Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Freedom of the press is freedom to inflict misery.

Over the 40 years I've been involved in public life, I've taken some big hits in the media. Never responded. Known it to be a lost cause. Just taken what's been thrown at me. I'll not pretend it's not hurt - on one occasion hurt quite badly. So when there was a great kerfuffle around the 'hacking' scandal, and the Leveson Inquiry, it was assumed by many I would be for restrictions on press freedom. But I wasn't. The Mirror was so shocked to learn of this (they had just put me through public humiliation about a deer-shooting tweet I'd published) that they asked me to write 500 words for them. Which I did. Good article it was too. But the Mirror heaped ever greater humiliation upon me by dumping my article in favour of one from Paddy Ashdown. Which I thought was total bilge. Mirror didn't pay me either.

Truth is I've always believed freedom of the press is fundamental to a free society. That's why I never had any enthusiasm for the Leveson inquiry. Over recent months, the investigative press has won some better headlines. Which brings us to today's statement by Prince Harry. I certainly understand why he made it. He must have been furious. Even so, my personal advice would have been to say nought in public. In particular, I'd have just let the Internet comment run. Because it won't stop. If anything it will have heightened interest and make the position worse. There's a lot of evil-minded vindictive individuals out there with no moral compass at all. 

It does make me warm to Prince Harry though. He is outraged by the treatment of his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, who seems to be a most attractive and talented actress. He sees her as being mistreated by media and internet trolls and others. He wants to protect her from abuse and harassment. And he's right to be furious. At Harry's age I would have wanted to see blood drawn. 

But I fear it won't do any good. You can't beat these people who hide behind their computer screens, publishing the most outrageous stuff. They become brave behind their computer walls. Prince Harry, turn your computer off. And persuade your girlfriend to turn her computer off as well. Ignore them all. Abandon Twitter, the Internet cesspit of our age. Don't let the b*****rds get you down. Carry on doing the brilliant work you do, alongside your brother. Most British people hold in contempt the little minds typing out bile on their computers. Through my life, I've realised the one response these people hate is to be ignored. For most of us, your desire to protect those closest to you is the best of British.

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