Don’t Start Me Off! Closed Down After Mary Beard Fiasco

The site, Don’t Start Me Off! closed down this week. It mainly allowed it’s users to post anonymous posts to express their thoughts on public figures. The moderator posted a final message on the home page of the site saying, “After much thought we have decided to close the site. It’s been great fun but our job is now done. We wish to thank everyone who we’ve had the privilege to know and to banter with. We wish you all the best for the future.”

The website earlier got many unpleasant and humiliating posts about Mary Beard, a professor of classics at the Cambridge University, right after she appeared on BBC1’s Question Time sometime last week. Though the co-owner and moderator of the site, Richard White thinks Beard may have used this issue to move the attention away from her exchange with an audience member on question time about the effect of immigration on services in the Lincolnshire town of Boston, he has publicly apologized to her. “If she is genuinely hurt then I am sorry, because we never try to hurt people’s feelings. My suspicion is that she used our site to deflect the debate because she was so roundly thrashed after her appearance on Question Time last week,” White told MediaGuardian. White said that they decided to close down the site because it has become “unwieldy” and “impossible to moderate.”

Mary Beard on Question Time

One web user described Beard as “a vile, spiteful excuse for a woman, who eats too much cabbage and has cheese straws for teeth.” One of the more insulting posts was that of her face merged with a picture of female genitalia. The whole situation revealed “a side of internet trolling that I haven’t experienced before,” Beard said in her blog. “The misogyny here is truly gobsmacking. The whole site is pretty hateful… but the whole ‘cunt’ talk and the kind of stuff represented by the photo is more than a few steps into sadism. It would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public (and) contributing to political debate, especially as all of this comes up on Google.”

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