the thought gang

an attempted place

Tag: Twitter

On @JohnRashton74

John Rashton is head of the Faculty of Public Health and he had a bad night on twitter, for which he has now apologised:

Rightly so, I think. Although I think that it’s his scaremongering about e-cigs that he should reconsider and apologise for. Being inappropriate on twitter is less than ideal, but scaring people away from a safe alternative to smoking (should they be so inclined as to want one) is not what a Public Health professional should be doing.

Responses to his apology (from vapers, one assumes) were uncharitable. Let’s gloss over those which were every bit as abusive as his own tweets..

More often, it was suggested that he should lose his job over it all..

Politely, that’s bollocks. He should probably be reprimanded over it, but whilst he states his employer in his twitter profile, it’s not an official account. The views expressed are his own. If he thinks someone is a cunt then I defend his right to say so. He should no more lose his job over it than any of the people abusing him back should lose theirs.

No no no. If he should lose his job, it would be over using his position to spread evidence-free rubbish about the dangers of e-cigs. He’s free (professionally or personally) to support their banning in ‘public’ places, because that’s a policy opinion. He’s not free to make up reasons in support of that policy. Making the e-cog debate about the people involved in it is a common approach. It’s unavoidable. The ‘antis’ want to make it all about those in favour of a liberal approach being shills of Big Tobacco, the pro-e-cig crowd want it all about the ‘antis’ being shills of Big Pharma. Motives matter, of course, but mud-slinging does not. Nor does a gleeful celebration of an opponent having a bad night on twitter. That conduct raises questions for his employer, but if someone who goes on the radio to lie about e-cigs is fired for swearing, rather than for his real ‘crimes’, then nobody wins.


If tax must be evaded to avoid poverty, then what’s the tax doing there in the first place?

That Cameron PR stunt thing..

There’s been a twitstorm.

In summary, DCam did a photo-op to show how brilliant ‘help to buy’ is, and a blogger thought it smelled a bit fishy, did a bit of digging through social media, and showed that the whole thing was a bit of a sham as the poor single mother that DCam was parading about with was a married high powered BMW-toting ‘we-are-the-1%’ company director. HA! GOT YOU, DAVE!

Except that nobody was fact-checking the fact-checker.. and it was a load of rubbish. The woman in the article, having already had to put up with David Fucking Cameron coming to her house, then had to deal with a mob abusing her on twitter, her personal details and relationship history going viral, and being called a liar.

It was a bad piece of detective work by the blogger, and even though this has been pointed out by lots of people, and even though some of those who were spreading the muck have issued the due mea culpa’s, the original blogger (who enjoys the anonymity that the target of his piece does not) has not backed down or apologised. The owner/admin of the site isn’t much interested in correcting matters either:


I’ve been in the comments at the original piece, and those of us trying to get some admission of error are just being accused of sock puppetry, and the ‘owner’ is trying to say that the piece was never about the homebuyer anyway, it was about Cameron and ‘help to buy’. I’m not sure why a piece about the Prime Minister and a flagship government policy needs details of when a single mother from Southampton last tweeted about decorating.

It did not take a lot of brain engagement to realise that the blog might not have hit the mark. A huge assumption was made based on the job title of the woman, and anyone who understands how job titles work these days (or, even, read the linkedin profile that the blogger published, which clearly listed her duties, which were clearly not the duties of a ‘director’ in the traditional sense) would have known that she’s probably not the fat-cat that the blogger assumed. From that false foundation, the blogger just went looking for dirt and, crucially, never bothered to ask the woman for comment. Whilst I don’t have any evidence for it, it’s hard not to assume that the blogger would be aghast if the Murdoch media were so cavalier. I wonder how many of the people who retweeted the article actually read it? How many of those engaged any scepticism when doing so?

The blogger probably thinks that he is ‘better’ than those nasty right-wingers who knowingly spread lies and half-truths about single mothers in order to fit their agenda, and who never seem to admit their mistakes, or give due prominence to their corrections. He’s exactly the same.