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A Brit’s View: Twitter, $23,000 of Public Money, and the Naivety of Youth

Union FlagJust to step away from Margaret Thatcher for a second, mainly because the rhetoric hasn’t changed for a day or two, and the build-up to her funeral is taking the long and arduous route. I have an intriguing tale that hit the national news the day before Thatcher’s death, meaning the fall out has kind of been forgotten (on a national level at least).

The story revolves around a 17-year-old girl, a publicly-funded job paying $23,000-a-year, Twitter, and my former landlady. It’s not often I have a ‘link’ to a national story, so forgive me for indulging (the story also gives me the chance to plug a media organization a used to work for, The KM Group). The facts are as follows; a 17-year-old called Paris Brown was given the job of Youth Police Commissioner for Kent by the elected Police Commissioner for Kent, and my former landlady, Ann Barnes. Less than a week after being installed in the post Miss Brown was outed as a potential “homophobe”, “racist” and “advocate of violence” in accordance with posts on her Twitter feed (I know this story is from the Daily Mail, but the Tweets speak for themselves nonetheless). The defense from Barnes of Brown being “a typical teenager” didn’t go down well, and after a couple of days of ‘will she resign, won’t she resign’, which included a tearful apology in the full glare of the national media, Miss Brown ‘decided’ to step down.

As soon as the story broke there were calls from local members of parliament for Brown to go. Unfortunately a number of these were made to score political points against police commissioner Barnes rather than taking proper issue with the unfolding events. Abuse has been thrown back in the direction of the teenager, with some feeling the negativity has been too much. I can’t help thinking you reap what you sow. I also can’t help but wonder why the role was created in the first place. Even allowing for a little legacy building on the part of the police commissioner, at the very least a prerequisite in 2013 is for social media to be checked, especially when the role has been created for a teenager, and is as public and political divisive as this. I know it’s a person’s right to voice their own opinions, but with social media the source for so many cheap and easy stories, a defensive mechanism has to be put in place. Cover all the bases at the very least.

There has been a plentiful supply of tell-tale developments in the media following the rise of Facebook and Twitter, but few more embarrassing than this. Maybe using this story as a cautionary tale to kids about the dangers and responsibilities, no matter what your age, of participating in social media would be a good idea. At least it could then be said some positives have come out of the ‘scandal’. From a national angle at least, the Paris Brown’s situation won’t result in total infamy because of Margaret Thatcher’s death. Unfortunately, in the local confines of Sheerness, situated in a part of Kent known simply as ‘the island’, she may not be so lucky.

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One Response to A Brit’s View: Twitter, $23,000 of Public Money, and the Naivety of Youth

  1. Taylor Marsh April 12, 2013 at 8:01 am #

    Classic tale. Twitter takes another person down. Young people, in particular, just don’t get the fall out that can happen. Giving her town a bad name seems to be the consensus.

    Love this comment from the very last link. The person will not be torn away from Thatcher for anything!

    Dr D wrote:

    Oh for G O D’s sake get over it. We cannot have someone in public office telling the truth about everyday life that will never do. Let’s talk about dear Maggie and how she privatized our gas water electric phones trains school cleaners hospital cleaners street cleaners binmen. We have been ripped off with the ever increasing bills ever since. R.I.P. Maggie

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong