Benjamin Co­hen

GT (UK) - - CONTENTS - @ben­jam­in­co­hen

Un­cle Ben­jie, are you are Un­cle An­thony mar­ried?’ An in­no­cent ques­tion asked by my nearly four-year-old niece Is­abelle that was the un­usual and un­ex­pected pre­cur­sor to users at­tack­ing me for be­ing gay, and for be­ing Jewish.

Is­abelle asked the ques­tion be­cause she’s a brides­maid at both wed­dings of two of her aun­ties later this year. She was won­der­ing whether she will be a brides­maid for me and my boyfriend one day. She’d pre­vi­ously asked us how we can have chil­dren, but she didn’t un­der­stand my joke, it’s not hap­pened yet, not for the want of try­ing.

and also her gay grand­mas’ (my broth­erin-law’s mum is a les­bian), we bought a beau­ti­ful chil­dren’s book, King and King, which tells the story of a prince who falls in love with an­other prince, rather than a princess. When they marry, they be­come known as King and King. Af­ter my sis­ter and I read it to Is­abelle and her nearly two-year

Ini­tially the re­ac­tion was pos­i­tive, but 24 hours later, my dig­i­tal life de­scended into hell. I was a per­vert or a pae­dophile for dar­ing to read the book to my nieces. Some ac­cused me of sex­u­ally abus­ing them, while many oth­ers sim­ply used the sort of anti-Semitic lan­guage was de­spite the fact that there was noth­ing re­motely Jewish about my tweet, other than the fact that all the peo­ple in the pho­to­graph are Jewish and I have a very Jewish name.

neg­a­tive re­ac­tions I re­ceived on its plat­form, di­rectly to my phone.

telling me they would pre­fer for all Jews to be gay, be­cause it would ‘save on the gas bill later’. Oth­ers told me that I should ‘pop into the oven’, while some more bla­tantly told me that I should be dead. Some vi­ciously at­tacked my nieces, la­belling them ‘kikes’ – an anti-Semitic slur.

One per­son found a pho­to­graph of me taken in Ber­lin’s Jewish mu­seum and Pho­to­shopped in the yel­low star that the Nazis put on Jews in the ghet­tos be­fore send­ing them to that soon it will be a real star, be­fore I am killed. I sup­pose I should be grate­ful that they didn’t also add the pink tri­an­gle that the Nazis I seemed to be the epit­ome of evil for be­ing both gay and Jewish – some­thing that I feel twice blessed to have been born.

are based in the US. Some Bri­tish trolls even ac­cused me of, in a sense, fab­ri­cat­ing the sit­u­a­tion in or­der – they claimed – to un­der­mine the Labour Party, cur­rently un­der scru­tiny for anti-Semitism.

An­other hor­ri­ble, bit­ter gay Brit said if my boyfriend paid me more at­ten­tion then I wouldn’t have needed to post the pho­to­graph

in­ap­pro­pri­ate posts, and has agreed with the EU to in­ves­ti­gate them within 24 hours, but real­is­ti­cally peo­ple can’t pos­si­bly in­di­vid­u­ally re­port hun­dreds of mes­sages each day. I’ve had over 1,000 now, so it would take an age. threat­en­ing tweets, told me that re­port­ing

A causal look at any of the peo­ple who have at­tacked me makes it clear that all the ac­counts do is spread ha­tred, whether that is ho­mo­pho­bia, anti-Semitism, or other al­lowed a sit­u­a­tion to oc­cur where so much hate is on its sys­tem.

de­vel­op­ers. It’s not out­side of the realms of in­tel­li­gence) bot to seek out those who spread real dis­tress to the vic­tims. If it doesn’t, the fu­ture of the plat­form is at risk.

BENJAMIN CO­HEN What’s in a tweet?

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