Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Might Claire Perry versus Guido Fawkes be a bit of a mismatch?

I don't know much about the Conservative MP for Devizes, whose campaign against the easy accessibility of internet porn has brought her to the attention of internet freedom campaigners and civil liberties activists - amongst others. However, there is more than a hint that she doesn't really 'get' the internet from her comments thus far.

That's fair enough, I suppose. After all, I have an awareness of the value of the technology but, if you asked me to explain how it works, I'd be fairly clueless. I like to think of it as witchcraft that doesn't require burning at the stake.

But her latest sally, against Guido Fawkes, appears to be a foolish and wholly unnecessary one. It does trouble me that she doesn't appear to understand that making unsubstantiated accusations about named individuals, even if they are the Guido Fawkes collective, is a rather dangerous game. I particularly dislike the threat to talk to the Editor of the national newspaper for which Paul Staines writes a column.

Now, I'd be one of the first to note that Paul and his minions have done plenty to coarsen political discourse in this country, assisted undoubtedly by some of those who hold public office, but it's still a fair way from there to criminality, especially without evidence.

I do have to admire Guido's response though, albeit in a 'from behind the sofa' kind of way. Holding a public poll to determine whether or not to sue her for libel is certainly entertaining, whilst giving her plenty of opportunity to withdraw her comments and apologise, should she deem it wise to do so - and it's the course of action that I'd recommend, frankly.

There is, of course, a degree of irony here, in that it is virtually impossible to hold the Guido Fawkes collective accountable for any libel they might commit, due to their entirely legal corporate status. So, before engaging our learned friends, Paul, Harry and Alex might wish to consider whether or not a level playing field is appropriate.

Just a thought, gentlemen...

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