Warning – there is some very graphic and sexist language in the third paragraph of this post. Please don’t read if it will upset you.
What happened, as you will doubtless have realised, or as you will know already, particularly if you have read the speech, is precisely nothing. Well, to be strictly accurate, not entirely nothing. The police did eventually, about three months later, arrest two somewhat pitiable individuals with a bundle of issues of their own who had jumped on the bandwagon and sent threats of rape and murder to Criado Perez, for reasons they could barely articulate themselves. (The woman, for one of them was indeed a woman, did say that she was thrilled by the number of retweets and favourites she was getting for her threats, which rather raises the question of what kind of person favourites and retweets a message threatening to rape, murder and berry (sic) another human being who has done nothing more than ask quite politely for there to be a picture of just one woman on a bank-note. But I digress.) The two ended up going to prison for a matter of weeks each. It was hardly a principled stand against hate speech.
And what of all the others, the hundreds, maybe thousands who tweeted graphic threats of rape and murder to Criado Perez, and, when she blocked their accounts, set up new accounts and tweeted them again, gloating over their power to do so. Surely these were at the very least tracked down by the social media platforms concerned, mostly Twitter, thrown off said platforms and banned from ever coming back? Surely their tweets were immediately deleted as were any retweets and ugly replies? That must be the case, right?
I mean, let’s take an analogy here (if you read this blog regularly you’ll know I’m fond of a nice analogy). Let’s suppose you have a grudge against someone, a woman, say, who goes to a particular pub. You want to make her life as unpleasant as possible. So you go to the pub too, with a stupid mask on, and you write a number of unpleasant notices (quite a large number) containing threats to rape and murder her, and you scatter them around the pub where she’ll see them. You write a big banner saying “Die, BITCH, I’m going to rape your arse till you scream for mercy and then choke you till you’re DEAD #rapecrew” and you carry it around in the pub. When she comes into the pub you walk up to her and start screaming these ugly threats and insults at her. You wave the banner in her face so she can’t help but see it, you shove the notices under her nose and you encourage others to do the same. If anyone intervenes to try to stop you, you start in on them too. If she tries to move away from you, you follow her. If she changes seats, you follow her. If she goes to another part of the pub, to another room or into the garden, you follow her. You make it entirely impossible for her to be in the pub at all without being fully aware of all the horrible, ugly, vicious things you are thinking about her and that you say you are planning to do to her.