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4 November 2009updated 27 Sep 2015 2:28am

Media mob pays attention to Twittersphere

New Statesman sets the agenda on the rise of mob rule

By Samira Shackle

Radio 4’s Moral Maze tonight features a debate on the division between popular protest and mob rule. Its website summarises the topic for discussion:

When does a popular and spontaneous protest become mob rule? Fans of Twitter, the micro-blogging site, have chalked up a couple of notable victories of late. Followers helped to expose a legal injunction against the Guardian and Twitter-led protests generated tens of thousands of complaints against Jan Moir when she wrote a column using the death of Stephen Gately to criticise gay marriage. Is this net-based protest a valuable tool to demonstrate popular opinion or are we sacrificing traditional political engagement for the instant gratification of direct action?

Sound familiar? It will if you read the New Statesman last week. Our cover story was an excellent essay by Dominic Sandbrook on mob rule, considering the idea that “one man’s justified outrage is another’s hysterical bullying”:

Only in the past few weeks, two major news stories — the reaction to Jan Moir’s article about Stephen Gately in the Daily Mail and the outrage that greeted the appearance of the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, on Question Time — have reminded us that in an age when deference has virtually disappeared and politicians fall over themselves to appease public opinion, the spectacle of the enraged crowd, whipping itself to ever more extravagant extremes of indignation and fury, is perhaps not so alien after all.

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It’s great to be ahead of the curve . . . but let’s hope that Sandbrook’s piece is mentioned on Radio 4 tonight.

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