As anyone following this blog has become aware, I tend to offer up my thoughts about a grand prix at its conclusion. I only saw part of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix (for reasons that will become clear in subsequent posts), but I did see Hamilton’s bold move on Rosberg into the first corner to claim the lead – and I saw the race get red-flagged in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s serious accident.

His going off the track was not in itself the problem – it was unfortunate co-incidence that he crashed off where Sutil had crashed a lap earlier – and there was a crane there, trying to remove Sutil’s car. Bianchi hit the crane, and in the process, sustained a serious head injury.

He has had surgery and is currently in intensive care, and all we can do is keep our fingers crossed, pray, and send him all our best wishes – which I am sure everyone will do.

In a horrible twist, Bianchi’s accident was not the only bit of bad news to befall Formula 1 yesterday. Former driver Andrea De Cesaris, whose career spanned 14 years from 1980 to 1994, was killed yesterday in a motorbike accident in Rome.

Sunday has been a day that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons in F1 circles, and I wish Bianchi a speedy recovery, and De Cesaris to rest peacefully.

So, just now, as I’m scrolling through Facebook, I come across an article from the Mirror that reported the Twitter user ‘@sweepyface’ (who was involved in a Sky News story about harassment of the McCanns) has been found dead at a hotel. This comes just days after her impromptu appearance on Sky News.

So, once again the question has to be raised about the influence of the media (and social media). Was Sky News justified in putting her face on national television? Whilst I did not agree with her stance, there were far worse examples out there, that I am sure even now skulk behind throwaway usernames, waiting to see who else they can torment.

The irony is, this woman, Brenda, may well have been targeted for abuse by the very people who were sending the most vile tweets to the McCanns.

Or she was targeted, perhaps even more ironically, by people supporting the McCanns.

Once again this highlights the perils of the media – one wrong step, be it on Twitter, or be it a national news channel, we have to remember that with freedom of speech comes the responsibility to use that freedom wisely.

So, this morning, having been watching the news (perhaps not the best thing for me to do), I saw a story about trolls on Twitter harassing the parents of Madeline McCann. Not being one to always know when to keep my mouth shut, I jumped in to offer my own opinion.

The conversation that followed quite eye-opening about my own attitudes to freedom of speech, and where the line is between free speech and hate speech. What is the point where voicing an opinion becomes an act of needless, hurtful aggression?

Some of the trolls on Twitter have spoken of how they’d happily recruit assassins, or burn the McCanns alive… they are grieving parents who have to live with the fact their daughter is probably never going to be found, and they don’t even have the closure of being able to say ‘she’s dead, it hurts, but we can bury her, say our goodbyes and try to move on’. They are suffering, and most certainly do not deserve the hate campaign that’s been going on.

I have a page on my main site about Internet Tough Guys, and the behaviour of a lot of these Twitter trolls certainly fits the bill. The main focus for the conversation I had on Twitter though, was about a Twitter user called @Sweepyface (who has since deleted her account) when she was tracked and interviewed on Sky News. Her tweets are certainly not the worst, but she said to Sky News that she was entitled to attack the McCanns and reportedly used Twitter to spread rumours about their marriage, and said she hopes the McCanns ‘suffer forever’.

I initially was highly critical of @Sweepyface (and to be honest, I still am – she may not have been calling for their heads but she was certainly not acting on anyone’s interests to harass them), but, is what she did to be considered hate speech, or is she merely voicing an opinion?

Well, this is where things get tricky.

The more I think about it (and the more I consider my conversation), it’s hard to argue that @Sweepyface did anything legally wrong. She is, like anyone else, entitled to an opinion, and Lord knows we allow far worse opinions to exist. I do feel that her position is morally untenable though.

I also have to wonder if she would have been so willing to say anything if she wasn’t acting anonymously.

Interestingly enough, I came under a bit of fire shortly after making the point that trolls rely on anonymity that I don’t put my real name with my Twitter posts. As a matter of fact, my real name is represented on Twitter, and just because someone puts a name and picture on Twitter, it doesn’t mean they’re putting their name and picture on there. In the end, we all have to be prepared to offer up a little trust to each other.

I certainly don’t believe we should be abusing the system to harass others.

So as time goes by, my site appears to be gaining a steady following. It’s not exactly pulling in huge numbers but at least it’s gotten noticed a little. It may well take several months or even years for me to get to the stage where I need forums and whatnot, but hopefully I will get there.

I need to look at ways to attract attention. Twitter is one – linking blog posts to Twitter certainly gets my site out there – and Twitter links directly to Facebook.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have more of a go at political commentary. Politics certainly gets tongues wagging, after all. The problem with this is that it’s very easy to make a fool of one’s self discussing politics – and there are only so many heated disputes I can stand.

One thing I am quite prepared to argue in favour of is gay rights. I am aware of the hysteria the political Right (usually backed up with religious arguments) whips up over how being gay is a sin and how it will lead to the collapse of society. Then there’s my position on Creationism.

How else to expand this? I don’t know.

There’s my Star Trek vs Star Wars argument (apologies to the folks of Starfleet Jedi – I want to continue our discussions but I am stretching myself in so many different directions that I don’t know when this will happen).

My passion for Formula 1 has certainly seen a few new pages – and there are a few more in the works.

I suspect I could also do with just pushing the site a bit more.

huh

A blog post that cuts across two subjects… first of all, a look back to my frankly strange dream last night.

My dream last night started out with me being driven around the Monaco F1 circuit by Martin Brundle. I was asking him questions about the sport and I vividly recall asking him a question about Nigel Mansell that, for whatever reason, he declined to entertain. We also took advantage of driving past the shops to stop and window shop – as you do.

He struck me as being very eloquent (which to be honest, is how Brundle comes across when presenting F1), and knowledgeable about the sport. It was a good dream.

A bit weird, but entertaining. After that, it got very weird.

Back in August I had a phone call to tell me that a very nice man I knew via work had passed away. I’ve been meaning to phone his wife and check on her (and today I did indeed call her), and I think this must have been playing upon my mind. I dreamed that I went round to see her and make sure she was alright. Whilst there, we performed some sort of ritual and her husband’s spirit took over my body – but only for a short time.

During this ‘experience’, we listened to some music and danced, and we both got very emotional – in floods of tears. As his spirit left me, his wife was asking me if I knew why ’52’ was important. I couldn’t answer, and felt very upset. In the dream, I felt really upset, virtually in tears, and this was enough to actually wake me up. I haven’t been jolted awake by a dream for a long time, so this was very unusual.

I’m still not really sure what to make of this dream.