Do We Really Want the Tom Daley Twitter Dick to End Up in Prison?

By Alex Miller

Yesterday, Tom Daley, that twinky British kid with a preternatural ability to fall into water gracefully, failed to get an Olympic medal. Which is surprising, because the press had led me to believe that he was the greatest diver there had ever been. (He's not. He's very, very good, but it turns out that loads of Chinese people are better than him.)

Anyway, most of England was quick to realize that you can't win all the time, and set about consoling him, because, presumably, as a professional athlete, Tom was a little bummed out. 

But so was a guy with a Twitter account:

Tom Daley's dad is dead, so this comment didn't go down too well with Tom Daley.

And then Twitter exploded. Often, what lies at the heart of a Twitter fury is a small group of angry left-wingers with an agenda, but this time around it was bolstered by feel-good Olympic optimism and the sense of national camaraderie the Games bring. A perfect storm of outrage in Union Jack face paint turned on @Rileyy_69, and Dresdened him.

Which is understandable, because, you know, he said a really cunty thing. Quickly, @Rileyy_69 realized that he'd screwed up and that the planet hated him and that, while it must be exciting to pick up 50,000 new followers, it probably isn't worth it if they are erecting a guillotine.

He tried to apologize, citing his devastation at the diving result as the reason for his loss of manners. It wasn't completely believable:

It didn't work. In fact, it seems nuts that he even thought it would be possible for him to claw his way out of this mess. I guess it's the same childish naivety that makes him believe he'll be forgiven that's stopped him from deleting his Twitter account. But then that makes sense, because @Rileyy_69 IS A FUCKING CHILD. HE'S SEVENTEEN. Look at his picture:  

Clearly he's a little shit, but did someone really have to call the police?

You fucking dicks. This is exactly the kind of overreaction Twitter encourages—in fact, it's the kind of hyperventilating nonsense that we cover every week in our Cry Baby of the Week column: Mothers outraged at teachers, customers outraged at sales assistants, non-smoking neighbors outraged at neighbors who smoke. It's not necessarily the outrage itself that's difficult to understand, but the desire to heap it onto the wider world so that everyone else can be outraged, too. And what you end up with is what we're seeing now: a confusing, nationwide pity party hosted by the same variety of self-entitled wimp who sues the NHS under the guise of public responsibility.

Someone read the Tom Daley Twitter feud and thought, Man, the police really need to know about this teenage supervillain. Today, he's saying something cruel and inadvisable on a social media site whose power he clearly hasn't grasped, but tomorrow, who knows? He could be working in Burger King, spitting on your onion rings. SOMEONE MUST STOP HIM.

To be fair, he's completely odious. Reading his collected greatest Twitter hits doesn't inspire sympathy; in fact, it pretty much makes me want to hit him with a spoon, lock him in a coffin, and set him adrift on the Thames:

But that wouldn't be right, would it? I'd like to fill his mouth with bees and tape it shut, but that wouldn't be correct, would it? And anyway, as far as I know, no one called the police about these racist tweets, they called them about these ones:

Ugh, he's vile. But we've discussed the ethical issues of arresting people for their online behavior before. Should pricks who write evil things about Fabrice Muamba really go to prison simply because they're racists who've failed to judge the national mood? Or should they just have eggs thrown at them until they agree to shut the fuck up? Being mean to Tom Daley could be counted as abuse, but it's a very distant form of abuse. @Rileyy_69's problem—besides the ones that have led him to sit around all day on the internet heckling strangers—is that it just also happens to be a form of abuse which lends itself to widespread public awareness.

If we're going to complain about a police state that arrests morons who make jokes about blowing up airports, then we can't run crying to the police when a kid says a horrible things to a man we respect. Right? It seems like sound logic to me.

Anyway, I guess the perfect outcome here is that @Rileyy_69 meets up with Tom Daley somewhere public and tells the media he's sorry and will never say anything mean ever again. Amazingly, Twitter has people who are even weirder people than Riley using it, so maybe these two, very different, young men could find some common ground over that.

Follow Alex on Twitter: @terriblesoup

UPDATE: Thanks to Twitter user @meni_san, who alerted to the following tweet that was missing from our report because @Rileyy_69 either had the brains or was ordered to delete it:

“@tomdaley1994 i’m going to find you and i’m going to drown you in the pool you cocky twat your a nobody people like you make me sick” (via)

Clearly it's a death threat of sorts, though it seems unlikely that @Rileyy_69 actually planned to find Tom Daley while he was swimming and kill him. I mean, I just threatened to fill his mouth with bees and tape it shut, and I'm really not going to.

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