As someone who has no truck with the actions of the late Raoul Moat and who possesses the greatest sympathy for his victims, in one sense I can understand where David Cameron was coming from when he criticised public displays of sympathy for the gunman.
But in another sense I can't. It is his job to provide the nation with leadership, for sure, but by the same token it's not his job to tell people who they should express any sympathy for. Like so many other spree gunmen, Mr. Moat seems to have been a chronic narcissist. His last reported words were a particularly sickening cocktail of sentimentality and self-pity, but what he said and what he did made him no less a member of the human race than you or me.
That being the case, if there are those who wish to express sympathy for him, they should be permitted to do so. While it's a very disturbing phenomenon indicative of perhaps just how fragmented we British have become from each other, it is no more disturbing than protojihadists holding demonstrations at parades intended to welcome home British soldiers from Afghanistan. Indeed, it's precisely the same phenomenon, the identification of a group with a perceived underdog in turn leading to an ersatz sense of group identity, with the only differences being in location and couture. And while Cameron may have felt himself to be within his rights to lodge a complaint with Facebook, an organisation in which I have no interest and which I do not believe to be as powerful or influential as its critics suggest, it is gratifying to see that Facebook have told him where to get off. It's their website, and they'll police it as they best see fit.
Every government must tread a fine line between the promotion of good public policy and telling people what to think. Today, David Cameron crossed it, and showed himself to be as liable to authoritarianism as the leaders of the last government. It is not his function to dictate who some of the people might feel sympathy for. He would better serve the nation by finding out why they do, and tackling that instead. I sincerely hope that his response to Facebook's rebuff is not to suggest its censorship. That really would make him the heir to Blair.