At the outset I should admit: I have paid only scant attention to the details of the recent ermahgerd twitteh trerlls thing wherein a footballer was so incensed by (apparently actually unpleasant and really pretty shitty) messages sent to him on twitter that he has made appeals to the Gummint to find out who it was being so nasty to him, so that they may be punished.
We even now have Senator Conroy lambasting Twitter for "treating Australian law with contempt". Rly?
Yes. Really. Because they aren't keen to hand over identifying details of someone who sent nasty offensive messages to someone else. Since when
is should a person's taking of offence be any business of police or government? Even if what was said (tweeted) was really terrible, if it wasn't a threat or incitement to violence or similar, then why should authorities be involved? Taking offence doesn't mean you deserve to be protected from whoever you took offence to. It just means you feel offended (which is a pretty useless construct IMO; as much as I admit to not being completely immune to it, I don't think it's ever proved useful).
I think Stephen Fry put it perfectly:
I totally agree that a cry of being offended by something has "no reason to be respected". Certainly not to the point of police and Gummint trying to track down the person who said whatever was taken as offensive. Sure, I am not meaning to excuse unpleasant and hurtful things being slung at anybody, but this? This is stupid.
You will note also, that I am bending language rather unpleasantly to make it clear that it is not the naughty troll who gives offence, but rather the offended party who takes offence. Foolishness.
… But I'm also thinking that – seen in the light of the increasingly Orwellian nature of our societies – there's a disturbing side to it as well.