So is this the end of satire? The gutless decision of multi-billion dollar corporation Twitter to reveal the details of the owner of the harmless spoof UnSteveDorkland account to a multimillion pound British newspaper conglomerate just because it takes the piss out of the boss would seem to suggest that in future no-one will be safe from a Puritan purge.
I suppose you could use the excuse that Americans don’t understand British humour. Satire can be defined as ‘a literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision or wit”. And we all know that they don’t ‘get’ irony over the pond. But I suspect that they simply couldn’t give a toss.
They’ll fight a well-publicised legal battle to defend the rights of their own citizens (most notably the US ‘Occupy’ movement) but when it comes to some poor bloke taking pot shots at a preening, professional Yorkshireman from his bedroom in Scunthorpe, they’re quite happy to throw him to the Derry Street lions. (I should point out that I have absolutely no idea if Steve really is some bloke in a bedroom in Scunthorpe or not. Or even if he’s a bloke.)
To watch such abuse of power by a media institution that should be defending freedom of speech is embarrassing indeed, but it could get worse, much worse. What, for instance, happens if the renegade Steve is truly tech-savvy and has covered his tracks with impeccable anonymity? Northcliffe will be left holding a set of useless account details in one hand and a massive bill from their US lawyers in the other.
And if you thought your own money-grubbing lawyer was expensive, try employing an American attorney. They charge like a fucking rhino.
That outcome would be very funny if it wasn’t for the fact that the legal bill is likely to be enough to save the jobs of a couple of journalists in the next round of cost cutting. And to what end? To protect the fragile ego of a man who, frankly, should know better. I do hope that UnSteveDorkland survives to tweet again. Not least because one can only imagine the bucket of shit he’s been storing up to unload on his tormentors.