Piers Morgan vs. John Cleese. Pick a side. Think hard, weigh the options -
Whoa, everyone went to the Cleese side of the gym. Here’s Piers:
As a teenager, I thought John Cleese was a comic genius. But Cleese has sadly morphed in recent years into the worst type of whining pub bore. Not quite at Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan levels of hideously sanctimonious tedium, but challenging hard. If he’s not trashing his ex-wives, he’s moaning incessantly about tabloid journalists – most of whom long since stopped caring what he does. I’ve made my feelings about his unfortunate personality transplant known on Twitter.
OH WELL THEN IT’S ON. Good Lord, man, you made your feelings known on Twitter? Are you mad? What’s next, status updates on Facebook? So imagine Morgan’s horror when they found themselves in the same restaurant and noticed each other. He wrote a column about it.
For one tiny nanosecond, our eyes locked in mutual shock, then equally mutual withering contempt. For the next two hours, we avoided all form of contact – physical, verbal, visual. It was magnificently British.
After which Piers mustered the sort of taunt you expect from an inexplicably well-known hack:
The entire exchange is here. While it’s true that Cleese hasn’t done much lately, who cares? The man has a lifetime achievement pass for previous brilliance, and Piers - well.
VotD Not brand and/or spanking new, but new to me and hence I have to share it as if no one’s seen it. Won’t embed it for brief profanity, and if you think that’s cowardly, well, that’s just your opinion, man. (That will make sense after you see the video.) A little over 3 minutes, and worth every second. Here: 87 Bounces.
FACEBOOK There’s a video going around Facebook that shows a screaming baby dunked in water. Why anyone would share it is one question; why anyone made it is another. I haven’t seen it, and the subject matter alone is a warning. Guardian headline: "Facebook defends sharing of video of screaming baby being dunked." Not quite the whole story.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday, (Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook UK) said it would take down the video where users were seen to be praising or making fun of the content. But he added it was appropriate for users to share the video to highlight the abuse and protect the child concerned. “Our response has been it does not breach our terms, but it is a disturbing and distressing video ... and therefore it’s right that we put up a warning ... and only if it is shared in the context of condemning it,” he said. He said such sharing online could help prevent abuse. “We have seen from experience that when things like that are shared on Facebook it can and does lead to the rescue of the child. We hope very much that this will happen in this case,” he said. Milner added: “We absolutely take extremely seriously the safety of everybody on Facebook and particularly the most vulnerable.”
If I were king of the forest, people who treat children this way would be jailed for a long time and sterilized upon eventual release. Presumably my motives for posting this video would be acceptable. But. Content aside, this is why I stay clear of Facebook: they might grant you permission to post something because they approve of your motivations. What if you post it for the right reasons but describe them in a way Facebook misconstrues?
Claire Lilley, the NSPCC’s lead on child safety online said the video highlighted a broader problem. “This is not an isolated incident. This is one example of content which many people find disturbing and distress and yet is freely available to see,” she told Today.
If something disturbs Group A, but is “freely available to see,” that’s not cause for the state to step in and say “Group A’s standards are now going to be applied to everyone.” But Facebook will. It is entirely within its rights to do so, being a private company no one is forced to patronize. But the trend to nix content because it disturbs someone relies on elastic and subjective definitions, and seems based on a utopian idea of creating a Safe Internet. Well, you can have a safe internet, or you can have a free internet. Choose one.