Friday, March 30, 2012

Phelpsing around

Since yesterday I've been going back and forth on whether to blog about the latest Twitter adventures of @PeterPhelpsMLC.

There are a few reasons.  Firstly, I've done it before. Twice, actually.

Secondly. @stilgherrian did it this morning:
His response?
Aw, shucks.

Mostly, however, what I've realised is that most people don't really care what people they have never heard of say on twitter.

Unless you're employed in politics or, like me, you have what probably amounts to an unhealthy interest in it, you probably couldn't name five members of the upper house. Heck, I'd have to think about it.

O'Farrell knows this.  Either he doesn't care what Phelps does on twitter, or he knows it doesn't matter. I suppose whilst the second is true, the first probably is as well.

The interesting thing is that, as I understand it, Phelps may actually be the most genuine NSW politician on twitter - this is apparently exactly what he is like in real life. If you want, you can go read what he had to say yesterday at about 4pm and why he said it.

He saw an (admittedly pretty stupid) comment from a leftie, and decided to get stuck in.

Phelps likes running about on twitter, making trouble, and brawling with people who annoy him. He even took the chance yesterday to mock someone for being unemployed, although in fairness that someone did bring it on by calling him a "knob end".

Quite the place, twitter.

In any event, this, apparently, is the NSW upper house.  Given that the voters don't seem to care either way, and O'Farrell certainly doesn't, I suppose we're stuck with it.


  1. He is a member of the upper house of the NSW Parliament and so has not accountability at all... and a long time to think about that, too.

  2. A fair assessment. It should be noted that I do not attack people unless they have already had a go at me. So it is, in one sense, merely self-defence. You can question whether it is excessive self-defence, but that is a matter of personal style, not an objective test. You will also note that I follow far fewer people on Twitter than those who follow me. That is deliberate. If one of my friends says "phelps is a knobhead" then I will see it, of course. I have chosen to be part of their conversations. But there is a certain provocation implicit in people who I don't follow writing "@peterphelpsmlc is a knobhead" unless the desire was simply to provoke a response. Random punters can quite easily comment about my personal failings - "phelps is a knobhead" or "peter phelps is a knobhead" or even "peter phelps mlc is a knobhead" - in their own tweets and I will never know unless THEY choose to have me tagged. That little @ is a declaration of war.

  3. declaration of war?? knobhead...

  4. Unfortunately, Mr Phelps, your use of 'self-defence' is nothing like the legal concept or it's popular understanding.

    The legal concept of self-defence requires proportionality. The legal test is if the alleged self-defence was proportionate to the 'threat' posed. So, for example, if someone is punches you, it is not self-defence to shoot them. Your responses are not proportionate to the original comments.

    In relation to your response to my tweet on 9 December 2011, I completely reject your assertion that I threatened violence.

    Your belief that the '@' is a declaration of war is interesting and novel.

    Surely an adult is capable of ignoring tweets like "Phelps is a knob end"? I agree with Barry O'Farrell that the public expects better from it's elected representatives. If you are not capable to acting in accordance with public expectations, you need to find a different career.

  5. Responding to nasty comments is one thing, but we expect those who hold public office to respond in a manner that's becoming of the office. It's not unreasonable to expect people's representatives to display a standard higher than that of a common troll. That may seem unfair, but there are always other career paths available. Being condescending to your constituents is never a great vote-winner and as an elected representative, caring about what other people think is what you're paid for.