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Internet set to bring down society

6 July 1999

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It was five years ago today... It may be difficult to imagine, but British Summers occasionally offer a sufficiently long period of continual sunshine for malodorous anarchopunks armed with dogs on string to form mobs and threaten western civilisation.

Naturally, this kind of civil unrest takes a certain amount of organising, so these dreadlocked ne'er-do-wells must have been delighted when the advent of the Internet and mobile phones took a lot of the leg-work out of subversion.

UK tabloid the Daily Mail, on the other hand, was less than impressed:

Internet set to bring down society

By Tim Richardson
Published Tuesday 6th July 1999 08:54 GMT

The Daily Mail yesterday published a full-page story about the corrupting influence of the Net under the headline 'SUMMER OF DISCONTENT'.

In an inflammatory piece that will only serve to fuel the prejudice of its readers, the Mail alleged that the Internet is spreading anarchy among the nation's mild-mannered middle classes. "A demo everyday as children of the middle class spread anarchy via the Internet," it cried in alarm. "The activists who use the hi-tech tools of the Internet and mobile phones are determined to create a summer of discontent," it continued. What utter tosh.

Rather than shooting the messenger, the Mail has decided to shoot the horse that carried the bearer of the news. The fact the information is published on the Net is hardly a reason for right-minded folk to turn into placard-waving anarchists. People who want to take to the streets will rant and rave and demonstrate regardless of whether the information is published on the Net or in some hastily cobbled-together paper pamphlet. Such arguments only find favour among people who wish to censor knowledge and free thinking. Some come on you guys at the Mail, is this the best you can do?


Those extra-Britannial readers who are not fortunate enough to have read the Daily Mail should be aware that the paper regularly runs extensive column inches of scaremongery in the "Immigrants/Paedophiles/Labour Party/Television/Sexual promiscuity/Technology [delete as applicable] : The chilling truth that will shock every right-minded parent" house style.

In fairness, though, we were entertained by a couple of years of mini-riots in Central London during which rampaging tree-huggers and teepee dwellers played a successful game of cat-and-mouse with police - thanks in part to excellent mobile phone communications.

But to suggest that the Internet and mobile phones are per se weapons of discontent is, well, utter tosh. ®

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