Just 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; aÂ 17-year-old called Paris Brown was given the job of YouthÂ 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 potentialÂ “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 TweetsÂ speak forÂ themselves nonetheless).Â The defenseÂ 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 toÂ score political points against police commissioner Barnes ratherÂ than taking proper issue with the unfolding events. Abuse has beenÂ thrown backÂ in theÂ direction of the teenager, withÂ some feeling theÂ negativity has been too much.Â I can’t help thinking you reap what you sow.Â I also can’t help butÂ wonder why theÂ role was created in the first place.Â Even allowing for a little legacy building on the part of the police commissioner,Â at the very leastÂ a prerequisite in 2013Â is for social media to be checked, especially when the roleÂ has been created forÂ a teenager, andÂ is asÂ 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,Â a defensive mechanism has to be putÂ in place. Cover all the bases at the very least.
There has beenÂ a plentiful supply ofÂ tell-tale developments in the mediaÂ following the rise of Facebook and Twitter, but few more embarrassing than this. MaybeÂ 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 leastÂ it could thenÂ be saidÂ some positives have come outÂ of the ‘scandal’.Â From a national angle at least, theÂ Paris Brown’s situationÂ won’t result in total infamy because ofÂ Margaret Thatcher’s death.Â Unfortunately, inÂ theÂ local confines of Sheerness, situated in a part of Kent known simply as ‘the island’, she may not be so lucky.