Friday, August 08, 2003

A Cautionary Tale of Gullibility and Hypocrisy

"Hi" - says the mail, from 'Leanne', "I was checking your profile on the Web and you sounded kinda interesting. Would you like to chat with me ? I'm 23 and blonde with green eyes, really enjoy sex and I have a webcam. I'm on cam most days 8-10 p.m. at ....".

Most people who've built a website with an email address on it will have received mail like that. Every day, robotic programs trawl the Web, automatically grabbing the address from sites and building vast mailing databases which are available for sale. I get fifteen or twenty unsolicited mails a day, currently mainly for online pharmacies ('Fentamine, Viagra, Valium'), Human Growth Hormone ('Look Younger Feel Younger') and drugs to enlarge the penis ('She Will Love You For It' is one of the printable sales pitches). But there are usually a few porn site mails as well as 'Leanne's' more sophisticated approach.

I don't ever click the links or go to the site. You know that there is no 'Leanne', lonely sex goddess with a webcam, surfing for her dream cyberlover, who just happens to be lucky old overweight fortysomething you.

Instead there's an operation to relieve you of your money, perhaps with a girl and webcam involved somewhere along the line. And anyway, there are a host of sites (many of them French, for some reason) where girls, often of a certain age, webcams and chat are free. For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.

But then I'm a cynical old Hector. When (according to the BBC News site – from which the story has now disappeared, some time between 5 and 10.30 p.m. on 8th August) a Tory councillor received an unsolicited email from a 'Julie Masters', stating that she was looking for an older man for some online rudity, no alarm bells rang. And he was right, there was no commercial rip-off. It was much, much, worse.

He replied. ‘She’ replied. The mails became more explicit over a period of months, ending in the sending of photographs of the councillor in suspenders and little else.

Next thing was that copies of the mails and photographs arrived in the inbox of every council member ….. it appeared the councillor had been set up – and stitched up.

We are told how to guide our children, to lessen the ‘stranger danger’ of the chatroom. Perhaps grown-ups need lessons, too.

Now for the hypocrisy. While it may be distressing to inadvertantly, through the action of a third party, be exposed to the sexual fantasies of a colleague, you’d think a Labour council would be a little more grown up about such things. After all, we’ve left that kind of Victorian reticence way behind. Labour-controlled health authorities encourage children to role-play a married man caught ‘cottaging’, or to discuss "dressing and tying up", use of "sexual toys" and "multiple partners". Not like those buttoned-up Tories. Labour are cool and open about sex.

Not in Bracknell they’re not. Councillor Anne Shillcock in particular takes the biscuit.

Labour borough councillors have written about Cllr Grayson's behaviour to the Standards Board of England and have called for his resignation from the council.

They also issued a press release which said: "The charge is that Cllr Grayson has brought the council and council members into disrepute. This follows information which has recently been brought to the attention of fellow councillors and several members of the public by the publication of sexually explicit material."
Labour leader Cllr Anne Shilcock said: "The Labour Group calls upon Cllr Grayson to formally apologise to all members and members of the public who have received this disgusting material."”

Why on earth should he apologise ? He didn't disseminate this material. If only the councillor had been a self-professed member of some deviant minority these left-wing hypocrites wouldn't have uttered a word, other than to sympathise with him as the victim of a 'whatever'-phobic campaign.

The best bet for the Tory councillor is to say he’s at the start of his transgender journey and sue for harassment !