David Cameron’s Iron Law of Twitter

By skepticlawyer

In light of revelations that yet another public figure has made a twat of themselves on Twitter, here is a joke at Twitter’s (or should that be twitterers’) expense.

David Cameron’s Iron Law is outlined in this video (amusing but mildly vulgar).

Please feel free to chat away amiably.


  1. ken nielsen
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    My favourite was a (genuine) safety notice behind the door of a hotel room in Osaka – after setting out a map showing the escape route in the event of fire it said:
    “When evacuating, cover nose and mouth and lower body posture”

  2. ken nielsen
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    When i worked in Tokyo I spent quite a lot of time at language school. I began to use Nihongo around the office. One day our marketing manager said “Ken san, we really don’t speak like that you know. Well, perhaps some old ladies in the countryside…”

  3. Posted October 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always thought the first 4 letters of Twitter pretty much sum it up.

  4. Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I hate to sound prudish, but in light of the other posts on slut shaming perhaps we could re-visit the use of the word twat as a pejorative term.

  5. Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] It also means ‘fool‘. Perhaps etymology can be gently passed over here.

  6. kvd
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    #silentDEM u r ok? Hopes

  7. kvd
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Thus proving a basic design fault in Twitter: it is possible to make a twat of one’s self in far less than 140 chs 😉

  8. kvd
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Or just ‘mark it up’ to enthusiasm. Would that fly? One should never be shackled by attention to detail.

  9. Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Sorry. A bit oversensitive on my part. Overreacted.

  10. Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    No need to apologise, pacelegal. As I learnt during a coruscating and very angry debate over at Butterflies & Wheels on this issue (the use of ‘twat’ as a pejorative term that has different linguistic ‘limbs’ depending on forms of spoken English), ‘twat’ does indeed carry a sexual connotation in US English that it has lost almost completely in British English (and completely in Scots English/Doric).

    For that reason, my policy on its use (and the use of other swears that are no longer sexual in Britain or Australia, but are in the US, like ‘bugger’) is to refrain from their use on American websites or sites dominated by Americans, and to use them with caution in Australia and the UK.

    I do the latter not out of deference to what I (frankly) consider to be USAnian prudery, but because ‘net nanny’ programs are often American in origin, and the IT staff at Australian and British law firms (from where we draw the bulk of our readers) may not have recalibrated these programs for the local version of English.

    I can remember, when I was working at a prominent law firm, that Catallaxy would be classified as pornography, and blocked, simply because a certain feathered commenter swore so much. This meant I would disappear for hours at a stretch and was singularly unable to contribute my fair share as one of Catallaxy’s house writers. Since I knew that most of the people who read my posts were lawyers, this contributed to my decision to start a more law-focussed blog with Legal Eagle.

    It is also why I did not use a direct quote from Cameron in the headline, as many legal readers make use of RSS feeds.

  11. Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I am reminded of Michael Parkinson’s story of his first visit to New York and getting an unexpected reaction at a bar when he said “I could really use a fag”.

    Or George Bernard Shaw’s “two nations divided by a common language”.

  12. Posted October 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I must admit I am slowly introducing the Scottish legal fraternity to the concept of the ‘durrie’. It is catching on well; the Aboriginal English ‘deadly’ for ‘excellent’ is already in wide use here, as it is in Ireland. Indeedy, there are some interesting linguistic markers common to the Celtic forms of English and Aboriginal English, I’ve found.

  13. J
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Language schools are useless beyond the first 30 or so hours (or maybe more for Japanese if you want to learn reading and writing). After that you have picked up enough to watch the news, and from that you progress to tabloids and chat shows. You haven’t mastered a language until you can pun in it.

  14. Posted October 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks SkepticLawyer, LE & J.
    Interesting read. I have learnt something. Nonetheless I am not a lawyer and was just a bit hypersensitive.

  15. Patrick
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    French is great for that LE:

    you piss me off (tu me fais chier) becomes you do me each time the same thing (tu me fais chaque fois le même chose) and shit/fuck (putain) becomes thumbtacks (punaises). Unfortunately there is no ready rescue for bastard (connard) or but its more offensive (and homophobic) version, faggot (enculer) becomes, rather awkwardly, endives (endives). Bitch (salope) readily becomes overalls (salopette).

  16. Henry2
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Why no link to the other public figure that has made a twat of themselves on twitter? I presume you mean Burnside.

  17. Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it was Julian Burnside I had in mind, but twitiocy is a bipartisan affliction, I’m afraid.

  18. Movius
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    There’s a recent surge in the use of the mantra, “(Profanity of choice here, normally ‘cunt’ or ‘fag’ in this case, is particularly offensive because it is only ever has racist/sexist/homophobic meaning.)” that I can’t understand.

    Even though this is almost always demonstrably false for the word in question.

    I understand that these words are highly offensive in certain contexts and it is important that people understand this. But nitpicking casual rantings achieves nothing.

  19. RipleyP
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    But what is the actual measure of twits to make a [email protected]?

    A partner in my firm uses the term “a poofteenth” to describe a small amount. I made the mistake of turning around one day and suggesting that as a “-teenth” suggested a fraction then the original measure would be a Poof.

    The reasoning being that a centimeter is a fraction of a meter. Of course I was mixing metric and imperial but given my age I do that all the time.

    I then asked how long a poof was. I was looked at like I was a bit crazy which isn’t totally out of the question. My intention was to suggest that I thought the term was in poor taste.

    I really shouldn’t ask such questions when you live in a regional town that retains a culture of religiosity and homophobia with just a unsubtle hint of redneck.

    I think Pacelegal is right to voice a concern about language. It is good discuss the meaning of words and language and put forth reasoning as to why it should or should not be used.

    Diverting I must say when I hear the word “Sugar” I am reminded of Terry Pratchetts description of one of the barbarians in Interesting Times who could say the word “socks”. You heard the word but your brain went straight to the word meant which sounded like Socks.

  20. Posted October 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    SL #14. Deadly is not specifically aboriginal in use. It is understood by just about everybody in the bush. Though one has to be careful with context, or it may be taken to mean “lethal”.
    It does get a fair workout from aboriginals & also torres strait islanders, there are a few quaint word usages lingering in prominence with that demographic, “frenchies” being my favourite, “jig-a-jig” another, though probably with more inland than coastal use.

    But would there be a kid who went to school in Qld who doesn’t at least understand “deadly”?

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] my lecturers at Edinburgh, Alexander McCall Smith, does amazingly well) and (b) the embodiment of Cameron’s First Law. There is no middle ground. And if a tweet is ‘heavyweight’ or thought-provoking, […]

  2. By Skepticlawyer » ‘Manners cost nothing’ on October 19, 2012 at 5:06 am

    […] active on Twitter, but few lawyers are. I explained that for lawyers, it is far easier to enliven Cameron’s First Law: lawyers are expected, both socially and by our professional associations, to watch what comes out […]

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