If anybody has a stockpile of common sense that they could afford to share, please could they distribute some to both sides of this twitter dispute.
A Tory councillor has been arrested and questioned following a comment on Twitter “calling” for the stoning of newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
Gareth Compton, 38, a conservative councillor from Erdington, Birmingham, was questioned by police for “sending an offensive or indecent message” contrary to the Communications Act of 2003, The Independent reports. He was released on police bail on Wednesday night.
Compton defended his remarks as an arguably misguided attempt at humour. “I did not ‘call’ for the stoning of anybody,” he said via his @garethfcompton Twitter account.
“I made an ill-conceived attempt at humour in response to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown saying on Radio 5 Live this morning, that no politician had the right to comment on human rights abuses, even the stoning of women in Iran..”
In the cold light of day, it’s a stupid comment. It’s just very very silly. But in context, it’s a condensed take on a valid criticism of the original speaker: how would she like it if she was to be stoned to death and nobody spoke out in her defence?
This is one of my main problems with twitter, it’s far too easily taken out of context. A blog post, or a newspaper article, or even a comment on a message board is surrounded by the context. Most really quotable bits are sandwiched in between the explanation paragraphs. But twitter doesn’t show things like that, especially in the publicly viewable bit, and the culture of it tends to be referencing real-world events much quicker than other media does.
So comments like this stick out like a sore thumb, and appear on the dashboards of other people without any context. And then people get angry.
So the common sense is needed: partly because the people writing comments need to think about how they’ll appear to people without the context, and partly because the people who get really upset should think about finding the context before firing off complaints to people.