There are few things more dispiriting than someone you’ve long admired revealing themselves to be a bit of an idiot. So spare a thought then for U2 fans who, after years of worshipping at the altar of midget messiah Bono, must now seriously be questioning their previously uncritical fandom.
The cause? Well that would be his comments regarding file sharing. In a thinkpiece that appeared in the New York Times at the weekend, the man born Paul Hewson vilified broadband providers for their perceived inert response to the problem. Along the way, he effectively accused them of turning a blind eye to piracy and rubbished their claims that tackling filesharing is out of their hands.
In case you need reminding of what Bono looks like here's something to jog your memory. You'll certainly recall this snap where the old goat was captured cavorting with a couple of young women who are perhaps best described as 'not his wife':
But we digress. Back to the article now. To support his point, Bonzo cited the fact that China appears to be able to it monitor its citizens' web usage effectively by ruthlessly cracking down on political dissent. Really? Not from where we’re standing it doesn’t.
We’ve all read about how searching on Google Images for Tiannemen Square if you're using a Chinese URL brings up a nice scenic snap with no sign of the brave young chap who faced down a tank way back when. But the massive outpouring of criticism accessible to Chinese internet users elsewhere shows that even the dictatorial regime can’t keep a lid on the burgeoning pro democracy movement. If an administration with unchecked power and finances can’t police the web, how can we possibly expect ISPs to be able to?
More shocking still, though, was the U2 frontman’s notion that the relative success of clamping down on child pornography in the West is further evidence that controlling usage is viable.
Alas, once again, I’m afraid we can feel our eyebrows curling incredulously skywards. What he's failed to take into account is that child porn is sought by a relatively tiny bunch of maladjusted sickos. So it stands to reason that monitoring it and policing it is a million times more feasible than tracking hundreds of millions of regular joes downloading music illegally.
And that’s before you even get to the fact that Bono appears to be drawing some sort of comparison between copyright infringement and child abuse as a moral justification for invading consumers' privacy, as though they're somehow equal on our right and wrong radar – a concept rightly dubbed ‘outrageous’ by TalkTalk’s Andrew Heaney.
In a well argued response, the broadband supplier’s executive director of strategy and regulation points out that this is wrong-headed in the extreme.
He said: “As a society we have accepted that it is appropriate and proportionate to intrude on people's internet use by blocking access to sites that host child abuse images. To suggest that sharing a music file is every bit as evil as child abuse beggars belief."
Indeed it does, Mr Heaney. Indeed it does.