EVERYBODY knows that Twitter is not a place you go to if you are looking for good-faith debate. But still, it is disheartening how often online discussions seem to begin and end with outright hostility.

Chris McEleny’s misinterpretation and misrepresentation of a tweet by SNP MSP Karen Adam about sexual predators is a particularly grim example of this.

In a thread, she pointed out a simple truth: predators and paedophiles are not "monsters", they are people.

While some (wilfully, in many cases) misunderstood her tweet and read it as a defence of such people, it should be abundantly clear to most that it was anything but.

As a survivor of childhood sexual assault, Adam knows what she is talking about and deserves to be heard with respect.

How grotesque it has been to see her words twisted to mean something entirely different.

Karen Adam was pointing out something that violence against women campaigners and experts have been talking about for years.

These experts warn against media outlets framing predatory men (and women) as "monsters" or "beasts" because it skews societal perceptions of sexual violence in a way that harms survivors and aides perpetrators.

Her point should not be a contentious one.

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How many times have you picked up a newspaper and read a quote from a neighbour or colleague of a man charged with horrendous crimes expressing surprise at his actions? How many times have you heard or read "he was such a nice guy" or "this seems so out of character"?

This is the point.

Those who commit sexual offences are devious and predatory.

They are not out of control, easily identifiable "monsters".

Sexual violence, at its core, is about control – not a lack of restraint or giving in to impulses.

That’s why offenders can often go years without being detected, if they are at all.

They can be charming, successful, rich and have good careers. They might have a wide circle of friends and be well-liked. They are dads and uncles and brothers and daughters. They are teachers, police officers and politicians.

Monsters are easy to spot. You’d know one instantly if you saw it walking down the street. Sexual predators are not.

Of course, some people use terms like "monster" to indicate their disgust with the actions of the perpetrator. This is entirely understandable.

The National:

What is not so easy to understand is why men like Chris McEleny think misrepresenting the words of a childhood sexual assault survivor is an acceptable way for a politician – or person - to behave.

In a press release, he described Adam's tweets as "grotesque" and urged her to "reflect on her use of social media and think twice in the future".

He should take his own advice.

Shamefully, he also claimed that Karen Adam was attempting to "humanise the most vile behaviour in society".

In a grimly predicable development, Adam has since received death threats and horrendous abuse.

Those who have encouraged or engaged in that abuse should reflect on what they were trying to achieve and whether the events of the last 24 hours make them feel good about themselves.