Horrible Hashtaggers

David Bullard on the tool by which bullies assemble mobs online


One of the great benefits of the internet, or so I’m told, is that it’s given ordinary people a voice. So, for example, if you find the British author J K Rowling’s views on trans people abhorrent (Rowling apparently belongs to the outdated school of thought which holds that the ownership of a penis makes you male and the absence of one makes you female) you can come up with a suitable hash-tag such as #RIPJKRowling and make violent online threats against her.

Normally this would constitute hate speech but since J K Rowling’s antipathy towards women with beards and male genitalia using female washrooms, participating in female sporting events and being banged up in women’s prisons is so vile and hateful she is apparently fair game and not worth protecting.

According to an article on www.spiked-online.com by Brendan O’Neill a couple of Irish prats who call themselves Jedward and apparently perform as a singing duo have called for people to burn Rowling’s forthcoming novel.

This time she has really crossed the line by having her main male character dress as a woman in order to murder women. Proof indeed that Rowling must be transphobic. Needless to say no sooner had the two cretins posted the Nazi style book burning recommendation on social media than the usual army of intellectual dwarves piled in with rape threats and death threats against Rowling accompanied by the obligatory hash-tag to show how much they care for trans people’s rights.

The hash-tag has become the coward’s cloak of invisibility. Providing you assemble as a mob behind a fashionable hash-tag you can do no wrong in the eyes of the law and of all right thinking people.

In fact, the hash-tag has become the modern day Excalibur. Remember when all those girls in Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram back in 2014? All it took was for Michelle Obama to tweet #bringbackourgirls and within days the whole caring world was also tweeting #bringbackourgirls as a sign that they cared deeply and fashionably about the fate of 276 mainly Christian abducted schoolgirls.

I would put good money that the majority of those jumping on this virtue signaling bandwagon wouldn’t have been able to find Nigeria on an atlas. Anyway, Boko Haram were clearly shamed by this outpouring of support for the captured girls and, not wishing to further tarnish their brand image, immediately returned them all to their families with a goody bag of sweets and toys. No, scrub that last sentence. That was what the halfwit virtue signalers probably imagined would happen. Such is the power of the hash-tag army.

I don’t suppose COVID has helped matters because an awful lot of really stupid people have been stuck at home with nothing to occupy their tiny minds. So getting behind a worthy cause has been about the only thing to do during lockdown.

As we have seen with gender based violence (the scourge of), climate change, black lives matter and trans rights you pretty much have license to do and say whatever you want if you assemble under the banner of a hash-tag so worthy that no decent human being would dare oppose it or suggest that there may be ulterior motives afoot.

Take gender based violence, Cyril’s favourite diversion tactic when things aren’t going too well on the economic front. Nobody in their right mind would suggest that any violence against women and children is in any way tolerable in society. But quite how a hash-tag that says #saynotogenderbasedviolence helps is beyond my understanding.

It’s so trite that it sounds like a plate of biscuits is being handed round. “Hash-tag…say no to chocolate digestives. No go on have one. No I really shouldn’t you know. No, go on have some gender based violence. Oooh, I’m tempted but I really must say no.” To me this trivializes a very important issue by reducing it to an empty headed woke slogan.

Were they perhaps expecting a counter movement with the hash-tag #sayyestogenderbasedviolence to pop up? Surely not. And if enough of us say no to GBV will it go away? Well it hasn’t so far so clearly poncing about and virtue signaling on social media hasn’t helped. Maybe chemical castration and far nastier punishments for offenders could possibly offer a better solution.

Climate change is another worthy cause and all of us who love Sir David Attenborough and guiltily throw out several plastic bags of plastic waste every week know we are in serious trouble unless we change our ways soon. But a group called Extinction Rebellion (XR) seem to have progressed from their environmental concern and now reckon that a good day out demonstrating for a cleaner planet should include hospitalizing a few police officers, a bit of selective vandalism and the prevention of the printing presses producing newspapers that the movement consider to be right wing.

So what started out as peaceful (albeit disruptive) demonstrations for a worthy cause very quickly degenerated into an excuse for lawlessness and the infringement of other people’s freedoms.

Now the UK government is considering declaring XR an ‘organised crime group’ which would not only play into their hands but would deprive hundreds of well off middle class kids of the pleasure of a great non socially distanced afternoon out, a chance to transmit COVID and a misplaced sense that they are about to change the world.

Which brings me to Black Lives Matter and if you’ve not taken the knee before your weekly golf four-ball at Erinvale or Dainfern then shame on you. I have suggested we all take the knee before competitions at my local croquet club but some members fear that once down they wouldn’t be able to get up again.

But if any cause has gone global and garnered so many enthusiastic supporters it is the brilliantly choreographed Black Lives Matter movement. In the early days a few querulous types countered that all lives matter but they were quickly put in their place and subjected to some well deserved hate and ridicule.

The whole point of BLM is that black lives apparently didn’t matter until the organization said they did so to suggest that other, mostly non black, lives matter is to miss the entire point that there is a lot of catching up to do. It’s very possible that Inuit lives also matter but that’s a cause for another day and another hash-tag.

I know it warms many people’s hearts to see our sporting heroes taking the knee before empty stadiums and I’m hoping that this fine example is followed by ballerinas, orchestral conductors and deep sea fishermen. Members of the clergy may in future need to explain in whose name they are taking the knee to avoid any potentially problematic misunderstandings.

The clear advantage that BLM has over other popular hash-tag causes is that the corporate world is terrified of upsetting them and will bend to their most outrageous demands as we saw recently with the Click’s affair. Primed to take offence and be outraged at the tiniest thing, the members of BLM constantly comb the shelves of supermarkets, read newspapers and magazines or scour the internet in search of anything that might be construed as offensive.

In the US for example, Uncle Ben’s rice has been accused of ‘offensive racial stereotyping’ for having a picture of a friendly looking black man in a bow tie and a smart blue jacket on the packet. I thought the pic looked uncannily like Sam the pianist from the movie ‘Casablanca’.

It’s been on the packet for the past 74 years so it’s taken some time to work up enough righteous indignation to get it removed. However owners Mars are to rename the product ‘Ben’s Original’ and get rid of Uncle Ben for ever. Whether removing Uncle Ben will help empower black people and give them a sense of worth remains to be seen.

The only thing that has mystified me about the BLM movement is their choice of poster person. They could have gone for Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Muhammed Ali, Daniel Hale Williams, Garrett Morgan or even Oprah Winfrey but instead they opted for a violent serial felon, George Floyd. You might want to put that fact out of your mind the next time you obediently take the knee.


I was greatly encouraged to read a piece in The Spectator by Fraser Nelson which I feel offers a little bit of hope. The Co-op in the UK withdrew advertising from The Spectator earlier this month because of an article which the Twitter mob decided was ‘transphobic’.

A Twitter storm ensued and a cowed Co-op gave in and promised to have nothing more to do with the scurrilous publication. The company had been targeted by an anonymous group calling themselves Stop Funding Hate whose raison d’etre it seems is to whip up hate against anybody they feel deserves it.

Needless to say the head honchos at Co-op hadn’t a clue what was happening until Andrew Neil, the man who runs The Spectator, responded that there was no need for you to pull advertising because you are now banned from advertising in The Spectator. Happily the row went viral and translated into a lot of new subscriptions for The Speccie.

Then people started saying that they would boycott the Co-op because of their petty mindedness and snowflake gormlessness.

Fortunately it’s all worked out well in the end as the CEO had no idea what his woke minions were up to. The Speccy have acknowledged that it was a genuine mistake and the long standing relationship between magazine and advertiser will continue. As Fraser Nelson comments:

“Cancel culture is now rebounding on corporates who engage with it. The joke – go woke, go broke – contains much truth. Companies wisely stay out of party political battles, so why enter the culture wars and disparage a chunk of their customers? Virgin Rail found this out when they were tricked by Stop Funding Hate into dumping the Daily Mail from its carriages: Richard Branson ended up overruling his marketing department and publishing a personal apology”.

Maybe there’s a lesson there for Clicks.