Tuesday 12 December 2017

Carol Hunt : The law, not censorship, is how to stop internet trolls

The death of Shane McEntee is a tragedy, but shouldn't necessarily prompt a rush to censor free speech on the internet, which is, after all, subject to the law

Carol Hunt

Carol Hunt

IN the days when he was still a committed socialist, Christopher Hitchens had a story about a visit he made to Cuba where the revolutionaries assured him that free speech was now allowed – apart from criticism of Castro of course. He, for the first time ever, found himself in the role of "counter-revolutionary" as he explained that without criticism of political leaders there could be no freedom at all.

Free speech is the bedrock of democratic values. And in the 21st Century, whether we like it or not (and some people don't), this includes free speech through the medium where so much political commentary takes place: Facebook, Twitter, other social networking sites and a myriad of online blogs.

The sudden death of a good, hard-working family man is extremely tragic. And in the case of TD Shane McEntee it has shocked the many friends and colleagues who cared for him. But one aspect of the fallout from this particular death is deeply troubling – the immediate pointing of the finger at social media.

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