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A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing February 19, 2010

Posted by bitchwantstea in Food, Tech / Science.
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Remember Marcus the school sheep, who  had national newspapers, radio stations, websites and Paul O’Grady petitioning for him to be spared the chop?

He’d originally been purchased by head teacher Andrea Charman, to teach children about the food chain.  But when the media – and “a handful of parents” – caught wind of Miss Charman’s plan to have him slaughtered, there was an outcry for him to be spared.

Five months have passed, and Miss Charman has stepped down from her job.  The Telegraph claims that she has become a modern day scapegoat, and lays a lot of the blame at the feet of anonymous and increasingly hostile users on the web.

The article states: “An online campaign was started. The comments on “Remove Andrea Charman from ever teaching again” duly rolled in, not just from parents in Kent, but from Belgium, and France and Los Angeles. A not untypical message was: “i’m gonna spit on her grave (thats gonna be very soon)”. Others threatened to burn the school down.”

“She is just one of an increasing number of people who have become caught up in what the internet community call “flame wars” – online petitions, or disagreements between two camps, that can spiral out of control.”

Professor Barrie Gunter, head of mass communications at Leicester University, points out that the technology itself is not to blame for such viciousness. “The problem stems from the way people are able to operate anonymously; it is this that can be used as a force for evil. People can behave in a way online that they would never do in the normal, offline world. In the real world, social etiquette restrains people from doing and saying certain things. That restraint does not seem to be apparent on the internet.”

It’s an interesting read, highlighting how easy it is for information to be passed on and in some cases blown all out of proportion on the web.

What do you think, BWT fans?  Should internet users be held more accountable?  Do you find yourself acting out a persona on the web?  And if so, why?

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Comments»

1. magicksmith - February 19, 2010

If opinions on the internet are going to count for anything serious, then yes, users should be made accountable for what they say. The anonymity and personas that people hide behind allows them to vent so much repressed anger (much in the same way the most mild-mannered of persons can unleash the fury of hell on a hapless telemarketer). I don’t necesarily disagree with having a forum to vent your anger, but it can’t be allowed to count for anything as serious as a resignation like with this poor woman if the faceless web users don’t have the balls to stick up for their opinions in person. The internet creates an effective shield that most have no reason to step out from behind. Cowards.

Furthermore, let’s sitck our heads in the sand by pretending that the animals we eat aren’t the same as the cute and cuddly ones that we form attachments too. After all, only “unloved” animals should have to become supper, right? I hope that more parents actually had a sit down with their children to talk about this rather than immediately pointing the finger at one person.

2. The State of Online Content « Bitch Wants Tea - March 4, 2010

[…] too long ago we brought your attention to A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, and The Telegraph’s warning of the power of information on the […]


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