Friday, 12 November 2010


Conservative councillor Gareth Compton has been released on bail after his arrest for writing on Twitter "Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I won't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really." A joke, off the cuff remark or criminal incitement to violence?

On the one hand intimidation has no place in a functioning democracy, on the other, many was the time my mother, exasperated at my behaviour, would say "I'll murder you!". Of course she didn't. And I never took her literally.

You may imagine the scope for abuse on a political debating site such as I am advocating for Interactive Democracy, it could get really out of hand. In order to promote rational debate I think that such a site should be very rigorous about punishing calls for aggression, against persons or property, and should come down hard on personal abuse and swearing. The system could be policed by users complaining about the behaviour of others. Sanctions could include banning individuals from the site for a period of time and/or removing their right to vote (if Europe would allow it). It needn't involve the police or judiciary, but should be overseen by Parliament.

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