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; aÃ‚Â 17-year-old called Paris Brown was given the job of YouthÃ‚Â 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 potentialÃ‚Â “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 TweetsÃ‚Â speak forÃ‚Â themselves nonetheless).Ã‚Â The defenseÃ‚Â 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 toÃ‚Â score political points against police commissioner Barnes ratherÃ‚Â than taking proper issue with the unfolding events. Abuse has beenÃ‚Â thrown backÃ‚Â in theÃ‚Â direction of the teenager, withÃ‚Â some feeling theÃ‚Â negativity has been too much.Ã‚Â I can’t help thinking you reap what you sow.Ã‚Â I also can’t help butÃ‚Â wonder why theÃ‚Â role was created in the first place.Ã‚Â Even allowing for a little legacy building on the part of the police commissioner,Ã‚Â at the very leastÃ‚Â a prerequisite in 2013Ã‚Â is for social media to be checked, especially when the roleÃ‚Â has been created forÃ‚Â a teenager, andÃ‚Â is asÃ‚Â 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,Ã‚Â a defensive mechanism has to be putÃ‚Â in place. Cover all the bases at the very least.
There has beenÃ‚Â a plentiful supply ofÃ‚Â tell-tale developments in the mediaÃ‚Â following the rise of Facebook and Twitter, but few more embarrassing than this. MaybeÃ‚Â 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 leastÃ‚Â it could thenÃ‚Â be saidÃ‚Â some positives have come outÃ‚Â of the ‘scandal’.Ã‚Â From a national angle at least, theÃ‚Â Paris Brown’s situationÃ‚Â won’t result in total infamy because ofÃ‚Â Margaret Thatcher’s death.Ã‚Â Unfortunately, inÃ‚Â theÃ‚Â local confines of Sheerness, situated in a part of Kent known simply as ‘the island’, she may not be so lucky.