Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Awaiting My Anti-Social Blogging Order

I was alarmed to see the many press reports about the man threatened with an ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) for making rude comments about the Pope on his website. I was even more concerned when I saw that he had merely written a spoof job advert for the post of Pope (the Bremner, Bird & Fortune programme did the same on Sunday) whereas last week I had accused the Pope of having blood on his hands.

I postponed consulting my solicitor when I remembered that Polly Toynbee had made equally trenchant comments in the Guardian and Peter at Naked Blog had also given his eloquent two penn'orth on the subject. I imagined the three of us being dragged through the courts along with all the youthful graffiti artists and hand brake turn specialists, having our keyboards confiscated and becoming nationally famous as the 'John Paul Three'.

In fact the ASBO threat is just part of a long-running feud between two rival village websites deep in Middle England. It's the stuff of sitcoms. It would make a wonderful subject for an up-dated Ever Decreasing Circles since Martin would cerainly now be running the community website and trying to close down any rival sites.

In one corner is the very anodyne lynehamvillage.com and in the other is the 'rogue' site lynehamvillage.co.uk.
The latter gentleman has chosen to mix the usual village news with a strongly anti-Tory line and a page of comments and often very crude jokes about things in the news so it's an incongruous mix of community website and blog.
This has enraged some people in the village who don't think comparing Michael Howard to Adolf Hitler or making jokes about Prince Charles' cock are very funny. And some of them, including Conservative councillors, have made serious attempts to have an ASBO served on him and hours of police time have been wasted.

It doesn't help that if you type 'Lyneham' into Google, the jokey website is the one that comes up first so perhaps his rival needs to tweak his metatags. As it happens, I own a domain name for my own village because I once intended to do a light-hearted, unofficial website about the place although I think I'd have gone easy on the cock jokes.
Although this chap's humour is a bit too close to a 12 year old's level for my taste, he's clearly having a ball and there's an issue of free speech involved here. So in the unlikely event that he did get an ASBO for the content of a website it would be the greatest threat to internet freedom that we've seen so far. It would also prove that ASBOs are one of the worst abuses of the legal system perpetrated by this Government.


Interesting snippet in the Radio Times about the man who takes calls from the public about Coronation Street. The most compaints they ever had was when Les Battersby ran over and killed a turkey (2,000 complaints).
When Richard Hillman was on his killing spree and beat poor Maxine to death with a baseball bat, hardly a peep.
Which raises the question: if these people believed Les had really killed a turkey, did they also think that Maxine had really had her skull caved in?
Worrying thought: these people have a vote in the coming election.


At 11:58 AM, Blogger zaphod said...

I couldn't find that joke about Charley's cock but I did like the pope jokes.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Peter said...

John Paul Three. Love it. But we're not alone. Unbelievably (even for Scotland) they tried a minute's silence for JP at the start of a Hearts/Celtic (ie Protestant/Catholic) football match. Hearts supporters were not amused, and cheered, blew whistles and seemed generally less than distraught.

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

You didn't miss much with the cock joke. I didn't really understand it, to be honest.

Peter, I couldn't understand anyone being stupid enough to hold a minute's silence for the Pope at a Scottish football match. And then being surprised at what happened!


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