Is King Canute misunderstood?

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In the recent row over injunctions and Twitter, the analogy of King Canute vainly holding back the tide has constantly been used. But is it correct?

"Who does he think he is - King Canute?" blasted one newspaper. A prominent media lawyer, Mark Stephens, said that by "trying to stop the unstoppable tide of information as it flows through the internet, [Ryan Giggs] has become the King Canute of football".

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP - who used parliamentary privilege to name the footballer who had applied for an injunction - said of gagging orders: "They are like King Canute, the tide will keep coming in no matter what they do. The problem the courts have is Twitter is not registered in the UK and is therefore outside British jurisdiction."

In all these examples, the sentiment in the same, King Canute is being used as shorthand to describe trying and failing to hold back the tide.

Earlier this year, MP Frank Field warned David Cameron to "stop being King Canute" if he wanted to avoid being "overwhelmed by the incoming tide of local authority cuts"....

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