And why exactly would that be funny? “Cus they are both black it would be ironic.” This, apparently, is the opinion of an average American teenager.
On Monday 21 January 2013, Barack Obama took to the stage in Washington DC to be inaugurated once more into the position of US president, and he was again greeted by a land-slide of criticism from the country he has vowed to “preserve, protect and defend.” Whilst this criticism has always been expected for any new political candidate across the world, it appears Obama [who won last year’s election by 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206] was to be the recipient of some particularly violent abuse via one of the world’s leading social networking sites, Twitter.
Claiming that it would be funny if Obama got shot on Martin Luther King Day – shocking enough on its own – was only the tip of the iceberg for many Americans. Another individual wrote that if Obama got assassinated he was “gonna be pissed I missed it,” whilst many took to Twitter urging someone to shoot Obama, with one gentleman claiming that there must be something wrong with assassins if they were able to take out Lincoln and Kennedy and not their current president.
Forgive me if I’ve gotten something wrong, but when did it become okay for people, in some cases those who are barely out of childhood, to wish the murder of someone – anyone – through a social networking site? With many of us using these sites for hours every day, has the digital media desensitized us to the manner in which we write and conduct ourselves? It has become apparent to me that globally many Twitters users have forgotten that what they are posting can be seen by anyone with an internet connection.
This issue has been surging forward more over recent months with Twitter becoming the central point for a number of police cases, led by the temporary arrest of a teenager from Dorset who sent death threats to Olympic medalist Tom Daley. It was followed later by a celebrity who used the name of a young girl involved in a court case on Twitter, breaking a legal injunction and comes to a head with the site’s reaction to Obama’s win. This in some ways, puts an ironic quotation mark on the right of “free speech,” as the world can has proven that is can see what someone is saying, and doesn’t have to listen to it. No-one is an anonymous as they would like to think on social networking sites, and opinions, that threaten and spread racist, bigoted, violent disease, clearly will not be tolerated. This is confirmed by how the account “its_jennarose” – the twitter account that gave me the headline for this article – has since been shut down.
For me personally, it makes me wonder how people like those listed above can be allowed to have their viewpoint shared amongst the masses, and be influential as I’m sure they are in many parts of the States, particularly when many of them can’t even spell the poison they’re writing correctly, as seen by the above “its_jennarose” quote.