It’s nice to take some time out every once in a while from the Olympic titans flexing their sport. At least, I find that it is. Also, I’m away, so I wrote this yesterday. Today (yesterday), I’m taking a look at the Internet reaction to the foot-stamping efforts of Piers Morgan when the number of Team GB athletes singing their national anthem was a bit too low for his liking. There are some embedded tweets in this post. If you can’t see them, then your browser isn’t working.

Piers Morgan currently presents Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN. He’s a former editor of the News of the World and the Daily Mirror. He dislikes people being rude to him. Clive Anderson took Morgan to task in 1996 while they were both on an episode of Have I Got News For You, saying “the last time I was rude to you, you sent photographers to my doorstep the next day”. Morgan’s reply was “You won’t see them this time.” There have also been highlighted arguments with Ian Hislop and Jeremy Clarkson. Piers Morgan was fired as editor of the Daily Mirror in 2004 when he authorised the front-page printing of faked photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse (not that it doesn’t happen but the photos were clearly faked).

Here’s his reaction to Chris Hoy winning a sixth cycling medal for Great Britain:

They say that you should accentuate the positive. Plenty of people never got that memo but most of them leave whining about details until later in the evening.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is a man made up of all the world’s faults coming together in a single implausible entity. But he still managed to keep it nicely simple.

See? A non-backhanded compliment. That’s how people generally cheer. It’s how we’re taught to do it when we’re very young. When people do something good, cheer them on. Tell them that they’re great. Later on, you can let them know that their socks seemed odd, that their face had the strained look of a person on the toilet trying to expel an airliner and that it’d be, like, totally cool y’know if they bothered to sing the school song. It’s one of the most simple things that life teaches us.

Apparently, you’re not really British then.

It has shades of the Fox News view of Gabby Douglas as being unpatriotic by wearing a pink leotard while she won two Olympic gold medals (see Big Sporty Thing part 12). Because, apparently, what makes someone patriotic isn’t competing for their country on the biggest stage that sport offers – it’s whether they wear stars and stripes where people can see them or whether they sing along to the entirety of ‘God Save The Queen’. Especially the oft-ignored verse about crushing the Scots. Chris Hoy is Scottish, you know. He may have views on these things. Scotland’s had a long and complicated relationship with England and the British crown. Or maybe they don’t teach the national anthem in medal-winning cycling school.

Piers Morgan could have stopped there. Internet trolls rarely do, though. Relishing the attention, they tend to keep digging.

It’s not just Hoy, now – 39% of gold-medal winners from the UK need to be taken to task. Those singing classes are going to be very full when August ends. All attendees shall be taught to love the queen, to love the song and, most importantly, to remember that the Boogie Man will be watching them at all times to ensure that they sing the song, regardless of how emotional they’re feeling or how exhausted they are. That’s why 92% of Chinese winning athletes sing their anthem, after all.

One of the things I love about ‘western’ society, imperfect as it is, is the freedom to make certain choices. Choosing whether or not to attend the state parade. Choosing which news source to believe – or, alternatively, to believe none of them. Choosing which god in which to believe – or, alternatively to believe in none of them. Choosing whether or not to sing a particular song. Without being beaten.

The latest salvo from Piers Morgan is to offer £1000 to Great Ormond Street Hospital every time a British gold-medallist sings the national anthem after their medal ceremony. While that might be an altruistic gesture, it also puts Olympic medallists in a position where not singing the anthem takes money from sick children. That’s not altruism. It’s the rich guy pushing someone into doing something that they mightn’t want to do. And that’s not right.

The winning putdown belongs to @mrcolmquinn, back on August 2nd. While there’s a picture being forwarded on the Internet that shows the reply coming from Bradley Wiggins, he wasn’t the source. No less of a winning shot though, regardless of whence it came.

I’m aware that what Internet trolls want is attention so they should be ignored. Unfortunately, giving someone 15 minutes in the spotlight doesn’t apply when they’re already plonked in the middle of the stage. Idiocy should be called. Piers Morgan is an idiot. Or he’s doing a really good impression of one for the sake of attention. That would make him a troll. It’s a troll or an idiot, then.

Enjoy the rest of the Olympics. If you’re a medal winner, cry if you want to. Sing if you want to. If someone criticises your performance, they may not have a point – or they may. If someone criticises you for not singing when you’re apparently supposed to, they’re an idiot.

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