Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

Can you tell what it is yet?

Posted on: May 24, 2023

I got into a spot of bother on Twitter – nothing new there; it happens every day. What made this different is that it was a subject in which I had never invested much interest: the recently deceased Rolf Harris.

I replied to a minor celebrity I hadn’t heard of and my reply got viewed by more people than usual as he has a large following. He had tweeted that he was glad Rolf Harris had died – fair enough, I thought – and added that he hoped Harris suffered pain and anguish at the end of his life. I replied that I thought this wish was rather sadistic: an act of folly on my part as I am now being called ‘imbecile,’ ‘crone’ and ‘nonce’ by a whole new set of Twitter accounts.

‘Would you not want him to suffer if you (or someone close to you) was his victim?’ I am asked. I expect I would. This is why the victims of an accused criminal do not sit on the bench or on the jury.

One gentleman tells me that he would gladly watch paedophiles burn and I wonder, are there any othe people he would want burned? How about those who annoy him on Twitter?

I do understand that people hate those who cause suffering. I do too. I hate numerous individuals, sorry to say, not that I know any of them personally: they have public voices which they use to spread hatred and, the more effective they are, the more I dislike them. But of course I am perceived as spreading hatred, on the grounds of my Zionism, often informed by some Tweeter Furioso that I have a racist antipathy to Palestinians or worse, that I am a killer of Palestinian children. This is how Twitter works: hyperbole, rage, incomprehension. What is the good of it, I often wonder.

‘I said paedophiles not people, learn to read,’ is the brusque reply of an interlocutor this afternoon.

The fact is, it’s unpleasant to be abused, even for an opinion one does not hold strongly. I never watched Animal Hospital or much else in the way of Rolf Harris entertainment. I may have seen him paint, asking his audience, ‘Can you tell what it is yet?’ as I, when painting, often ask this question.

Some years ago, I tweeted something sympathetic about Kevin Spacey when he fell from grace but I deleted it because of the volume of rancour which came my way, sometimes from reasonable people. Another time, I got into trouble for sending an amicable tweet to someone who happened to be a friend of Amber Heard. I had known nothing about the ex wife of Johnny Depp or the court case which came to dominate the news in the following weeks. Protesting my neutrality or, still worse, ignorance, about conjugal matters chez the Depps did not excuse me.

‘What kind of person are you?’ asked a pro Johnny partisan. It was a rhetorical question. No answer I could give would have cut any ice.

The royal wars of attrition between the Waleses and Sussexes continue from year to year but I have the sense not to express an opinion about them. One can almost imagine a civil war caused by online disputes concerning celebrities.

‘To him Pudel,’ cry the royalists to their cavalier poodle in a cartoon from the English Civil War while the Parliamentarians urge ‘Bite him Pepper,’ to their roundhead dog.

Perhaps we should be grateful for online wars, if they keep people off of the battlefield.

Those who want to see painful punishments, would they really watch them with enjoyment, as one imagines the crowds jostling for the best view of a public execution? Or are they simply making a virtue of their righteous indignation?

Someone else tells me that I’m the troll which is not unreasonable as I got myself into this argument and should have seen how it would develop. Less reasonable is their ‘concern’ that an opinion in favour of leniency is some kind of deviation or even an endorsement of child abuse.

Who knows if this spat will be over in a few hours or drag on for days? Next time, I won’t express a controversial view unless it’s a matter of significance to me but, after all, it is of some significance that we should talk with moderation about the fate of our enemies, whether public or personal.

Finally, I just got this. It’s a point of view.

2 Responses to "Can you tell what it is yet?"



div dir=”ltr”>Twitter is such a cesspit you can more or less guarantee any opini

Unfortunately there seems to be no middle ground, no nuance and even less humanity on Twitter. Like you, there are people I have no time for, some I actively loathe (Gerry Adams and co in Sinn Féin), but I cannot wish them pain or harm. You were showing your humanity, and on Twitter this means you were seen to “take sides” so must be vilified accordingly. I long for the days when people can talk to each other, not at or across each other and when people can disagree with others without resorting to insults, abuse, threats and vileness. In the meanwhile, in a world full of these trolls, I would prefer far more Gillians.

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  • James Casserly: Unfortunately there seems to be no middle ground, no nuance and even less humanity on Twitter. Like you, there are people I have no time for, some I a
  • keithmarr: G < div dir="ltr">Twitter is such a cesspit you can more or less guarantee any opini
  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: You're Nathan Hull, aren't you, an abusive troll who uses the alias Gerard O'Neill?
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