Unfortunately, for Verdi, Aquila, Snook, Plebgate, Bluebag, Aiyoyo, Tigger and the rest of the anonymous cesspit hardcore, they have no back stories. Are they male/female, old, young, parents, grandparents? Who are they? Why have they been discussing the minutiae of the Madeleine case for 8 years?
One of the joys of the internet and chatting with strangers online is that it gives every single one of us the joy of being whoever we want to be. We can invent alter egos from any socio economic or educational background we want, even if they are just better and more successful versions of ourselves. We can figuratively stand on an orange box at Hyde Park Corner and tell the world where it is going wrong, without fear of anyone pointing and laughing, or worse, talking behind our backs, because in our imaginary worlds, we always win.
I have no problem with people creating alter egos, in fact, I would encourage it. The real world can be shit at times. This is one of the rare occasions when depressive, struggling writers are at an advantage, we can wander off for a while with our fictional characters. With the internet, anyone can be anyone and it would be wrong to say there is no fun side to it. I used to belong to a forum where, on the rare occasion when hostilities ceased, we would hold a 'masked' ball and attend as any character we wanted, past or present - the results were hilarious. The insults continued, but they were much more witty, nearer to the knuckle and absolutely hilarious. When you are wearing a mask you can say anything you want.
Sadly, many use the mask of anonymity for anything but fun. They use the mask to unleash their crueller, darker natures. They believe that if they make someone else feel bad, they will somehow, magically, feel better. They feed off the pain of others. They cannot tell their boss she is a cunning, manipulative bitch, but they can use those words against a stranger online - and if they are part of a group of similarly minded malcontents, they will be applauded and encouraged to say it again. Birds of a feather flock together - like the vultures from Jungle Book.
Unfortunately, among the 'antis' there are sinister characters desperate, to hide their identities, why? Are they ashamed of what they do? Do they have ulterior motives? If they believe they are right, and they do, why not state their arguments using their real names? They are not just writing the occasional letter to a newspaper or blog, they are part of a sustained 8 year campaign 'for justice'? If they believe that what they are doing is right, why are they ashamed of it? I have no doubt whatsoever that the parents are involved, ergo my conscience is clear.
During the time they have been holed up in the cesspit, dozens of facebook groups have opened with thousands of people openly criticizing the McCanns in their own names and surviving. Fear of Team McCann is no longer a factor. They don't want to be harassed. That could be fair enough, if they were posting without harassing others. But they are not. They are selecting named targets and tearing them to shreds, all the while protecting themselves with anonymity.
Whilst I respect that many people have genuine reasons for remaining anonymous when commenting on this case (it can seriously affect your life), I have no respect for those cowards who use anonymity to hurl abuse at others. Does their thuggish behaviour cross over into the real world? If it does then they are completely devoid of any social graces whatsoever - or in words they can understand: 'you couldn't take them anywhere'. As 'bad' as my parents were (I thought they were great!), They oozed charm and good manners, even when my mother told someone to fuck orf, she did it politely.
I know acknowledging their weird behaviour sets my own band of stalkers off into a frenzy, but what the heck, all's quiet on the western front. Strangely, I have seem to have gathered more obsessive anonymous stalkers than most. I even have entire blogs devoted to me! Scarily, I can only see what they write publicly, I shudder to think what they say in their members only bits.
Happily, beyond thinking they are weird (and hoping SY are keeping a close eye), they bother me not. They have actually given me another area of interest to study. Adding to my 'expert' portfolio, lol, I now know everything there is to know about trolling and psychotic group behaviour. I honestly don't care who these people are, other than natural curiosity. I only have control over the way in which I react to their behaviour, sometimes it bothers me, mostly it doesn't, but as far as I am concerned, the police have better things to do.
I am intrigued as to what their goals are? I try not to discourage unrealistic goals, but if they hope to have me 'removed from the net', they are going to have as much luck as Sisyphus. I am not abusive. I don't write anything libellous - I'm a wordsmith and a former legal secretary who spent over a year working in the pedantic, semantic 'kill me now' Reinsurance Division. It's the reason I am still here and others are not. No letters from Carter Ruck.
Anonymity can be used for good or for bad. Fortunately, most people use it for good. And in this crazed brave, capitalist new world, simply commenting on, or liking a Facebook page can see your inbox and social network sites flooded with adverts designed specifically to your own individual lifestyle. In my case, Fat, Fifty and funeral plans. We, as much as the vast network we log into are commodities, our names being traded for undisclosed sums. Life is now a numbers game.
Rather than wear a tin foil hat forever more, I personally have decided to live with it because I refuse to live in fear. And realistically, fear is the only other option. I'm not going to type with sun glasses and gloves on or dress like Secret Squirrel to avoid the CCTV cameras when I go out to buy a loaf of bread - freedom for me means living as I choose, not the way someone else chooses for me. I can think of nothing worse than living in fear of what other people think. It is a tragedy that so many people allow that fear to crush their dreams. They give up, even though they don't have to. I once attended a student awards ceremony, where one of the recipients was a 90 year old lady who received her BA(Hons) Degree - her's was the longest standing ovation of the evening!
Many people reach the level that they have set for themselves and stay there. Especially if it gives them the comfortable and contented lifestyle they want. Sadly for them, to achieve one goal, they have had to abandon others. For example, the wife and kids wouldn't be too impressed if hubby wanted to wear a Princess ballgown and a tiara to the kids' school parents evening or mum wanted to go find herself in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas for 6 months.
For most of us, our lives and dreams are restricted by our responsibility to others. And that is as it should be. It makes us human and we wouldn't have it any other way. We should care for each other. But equally, we shouldn't supress our own dreams and desires. I think the idea that once you have kids, you should shelve all your own hopes and ambitions is absurd. Some unenlightened folk, usually young working class parents, believe their lives are over, everything must now be sacrificed for the kids. Some are still in their teens and twenties!
Whilst some might see sacrifice as noble, it actually builds up years and years of resentment, as in 'do you know how much I sacrificed for you'. It is the constant chant of the needy middle aged who wonder why the kids never visit. Being a mum is fun, being a single mum, though challenging, is also fun, I'm going to do a blog or book about it sometime. Kids are adaptable little souls, up to the age of 14, they will happily go along with anything, they just love being with you. Let's go see the new exhibit at the Tate is usually met with an okey dokey and a beaming smile especially if accompanied by bribery and corruption. When they get better at the B&C than you, then its terrifying funfair rides forever more. They can always think of brilliant reasons for why it is a good idea to be propelled upside down through the air at a hundred miles an hour. Kids will accept you have dreams, especially if you encourage them to have dreams too.
People who gave up on their dreams get an air of negativity about them, that makes them unpleasant company, laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone, or if you are lucky you can find a forum of like minded folk where they are similarly weeping buckets, and stay there for the next decade.
But I digress, the tone of forums such as CMoMM, Stop the Myths and JATKY2 is bitter and resentful. Angry, that people like me with such appalling writing skills and such a degenerate, libertarian attitude to life, should get the audience that they crave. They want recognition for all their painstaking hard work and strong (anonymous) moral fibre. They want the on stage applause but they are scared to step out from behind the curtains. This anonymity somehow makes their commentary more credible and mine more likely to be shit because they don't seek fame for themselves. How noble. Lol.
People shouldn't listen to a drug addled wino like me, lol, they should listen to fine upstanding sober citizens (subjects) like them. Why don't they? jeez, that is a mystery! They fail to understand why not many MS journalists are cuing (sic) up to be locked in the town square stocks for the village eejits to throw rotten veg. The inhabitants of the cesspit are in fact giving the McCanns far more protection than the police or even special forces could, they have driven all the sane people away. Most of the evidence for any potential defence will probably come from them.
Part of the McCanns media strategy has been to keep the 'Hate' going. Their trolls (anonymous supporters) have been goading the 'antis' for 8+ years. Occasionally, they have got the much desired sensational pitchfork front pages they desired. Who remembers the Facebook 'bang bang' incident? Who remembers the unattractive pictures of the leading members of the Madeleine Foundation? In order for the McCanns to be victims, they have to have enemies. They cannot justify their protection if they cannot prove they have been threatened, and as we saw in latest round of the libel action, they had no actual threats against themselves or their children to back up their damages claim.
I think one of the reasons, many choose to remain anonymous when commenting on this case, is because, and there is no getting away from it, it is a peculiar hobby. We struggle to explain what it is about it that keeps us gripped. For myself, I haven't watched Coronation Street or Eastenders for 8 years! That is a lie, I have never been able to watch CS or E. As I have said many times, I think it is because this case has all the main ingredients of a live, supercharged, soap opera, it is an escape from our own miserable lives. While our minds are trying to figure out the pieces of the puzzle, we can switch off reality for a while.
And there is nothing wrong with what we are doing. Man (and woman) was made to think! And we need to exercise our brains as much as we need to exercise our bodies. Our survival depends on being able to distinguish between right and wrong. If wrong gets the lead we go headlong into an apocalypse. Most of know this instinctively, an injustice to one person is an injustice to everyone.
Most who criticise the injustice done to Madeleine are decent, regular people. The kind of people who would normally nod and say 'Oh well', but there is something about this case that sticks in their craw. It could be the obvious class differences, the way in which Kate and Gerry have been treated in comparison to Karen Matthews for example It could be the horror that a small vulnerable child could be made to disappear, no questions asked. It could also be the realisation that our politicians and newspapers have actually been lying to us for years. Who knows, it is probably all of these reasons and more, for most I suspect it is an objection to the appalling abuse of power that we have seen in this case. It is an affront to our sense of decency and fair play.
The British have a well deserved reputation for being one of the least barbaric countries in the world. They set the benchmark for democracy and justice. It is the reason so many refugees want to come here. The British Bulldog will not tolerate racism or dictatorship or fascism. It will fight them on the beaches and it will never surrender. I once saw a documentary about horrifically injured pilots from WWII, despite their injuries, their amazing characters shone through. One old boy, the treasurer because he had no legs, recalled his flights in a Spitfire defending the British coastline. In a loud plummy voice, he repeated 'the cheek of it, the dashed cheek of it'. Most who are drawn to this case are just normal, decent people who, like Edmund Burke, are not willing to stand by and do nothing while evil succeeds.
Sadly, some are here because they have a guttural desire to see the parents punished. They are the ones with the obligatory missing teeth and knitting at the ready for their front row seats. They get their jollies watching people suffer and they have existed since time began. As much fun as it might be to lop off all their heads, it won't really solve the problem because the next generation of malcontents will be waiting in the wings to take over.
Anonymous internet trolls are unpleasant, but they are the proverbial sticks and stones and they are a small price to pay for access to the wonders of the world wide web. Sadly, vile people are all part and parcel of life. We encounter them everywhere. But just as you can't 'ban' the bitch you share an office with, you can't 'ban' people from the internet.
For me the priority is Freedom of Speech. I am no friend of Bennett and his cronies, or Tigerloaf and his but I have no desire to silence them or what they say. He is as entitled to his opinion as I am. If I am offended I will challenge it, but most of the time I can't arsed. As far as I am concerned, karma can deal with the lot of them, they have to live with themselves. Trolling is just one aspect of this case, but as time goes by sadly, it will become more important. Not just to this case but to those who want the power to arrest perceived dissidents and seize their computers. If the Brenda Leyland 'troll stunt' had succeeded, it would have severely restricted discussion of the McCann case online and it would have paved the way for new 'trolling' laws to police the lawless internet. Brenda knowingly, or unknowingly, completely scuppered their plans.
The way in which people at the top of our society have used this case to bring in press restrictions that will hide crime under privacy laws drives many of us on. They do not want to protect the innocent, they want to protect the guilty and they want to do this by silencing the opposition. Sadly for them, if they try to silence me (or anyone) legally they will stir up the sleeping tiger that is the Freedom of Speech lobby. As bad as the tories are, they have little appetite for the type of censorship the pros and some of the antis demand because they have nothing to gain from it and a barrel load of unnecessary problems. It was ministers from the Brown labour government who supported Hacked Off's demands to curtail the freedom of the press. The McCann case and rooting out and imprisoning renegade news hounds has gone hand in hand with demands for new privacy laws. They are insulting our intelligence if they think we didn't notice.