Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Twitter thug gets a delightful comeuppance

Man who abused Professor Mary Beard apologises after somebody threatens to tell his mum.

Mon, Jul 29, 2013, 22:22


Amid all the current chatter about installing “abuse buttons” on stupid Twitter, we were gifted a rare, beautiful example of an abuser on this medium being put hilariously in his place. This really is one of those stories that gives you hope. As you may be aware, popular TV historian Mary Beard — Cantabrigian expert on all things Roman — has, over the last few years , been subject to unpleasant levels of abuse on Twitter. There is nothing the torch-carrying hordes hate more in that virtual space than a pesky woman. After an appearance on Question Time earlier this year, she suffered a particularly horrible stream of graphic filth. “It would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate, especially as all of this comes up on Google,” she said at the time.

Flash-forward to this week. Professor Beard made an appearance on Jeremy Vine’s BBC Radio 2 show. Somebody called Oliver Eric Rawlings (let’s repeat his name as often as possible, shall we?) tweeted that Mary was a “a filthy old slut” and then went on to make remarks about her body that we won’t repeat. Beard now takes quite an aggressive approach on these things. She tends to retweet the message in the hope that the abusers’ friends and family will spot it and realise what a nasty little oik they have welcomed to their hearth.

Anyway, here’s where it gets delicious. An excellent individual named John Wilson did some research and tweeted the following message: “@wmarybeard Mary, If you would like to send a copy @Rawlings153′s tweet to his mother, Joanne. I’d be happy to give you the postal address.” @Rawlings153 is, of course, Mr Oliver Eric Rawlings (whose name we are happy to list for a second time). Rawlings quickly issued an apology and subsequently locked his Twitter account. Let’s savour this for a moment. A grown man (he’s 20, apparently) was forced to apologise after somebody threatened to tell his mum on him. We have always been told that bullies are really cowards. That is probably a bit of an oversimplification (or wishful thinking). But what do you know? In this case it really does seem to be true.

The Telegraph has already dug up sone information on Oliver Eric Rawlings (one more time) and the Mail is sure to follow. So, it seems very unlikely that his mother will remain ignorant of his comments about a distinguished academic’s private parts. ┬áIt’s hard to know exactly what to think about that. Is this just another class of bullying? At any rate, it’s hard to feel even a tiny bit sorry for him. Sadly, this story is unlikely to change the culture of misogyny and bitchiness that persists on Twitter, online notice boards and the below-the-line comments boards of national newspapers. We’re probably stuck with it. Oh well. There are worse things.