Abusers Anonymous

  • As if on a conveyer belt, there will be a never ending supply of idiots and jerks that come and go in your life. Whether you stop the belt to dance with any one of them is up to you - ― Dan Pearce,

Victims campaigner Ann Travers has written in the Belfast Telegraph of her experience at the hands of internet trolls. Online harassment and smearing is a time honoured censorial tactic designed to stifle public discussion and ultimately limit access to information and viewpoints that the less tolerant don’t want people to have. Much of it is carried out by anonymous trolls.

Ann Travers’ sister Mary was shot dead in 1984 as she left mass with her father, the intended ‘legitimate target’ of the IRA members who carried out the operation. In recent years Ann Travers has come to the fore as a vocal advocate on behalf of those who, like her sister, lost their lives during the conflict and who still feel that no recompense thus far, whether psychological or material, has filled the trauma vacuum that they endure.

She was the driving force behind the Sidekicks Bill, successfully launched by TUV leader Jim Allister. The bill is heavily punitive and one sided. It operates by disbarring from certain societal and occupational roles those such as Mary McArdle who was involved in the 1984 killing of Mary Travers but not those in RUC Special Branch who covered up agent involvement in the same incident.

I have never felt the SPAD bill as it has been termed was a just one and I hold grave misgivings about the TUV motives. The party loudly champions victims of terrorism as long as it is not state terrorism they have been victimised by. Still, it would be hard to fault Ann Travers for the drive and determination that she has brought to her lobbying. Often, it is what families do. The abuse she has sustained at the hands of Abusers Anonymous is designed to silence her. She has been accused of having UDA and UVF mates, being a ‘spiteful petty woman’ determined to destroy conflict resolution and has been told that her father was part of the British war machine; as if that somehow could justify the death of his daughter.

Tom Travers was a local magistrate which, whatever views he may have had of them, left him aligned with the Repressive State Apparatuses. But that alignment was much more tenuous than the role of Barra McGrory, the North’s current numero uno prosecutor on behalf of a British police force that is itself facing Judicial Review at the behest of the police ombudsman, Michael Maguire, over withholding information about 60 conflict related killings. McGrory supports repressive legislation including non-jury Diplock courts and the use of supergrass evidence.

Yet it would be anathema were Barra McGrory to be targeted as Tom Travers was. The irony is that some of those who strongly endorse McGrory’s role within the British administration in all likelihood gave approval for Tom Travers to be shot. Another irony is that they may even be involved in the online campaign against Ann. The IRA’s former P O’Neill at the time of the attack on the Travers family was central to an online campaign of abuse against those involved in the Boston College project, labelling them touts amongst other things.

It is vital that Ann Travers, whether we agree with her or not, is able to make her case free from intrusion by thought police or whisper weasels. It is laudable to applaud her for refusing to be cowed by the trolls. It is more beneficial to give her the space on blogs or websites to articulate whatever case she chooses.

1 comment:

  1. The internet character assassins’ have an agenda one that usually makes no sense to free thinking people but in their mind its fair game even if it is utter nonsense.

    The Sinn Fein endorsed campaign of BC touts expanded from the net to the walls covered in graffiti not much of a story there as it seemed to go unnoticed by the media. If someone makes a legitimate challenge to SF they quickly cry foul and label the challenger as petty and vindictive along with anti-peace and reconciliation.

    It would be interesting to watch a debate between those that attack this woman with their internet snide remarks actually sit down and argue the toss with her in person. I wonder who would win that debate I know my money would not be on the internet assassins’.

    I might not agree with what the woman has to say but that doesn’t mean I won’t listen or try to understand her position the name calling or labeling is a minor issue compared to the real objective of any hate campaign which is to silence what they don’t agree with.

    On the Quill a lot flies but at least there is that special place reserved for those whose only interest is attacking for no reason or those who make no sense at all.