Kids blog Ballymena murder…

AS mentioned elsewhere, something rather unusual is happening over at bebo.com, which (after 2 mins of skimming) appears to be a website for children from different schools to have a web presence and contact others. This is tricky territory, but as a phenomenon it’s worth recording; some children from Ballymena are openly accusing other teenagers of involvement in the tragic murder of Michael McIlveen, 15, who died a few hours ago. There are also a number of emotional threats, and according to Slugger contributors’ unconfirmed posts, some text has already been removed and police are investigating. No-one has, as far as I’m aware, been charged. Nor should any of the posts on bebo be seen as evidence of anything. At the moment, the bebo posts are nothing more than hearsay and possibly even fuelled with the kind of unsubstantiated rumour that sometimes goes around after sectarian killings. The posts could be false, but if genuine, and children are openly chatting on the internet by boasting or making grave accusations about serious crime, what questions does that pose for us?

Some of the bebo posts are highly charged with emotion – unsurprisingly, given the circumstances – but parts of some kids’ profiles are openly sectarian material. The different posts by the different kids make sectarian violence sound like an after-school game. Which it is, sometimes. Until someone gets hurt.

If children in north Belfast can organise a riot through text messages, then maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at how some of us brought up on sectarianism and technology seem to be harnassing it in an equally serious way.

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(There are no direct quotes from the sites and I’d ask for no potentially libellous or legally prejudicial comments please – talk in the general rather than specific. Should any Moderator feel the need, feel free to turn the comments off.)

  • heck

    I was going to post on another thread when I read this.

    So sad.

    We may have our differences here but we should all give a thought to the poor family who have just lost a son. I have a son just a little older and I can only imagine what I would do if I were in that situation.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    It’s tragic news and the family’s grief must be unimaginable. There’s not much you can say in these situations.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    This is very saddening indeed. My thoughts are with his family and friends. To the guys that did this – was it worth it?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    The part I can’t wrap my head around… the part that leaves me slack-jawed is that some of these little twonk are inviting the “troubles” to take up a rather intimate place in their lives.

    Assume, arguendo, that all the boasters are innocent. What kind of mouth-breathing idiot takes credit for a murder they didn’t commit? Let’s gloss over the obvious “official interest” on the part of the police. They just invited every other Neadrathal in the “patriot game” into their lives, ranging from “the real killers,” as OJ Simpson might put it, to dissident Republican dead-enders. This doesn’t count the “normal” fallout that comes from living in a sectarian pressure-cooker — the potential for a riot, the acts of revenge originating with the victims family and friends, with or without political affiliations — just plain old fashioned feuding.

    What kind of moron paints a bulls-eye on their forehead for something they didn’t do?

  • Harry

    Reading that Bebo thing should stun adults into silence and make them think “What have we done to the children?”

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Wrong question, Harry…

    I fear we need to ask “what do we do with them now?”

  • Harry Flashman

    Holy Sweet Jesus! Is this what the next generation consists of? Are these illiterate, braindead, lumpen idiots the products of our fine education system?

    Two points,

    a) I am so glad I cleared the hell out of wee Norn Iron years ago. Folks if any one of you has two braincells to rub together you need to leave that sick, nasty, little shitehole as quickly as possible, do it now, go anywhere, do not even consider raising children in that twisted society, the thought that you could consider living in a place that will be administered by these cretins in the future is too terrifying to contemplate.

    b) Ulster needs immigrants now, anybody, I don’t care where from, I don’t care of what religion or what political allegiance because if there isn’t a serious infusion of outsiders into that place then total and complete societal breakdown is inevitable and judging by these morons it will be within only a very few years.

  • Harry

    To be fair to them on Bebo there’s also a lot of messages expressing horror and sadness and thoughts for the family. They all also seem to know one another intimately, even the different sides. There seems also to be some crossover in friendship between some who are of different religions. A complicated situation, not simple sectarianism.

    But some inflammatory and dangerous comments nonetheless. Bebo is a curious thing, perhaps itself inflammatory. First time I’ve ever read a death threat on the internet that I thought was in imminent danger of coming true.

  • The innocent pictures of themselves in the comments section of the first link adds a surreal quality to the page when you actually read waht they are saying to each other.

    And as angry as they are, they still manage to use text speak.

  • Snuff Box

    The sub-culture that exists is surreal to say the least among these people. They reference films about English football hooliganism eg Green street, Football factory. They listen to american influenced gagsta {sic} rap. And they have our homegrown paramilitaries as pictures in their galleries.

    It beggars belief that these people choose this type of lifestyle for themselves. The fusion of these strands of culture seems to have nothing in common except violence. It’s a truly sickening snapshot at a horrible sub-culture which exists among teenagers today.

  • Aaron

    It’s only 9 years since I left school, and the most surprising thing here is that you’re all surprised that sectarianism exists in schools.

    My posh grammer school was a hotbed of sectarianism, largely tolerated by the school staff (my history teacher was at Drumcree, fer f**k’s sake).

    And remember, Bebo et al, and the internet at large, are just a reflection of society.

    Still, great post Gonzo.

  • Reading that Bebo thing should stun adults into silence and make them think “What have we done to the children?”

    I fear we need to ask “what do we do with them now?”

    It’s frightening, isn’t it?

    If they were a batch of faulty appliances they would surely be recalled and destroyed. That’s something we may have to consider.

    That txt-speak is almost like a foreign language.

  • slug

    It seems the guy who stands accused went to an integrated school.

    Go figure.

  • slug

    By the way what is a “slabber”? I may have known once but not now.