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Tweeting While Rome Burns

Posted: 13/08/11 15:18

It wasn't so much Nero that was the problem this week - although the Police could certainly be accused of fiddling while 'Rome' burned - but, instead, mindless groups of opportunistic criminals (sorry - disaffected youth), who were tweeting where and what their next 'torching' targets were. This, in turn, inspired Call-Me-Dave Cameron to come-up with the bright idea of Britain unilaterally suspending social media such as Twitter and Facebook during times of civil unrest. I say "unilaterally" but, of course, our friends in Syria, Iran and China are thinking very much along the same lines.

Cue Call-Me-Dave and his erstwhile friend Boris, flying back into Blighty from Italy and Vancouver respectively for their post-riot photo-opportunities. The case of our Mayor is particularly enlightening ... .. chauffeured from Heathrow directly down to Clapham to meet a baying mob (sorry - the broom army) brandishing more dustpans than Sooty could shake-a-stick at, the jet-lagged Mayor greeted the crowd sans broom - sacre bleu !! Sensing the less-than-ecstatic welcome, a minion from his entourage quickly thrust the domestic implement into the Dulux Dog's paw and, hey-presto, the photo-opportunity was complete. Sadly and instead of rolling-up his sleeves and getting stuck-in to some good ol' road sweeping, Boris then briefly addressed the assembled media and marched-off back to his limo. Cameron was much the same in Birmingham. What is wrong with these people ?! Where is their Blitz Spirit ?! It would have been so simple for them both to capture the zeitgeist by sweeping the streets with those they claim to represent for a mere half-hour. And, if asked by an errant journalist whether this was a waste of the Prime Minister's time, he should have issued a defiant "No" and added that there was nowhere he'd rather be than mucking-in with the people and sharing their desire to reclaim the streets for ordinary citizens. Unfortunately, however, the one thing that Dave and Dulux have in common is their Eton background, which means that - going all the way back to their sixth form days when they both had 'fags' - neither the Prime Minister nor the Mayor of London are likely to be familiar with the concept of 'domestic' chores.

No, if it's a shining example of civic leadership that you want, then you have to go to Winson Green in Birmingham and seek-out Tariq Jahan - father of Haroon, one of three men mercilessly mowed-down by a hit-and-run rioter as they tried to protect their local community. Jahan has displayed courage, humility and dignity worthy of Gandhi or Mandela in calling for peace and in urging the crowds not to seek vengeance. This man is the true hero-in-our-midst and he puts Dave and Dulux to shame as he sets an example for the whole nation to follow, whilst still trying to deal with the grief of losing his son in such tragic and violent circumstances. This brave man should be given an OBE for his contribution to multi-racial solidarity - if it's good enough for a Lollipop Lady then it's certainly good enough for him - and, in fact and after a suitable period of mourning, the Tories should offer him the opportunity to run as their candidate for Major of Birmingham (if they know what's good for them). Although, with typical humility, I'm sure he'd decline to remain in the bosom of his family.

Back on the subject of censoring or even suspending social media, this would actually be virtually impossible to achieve as, if you close-down one avenue for sharing information, thousands more are still available and you'd end-up having to shut-down the entire internet - and not even China can do that. And, as we've seen with Twitter groups such as #RiotCleanUp, tweeting can work both ways in times of social unrest. No, the simplest way to restrict the use of Twitter - and other, social media tools - by rioters is for Twitter to make account registration far more rigorous and for them to then provide the Police with ready access to tweets, so that the evidence would be there for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Meanwhile, I've just seen this water-cannon on eBay ... .. .

 

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