I guess you just can't cure stupid
Well, that didn't take long, did it? If 2013 will be remembered as the year when cyberbullying became the national sport, then we could be forgiven for hoping that the next 12 months would prove to be a rather more polite kettle of fish.
And maybe this week's conviction of two trolls for sending vile threats to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez will soften the cough of those socially inadequate amoeba who get a kick out of threatening people.
You might remember that Criado-Perez came to attention last year when her successful campaign to have Jane Austen placed on an English banknote attracted dozens of violent threats. So it was truly gratifying to see two of the worst offenders, John Nimmo (23) and Isabella Sorley (25) in Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday to answer for their actions.
Both have been found guilty of sending threatening communications and will be sentenced later this month.
Incredibly, however, there are still people out there who think that telling someone: "ya not that gd looking to rape u be fine... I will find you" and the warning that someone should "rape her nice ass" falls under some elastically expanded concept of freedom of speech.
But here's the thing -- these threats, illiterate though they may be, do not fall under the precious protections of freedom of speech.
If someone sat on a bus and told a woman that they had a "nice ass" and should be raped, there would be an outcry and while the two offences aren't on the same scale, they are borne from a similarly debased urge to intimidate someone and make them fear for their safety.
A lot of the abuse the campaigner received was unpleasant but well within the parameters of what anyone who sticks their head above the trenches has come to expect. For example, tweeting: "Shut up and die, you bitch," may be obnoxious, but telling someone to die is a world away from actually telling that person that you're going to kill them.
And as if they had come straight from central casting for a movie about how pathetic online trolls really are, both Nimmo and Sorley fit the classic bill -- he, a self-confessed recluse who only ever goes outside his front door "to put out the bins"; she an alcoholic who admitted to sending the threats "because she was drunk and bored".
In fact, just the pathetic and tawdry sight of these clowns is probably a more effective deterrent than any sentence they are going to receive.
Because when you look at Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber they are hardly the kind of people one would aspire to be.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the case was that the threats of rape came from a woman.
Now, I know we have long since rid ourselves of the ridiculous assumption that females are the gentler sex when it comes to internet bullying -- they are more than holding their own on that score. But a woman using the idea of rape over another seems, somehow, even worse than a man making the same threats.
That's not to somehow lessen the sin of any man who would do such a thing, but any woman who does that could be accused of insider trading off her own gender's greatest fear.
Not that Criado-Perez sees it that way.
In fact, she argues that being sent such abuse by a woman "is really sad but on the other hand I don't see why we should think that women who are brought up in a society steeped in misogyny should be any less affected by it and any less likely to hate women" .
So, you see, a woman didn't threaten another woman with rape because she is a pathetic, worthless loser -- no, it was those nasty men wot made her do it so Isabella Sorley is, in her own way, a victim.
As the headline says, you just can't cure stupid.
And with Criado-Perez's fatuous excuse for Sorley, she just joined that club.
OKAY, I'LL GET THE BUNTING OUT
Fifty-two-times-capped German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger is gay.
The former Villa and West Ham midfielder retired in September and says that he has decided to come out: "Because I want to start to move the discussion about homosexuality in professional sportspeople forwards."
Nobody would argue with that, and a player being discriminated because he is gay is not only disgusting and anachronistic but completely against the glorious meritocracy that is football -- if you're good enough, you're good enough and it doesn't matter what skin colour, religion or sexual orientation you may be.
But while he is to be commended for being candid, two things struck me about the story -- if he wanted to really start a discussion about being a gay professional footballer, then surely he would have had more impact if he made his stand when he was still playing the game. Also -- did it really merit the full breaking news treatment on Sky News yesterday?
After all, anyone with any brains, gay or straight, will surely look forward to the day when a guy coming out doesn't provoke a big case of stop-the-presses in the media.
GOT A KISS FOR GRANNY?
A new sex-education report in Britain has now suggested that children shouldn't be asked to kiss their relatives, such as a grandmother, if they don't want to.
According to Dr Meg Barking, sorry Barker such 'coercive behaviour' occurs: "From friends and family members kissing and cuddling kids when they don't want that to happen, to friends and family trying to persuade each other to engage in social events that they don't want to go to through guilt and manipulation."
And there was you thinking that giving your nana a kiss and dragging yourself to social events was the very definition of being a family.
That's why they're the experts and you're not, you fools!