Trolls threaten to ‘gas’ PinkNews CEO for reading pro-gay children’s book to nieces
PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen received a barrage of homophobic and anti-Semitic abuse – because he read a pro-LGBT children’s book to his niece.
Mr Cohen had read the children’s book King & King – which tells the story of a prince who finds a same-sex partner – to his nieces Isabelle and Amelie, aged 3 and 1.
He attracted anti-Semitic and homophobic internet trolls when he tweeted a picture from the book.
He had tweeted: “Been busy reading a lovely gay inclusive book to my 3 and 1-year-old nieces”.
Some of the comments attacked the book for “indoctrination”, while others appeared to be shockingly anti-Semitic.
One tweet read: “If all Jews would go gay and lesbian we’d all be happy. Would save on our gas bill later.”
Another said: “I only wish all Jews were homosexuals, they might go extinct sooner.”
Referring to the Holocaust, a troll wrote: “This is why your people get Shoah’d”.
Others joked about “Pogrom” – a massacre of Jewish people.
Another troll wrote: “Best wait till after potty training.
“Don’t want them to love poop boxes before then, now do you… you bestial pervert?”
Mr Cohen, who launched and sold a Jewish media business before founding PinkNews, said he had never experienced such extreme levels of anti-Semitism before.
He said: “Although I’ve occasionally received homophobic and anti-Semitic tweets before, it has never been on the scale that I have received in the past 24 hours.
“All that I did was post a photograph of myself and my sister with my wonderful nieces after I read them a beautiful gay inclusive children’s book, ‘King and King‘.
“What shocks me the most is not that people are so homophobic or anti-Semitic but rather that the tweets to me were written by people whose Twitter timelines are filled with similar vile attacks to other people.
“This clearly illustrates the huge problem that Twitter has in dealing with and policing hate speech.”
Some of the comments sent to Mr Cohen accused him of “sexual perversion” for reading the book to his nieces.
One troll wrote: “I think they call it grooming. The pervert needs curb stomped.”
Others branded him a “paedophile”, adding: “you should be arrested for child abuse”.
The Metropolitan Police are currently investigating the tweets – but it is unclear how many of the Twitter users are subject to the UK’s hate speech laws.
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Labour peer Lord Cashman, the party’s envoy on Global LGBT Rights, said: “There is absolutely no place in a civilised society for this kind of intolerance and discrimination.
“Anti-Semitism like any form of hatred or discrimination affects every single one of us. We must learn from history that unless we face down this hatred it will turn upon others.
“We are all in this together and Twitter along with other social platforms must take action.”
Cabinet Minister Theresa Villiers commented: “That is truly shocking. I find it appalling that people use the anonymity of social media to inflict this kind of vile anti-Semitic and homophobic abuse. I welcome the fact that the police will investigate this case.”
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “No-one should be subjected to online abuse or harassment. A barrage of online homophobic and anti-semitic bullying is totally, utterly and completely unacceptable and these people who hide behind an anonymous profiles and spout hate should be held to account.
“Free speech is a fundamental right but with that comes a responsibility and Twitter needs to do more to deal with these trolls.”
The book ‘King and King’, written by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijlan, has often come under attack from the anti-LGBT lobby for its message of tolerance and diversity.
In Oklahoma, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a motion in 2005 confining the book to the ‘adults only’ section in state library.