Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cheer up, it's Aaro!

Aaaro, on the general theme of don't worry, be happy. Broadly correct on all substantial points (particularly, the ferocious indifference of George Osborne in particular to the fact that he's almost 100% of the time talking provable crap). On the other hand, I would caution readers against assuming either a) that this is Aaro writing a good 'un as he does from time to time or b) an example of the stopped clock theorem. As seasoned Watchers, we're aware that "don't worry, be happy" is a frequent Aaro tactic and it's almost always used in service of an agenda. In the past, he's certainly not been averse to fear-peddling himself, most notably in the context of ASBOs. Furthermore, one of the biggest peddlers of dodgy assertions of ongoing doom and crap on the current Conservative front bench is Michael Gove, but does he get a mention here? Of course not - not only would that be unprofessional (although it is in some strange way not unprofessional to have a go at Guardian editorialists in the pages of the Times), but Gove is the Right Sort Of Chap. Harrrrrrrumph. Or maybe I'm just crabby today, anyway check it out, it's not a bad piece and he mentions lizards at the end.

Also (thanks to andrew adams in comments), it appears that Harry's Place have been brought down by a malicious complaint to their ISP. This is probably a bad thing to do (edit no, it's definitely a bad thing to do), but on the other hand, I think I will leave the heavy work of protesting against it to somebody who hasn't been repeatedly and maliciously impersonated on their site.

Update Chardonnay Chap has just pointed out in the comments that "expressing solidarity" with someone does not imply that you're going to take any particular action, and indeed is not always inconsistent with actually hoping that their house will be bombed. So I therefore upgrade my slightly guarded condemnation of anonymous complainants and declare that Harry's Place has our full support

Update Apparently Harry's Place is back up. Hurray, hurray. No seriously folks, we must support their right to free speech. This could happen to any one of us. Another thing that could happen to any one of us is that we could be run out of our jobs or internships because of a letter-writing campaign organised by Harry's Place, but there you go. Truly this is a cause that all lovers of free speech should get behind, grudgingly.

20 Comments:

Blogger claude said...

i thought you may want to take a look at this display of Soviet-era zeal by our beloved David.

His pro-New Labour narrative is scraping the barrel.
This is the link:
http://mymarilyn.blogspot.com/

8/27/2008 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Ah, you saved me having to write this one. I read it yesterday morning and still haven't come up with an appropriate response. Was very tempted to do a Chinese government version (Comrades, the running dogs of Western Imperialism have been spreading lies about our treatment of dissidents, our censorship, our pollution; they say that the Chinese workers do not wake every morning filled with joy at the prospect of another day devoted the service of the state. Comrades, look at these shiny Olympic medals! You know in your hearts our enemies are liars! etc), but really think that the problem with the latest Aaro is there are two separate issues. We did better than expected at the Olympics (I was disabused of the thought that Yngling was some critically acclaimed beat combo when the front page of the Telegraph featured so many smiling blondes I thought, "Blimey, the A-levels results come around quickly these days.").

When I say we, I have to confess that I actually cheer on Kenya, so really do have reason for a complaint at France: they spoiled the now traditional clean sweep in the men's steeplechase.

Really, for someone who only has to produce one essay a week, Aaro is very light on research on crime figures. I actually think he's right about crime having dropped, but I don't know why, and it's not as if Labour hasn't harped on about crime when it suited. (There's a story in The Blairs and Their Court that Blair came up with a slogan "Tough on Crime" and never understand why Gordon Brown amended it.)

I was also going to write something about Harry's Place. I agree that it's a shame and that people shouldn't go about closing web sites down like that. So I say: Solidarity brothers! NB using the Harry's Place meaning of solidarity which doesn't imply action of any kind, merely a sort of sympathy.

8/27/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh, while I'm at it, Aaro mentioned Boris Johnson. I think DA's use of Boris is much like Harry's Place's of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If either say something which is useful, they're treated as sincere; if they say something which isn't, they're taken as opportunists. Thus, Ahmadinejad is pretty much a liar and a fantasist unless he talks of attacking Israel when he magically becomes reliable.

As for Boris, here's an old Nick Cohen column. "To listen to them [Johnson and Livingstone] you would think London town was Gotham City."

8/27/2008 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I say: Solidarity brothers! NB using the Harry's Place meaning of solidarity which doesn't imply action of any kind, merely a sort of sympathy.

Err... Isn't this exactly the Foreign Policy suggested by Mr Daniel Davies towards... well... everything?

8/27/2008 11:40:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

Errr, no it isn't. By the way, anonymous, welcome to "Aaronovitch Watch (Including 'World of Decency')"! May I familiarise you with our rules relating to anonymous posting? Basically, you have to provide either a name or some content. Simply anonymously sniping gets you deleted. I'd add a) this is the only warning I'm going to give and b) the decision as to what counts as "anonymous sniping" is likely to be capricious, unfair and irreversible.

8/28/2008 05:26:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Actually thinking about this, the post may well have been libelous. Harry's Place were definitely and deliberately bending the truth (which is why I tend towards "fuck 'em").
The headline was:
"UCU and the David Duke Fan"
But here's the thing, she linked to a post by somebody who was not David Duke and which had actually been written for a different site. This might be proof of many things, but not that particular headline. Unless HP can prove that she is a fan of David Duke, that's libelous and very definitely defamatory.

Then there's this sentence:
""Sheffield-based academic, Jenna Delich - links to far right websites associated with the Ku Klux Klan"."

links suggests more than once, but as far as I can see she only did this once. Deliberately ambiguous wording there - obviously HP were trying to exaggerate the offense.

There's also an accusation in the post that she is vicious towards Jews, which doesn't seem to be backed up by any actual evidence. Due to its vagueness its not defamatory in itself, but its certainly contributing.

Now possibly she should have admitted her mistake, apologised, or some such. Except how would she do this? To HP? They've just accused her of being a Nazi and an anti-semite, which are career destroying accusations. They've also published her email address, and we all know how that goes. HP were obviously trying to destroy her to score political points against a union they don't like, and decided to exaggerate her offense accordingly. If she had done this kind of thing repeatedly, fair enough. But I can't see any reason in this instance to assume anything other than an honest mistake.

So basically, fuck 'em.

8/28/2008 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

Worse, what is the Delich case being used for. Almost everywhere I go it is being used as an exemplar of the rot in academia and of the antisemitism of the UCU.

And this is just arse-faced stupidity. First, what kind of example is Delich of an academic? She is described as a Sheffield academic - but she isn't at Sheffield Uni, or Sheffield Hallam (the old poly), but Sheffield College. I can't find any references to what she teaches there, and can't find any evidence of scholarly output in the standard databases. If she held an unspecified role at, say Barnsley College, which would deny HP and others the ability to make ambigious statements about her affiliation and, connectedly, her standing and repute in academia, would this case have been so 'important'? Balls would it. I've just left a comment at Sadie's Tavern where I challenge her on the claim that the case gives us an idea of the crisis in our universities. That sort of claim is total and utter balls!

Okay, so even if she were at Barnsley College, rather than being a 'Sheffield academic', she would still be a member of the UCU. But how did the UCU respond? The mailing list called her on her dodgy sourcing and the moderator suspended her posting rights. But that is ignored in the quest to smear the UCU as a hotbed of antisemites and antisemite enablers. Again, total balls.

Whether or not the post on HP was libellous, the effect of the post are the same as the effect of the majority of their posts - to enable a smearing of whole groups of people with the nastiest of labels by making tenuous associations seem like concrete connections.

8/28/2008 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Decent philozionist thinktank 'Engage' has now shifted its focus almost entirely to proving that the UCU is antisemitic. This has sunk as low as insinuating that employer attacks on union reprentation are actually justified given the UCU's position on the boycott. I am really regretting the support* that I gave to this organisation when it first emerged.

* critical, conditional, etc

Chris Williams

8/28/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

OT but standpoint has a new issue out, despite losing its publisher. Nick has finally got round to bonekickers (my prediction for last month's TV column). I'm not quite sure how he can justify getting paid for this column though, because it's more or less a copy and paste of a whole bunch of stuff he's written before, right down to the phrasing of his concluding sentence which he has used about McCain in the past. there is also a long and tedious interview with Micahel Gove. I got about 5 lines into his opening response and gave up.

8/28/2008 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Decent philozionist thinktank 'Engage' has now shifted its focus almost entirely to proving that the UCU is antisemitic.

This is really what its about isn't it?

You find the weak point in an organisation, an argument, a statement in a person's entire life work - Oliver Kamm has produced perhaps the classic examples of this- and you keep hammering away at the weak point in order to destroy the person or organisation's reputation. Its an old, old tactic.

So you find that this FE teacher posted a link to a very dodgy website- you exaggerate and embellish the story - she's now a "David Duke fan" and before you know it this behaviour, which incidentally, was condemned by many other UCU boycotters, is symptomatic of the cancer at the heart of the union and the academy more generally which is shot through with anti-semistism.

I'm sure we've all seen this way of conducting politics before and I, for one, think its pretty nasty. And that's before you get into the ethics of putting up people's pictures and emails which you be fairly sure will generate lots of hate mail.

8/28/2008 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Chris W: you'll be happy to see the latest HP post then:

We’re thinking of publishing all of the correspondence on the UCU activists list, every day, in full, to show how dominated the list is by the issue of pushing for the illegal boycott.

8/28/2008 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Mordaunt said...

I'm in two minds about this one.

Posting somenone's e-mail address on a site whose comment boxes attract their fair share of unpleasant right wing lunatics is as close as saying "please send this person hate mail" as you can get without using those words in that order. I find that uncomfortably close to shouting 'fire!' in a crowded theatre.

On the other hand, to listen to some critics of Israel you would think that everyone stopped being anti-Semitic around 1945 and calling anti-Semitism on any anti-Zionist rhetoric is just a nasty way of closing down the discussion. Whilst this sometimes is the case it isn't invariably so.

I agree with Andrew that it isn't representative of the academy but I'm not sure we wait for it to happen before worrying about it.

8/28/2008 12:26:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

I would be interested in having a debate about Harry's Place, conducted according to the standards that Harry's Place think are appropriate.

8/28/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

and following on from mordaunt's comment, there certainly are quite a bunch of anti-Semitic nutters hanging around fringe leftwing politics, and I would be willing to take the accusation that the UCU mailing list has been taken over by a group of them seriously - indeed I will take it seriously, the moment that this accusation is made by someone other than ENGAGE (who I don't regard as credible on the issue of anti-Semitism spotting) or Harry's Place (who are simply in no position to accuse anyone else of running a free-for-all for bigots).

8/28/2008 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

"I'm not sure we wait for it to happen before worrying about it."

Wait for what to happen? She isn't an academic in any standard sense, and she recieved no support for her linking habits. This isn't a cancer at the heart of academia. It is a tickle at the back of the throat that has been cleared by a few sips of water.

The question now is this; why are some people so obsessed with telling us the tickle is a cancer?

8/28/2008 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

If they do start posting traffic from the UCU mailing list, we should be able to do a fun "UCU Mailing List or Harry's Place Comments Thread?" contest.

here's the most recent "send 'em home" thread

8/28/2008 01:00:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

That Morgoth is a funny dude, isn't he?

8/28/2008 07:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Errr, no it isn't.

You misunderstand me, Mr Davies. I didn't mean this in a "bad" way. I'm actually a huge fan of yours - which is why I've always prefereed your no-nonsense "express solidarity but accept there's nothing we can do" philosophy over the disastrous ideology of the Interventionists.

Sorry if I've not followed the site's guidelines - came here via Crooked Timber and the Digest.

Probably posted before thinking LOL!

8/28/2008 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

What's really strange about HP is that they behave in the sort of way that you'd expect if either they were:

(a) a bunch of kids who really thought you can or should be able to say what you like on the internet and had never had it brought home to them that there were consequences of various kinds for this sort of behaviour ; or

(b) a powerful media empire who thought they could say what they liked wherever they liked because they had the financial and political resources to protect them from the consequences of their behaviour.

But they're neither of these. Indeed, one of their leading contributors is a lawyer who, one imagines, should know a great deal better.

8/29/2008 08:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless they think that different rules apply to them, perhaps owing to the fact that they consider themselves Godson's godsons.

Chris Williams

8/29/2008 11:42:00 AM  

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