I have little time for Independent writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, not because of my atavistic distaste for double-barrelled names, but because I don’t think she’s a very good, or a very interesting, writer.
I also have little time for her response to Tory councillor Gareth Brown’s tweet: ‘Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death’ when she told the media that Brown’s silly comment was an ‘incitement to murder’ and it might have been racist.
Now, I searched for ‘stoned to death’ on Google and saw some pictures that nobody should really see. It reminded me of ‘Mikey’ Smith, a Jamaican poet I once saw in Brixton supporting Linton Kwesi-Johnson who was stoned to death at a political rally in Jamaica a couple of weeks later. I couldn’t believe that such a thing could still happen.
But being stoned to death and a message on Twitter advocating that it happen to somebody are two very different things. I’ve heard much worse things said at comedy nights at top venues. It was a stupid thing to say, but it shouldn’t have led to Brown’s arrest. Some might say he should be arrested anyway merely for being a Tory councillor, but that’s a bit of a students-have-puny-riot-against-cuts attitude.
The law hasn’t got a clue about things like this. Suppose the so-called Twitterverse all started to RT Brown’s tweet. Would everybody be arrested for doing so? No, they wouldn’t.
The issue here is not about racism, it’s not even about technology being below, not above the law. It’s about writers. We’re all insecure little idiots, we all demand flattery and we all love being talked about. If somebody has the temerity to unsubscribe from this newsletter I am mortally wounded and feel like stalking the person who did so. Whoops, better stop there.
And so is the case with Alibhai-Brown. She’s just been thrown the biggest biscuit in her life and she’s going to munch on it and probably dine out on it for the rest of her miserable life. I’m not saying she’s feigning shock, but deep down she probably loves being the centre of attention.
As for Brown, he’s been sacked by the Tories and he’s out on bail. No doubt there are some who are saying the firing squad’s too good for him. Aha, perhaps I should post that comment on Twitter. Would I be arrested for that? Worth thinking about…