Raoul Moat: what’s in a name?

Raoul Thomas Moat. It’s been almost impossible this week to avoid hearing or reading about the improbably named Geordie gunman currently on the run in Northumberland after shooting three people and killing one of them.

It’s a serious situation. Yet we have the capacity to find the humour in it – a way of coping with tragedy that all humans share.

And the main thing we find amusing about it all? Mr Moat’s name. It’s an odd one and in an idle moment earlier this week I found myself attempting to make an anagram of it. The best I could come up with was: oath, trauma looms. Not knowing what to do with it, I posted it on my facebook page. Then, yesterday I included it in a twitter post.

Of course I did. Social media has been an element of the story itself as Mr Moat allegedly made threats via facebook before penning a 49-page handwritten letter to the police. The internet is the place to go for up-to-the-second gossip.

Right now, the internet is awash with comment on what’s being said via the media and lots and lots of jokes. Search for ‘Raoul Moat jokes’ on google and you’ll get more than 6,500,000 results. Lots of people want to talk about Raoul Moat; most of them just passing on what they’ve heard or read.

The story is a trending topic on twitter and among the top tweets (those tweets that have been re-tweeted by others more than 100 times) are:

Manchester City have officially bid £45m for Raoul Moat. They’ve no idea who he is, but they’ve heard everyone’s after him.

If Raoul Moat wore a stripy jumper and thick glasses he’d be a lot more fun to try and find.

NORTHUMBRIA Police, if u haven’t found Raoul Moat By Sat, double the reward from 10k to 20k & call it a Raoul-over.

There is also:

I don’t find any of these jokes raoul moatly funny.

I just checked on facebook and more than 17,000 people apparently ‘like’ the facebook group “Raoul Thomas Moat” Needs To Be Found Before He Kills Again!.

This is all pretty harmless but the problem with all this stuff floating out there in cyberspace is that it’s getting harder and harder to filter out all the rubbish from the good stuff and the lies from the truth. This is where you have to exercise the more rational side of your brain. And it’s not just individuals who seem to have lost the power of critical thinking.

This week an American news website aolnews.com swallowed a spoof Raoul Moat story whole from the News Grind, a website that produces nothing but spoof news. A ‘revised’ story now states:

…the situation is far different than what we reported in an earlier version of this post, which relied on false information from what turned out to be a satirical news site.

The original report has since been removed from the News Grind site but a blog on journalism.co.uk has a great piece on it.

By the way, as I write this, the latest Raoul Moat ‘news’ from News Grind, Stupid fat people in hiding after Moat warning’, is a response to the warning by police that Mr Moat was now “targetting the wider public”.

This story doesn’t just have legs, it’s got wheels – until they fall off.

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