mc-v-socThere is so much publicity surrounding the recent Miley Cyrus debate. It all started with ‘an open letter’ from Sinead O’ Connor. This letter purported to explain to the young, yet massively famous teenage singer that she was being used by the music industry for their own gain….an extract from the letter reads:

Dear Miley,
I wasn’t going to write this letter, but today I’ve been dodging phone calls from various newspapers who wished me to remark upon your having said in Rolling Stone your Wrecking Ball video was designed to be similar to the one for Nothing Compares … So this is what I need to say … And it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love.

I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way ‘cool’ to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether its the music business or yourself doing the pimping’.

This was followed by the further advice of ‘The music business doesn’t give a shit about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted … and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, ‘they’ will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone’.

There are of course many issues surrounding this piece of advice from Sinead O’ Connor. Was she seeking further media attention? A further rebirth of nothing compares to you??, Or was she honestly providing mature advice to a young colleague in the same business?. In any event, the fact that an ‘open letter’ was utilised is the main issue here. Why was a private mail not utilised to pass on these words of wisdom? Did the whole world have to listen to what Sinead O’ Connor had to say?

The reply to the ‘open letter’ added further fuel to the fire in this case. Miley replied- Sinead. I don’t have time to write you an open letter cause I’m hosting & performing on SNL (US comedy show Saturday Night Live) this week,” . This alone would have been an adequate reply, however youth took over and further comments were made by the young singer when she mocked O’Connor by posting a screen shot of O’Connor’s tweets from 2012 in which Sinead O’ Connor (who suffers from Bipolar), referred to her own mental health problems, with Miss Cyrus requesting her twitter followers to recommend a psychiatrist. Further to this, she also compared the singer to the child actress Amanda Bynes, who is currently undergoing psychiatric treatment.

The issues raised in relation to this ‘spat’ escalated when legal proceedings were threatened by Sinead O’ Connor on foot of the replies she received.

The major problems associated with issues such as this are created through incorrect use of the internet. Why must everyone consider that what they say on the internet is protected under some divine right? If you cannot walk into a pub on a Saturday night and shout your opinion at the top of your voice due to the nature of the contents, then why should you be allowed to air your views to the worlds uninterrupted population? People must realise that any comments made in a public forum are just that…PUBLIC. If you make them, you must stand over them. While it would seem that Sinead O’ Connor made the initial comments in good faith…they could have been construed as highly insulting to the young singer, on the basis that it confirmed her as a puppet to the music industry. It did this on a public forum and she of course reacted, on a public forum.

The only people in fact hurt through all the comments made were people who suffer from mental illness. Bressie, (former lead singer of the Blizzards) tweeted:  Miley Cyrus’s reply to Sinéad O’Connor once again manages to reinforce the stigma on mental health. Miley indeed is a horrible human being,”.

There are numerous ways of dealing with matters such as this…mostly legal, for example potential defamation proceedings. However, possibly the quickest and easiest way of dealing with a matter like this would be for any advices to be provided in a private forum…such being that if one person did not like or accept the advices, that would be the end of the matter.

Internet 1- People 0!

William Clarke is a partner in Clarke Jeffers Solicitors, and a specialist in Internet Law. Clarke Jeffers © 2013