Editor’s Comment: June 2019
PUBLISHED: 11:15 16 May 2019
© Thousand Word Media
Anyone can ‘summon a Twittermob at the click of a mouse when they want to stop someone, somewhere, doing something that they find objectionable.’ In his editor’s comment, Mike Lowe talks social media bullies, ice cream vans being banned in London and summer survival
Life has always changed - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. It's just that today we seem to be trapped in a vortex of our own making. Or at least of the internet's making.
We are well and truly in the age of the social media bullies; self-important shouters who use the world wide web to summon a Twittermob at the click of a mouse when they want to stop someone, somewhere, doing something that they find objectionable. And it doesn't even need to be a mob. Craven companies, organisations and individuals are all too quick to cave in at the slightest grumble of a gathering gang.
So a fun event like sheep racing was abandoned at a country fair in Yorkshire after animal rights protesters (yes, them) threatened to cause trouble. Fortunately we're made of sterner stuff here in the Cotswolds. When a similar situation arose at Andoversford point-to-point, organisers carried on regardless. (See Page 244 June's Cotswold Life.) No sheep died. The interesting - and rather sinister - thing about this was that a petition calling for the Andoversford ban attracted over 50,000 signatures - from countries including Singapore, Sweden and Brazil. I doubt many of these people have been to the Andoversford point-to-point before. I doubt many of them have ever been to the Cotswolds. I doubt that some of them have even seen a real-life sheep.
And on it goes. Farmers are banned from shooting the pigeons that decimate their crops. Department stores are pilloried for daring to suggest that little boys might want to wear spaceman outfits while little girls might want to be ballerinas. (See Page 17 of June's Cotswold Life for the real picture.) The Royal Navy is under fire for referring to ships as "she", a practice in place since 1375.
It happens to us as well. It happens to me and it happens to our columnists. If I have the temerity to write something on this page that is even vaguely critical of say, cyclists or vegans or rabid environmentalists, my email inbox is soon struggling to keep up with the complaints. Many come from honest, well-meaning individuals, but they also come from people who have been alerted to my thought crime by Facebook fury - my words copied and pasted around the country. These people have no idea of context, have never seen a copy of Cotswold Life in their lives and have probably not even read the full article. Their familiarity with sheep is unknown, although I suspect that they share some characteristics.
In other news, it seems that ice cream vans are going to be banned from the streets of London after protests from, yep, rabid environmentalists. Apparently it's double jeopardy at the school gates with sugary snacks accompanied by air pollution.
Now I understand that having a diesel engine running all day to power the refrigerators isn't ideal, but you would have thought that a more sensible alternative could have been found. Electric power points at regular pitches, for example? No, it's easier just to ban them. This is a decision by the Mayor who, as part of his anti-obesity campaign, has already banned adverts for strawberries and cream on Tube trains running to Wimbledon.
I mention this because I can quite easily see the same restrictions being applied to Cotswold tourist spots. Let us just hope that we have some people of intelligence and wit who can come up with a sensible solution and avoid the kind of panicky knee-jerk that defies reason.
In the meantime, get on your bike and cycle up onto Rodborough Common where you'll find the finest ice cream at Winstones and the cleanest air in the Cotswolds. Problem solved.
According to the tabloid press, we're all going to be lucky to survive this summer. Already risible front pages have been seen heralding the arrivel of killer jellyfish, killer bees, killer pollen bombs, killer piranhas, killer sharks and killer bacon. Oh, and the big cat is back, and it's still "the size of a Labrador".
For more musings from Mike, follow him on Twitter! @cotslifeeditor