Tak­ing a closer look at abuse in pol­i­tics

The Guardian - - JOURNAL LETTERS -

If MPs want to do some­thing to stop on­line abuse and ha­rass­ment (May calls in­quiry into abuse of politi­cians, 13 July), there’s one sim­ple step they can take: they could re­peal the laws that pro­tect on­line pub­lish­ers from li­a­bil­ity for com­ments hosted on their web­sites. If Twit­ter, Face­book and other com­pa­nies could be sued for host­ing defam­a­tory con­tent the way an off­line pub­lisher can be, they would have to crack down on abu­sive be­hav­iour very quickly. Alas­dair Mur­ray Rich­mond upon Thames, Sur­rey • The PM claims to be hor­ri­fied by the lev­els of abuse directed at MPs dur­ing the re­cent gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign. And, yes, the be­hav­iour of a small mi­nor­ity on all sides of the po­lit­i­cal de­bate is hor­rific. But let’s not be naive. Theresa May be­longs to a party whose se­nior mem­bers have lied in pub­lic: the £350m for the NHS be­ing the most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple. She her­self vil­i­fied Jeremy Cor­byn dur­ing the cam­paign in di­rectly per­sonal terms, while mem­bers of Mo­men­tum have long since lost count of the ac­cu­sa­tions of “Trots and en­try­ists”. And fi­nally, ev­ery Wed­nes­day, we are treated to lev­els of in­fan­tile be­hav­iour at PMQs that would shame any semi-sen­tient adult. What we need now is emo­tion­ally lit­er­ate pol­i­tics where adult in­di­vid­u­als find the best, not the worst, in them­selves. Manda Scott Clun­gun­ford, Shrop­shire • It is to be hoped that the re­port the prime min­is­ter has asked the com­mit­tee on stan­dards to pre­pare will widen its scope to con­sider the na­ture of press cov­er­age. The Mail on Sun­day once ran an ar­ti­cle un­der the head­line “Labour MUST kill vam­pire Jezza”. This was just 10 days af­ter the mur­der of Jo Cox. Some­one at the pa­per must have be­lat­edly thought bet­ter of it, be­cause the on­line ver­sion changed the word “kill” to “dump”. The press whips up ha­tred far more in­flu­en­tially than lone tweet­ers and graf­fi­tists. W Stephen Gil­bert Cor­sham, Wilt­shire • Agree to­tally with Gina Miller’s elo­quent ar­ti­cle on hate-filled abuse (Re­port, 12 July). But do her valid con­cerns ex­tend to sim­i­lar hate-filled abuse and threats of vi­o­lence to which, for ex­am­ple, Nigel Farage has been sub­ject for the last 10 years or more? Just ask­ing. Wil­liam Dart­mouth Ukip deputy chair

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