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Tuesday, 11th February 2020

Vile attacks on social media, germ warfare at the count?

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Hundreds of people at the count meant pick up a bug was possible but making vile and insulting comments on social media is inexcusable.

I picked up a bug at the count in Dundalk over the weekend, I’m not sure whether the germ is a member of any of the political parties but I’ve been coughing and spluttering ever since.

At one stage last night I was deliriously thinking that I’d been the victim of some form of germ warfare.

This is nonsense of course, put a few hundred people into a room with no open windows for two days and there’s bound to be germs about, but my paranoia is probably fuelled by what has been a particularly aggressive and nasty election campaign.

I have great respect for anyone who stands for public office, putting themselves out there leaves them wide open for abuse from members of the public, especially in this era of “social” media.

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Of course seasoned politicians have developed thick skins and the mud doesn’t stick but they’re only human and nobody likes to be ridiculed or to be the target of insulting and foul language.

Robust debate is one thing if it is based on honest, researched opinions about promises made or past performances but calling anyone a c**t or a P***k on a daily basis not only lowers the tone of this so-called debate it is also extremely insulting.

Some of the comments and observations have been particularly vile during this election campaign. People have a right to be angry but it amazes me what statements some people will put their name to on a public forum. But of course it says more about them than the people they are attacking.

One of my favourites in the past couple of weeks was from a “commentator” who described two of our elected TDs as “a pear of pricks”. Perhaps he meant prickly pears? Whatver he meant, perhaps he should have thought, just for a moment.

Drogheda Life is all in favour of freedom of expression and loathe to cut anyone off but there have to be standards and we have filters in place on the Facebook page to weed out the most awful comments.

Democracy is a wonderful system of government which ensures we all have freedom of speech, it should be treasured for the precious thing that it is.

But hate speech at any level is abhorrent and demeaning.

This article was written by Andy Spearman

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