Someone I used to admire rather a lot has just told me, on Face Book, that I am “talking through my a–e “and should “shut the f—k up” (he spelt the words out in full). He objected to my piece in which I suggested that it was wrong of Jeremy Corbyn to make political capital out of the awful Grenfell Tower tragedy. As it happens, my complaint has turned out to be a reasonable one. It has transpired that many Labour councils have clad their tower blocks with combustible material. The theory that the appalling tragedy in Kensington was caused by evil, murdering Tories no longer holds water. But that isn’t my point.
You would think that, after some years of using social media, I would have become numbed to horrid attacks from people who disagree with me. But, maybe because I have not dared to try out the Twitter, I continue to be shocked by the occasional (and they are only occasional) abusive comments on my pieces. I am delighted that I have many friends on Face Book who disagree with me on almost every subject. I will mention one or two of them. Colin Smith is a splendid chap. He thinks me very misguided, but I don’t think he has ever descended to foul abuse. Ted Smith thinks me round the bend, but he is always polite. Peter Knox, who is sound on every subject except the EU, has always been very civil to me despite my thinking he has got the EU stuff wrong. My old friends, Frankie Hill and Leon Arden, are convinced that my politics are dreadful, but they have never been rude to me. All are decent, kind people who put up with what they consider to be my idiotic right wing opinions because they understand that, however wrong I may be, I honestly believe what I say.
But then there is the chap who, without giving any explanation for his disagreement with me, says I should “shut the f—k up”. I happen to know that he is, in real life, a thoroughly decent bloke. But, once he gets onto his computer, he changes completely. His anger consumes him. Of course, he thinks, it would be impossible for people to die in a council tower block without the Tories being to blame. Anyone, whatever the evidence may be, who disagrees with him must be “talking though his a–e” and should be told, in no uncertain terms, to “shut the f–k up”. His opinions are genuine. He honestly does think that every human disaster is caused by Tories. But his error, I hope he will forgive me for suggesting he is in error, is to believe that everyone who votes Conservative is motivated by a desire to destroy the lives of the poor.
He is not alone. I fear I see comments by people on the right which are also horribly abusive. I hate them just as much as I hate those from the left. But I suppose we just have to accept that modern technology has led to beastliness.