Every Monday night during the ABC’s tweet-back programme Q&A, tweeters interested in politics warm up their smartphones, tablets and laptops, and tweet their responses to the various partisan statements made by the members of the Q&A panel. It’s a rowdy, undisciplined affair with views ranging from the literal middle ground all the way through to the extremes, and surprisingly, it’s usually well-informed, articulate and oftentimes, hilarious.
Iconic Q&A moments were amplified to greatness within the twittersphere: GetUp’s Simon Sheikh fainted on air, an audience member through a shoe at John Howard, Julie Bishop tried to kill a cameraman with her trademark stare, Germaine Greer became obsessed with the Prime Minister’s wardrobe choices. These are one-off, unscripted examples of what can happen on live television, with an equally live “participating” via social media.
|Cameron Edward's series of offensive tweets|
The viewer was Cameron Edwards, an insulter in the mould of an Alan Jones or Kyle Sandilands. With expertise rarely seen outside Sydney commercial radio, Cameron Edwards succeeded in tweeting a stream of insults directed at Senator Wong’s gender, ethnicity and sexual preference.
An hour or so later, after hundreds of people pointed out the error of his ways and forwarded screen shots of the worst of his tweets to UNSW, a rather embarrassed Cameron Edwards deleted some of the offending tweets, protected his twitter account (so that others cannot get access to his older tweets) and apologised. Today, he has emailed a personal apology to Senator Wong.
And no, Cameron – booze isn’t an excuse. If you can’t handle yourself drunk, don’t drink so much. You took responsibility for your offensive tweets; now take responsibility for the sentiment behind them.
Because as individuals, we are troubled by what we see, and our opinion matters too.