It's quite ironic that I've been singled out for criticism when I as a Liberal Democrat have been the recipient of hyperbolic, hysterical bile, mainly from Labour on Twitter on many occasions. I at least do try to be fair in what I write and I hope I've been consistent in sticking up for people in other parties if I think it's merited. I tend to take the view that most people who get involved in politics are good people who are trying to make people's lives better and I assume that's the case until it's proved otherwise.
What happened on Sunday is that Stephen Fry was reported to have made a comment which I considered to be preposterous and I said so. That doesn't mean I don't like him, just that he's said something I don't agree with. I said at the time that I wanted him to engage in the debate and tell us what he had actually said and how he's been misquoted.
Thankfully he's now resurfaced on Twitter to post a link to a post on his blog explaining his side of the story. It's a long post, but as with everything he writes, it's worth reading. He concludes:
Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I am sitting on an aeroplane writing a blog which tries to reassure the world that I am quite aware that women enjoy sex. No one can say my life isn’t unpredictable, interesting and … well, Fryish…He expresses disappointment in those of us who believed that he could have said such a thing. Well, when you see what's reported as a direct quote in one of the more reputable newspapers in the UK, you do tend to take it seriously.
If you're going to express opinions publicly, you're going to get people disagreeing with you. Most of the time that criticism will be of reasonable quality, raising legitimate points. At other times it will just be nasty, insulting bile. My way of dealing with it is to relish the former and ignore the latter. It works for me, at least. I am more hurt by criticism from those I respect and I'm more likely to take it seriously, than that from sensationalist strangers.
The online world in general and Twitter in particular can be a heated place from time to time - that high running passion can be a force for good as well as for bad. Remember how #trafigura ensured that our democratic processes were not subverted by legal procedural malarkey? Remember how #iranelection got news out from Iran of the protests and unacceptable actions of the authorities?
Anyway, I'm glad that Stephen Fry is back amongst us. Even if the comments reported last week were accurate, his book would be near the top of my letter to Santa this year.