Satirising MPs Should Not Be Banned

Jess Phillips wants the above tweeted parody headline banned. The outspoken Labour MP tweeted this morning

Yesterday I was alerted to a completely fake headline that was being put on about me, that puts me my family and staff at risk of violence. It is completely fake. It had been shared 280 times by the time I saw it and reported it to @TwitterSupport reaching a possible audience of millions. I have no recourse to take further action as this was an anonymous account. It is designed only to incite hatred and I find that this often happens when I speak up against the powerful. People share in good faith without realising the sinister motives/organise efforts that struck the initial match. Had it been in any publication I could act but as it is I am left just to deal with the fallout and aggression. This has got to change.”

Guido’s not sure how it puts her and her staff at “risk of violence”, or convinced that it was designed to incite hatred, nor what it has to do with her speaking up against the powerful. Guido likes Jess Phillips, she speaks her mind and she doesn’t give a damn. Neither she nor her staff should be abused or threatened with violence. Jess certainly doesn’t deserve all the genuine threats and obscene abuse she gets. That all goes without saying.

Guido might be wrong about the motives of the anonymous tweeter who created and tweeted the fake headline, could it possibly have been to mock her and Labour’s position on Shamima Begum returning to the UK? Isn’t it satirical? If it was a gag on a comedy show would it have been inciting hate? If it appeared in the pages of Private Eye would she have any recourse in law? No, and nor should she.

Mocking politicians’ pretensions is an important part of a free democracy. Most of the fake Guardian headlines are dreadfully unfunny, cliched and boring. This one actually made Guido smile.

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mdi-account-multiple-outline Jess Phillips
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