Monday, January 18, 2010

Never level an accusation you can't substantiate

Advice to young journalists from Nick Cohen:

As a matter of low tactics as much as high principle, they ought to know that you never level an accusation you can't substantiate because you make life too easy for your targets when you do.


Now, our favourite suspect for writing Private Eye's 'Ratbiter' column [can substantiate the suspect bit - Ed], hasn't just lifted this sage advice [cliche, change - Ed] from some old handout from a journalism ethics seminar, he's got a hard example in mind. Quite rightly, he suggests that mind-reading should be avoided.

No one who opposed John Major claimed he was lying when he said that taking the pound out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism was in Britain's best interests. We confined ourselves to the truthful charge that he had made a monumental policy blunder.


Does anyone know who writes NC's Wikipedia entry?

Cohen later had to apologise to the journalist Nick Davies after [Cohen] falsely accused [Davies] of printing stories he [Davies] knew to be untrue in his anti-war book Flat Earth News.


Here is the Apology to Nick Davies (not linked from Wikipedia).

I thought you'd like a post on yesterday's Observer column. Thanks to Matt Turner.

And we have an update. 10:05 am 18/1/2010 Alastair Campbell issues garbled retraction over his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry. Via Armando Iannuci. I think the phrase is "this stuff writes itself."

In a further blow to Mr Blair, Lord Turnbull, the cabinet secretary throughout the war, has made the most outspoken attack yet on the dossier, saying it was produced through “a process of granny’s footsteps ... At each stage, you can see another little sort of tweak of the dial”.


NB The Torygraph is hostile to Labour and the writer Andrew Gilligan has a history with Campbell. However, the Glasgow Herald has the same story.

35 Comments:

Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Cohenese - A Guide For The Non-Harry's Place Reader

They didn't and the occupation turned into a disaster.

Mark this point well - no weapons, hideous bloodbath, awful fuck-up. We won't be emphasising this barely relevant fact, unless it provides us with an excuse to blame the British army units in Basra for fumbling the impossible task we set them.

Followers of Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and Ruhollah Khomenei began a campaign of mass sectarian killings... Clerical death squads.

98% of these persons also known as "the Iraqis". For information on the later careers of these head-chopping sectarian militias, see US payroll invoices for 2008/09.

...surely they would have offered unreserved support for Arabs and Kurds struggling to escape totalitarianism

If only the liberals had spent 2004-08 clapping and cheering, things would've worked out fine. "Support" here means a) platitudes and empty belligerence and b) unwillingness to complain about disastrous war.

mainstream public opinion has never been interested in offering solidarity to the victims of Ba'athism or Islamism

Belated but very welcome admission that the public view the war as a bullshit mission launched on bullshit pretexts that has resulted in disaster, deliberately framed to make the public look like evil, selfish bastards rather than ordinary people with eyes and ears.

I am growing old and weary waiting for Humphrys or Snow to... ask Nick Clegg, Philippe Sands... "What do you mean by an 'illegal war'?"

If only Nick Cohen knew a journalist who could arrange an interview and ask this question himself. Not that Nick is avoiding doing so for any reason, of course.

The inability to accept that a policy they honestly opposed still had moral virtues...

I think we can all agree that some liberals' unwillingness to listen to Nick's vacant waffle about humanitarianism is by far the most horrific injustice of the last decade.

The mental deformations appeasement brings should not be underestimated.

Readers will note that only two papers in Britain publish opinion pieces in which mendacious ballbags repeatedly insult their readers by calling them Nazis, appeasers, racists, conspiracists and loonies. Quite why the Guardian and the Observer think this is a good plan and the Mail, the Times, the Torygraph et al don't, is a mystery to me.

1/18/2010 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

He's got half a point - it's true that regimes established by invasion (or revolution) can and do become legitimate, largely through international recognition. (Although of course 'international recognition' doesn't all come out of one tap: the US, in particular, has a stellar record of being out of step with the rest of the world vis-a-vis who gets recognised (Israel, Kosovo) and who doesn't (PR China, post-KR Cambodia).) What really doesn't follow is Nick's inference that, since the current Iraq regime is legal, the invasion which established it must have been legal too. I think most people regard the Grenada invasion or the King David Hotel bombing pretty much as finished business, but that doesn't mean we've got to say they were right.

1/18/2010 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

you never level an accusation you can't substantiate

breathtaking chutzpah in an artile which claims implicitly that Phillippe Sands has never stated why the Iraq war was illegal. given that he gave evidence to the Dutch inquiry on the topic, you'd have thought Cohen could have looked into it a bit? Aaro skirted this issue by saying that 'at important moments in his arguments about the law, I find that I have ceased to care as much as he wants me to about whether this or that action is, strictly speaking, legal'; cohen can't even be bothered to admit that he's too lazy to do research. Sands makes the case for illegality in his book; it might well be arguable, but has Nick read it, I wonder? Or is he waiting for someone to get a soundbite in an interview instad which Cohen will then be able to argue against in typically unconvincing fashion? Standard Decency, of course - as soon as things get difficult, either in ethical terms or just in terms of actually-having-to-read-anything, suddenly it's shout-antisemitism-while-putting-your-fingers-in-your-ears time.

Linked to this is why i can't take Cohen entirely seriously in the libel reform campaign. He poses, when writing about such things, as a noble truth-teller who is entirely honourable and who would only level accusations he could back up. But the reality is woefully short of that ideal; when he's not parroting propaganda for big industry as he did last week, he's accusing anyone who disagrees with him of hating Jews.

Chardonnay Chap says in the other thread:

Nick's argument seems to be "whether there were WMD or not, and whether the UN process was properly observed or not, removing Saddam was morally defensible - therefore legal - because he was a tyrant."

Ys, that seems to be it - that it is legal to launch wars against any non-democratically elected govt. Geras would of course approve since it fits into the dodgy 'league of democracies' idea; but at the same time it doesn't make any sense, because - and this is not cultural relativism - who is to say which Govts are legitimate? George Bush lost his first election and was appointed president by a court that his own party had ensured would vote in his favour, thanks to a dodgy ballot in a state run by his brother. similar things bring on a condemnathon and lots of crocodile tears rom Decents if they're in countries they dislike. But I, and most other people, viewed him as the legitimate leader once the dust had settled because of the King David issue as mentioned above. Cohen's understanding of international law seems as stunted as his understanding of libel law, and once again the implications of his ranting seem to have passed him by; it will open a whole can of worms if anyone can attack anyhere they have decided is a tyranny, and equally, if anyone can incade anywhere based on genocides which took places decades previously.

On a tangential topic, but still from yesterday's paper; since when has his primary role been as a 'polemicist'? That's how he sees himself now, but it's not necessarily a good thing to be. He must surely know that?

1/18/2010 03:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick wrote quite a nice piece on polemics for a Time Out book about "1000 books to change your life". It is on his own website

http://nickcohen.net/2007/06/14/time-out-essential-polemics/

Unfortunately he fails to follow his own advice

"The tension between believing you are right and fearing that the world will not listen prompts the anger that fills great as well as dreadful polemics. But it also produces a respect for argument that those who dismiss all polemic as mere ranting fail to see. If you can feel a need to make unpopular case – and there is no point in being a political writer if you can’t – you must use your talent to win over a sceptical audience. You must acknowledge doubts and counter arguments, and above all, you must write clearly."

1/18/2010 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

"No one who opposed John Major claimed he was lying when he said that taking the pound out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism was in Britain's best interests. We confined ourselves to the truthful charge that he had made a monumental policy blunder."

This is a curious statement, as I didn't think leaving the ERM was seen as a monumental policy blunder. It was clearly forced on Major, and in any case it was seen in retrospect as being a good thing. I wonder if he meant joining the ERM?.

1/18/2010 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

above all, you must write clearly.

As I've said before: he thinks he's channelling Orwell, but he isn't.

1/18/2010 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Simon K said...

I am growing old and weary waiting for Humphrys or Snow to... ask Nick Clegg, Philippe Sands... "What do you mean by an 'illegal war'?"

Philippe Sands has written a whole book explaining what he means by an 'illegal war' and why Iraq fit the definition. Perhaps he could give it a read?

1/18/2010 05:02:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Reading Nick's latest piece is akin to watching the early heats of X Factor, when the producers select contestants with no self-knowledge and a limitless capacity to humiliate themselves.

1/18/2010 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

It's worth remembering that this particular outbreak of chest-beating about how Nobody Can Prove Tha War Was Illegal...

...Is necessary because the argument over whether the war was a deranged, pie-in-the-sky pipe dream with disastrous results is long, long since over. It's nice Nick has a sort-of new column to write, but he's penning it from the Alamo.

1/18/2010 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been asking for almost 8 years how an invasion of Iraq could be legal and no-one has given me a good answer. The attempted answers have usually depended on assumptuions that turned out not to be true or the question was dodged.

Guano

1/18/2010 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

This is probably a comment that belongs in the previous thread, but I'll put it here because it'll get more readers.

I spent some of yesterday thinking about how OTT I think the libel/Simon SIngh thing is getting. It has my sympathy, and many of the principals (Singh himself, 'Jack of Kent') I find likeable and credible. But I also believe that the current libel law isn't a thing in itself so much as the emergent (if you will) result of other laws, particularly the Human Rights Act. (Because IANAL, I can't explain why libel tourism comes to the UK, rather than, say, France.) But there isn't a single law or set of laws which could be overturned by an act of Parliament: the situation seems to be structural. (NB 'Jack of Kent' seems to disagree, and he is a lawyer.)

Mm: 'seems' in two consecutive sentences. Perhaps I really don't know what I'm talking about here. But the reaction toward homeopaths and chiropractors, well, appears to me to be bitter and spiteful. I think homeopathy is nutty but, like the planet Earth, mostly harmless.

This may be because my degree was in psychology. I'm not so interested in the claims of homeopathy to be scientific or not; they appear to be ridiculous, but the real tests are experimental, not philosophical. But, given that Nick claims to be on the side of science and rationalism and all that, I'm pretty incensed that he takes Alastair Campbell's "psychologist" friend's claims at all seriously. This kind of analysis-at-a-distance has no credibility with with the British Psychological Society (psychologists' professional body). As I said yesterday, it got Colin Stagg locked up, after a very convoluted effort by the police to gather 'evidence'. It has very few (ie none I can recall) examples of forensic success. It simply fails any scientific tests.

Now, there is an argument that it would be quite nice if we could nail homophobes for rank hypocrisy. If we could show that the most strident homophobes were, in fact, gay, then their arguments should, so to speak, vanish in a puff of logic. (I think this thesis was the backstory to The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst.) However, it's also fallen out of favour with the gay (oh god must I?) community. (Need reference.) "Queer... Quentin Quetts" is ad hominem not ad argumentam. There are enough pro-gay arguments that we don't need to resort to abuse. Campbell's argument, if we can call it that, is roughly, "I'm a real manly man and Paul Dacre isn't." It's kind of Neanderthal, and the sort of willy-waving that JHB's accusal of AC of which inspired Nick's blog. (I'm also suspicious that Nick has become a vector for Campbell's toxic spin. He is going after AC's critics at the moment.)

Take Jan Moir (insert obvious joke here). You don't need to psychoanalyse her to see that the Stephen Gately piece, right after his death, wasn't bold truth-telling (as she apparently believed); it was simply tasteless and cowardly, and her logic and her fact gathering and her understanding of statistics were all risible.

As for Campbell's sexuality: I'm quite certain he doesn't take it up the arse. His head's in there already.

1/18/2010 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Hell, I wish ideas wouldn't occur to me just as I click the comment button. If we do want to go for some dodgy psychologising, we could start with the Michael White story. Someone (I think it was one of Blair's unauthorised biographers) suggested that Campbell likes to form attachments to authority figures. First Bob-Bob-Bob, sorry Ali if you're reading this, I mean Robert Maxwell, that Olympian figure of honesty and striving after truth and so on. Then, Tony Blair. And there really was this unwavering loyalty. It's all a bit "Remains of the Day" if Ishiguro's novel had been written by an unlettered serf of Roderick Spode. (I'll use this joke again when I've got it right.)

Not that I believe in analysis-at-a-distance, but if I did...

1/18/2010 09:55:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Recently someone at Liberal Conspiracy raised the question as to how seemingly rational and intelligent people could be strident climate change sceptics.

But you have this other group of people. Individuals like Nick, Aaro, John Lloyd and a dwindling band of true believers who still maintain that Blair never lied, that we weren't taken to war on a basis of deception, and that the war was legal.

I mean how much evidence do these people need?

1/18/2010 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Reading Nick's latest piece is akin to watching the early heats of X Factor, when the producers select contestants with no self-knowledge and a limitless capacity to humiliate themselves.

And Harry's Place is the karaoke bar where everyone tells them how great they are.

1/18/2010 10:54:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

(I think this thesis was the backstory to The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst.)

I haven't read that - is it the one where he goes to the swimming pool and can't get in because they are having a special session for Muslim women. And then runs and tells his story to the Daily Mail whilst berating leftists for associating with dubious characters?

1/18/2010 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

BTW, the Torygraph published Jack Straw's letter to Tony Blair which says (point 10) "A legal justification is a necessary but far from sufficient pre-condition for military action" Implication: there was no legal justification for war. Ergo, the war was not legal.

Nick's argument seems to take the form of someone who's just taken a leak against a lamppost arguing with a copper "Show me the law that says I can't piss against this lamppost; there isn't one, therefore it's not illegal."

1/18/2010 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Why does libel tourism come to the UK rather than e.g. France? Probably because 1) it's harder to make a case that a libel case belongs in a French court when it's about an article/book/whatever published in English and 2) over time a body of case law has been built up in the English courts that's favourable to libel claimants as well as to "foreign" claimants seeking redress there.

It also helps for London to be an international trade hub on par with New York or Tokyo of course.

There's probably a fascinating book written/waiting to be written on the history of libel cases in English courts and how it got to the current stage in which it'll turn out it's all a bit more complicated than the libel crusaders like Nick think it is.

1/19/2010 06:46:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I think this thesis was the backstory to The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst.

am a big fan of Hollinghurst and, though this does have some truth, it's not the whole story; he's interested in coded homosexuality generally, in literature and in life, but I don't think that novel is an endorsement of 'being a homphobe makes you gay'; he's too ambivalent a writer for that. I have real problems with that line of argument (as used by, among others, Andrew O'Hagan in a widely-celebrated-but-actually-awful LRB piece on lad mags); it ends up more or less endorsing the 'gay is wrong' thing - even if it turns into a stick to beat the homophobe with, it's still a stick.

BTW on Ratbiter: the only other journo I can think it could be is Martin Bright, who seems even more gullible than Nick when it comes to HP Sauce posts (he fell for the Mehdi Hasan thing after all). They have also been consistently running the 'Gordon got Bright sacked' meme and despite Bright's denials in print he clearly does still believe this.

Cohen is a much better fit; Bright is, if nothing else, a decent writer, while ratbiter shares Nick's hectoring bellicosity and general lack of attention to detail, not to mention his ability to turn any article into an accusation that 'liberals' are Nazis; there was the scarily partisan but not-ratibter-penned iirc Cohen/Hari nonsense, as well as the more recent defence of nick's being a pisshead, so he must be close to them; and there is clearly a disgruntled Observer writer working for the Eye in some capacity, as there is a pro-Obs, anti-Graun story in there every single issue.

1/19/2010 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How much evidence do these people need?"

The fact that the UK got involved in the USA's attack on Iraq tells us a great deal about the UK, about its political system, its media and about it dependence on the USA. (If you look at some of the leaked documents it becomes apparent that the UK government's main reason was because the USA had decided to invade; all other reasons were post-hoc justifications for that one.)

If Aaro et al were to admit that Blair lied, that would mean admitting that the public were better at detecting bullshit than the press or parliament. It would mean admitting how much spinning and lying routinely goes on in politics. It would mean opening up the possibility of a public debate about the "special relationship" and "punching above our weight" and other humbug that is central to the belief system of the political establishment. Who knows where it would end?

Guano

1/19/2010 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous saucy jack said...

"No one who opposed John Major claimed he was lying when he said that taking the pound out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism was in Britain's best interests. We confined ourselves to the truthful charge that he had made a monumental policy blunder."

It's worth pointing out that if Major had taken Britain into the ERM not for any valid economic reasons, but in order to fulfil an idle boast made to the US President a couple of years earlier, and then took us out again on the basis that he had secret intelligence showing that the world would be destroyed by a madman if he didn't, and this intelligence then proved to be non-existent, we wouldn't be calling it a mere policy blunder and might even demand a public inquiry.

1/19/2010 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Sure Guano I agree with every word of that. The problem is that if you keep denying that we were misled you ultimately make yourself look ridiculous. The evidence of what went on, that we were 'up the Americans' arse' and that the 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy' is so overwhelming that to deny it makes you look deranged.

1/19/2010 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I'm not sure I would call the entry into the ERM a policy blunder. It was AFAIR supported by most mainstream economists and our membership could have even been maintained if the government had agreed to a managed devaluation once it was apparent that we had joined at an unsustainably high exchange rate. It was the manner of our exit rather the fact of our entry which did it for Major.

1/19/2010 12:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bubby: some of the things being said seven or eight years ago were pretty deranged. Blair and IDS both said in the Commons that the fact that tanks had been sent to Heathrow meant that we should invade Iraq. Blair at one time stage went on about how the French were making war more likely by resisting a resolution that authorised an invasion. Blair claimed that he was working for peace by pushing his resolution. There was a really absurd article by Mandelson in the Guardian just before the invasion. I did sometimes wonder whether it was all giant experiment to find out how much bullshit you could feed to the public before they began to react. There is nothing new about politicians and journalists saying completely bonkers things about the invasion of Iraq. They've been at it for eight years now and my guess is that they'll carry on with these absurdities because to admit otherwise would be too much of a shock to the system.

Guano

1/19/2010 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I did sometimes wonder whether it was all giant experiment to find out how much bullshit you could feed to the public before they began to react.

Absolutely Guano. I said the same thing at LC recently but it probably bears repeating. You really can't get away with trying to sell a case to the public that is manifestly absurd. At some point a large proportion of the electorate will simply say 'Do me a favour you must think we are all stupid'. It happened over Iraq and it happened over the terror scares where large number of people just stopped believing what they being told by the Security Services.

I think what a lot of people really miss though is the tremendous damage that all the lies and ridiculous statements did to public faith in the political system. People hate being lied to. They also really resent being treated like morons. The whole sorry affair really, realy fucked people's trust in Government and deepened disengagement from politics.

1/19/2010 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Re: libel, I think in France legal aid is available to libel defendants. It's certainly not as attenuated as it is here. I don't think the Human Rights Act has much to d with libel law, though - the privacy stuff is a separate matter.

(Personally I despise the EU 'human rights' regime, not for mythological health-n-safety-n-political-correctnes-n-straight-bananas-n-pampered-jukny-convicts-n-not-being-alowed-to-shoot-people-in-the-back reasons, but because these 'rights' are generally expicitly stated not to be absolute, and the exceptions left extremely vague. The effect was seen in the recent HoL judgement on kettling, where the police mumbling something about 'disorder' - aaargh! disorder! - was considered to mean they could do what the fuck they like. Harrumph.)

On Nick's habit of coming out with made up legal arguments in man in the pub style (i.e. I am top dog in this bar so even though I kind of know I'm just making it up, I really think my guesses must actually be right, because, er, it stands to reason): this is a good one. The quality of the debate is not great from any side, but then this blog doesn't incorporate 'World of Random Blokes with Camcorders'.

Anyway, especialy choice is the many-layered worngness of NC's:

If you say it's illegal to overthrow a genocidal tyrant you have to say genocide is legal.

He also does some classic 'conspiracy-theory'-bashing. (Watch out if you're using headphones cos someone shouts into the mic at about 1m30s.)

1/19/2010 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Guano: Blair and IDS both said in the Commons that the fact that tanks had been sent to Heathrow meant that we should invade Iraq Well it did 'mean' that, in he sense of being intended to convey that message.

On Campbell, I think he's had an easy ride on the gay-bashing front(so to speak). As organic cheeseboard says of the (manifestly silly) tactic of claiming all gay-haters must be gay themselves, it ends up more or less endorsing the 'gay is wrong' thing - even if it turns into a stick to beat the homophobe with, it's still a stick..

Same applies to Campbell's macho posturing, except that isn't about wrongness but - as is usually the case, and I would have thought more offensive (anyway I do think worse) - a much more personal attack to do with imputing character flaws of an effeminate, submissive kind (piggybacking on the misogynists there, so to speak again); contemptibility/ inherent embarrassingness of 'being gay'; pathetic wimpish pansiness etc.

And definitely not just asserting the dominance of one who is (supposedly) unrequitedly loved - he wouldn't do that with a female 'admirer'. In that case he'd also be more self-concscious about the juvenile narcissism involved.

(And I'd just issue a reminder - if needed; it is easy to forget/disbelieve how naturally lies big and small come to some people - that this is all completely made up from start to finish, and doesnt need rebuttal even of the most dismissive kind, with which I think CC dignifies it when pointing out the stupidity of diagnosing strangers.)

Though the 'behaviorist imputes of fantasies' business is a howler independent of the specific (absence of) facts of the case.

CC - I also don't think you should supply the 'exposing hypocrisy' excuse. AC is relying on that - along with the 'pretty straight kind of guy' (pun intended) New Lab antinomialism.

[Dave Weeden: not being snotty but I think you had a bit of a brainstorm when drawing that inference from Straw's letter. Or else I'm having one now.]

1/19/2010 06:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Tim: I'm with Dave. Admittedly Straw makes the point in passing - with the emphasis on 'but not sufficient' - but the point remains: legal justification necessary and not yet supplied.

1/19/2010 07:15:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

as an aside, nick's current blog whinging about chomsky is worth a look, if for nothing else than to back up the fact that nick absolutely loves amateur psychology of exactly the kind that campbell indulges in up there. In a piece which incidentally cites kamm to back up material on chomsky which nick has sourced directly from, er, kamm, who also proof read it, nick also decides on the basis of some very limited reading that chomsky's every word is infected with anti-american bias-and nick's piece is meant to disprove the claim that he makes scattergun, unproveable assertions about chomsky! It's such awful writing and analysis, and another blow to nick's self-image as rational absolutist.

1/20/2010 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

The pity of it is that both Cohen and Kamm actually make a couple of good points. But they're the kind of points that should be followed by "this may suggest concerns about X's objectivity" - not "what else would you expect from X, the bastard".

1/21/2010 12:22:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

yeah that's it-i find it odd just how irrational people get about chomsky-just how willing they are to jump to the wildest conclusions about him-as you say surely at best this asks questions about objectivity as opposed to proving that he is "wrong about everything" which hp genuinely clothes for chaps's stated position on chomsky.

1/21/2010 08:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Irrationality about Chomsky is not just limited to Decents either, as Brad Delong proves once again.

1/21/2010 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

OC - you're quite right about Hollingshurst: it's nothing like the whole backstory, but it was an idea which informed it, so to speak. Anyway, Peter Tatchell's 'OUTRAGE' is both a better example and far more successful and well-known. The point I was struggling to make was that "many/all homophobes are gay" used to have great currency (and a fair bit of empirical justification) in the gay world; however, it wasn't the whole truth. It passed out of fashion for the reason fashions pass: the wrong people adopted it. Campbell is trying to pass himself off as an anti-homophobe (homophile?), but really he's just saying, "Nyah, Dacre's a poof." The more I think about it, the more angry I get. (AC is very nimble at this sort of thing.) And the unnamed "psychologist"? Really, if you're going to cite an expert, you should at least give their name and their credentials.

TW - agree with your criticisms. (I am Dave Weeden, btw; he is me.)

As for Kamm and Nick, the whole raison d'etre of this blog, as I see it (B2 may want to disagree), is that we're not watching total nutters like say Melanie Phillips or Richard Littlejohn. It should neither surprise nor embarrass us that Nick is right sometimes. I don't hate Aaro. I don't hate Nick either, though I find him rebarbative at the least, and harder to warm to. (But, as I've said often enough, I'm like him in many ways. Hypocrite lecter, mon semblable, mon frere and all that.)

1/21/2010 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh, and I had a look at Campbell's blog this morning. The most recent post is a very pompous "full version" of an FT article on the "wrong lessons" of Iraq. I can't blame Nick for copying and pasting the whole thing; it doesn't do permalinks. After 313 posts, the blog format is still clueless. I admire that pigheadedness.

His point this morning, btw, is absolute tripe. It's something like "because Afghanistan isn't like the Blitz, the people don't know there's a war on." Er, Suez, Northern Ireland, and the Falklands all results in soldiers coming home in coffins and no air raids on London. And all wars pre-WWI were just about soldiers going away to kill and/or be killed. He nicely proves Julia Hartley Brewer's point: he writes like a mandarin.

1/21/2010 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

A couple of excerpts from Nick's recent blog post. Kamm is quoted:

I don't, as it happens, regard Chomsky as an apologist for the Khmer Rouge or for other appalling regimes. I regard him as a sophist possessed of reflexive anti-Americanism.

Nick says:

Kamm's analysis is surely right

And Nick continues, claiming to have written:

a long account of Chomsky's excuse making for holocaust denial, the killing fields of Cambodia and the massacre at Srebrenica

er - which is it to be, Nick? And this in a piece on accuracy in research and writing!

Incidentally, am I the only one who thinks Kamm's 'demolition of Chomsky' would carry more weight if he wasn't citing internet weirdos as authorities?

I'm not a big fan of Chomsky but Nick and Kamm's bleating is strikingly unconvincing - and unintellectual.

on topic - new N Cohen book in May:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Traitors-Nick-Cohen/dp/0007308906/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264175808&sr=1-4

Oh dear... at least he's been keeping busy.

1/22/2010 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

er - which is it to be, Nick?

Do we have to pick one? It's fairly well-known that Chomsky has made statements in connection with all of those three which an ungenerous interpretation might regard as apologetics.

1/22/2010 07:01:00 PM  

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