recently mentioned by Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times - I'm not-too-sure what it says about our 'race relations' these days, when the only word said to have caused offence in John Terry's alleged slur of "f*cking black c*nt", is the only word not to consist of an expletive!

Comedian Nathan Caton's relaxed quip that anyone working on a daily basis with Ashley Cole would soon become accustomed to using the expression, perhaps better contextualises the true progress that has been made over the past two decades (particularly as his family hail from the Caribbean). I remember attending a Chelsea versus QPR match back in the 80s with a Nigerian school-friend of mine and the mass taunting of QPR's black players - who were among the vanguard of talented, British players of Caribbean and African origin in England's old First Division - was both vile and terrifying for him...we have indeed come-a-long-way - with or without Twitter and Rio Ferdinand's 'choc-ice' tweets.

With regard to the Opening Ceremony - brilliant though it was with everything from Mr. Bond to Mr. Bean - you can never please all of the people all of the time and, from a purely personal perspective, I just wish that minor British-Achievements such as the telephone, the computer, the television and the jet engine had been celebrated, although I was fabulous to see Sir Tim Berners-Lee honoured as one of those who has put the Great back into Britain.

As a demonstration of British achievements, a fly-past by Concorde would have been nice, although that might have offended the French (whose most notable contribution to the joint-protect seems to have been adding the 'e' onto the end of the word Concord). A Battle of Britain fly-past perhaps? Might offend our German allies.

Okay, well how about a 1960s Vickers 'Super VC-10', resplendent in it's British Overseas Airways Corporation livery and still-to-this-day the record holder for sub-sonic, trans-atlantic journey times ?? ... .. but this might offend Mr. Romney of course (being faster than a Boeing and all)... so that's settled then, a VC-10 it is and with Boris 'Dulux' Johnson at the controls !!