It has to be said that the threat made on Sen. Lorraine Higgins’ life yesterday via social media reached a whole new low in public discourse. Gardaí are now investigating a message the senator received which is at once menacing, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, incoherent, and insane. I’m not even sure if Lorraine is a “Jewess.” No one, except no one, should be subject to treatment of this nature on the internet or anywhere, not even Sen. Higgins and her Labour Party who have inflicted atrocious hurt on the poor and vulnerable of this country, and thankfully the matter is now in the hands of the police. Yet within twenty-four hours the senator had a bill ready to go before the Dáil to introduce stricter legislation against online bullies.
Albeit of a lesser degree, Lorraine herself is no stranger to trolling and bullying people over social media. In May last year she blasted one of her political opponents, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, with a mock-up of him merged with the face of Dustin the Turkey asking that we “Don’t send another turkey to Europe.”
The fact is that everyone can access social media, and we simply cannot expect everyone to behave themselves. We can’t even expect Sen. Lorraine Higgins to play nice on the World Wide Web, how then can we expect the same from misogynistic, anti-Semitic, gun enthusiasts? By introducing new legislation – for crimes that are already covered under existing legislation – she is only demanding more from a police force that she and her party have already ensured cannot cope with its present workload. The fact that the bill was ready so quickly suggests that it was ready and waiting in someone’s filing cabinet. It looks as though this is yet another example of Idea Problem Solution; where our government has a plan to gain greater control, waits for a perfect crisis (real or manufactured), and presents its idea as the solution.