Erdington Councillor gets stick for stones

Erdington Councillor Gareth Compton (Conservative) manages to make the papers this morning for a Tweet he published last night suggesting (jokingly one would hope and assume) that a journalist to be stoned to death: “Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing, really,”

He’s now since deleted it, apologised, and said: “Twitter is a forum for glib comment of the moment. It was a glib comment. Who could possibly think it was serious? ”

And no, in the context of the @GarethFCompton twitter account it’d be hard to take it seriously, but each Tweet can be seen on it’s own, without context. Around the election, his un-disguised glee at the result was understandable, but on Twitter at least he was hardly magnanimous in victory. That episode (go read about it) did have it’s comic value though, however much it disappointed those who live in his ward in Birmingham.

If brevity (and 140 chars is pretty brief) is the soul of wit, it’s also the saving grace of being able to converse with those of wildly different opinions. It’s why so many people can watch or read the views of Jeremy Clarkson while realising he states the opinions of an arse—he’s funny with it. Sorry, Councillor, this just wasn’t witty.

Disappointingly there seems to be no-way political opponents or the media can take these things with anything other than po-faced horror, one of the joys of instant self publishing to me is the insight it can give to the people behind office.

People may  think Cllr Compton has acted like a bit of a dick, but I will defend his right to be a bit of a dick

— and if he wants to do it out in the open where those that have the chance to vote on his position can see, so much the better.

10 comments for “Erdington Councillor gets stick for stones

  1. Paul Hadley
    11 November 2010 at 10:02 am

    I can’t help but feel I’m watching a little bit of Brum’s ‘history’ unfold. More at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/nov/11/twitter-stoning-conservative-mp

  2. 11 November 2010 at 10:36 am

    I agree with Jon: although this tweet is in *extremely* bad taste, and does make Cllr Compton sound like an arse, incitement to murder it ain’t.

    In the Guardian article, YAB says: “You just don’t do this. I have a lot of threats on my life.” I don’t doubt she does, but she must know that a throwaway comment on Twitter – obviously tongue-in-cheek – doesn’t amount to one. I wouldn’t even go as far as to suggest it’s racially or religiously motivated: she’s a well-known Muslim and that’s the only religion being linked to the stoning of women that I’m aware of at the moment. Linking a Muslim woman to a punishment meted out to Muslim women is ‘apt’ (remember I said it was tasteless!). Perhaps the Cllr should have suggested a ducking stool instead?

    Comedian Paul Sinha makes a good point linking this to #TwitterJokeTrial here: http://sinhaha.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/a-tale-of-two-tweets/

    There are genuinely horrible things that happen on Twitter which should be protested against, for instance the insinuation that TV’s Kirsty Allsopp supports anti-gay and anti-black measures because she votes Tory. And YAB should have better things to do: after all, actual stonings of Muslim women are going on every day.

  3. 11 November 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Just read on his twitter feed what Cllr Compton was responding to, quote:

    I did not ‘call’ for the stoning of anybody. I made an ill-conceived attempt at humour in response to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown saying on Radio 5 . . . Live this morning, that no politician had the right to comment on human rights abuses, even the stoning of women in Iran.

    Frankly, I’m not surprised that YAB said that: she was one of the prominent critics of the movement against female genital mutilation, accusing activists of trying to impose Western values on others – that old ‘cultural imperialism’ chestnut. She makes me haz a cross!

  4. Barnard
    11 November 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Gareth Compton has been arrested and suspended from the Conservative Party

  5. 11 November 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Maria: Frankly, I’m not surprised that YAB said that:

    I’ve yet to see any evidence she actually did: I suspect this is one more instance of a right-winger who doesn’t like women and doesn’t like “Muslims” hearing what he wanted to hear and reacting accordingly.

    I looked at the Radio 5 Live website but couldn’t locate any recording of the broadcast to find out what Yasmin Alibhai-Brown actually said.

    Most right-wing criticisms of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown tend to be not-very-disguised racism against an articulate British journalist with a distinctively “Muslim” name: the claim that she’s a support of FGM or that she should have “better things to do” than to react to someone proposing to kill her in a particularly brutal way, are just two examples – see Joe99’s comment that it’s “about time” someone did suggest killing Alibhai-Brown.

  6. 11 November 2010 at 4:38 pm

    If you want to hear what Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said, you can go to this Radio 5 Live website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0070htg and open up the programme for 10/11/2010. Her comments begin 53 minutes in.

    Here’s part of the interview:

    Announcer: “Are we in any position to criticise countries for stoning people to death?”

    Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: “I don’t think our politicians are. I think our human rights organisations certainly do have that right and should absolutely be speaking out.

    “But for our politicians – we are in the middle of talking about allegedly what some British soldiers did in Iraq.

    “I don’t think they have any moral authority any more in the world to lecture anyone on human rights abuses.

    “That’s one of the prices I think that’s paid by countries that think there’s one law for us and one law for them.”

  7. Guest
    11 November 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Thanks Jonathan. From what you have copied, in my view Compton is in the clear.

    Alibhai-Brown needs to grow up.

  8. 12 November 2010 at 10:19 am

    Read it and weep – the hypocrisy of those who support the #twitterjoketrial but think the #NUS are ‘harmless’: http://bit.ly/cW3CbH

  9. 12 November 2010 at 10:24 am

    Haven’t seen anyone supporting the free speech issue in the Robin Hood
    Airport case who then says that Cllr Compton show have action taken
    against him. It’s up to the police to decide on threat levels, I think
    they were wrong in both this instance and the #twitterjoketrial …

  10. Pauline@heartpr.co.uk
    12 November 2010 at 10:26 am

    Here we have the conservative councillor for Erdington, an elected member of Birmingham City Council revealing that he is a loose cannon, who lacks perception and insight into the impact of this own actions. Twitter is a public platform, not a private chat with friends or members of a private club. All comments are published on the world wide web. All comments are available permanently for scrutiny and examination as a matter of public record. Gareth Compton needs to grow up and stop acting like a fool online. Why does a man who has been elected to public office, to a position of both power and responsibility have the audacity and the time to write such drivel, with such sinister undertones, which he presumes are humorous ; they aren’t funny, they are pathetic and exhibit gross bad taste and political stupdidity. Sticks and stone can break my bones, but words can never hurt me; well that’s not quite true. In this country we have the Defamation Act, The Protection from Harassment Act and other legislation, which are now being used to protect people from abuse online. This is a swiftly emerging legal arena which will be incresingly utilised by people who have been subjected to univited offensive commentary, online; this could be via websites/blogs/twitter/forums/emails/social media sites. I don’t glean a genuine death threat from his words, but I do recognise the undertones which are unpleasant and undermine his credibility in his publc role. I would refer the dishonourable gentleman to the Crown Prosecution Service’s guidelines, issued a few weeks ago on cyberstalking, which addresses the use of technology for the purpose of abuse online. Google that Councillor and consider your comments in that context.

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