'A chilling realisation.'

Just in case you missed the complete lack of astonishment across twitter, it turns out that the hoax @OfficialGlitter account in which somebody pretending to be Gary Glitter tweeted about his comeback was in fact a hoax. You can almost hear the collective lack of a gasp.

But this wasn’t just a tasteless joke. No, a blog post by somebody called ‘Ben’ explains that this was actually a ‘social experiment’ – one which had ‘interesting and eye-opening’ results. In case you haven’t read the post, let me tell you of these astonishing results.

‘Ben’ begins by reassuring readers that he doesn’t actually condone paedophilia himself. Phew, well that’s a relief! He had me worried for a minute there, what with pretending to be one. Am I glad that this ‘social experiment’ was conducted by somebody who doesn’t condone paedophilia, as opposed to one of those people who does.

‘Ben’ goes on to explain that the point of his ‘social experiment’ was to demonstrate that there might be real child offenders hiding away on twitter. Quite how pretending to be Gary Glitter actually demonstrated this is unclear, since he didn’t seem to be very successful at ‘hiding away’. Still, we’d better ignore that leap of logic, because if ‘Ben’ had set up a twitter account pretending to be an anonymous paedophile he most likely wouldn’t have had such interesting and eye-opening results.

He briefly concludes that legislation is needed to ban registered sex offenders from using digital communications without supervision (‘Ben’ is clearly a lawyer of some sort, because that simple solution isn’t naïve or problematic at all), that parents need to be properly informed of the dangers of the internet (because of course everyone thinks it’s totally safe at the moment) and that ‘Social Networking Sites such as Facebook and Twitter need to properly police just who is using their websites’ (he doesn’t say how, but I’m thinking they could have a box you tick if you’re a convicted paedophile).

Those problems effortlessly solved, he gets on to what would seem to be the main point of his blog: to morally castigate anyone who didn’t send @OfficialGlitter an abusive comment.

‘Ben’ was ‘deeply disturbed’ at the shocking (underlined) number of positive comments he got, some of which actually seemed to suggest that people want to see Gary Glitter do a Comeback Tour! ‘Do people’s morals differ when they are online?’ he demands to know.

Well… no, as far as I can see, there are just some people who like Gary Glitter’s music and are excited at the prospect of seeing him perform. And baffling though I find that on musical grounds, there is nothing in Glitter’s crime itself that makes me uncomfortable about him, y’know, singing. It’s not like there’d be children in his audiences. Irrespective of this, anyone innocently showing excitement at Glitter’s career restarting, or a shred of forgiveness for a man who ‘Ben’ had rather convincingly pretended wanted to move on, comes in for a moral beating.

Next up for castigation are a number of people who I would presume saw that @OfficialGlitter was a hoax (a lot of us did) and made a joke about it. A joke!!! MY GOD THERE ARE PEOPLE MAKING TASTELESS JOKES ON TWITTER!!! Who knew?!?!!

Everyone from Piers Morgan to ‘loud-mouthed footballer Joey Barton’ comes in for criticism (though Barton’s attitude to Glitter hardly seems to be supportive); ‘have people forgotten what hideous crimes that Mr Glitter committed?’ ‘Ben’ ungrammatically cries.

Um… no. Demonstrably, they have remembered, or the jokes wouldn’t make any sense. But maybe ‘Ben’ is just being rhetorical, because after all this is an issue of ‘basic human morality’.

He goes on to express shock that the media brought further publicity to Mr Glitter by featuring an article on his comeback. His moral outrage is complete: celebrities are actually using twitter to get publicity. Newspapers are actually reporting things that happen on the internet. Even when paedophiles are involved.

The post finishes by summing up what we all need to do about the terrible realisations he has ‘hit’ us with, giving thanks to the media who brought the @OfficialGlitter account to everyone’s attention (which is curious because only a few lines ago the same media were blamed for being nearly ‘responsible for putting money into Glitter’s pocket’) and a special mention for all those who sent hate and abuse and started the #GetGlitterOffTwitter campaign, because they’re the people who show that ‘a majority of Britain still has their morals intact’.

The smug, moralising tone of the blog post, replete with indignant underlinings and a surfeit of melodramatic adjectives, is all too close to the News of the World anti-paedophile campaign (it says a lot that most of the news reports on this ‘social experiment’ are so far mostly in the gutter press). Apart from the serious questions about the irresponsibility of this kind of journalism (because that’s all this is), who exactly is ‘Ben’ to lecture us on our moral wellbeing? Where’s the link to his own twitter feed so we can check that he has never made an ill-judged joke or followed somebody with a criminal record?

In fact, all we really know about ‘Ben’ – except that he is no great knowledge on internet law or the English language – is that he spent several days pretending to be Gary Glitter on twitter.

Clearly a person to take our basic moral values from, then.

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