Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beaten by Littlejohn

As noted by our ever vigilant commenter Organic Cheeseboard, our man David Aaronovitch (along with Johann Hari) was beaten by Richard Littlejohn in the Comment Awards.

Now, I'm no fan of our Dave, but all I can say is - what an excellent way to pre-emptively flush any credibility said awards may have earned in future. Must have been given for services to knee-jerk, smug, insular reaction. You're better off without it, Dave.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hari seems to have won another award though - for 'cultural commentator', whatever that means

10/16/2009 01:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hari didn't take the opportunity to slag off the awards in his acceptance speech, which is a shame. But he was very polite:

Chris Williams

10/16/2009 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Been a bit quiet around here so what do people think about this piece of Aaro?

[unfortunately subscribers only after that bit]

There's quite a lot to say about it but one thing that struck me was where he says:

"As to choice in education and healthcare, I exercise it all the time, in the same way that only the wealthy used to go to Spain".

[this is after saying that consumerism only became unpopular on the left after the masses started doing it - see here for a little more]

There is surely a difference however in the choice that Aaronovitch exercises in education, which we know as he has written about it, which is to essentially buy the best possible education for his children that is available, and the choice that will be available to most parents? The idea of choice is not necessarily a bad one, but I just don't see how most parents could ever exercise it in the way Aaro can at present.

I think also there's a risk of confusing 'choice' and 'competition', which are related but not the same. I'm not convinced the range of education desired by children/children's parents is really that wide; most private schools offer much the same thing after all.

10/19/2009 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

"As to choice in education and healthcare, I exercise it all the time, in the same way that only the wealthy used to go to Spain

I know he sends his kids to private schools, but does Aaro use someone like BUPA as opposed to the NHS?

OT as well but Cohen in the obs yesterday came up with this peach:

the Centre for Social Cohesion, which examines neo-Nazi, Islamist and other extremism in Britain.

It's one thing to give your sources an easy time, but it's pretty worrying that Cohen genuinely seems to like Douglas Murray and gives him ridiculous spin like this. Given that Murray is with Griffin on the topic of teh muslims I think the Beeb made a prtty wise choice.

This also seems pretty far of the mark:

In Dagenham, there is the white BNP. In Bethnal Green and Bow, George Galloway won for Respect, a bigoted party dominated by Jamaat-e-Islami

I'm no respect fan but there's no way the two parties are the same. Nither is the other example Cohen uses, the Christian People's alliance, even if they're also islamophobic.

Also Cohen's idea that TV journos are all soft and rubbish is at odds with his 'fearless truth-tellers' stance on print journos in his recent libel stuff. He wants the BBC, which is duty-bound to be neutral, to announce Nick Griffin as 'Britain's leading neo-Nazi; fair enough, but then they'd have to introduce Tony Blair as 'Britain's leading war criminal', wouldn't they? I kind of understand his point - that fascism should be confronted everywhere - but the debate about BBC neutrality is surely more complicated than he's letting on. I mean not even the Observer write about Griffin in that way in news reporting, do they - why should the BBC, which is meant to be more impartial, do so? Yet again Cohen reduces himself to simplistic BBC-bashing - plus ca change, but it does the issue being discussed a real disservice. Mind you, since he thinks that Derek Beacon was elected in south london, not sure how much he actually knows about the issues anyway.

10/19/2009 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Douglas Murray is an extremist. His Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference lecture was an exercise in something very close to neo-Nazi thinking - except the ethnoreligious group to suffer are Muslims.

Everytime I go back to my now dead blog and read the post on his lecture, I am shocked by just how extreme Murray is, and how easily he appears to have slipped into respectability.

10/19/2009 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Sorry if that's a slight derail, and if you've read me arguing that before, but it is important to remember just how mind-bogglingly extreme is the leader of 'The Centre for Social Cohesion'. Murray isn't just right-wing. He isn't just anti-immigration. He believes that it should be government policy to actively persecute Muslims.

10/19/2009 03:46:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

no, i think that is important, if off topic to this post (mind you it is about Littlejohn). In a piece about the BNP making itself more 'public-friendly' the embrace of Murray, a bigot who is trying to make himself public-friendly, sits incredibly oddly.

This is why I was always very wary of the Edmund Standing 'exposure of the BNP' stuff done for Murray - it seemed calculated to expose everything the BNP does except its islamophobia, never mentioned, which is the BNP's main 'issue' at the moment as the 'English Defence League' protests make clear. and surely - if nothing else - if Murray appeared alongside Griffin, the latter could quite easily bring up that speech and render everything else Murray said null and void.

10/19/2009 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Yes, that is quite remarkable.

10/19/2009 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not forgetting all that Bat Ye'or stuff that used to appear in Decentiya.

So, here's Nick's record on acceptable Muslims - Ahmed Chalabi (fraudster), Hassan Butt (professional liar) and Ed Husain (almost entirely funded by the Home Office). Meanwhile, he's willing to boost Toube and Murray as people who "investigate Islamist extremism".

That's as clear a candidate for Principia Wingnuttia as I've ever seen.

10/19/2009 08:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

"Respect, a bigoted party dominated by Jamaat-e-Islami"

From the Department of Making Stuff Up*. I don't even know what he thinks he's referring to here.

*or, more charitably, of Resolving Cognitive Dissonance. Nick knows he believes Respect is quasi-neo-crypto-kind-of-sort-of-fascist-ish, he just can't quite remember why...

10/19/2009 10:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It still isn't as good as Marko's description of Respect as a "red-brown" party. Having some knowledge of Russian politics, I sort of get what Marko was trying to say, but I still thought it was a hilariously ill-judged way to refer to a party full of Asians.

10/19/2009 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Wow, pick up your Times today - the pullout has an Aaro retrospective on the last decade. It's even funnier than you might imagine Aaronovitch reassesses a decade's worth of his own talking points and is amazed to find himself utterly vindicated would be.

The exculpatory Iraq debacle stuff is much as we might expect, and no-one will be surprised to learn that Labour's slapstick authoritarian streak has all been merely a figment of our imaginations. It's also comforting to find "politicians are totally accountable, whatever anyone says to the contrary" exactly where you'd expect it. The only surprise is the lack of blah-waffle about conspiracism.

As a statement of how a certain strain of Decent would like history to remember their moment in the sun, it's hilarious - I can almost hear the euphemisms creaking with exertion, and it's always fun to play spot the glaring omissions from a pisspoor potted history.

I know that referring to Saint George's famous works on history and political sppech is pretty much the worst World of Decency cliche, but really, is there any way it can be avoided in the face of such provocation?

10/20/2009 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Douglas Murray seems v sympathetic to the English Defence League here

10/20/2009 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Oh, and in other news tangentially related to Decency, I see that Nick Davies is really putting the boot into Denis MacShane today, having caught him pimping inflated and unsourced figures.

Would I be too much of a dick if I asked whether somebody passed Denis his figures at one of these legendary liberal dinner parties?

10/20/2009 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Slightly weirdly I searched google for FR's link rather than typing it in, and instead of the right one I got old Ed Husain:

The government should be spying on Muslims even if they are not suspected of committing crimes, in order to hunt down terrorists before they strike, the head of an anti-extremist thinktank has said.

Ed Husain, of the Quilliam Foundation, said it was the morally right thing to do, and that waiting until people had fallen prey to extremism and were drawn into terrorism was too late.


anyway I think FR's link is slightly wrong, the other Nick Davies story mentions Macshane

10/20/2009 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Ach, good point. That's what I get for seeing it in the paper and assuming the first story on Google News was the right one.

10/20/2009 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

The government should be spying on Muslims even if they are not suspected of committing crimes, in order to hunt down terrorists before they strike, the head of an anti-extremist thinktank has said.

Good grief, I dread to think what the pro-extremist think tanks are proposing.

10/20/2009 06:23:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I missed the piece, and can't bring myself to read it, but Andrew Anthony had another piece on how anti-racism is bad in the Obs this Sunday.

I only found out cos HP Sauce have decided to feature bits of it today - though they've attributed it to Anthony Andrews, who IIRC is the bloke who played Goose in Top Gun.

Looks like the fallout of The Fallout wasn't fame and renown among Decent circles - so who the hell did read it?

10/21/2009 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

I'll do a post about that when I get a minute. C4C's article is predictably boneheaded. I've actually been on compulsory diversity training and it was ... really useful, which is presumably why a major international bank paid decent money for me to go on it. In the world beyond writing television reviews and godawful Decent tracts, you often have to do business with people of a different race to yourself, at which point it becomes very useful to make sure that your staff don't have any little tics and attitude problems hanging around from the last days of the British Empire.

10/21/2009 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheesboard said...

Just to add in advance that i've been on compulsory diversity training for a past job, in a university library (not the same one as EJH) and it was very useful and worthwhile. I eagerly wait the piece...

Thinking a bit more about that Kahn-Harris piece yesterday and I think part of the problem that AA and Cohen have is that they appear to work from home a lot of the time. From personal experience it's hard to understand 'normal jobs' when you have such an abnormal job; it's easy to think in such pure ways about issues when the only interaction you have with anyone is emails from editors and phone calls to sources.

10/21/2009 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have been on compulsory diversity training, and learned a lot from it.

No, the bloke in Top Gun was Anthony Edwards, also of Revenge Of The Nerds and ER fame. Anthony Andrews was the bloke in Brideshead Revisited. Neither, of course, could remotely be mistaken for C4C.

Lord knows, I've slipped up on identities - it didn't occur to me that there were two feminists of a similar vintage both called Joan Smith - but Anthony Andrews? And on HP Sauce too? That's like Socialist Worker running a column on Jimmy Cliff's analysis of Stalinism.

10/21/2009 08:08:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

I must guiltily confess that it was not until this Monday that I realised that Jan Morris the travel writer and Jan Moir the Daily Mail columnist were different people.

10/21/2009 09:32:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

given that jan morris began life as james one would hope she was a wee bit more tolerant of non-heteronormativity etc etc than her near namesake

10/21/2009 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

I was amused by the Grauniad's mention, in the same sentence, of all the money Ed Husain's scored off the public purse. Totally deadpan.

10/22/2009 07:18:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Ah yes, I had somehting about Brideshead circulating in the back of my mind after posting that.

I doubt many of the HP Saucers know who Clothes for Chaps is really; a google search shows that he's never been featured except for a few throwaway remarks in the comments. Although he's clearly with them on most of their pet hates and obsessions, he is after all a guardian group journo who isn't one of their panto villains (as decentpedia tells us, they hate tehgraun because of the people who write for it but at the same time only seem to hate a couple of people who write for it, and those are usually limited to online pieces)- and in any case the only writers the readership or indeed the people who run the site seem to care about are poor quality bloggers or right-wing american and israeli journalists. oh and nick cohen.

10/22/2009 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

not the same one as EJH

As I recall the only training available at Imperial College Libraries was in avoiding one's professional responsibilities on an industrial scale.

10/22/2009 07:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT, but it may be worth keeping the occasional eye on Nick's Twitter feed. Tonight he's banging on about how the SWP is objectively allied with Griffin. If Nick gets the hang of Twitter, it could be even more of a car crash than his Schwerpunkt blog.

10/22/2009 11:15:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Is he on there using his usual online name, 'ncohen2'? Because that user seems to have deleted their account. could these two things be linked I wonder.

In any case that 'objective alliance' (an alliance based on what, exactly? opposition to Iraq? has he still not got over that ridiculous 'guilt by association' stuff?) seems a lot less clear-cut than Cohen's actual alliance with Douglas 'send all teh Muslims back where they came from' Murray.

Oh and Nick's BBC-bashing looks a bit silly now - whatever else you think of that Question Time it's pretty clear that Griffin was asked the difficult questions Cohen assumed wouldn't get asked. Griffin wasn't introduced as 'Britain's premier neo-Nazi' like Nick wanted but hey.

10/23/2009 07:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Tonight he's banging on about how the SWP is objectively allied with Griffin.

I look forward to seeing how he works that one out - especially since the SWP's dumped Respect, which used to be his line of attack.

The counter-demo did some good work last night, but I couldn't help wishing they'd put some burlier protesters in the front line - that shot of the policeman dragging two protesters away by the ankle, one in each hand, is going to stay with me.

And surely, when you're asked "shouldn't the BNP have freedom of speech?" the right answer isn't what I heard on PM ("well er basically freedom of speech while a fundamental right must also be balanced with the very real and fundamental freedom to live one's life in peace which is put at risk in a very real sense by giving fascists freedom of speech, the very freedom which moreover they would deny us if they could"). Which is a rather dodgy and potentially dangerous argument, as well as sounding like special pleading when put forward by somebody representing a large show of force. The right answer, surely, is "you've got freedom of speech, just as soon as you get through us". Although I admit I'm not quite sure how you'd phrase that to get round the Public Order Act.

10/23/2009 08:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he's changed it to "nickcohen2", but I was reading this lateish last night. He's on there anyway, and it should be a good source for incoherent babble, preferably after he's had a few. But at least restricted to 140 characters.

The "objective alliance" thing seems to be riffing on something Brett was saying on HP Sauce, that it was the SWP giving Griffin the oxygen of publicity rather than, er, the mass media who have been hyping him up the last two weeks. For someone who comes from South Africa, Brett seems to have awful trouble getting to grips with white supremacists.

10/23/2009 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

This should be interesting...

Go Sayeeda! She's dreadful and fishes in the same polluted stream as Griffin. You should have sent in the Gove monster


There seems to be a sort of Decent groupthink emerging (see David Toube today) that because they have decided that we live in a 'post-racial' society, if any politician even mentions race they are 'fishing in the same streams as the BNP'. I find this pretty worrying and it's linked to the Clothes for Chaps position on diversity, isn't it...? and behind it all lurks the unpleasant feeling that all these Decents base their idea of what Britain is on their own very insular position as affluent Londoners who all live close to each other and are removed from genuine deprivation, no matter how close they might live to deprived areas. There's this unpleasant 'well if i am ok then you should be too and I can disregard your concerns' approach to almost everything - see the HP Sauce response to the postal strike.

it was the SWP giving Griffin the oxygen of publicity rather than, er, the mass media who have been hyping him up the last two weeks.

See Septicisle on the 'Nothing British about the BNP' thing on BNP appropriation of the armed forces - 'nothing British' are so much more directly giving him the Oxygen of publicity and actually made Griffin look pretty good in debate on C4 News - but they have the Decent seal of approval (as, apparently, does anything right-wing which labels itself anti-racist no matter how obviously untrue this is) so it's ok.

I can't take Brett Lock seriously on anything really - can anyone?

10/23/2009 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

The counter-demo did some good work last night

Predictably, not everyone thinks so.

10/23/2009 12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Meanwhile, in the Guardian today, the Quilliam Foundation is being berated for having illiberal attitudes towards Muslims by... Douglas Murray.

10/23/2009 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

At CiF I should say...

10/23/2009 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

It all seems very personal between Murray's lot and the people who used to work for them - there was another catty piece by someone who'd left the CSC on CiF a while back berating Murray for being a bigot.

The piece itself is just dreadful, too, nothing but a series of tawdry leading questions and personal insults.

10/23/2009 01:57:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Murray's been down on ol' Ed since he suggested that young British Muslims might not be too hot for their country's foreign policy.

10/24/2009 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah Ditum said...

Re the freedom of speech argument about Griffin, I'm mostly infuriated by people who hold the line that the leader of the BNP's appearance on national telly is justified by free speech, but anti-BNP protests aren't. Given the complications of editorial choice, I would think that protesting against him is the least problematic case of the two. And anyway, no platform for No Platform is just too meta for me.

10/25/2009 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time to call it a day. Aaro wrote five times in the last week and you managed to watch none of them. Isn't the truth that now Iraq is history, the main authors here find themselves agreeing with Aaro more often than not? Which is hopeless for Watching.
Philip Leander D'Bap

10/28/2009 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like your usual, Phil DB. A quick peruse of DA's output implies that he's dividing his time between muscular liberalism, this week pointed rightwards, and the usual "Oh, it's tough at the top" power-worship.

Perhaps we need a new headline post - "Clock still stopped - right sometimes", to which assent can be nodded or withheld as per taste. Now, where did I put that password...

Chris Williams

10/28/2009 05:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris,your verbiage just adds up to "yes".

10/28/2009 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong again, bozo. It adds up to 'no', hence the reference to 'power-worship', which in many a book, though not perhaps yours, is derogatory. Do try to keep up.

Chris Williams

10/28/2009 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't like to ride a bike near your car, Chris. Bozo or not, first I said "more often that not", so your power thing can easily be a "not", and second, you aren't one of the main posters here, simply a prolific and rather cross commenter, so your views aren't really the issue. Which is that, whatever else it does, Aaronovitch Watch does not watch Aaronovitch. Almost ever.

10/29/2009 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous John Fallhammer said...

I don't suppose it's remotely possible that the watchers have, for example, real lives to be getting on with?

10/29/2009 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

ignoring the troll, larks a plenty in the new standpoint. Nick cohen again misunderstanding both tv show and the book it's adapting-plus a bonus by louis "i got this job because of my undoubted writing talent" amis whose message is-the english defence league, they can't be all bad since they hate muslims, and in any case unite against fascism are worse because cough, cough, mumble...

10/29/2009 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Latest Private Eye in. Page 10 sees Nick yet again tackling Judge Eady, Simon Singh and the chiropractors. He may be in the right, but his argumentation isn't great. I note in paragraph 4 an approving reference to Sense About Science and in paragraph 8 a gripe about "big pharma", with no apparent sense of irony.

On page 13 of the Eye, a little Woodrow Wyatt-style squib on the danger of the NUJ being taken over by Trots who want to boycott Israel. I detect the spoor of the Saucers.

10/29/2009 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the "NUJ about to be taken over by trots" think actually comes with a faint smell of Wheen - Wheen is backing one of the "journalist not politician" candidates as editor of the NUJ journal (an elected post). Wheen is backing Steve Usher - who is FOC at the Express, so a genuine trade unionist, but unfortunately hoping to gain from fellow candidate Mark Watts nutty red baiting. There is no "story" here, just Wheen (yet again) abusing the pages of the Eye to ride his latest, rightish wingish hobby horse around, harumphing like the old fart he is becoming.

10/29/2009 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

linked to this I'm guessing?

maybe I'm wearing rose-tinted specs but the Eye never used to be this obviously factional did it?

10/29/2009 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave Osler's been rather fine on the NUJ election issue:

Chris Williams

PS - actually, PDB, you don't want to be driving a car near my bike. I take exception to wilful and malicious misinterpretation something chronic, me.

10/29/2009 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh that's what it is, Chris. I thought it was disagreement that you didn't like.

10/29/2009 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Crikey Cheesy I just followed your heads up to NC's latest Standpoint piece on Derek Pasquill.

As his illusions about the benign nature of the FCO crumbled, Pasquill tried a thought experiment. He asked himself, "Is the Foreign Office a Muslim Brotherhood front organisation?" Obviously, it was not, he replied, although looked at in a certain light, it might as well have been. The light metaphor stayed with him until "one day I was looking at the ivy growing in my garden and it struck me that it was phototropic — growing in the direction of the sun. I realised that the FCO is Islamotropic: it grows towards Islamic extremism, always searching for reasons to excuse it." At the age of 50, Derek Pasquill is now on the dole with no pension, no savings and no prospects. The FCO responded to his revelations by promoting Mockbul Ali. Like ivy on a wall, the liberal establishment still creeps towards the reactionary forces that despise it, entwining itself with its enemies and leaving its friends to wilt in the dark.

This is surely the moment Nick completed the final part of his metamorphasis into Mad Mel.

Everything about it, the hyperbole, the sweeping generalisations, the sense of victimhood and the moral outrage is pure Mad Mel.

10/29/2009 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Speaking just for myself, it is hard to maintain the energy to write about the Decents, now that their moment has so clearly passed. What would be the point of endless posts explaining the pathologies of HP Sauce, when they are so obvious to any rational person unfortunate enough to stray there?

10/29/2009 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I do feel sorry for Pasquill but that 'ivy' thing is so weird and so obviously untrue that I do wonder... and cohen buys it compeltely which is odd - there's a depressing trend in his writing recently where he sides so uncritically with his sources that he never comes across as balanced. Bonus Cohen points for the introduction of those 3 NuLabour 'saints' - Kelly, Blears and Smith, who Cohen still seems to think are politicians who deserve uncritical admiration.

I also wonder about what Pasquill expected. He says he knew he'd be sacked and he knew he'd lose any employment tribunal - so what was he expecting? a lump of money from some kindly benefactor?

That's not to say that whistleblowers aren't necessary, vital and admirable, but I find all the Decent handwringing over him a bit odd - do they want us to donate money to him, or something?

I reckon he'll be working at one of the ever-expanding number of Tory 'anti-extremist-but-in-reality-just-neoconservative-and-often-islamophobic' think tanks before too long, anyway.

10/29/2009 06:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Dr Paul said...

All this stuff about creeping ivy and the FCO as a covert front for an alien evil power, is this not so different from the good old Cold War accusations about certain Western institutions and organisations being objective or even outright apologists for the Kremlin, the infiltration of Moscow's influence into the West, and so on?

The laugh is that in those halcyon days, the likes of Cohen and other Decents would have been lumped in with the fellow-travellers.

Such are the ironies of history...

10/31/2009 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Yup - and also, thinking about fellow-travellers... some of the stuff in the Cohen-endorsed Standpoint (not to mention the cohen-endorsed CSC, nothing british about the bnp, etc) is pretty dodgy.

I'm not sure I'd want anybody who could come to the 'creeping vine' conclusion doing what is meant to be impartial research for me.

10/31/2009 01:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Pasquill is half right, it seems to me. Political liberalism is illiberal-extremism-otropic: it does, precisely, "grow towards" the most illiberal alternatives to itself. It does this so that it can (depending how paranoid you are) engage with, find common ground with, assimilate or smother those alternatives. It's definitive of political liberalism that it continually absorbs elements of what's outside liberalism, it seems to me.

Pasquill isn't a liberal, of course - he's a conservative. I'm not sure what Nick's excuse is.

10/31/2009 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other point is, who else is (almost) always trying to find ways to talk to the extremes? A: The people paid by the conservatives to keep them safe, who usually end up saying that there's got to be some kind of political solution, which might sometimes even (Thatcher and Gorbachov, anyone?) completely eclipse a military one.

Chris Williams

11/01/2009 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

You got to admire the chutzpah in Nick's Obs column today. He spends a whole article fulminating against net based camapigns which he argues can intimidate journalists and shut down debate.

He then cites pro-Palestinian activists as an example which is strange since if you ask any credible journalist which group is responsible for this kind of activity they are like to point at pro-Israeli cyberwarriors.

Also its very difficult to square this column with his support for HP Sauce who are a surely a prime example of this tendency.

11/01/2009 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

i thought, when he brought up the dec appeal farrago, that he might have actually dared to mention the net-based campaign which inspired it. But no, actually the problem he has is with people who complained that it WASN'T shown, as half the complaints were bogus because they outnumbered the number of individual donations. The logic at work there is faulty-it might look a bit suspect that more complained than gave, but surely caring about bbc neutrality isn't limited to those who might donate-i was pretty much unemployed at the time so in no position to give, but would that mean that if i complained it would be bogus? And yes-how weird for a fan of hp "here is the email address of someone we've wrongly suggested is am antisemite" sauce to be complaining about online pressure groups. As usual with cohen, some are more guilty than others.

11/01/2009 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Also this was pretty breathtaking in Nick's column:

Whether you are the owner of a tiny blog or the editor of a national newspaper, if someone points out an incorrect fact, you correct it

11/01/2009 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also rather breathtaking of the Obs subs to leave it in. Perhaps they are paying out rope for him.

Chris Williams

11/01/2009 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cohen's article bears some resemblance to this tripe from Brendan O'Neill.,news-comment,news-politics,stephen-fry-jan-moir-campaign-has-turned-twitter-into-an-enemy-of-free-speech


11/02/2009 12:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've felt for a while that Nick has been getting a bit Furedite. If it wasn't for their record on Bosnia - or, perhaps more pertinently, Brendan's review of What's Left? - he'd actually be a pretty good fit for Spiked.

Btw, just discovered that Nick has blocked me on Twitter. Am deeply flattered.

11/02/2009 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Has anyone seen Olly Kamm in the Times today. He argues that those who deny massacres in the Yugoslav wars are akin to Holocaust deniers - they use the same methods in so much as they both say that if we cannot find every single body then we are being spun a fable. I've for a long time thought that Aaro's take on the Lancet studies of Iraq mortality were akin to Holocaust denial. What was Kamm's stance?

11/02/2009 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

I am absolutely 99% sure that OK has never expressed an opinion on the Lancet studies one way or another; he has many faults, but knows enough about quantitative analysis to not offer hostages to fortune.

btw, Chris, Organic Cheeseboard, Guano - could you email the address please?

11/02/2009 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger AndyB said...

That's good to read. Perhaps Kamm will denounce those who deny the maga-scale destruction of human life in Iraq in his next Thunderer...

11/02/2009 01:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

He argues that those who deny massacres in the Yugoslav wars are akin to Holocaust deniers

Well, some of them do work in very much that way - it's not a new point. "We can ignore Witness 1 (partisan) and Witness 2 (self-contradictory), and the figures which they appeared to corroborate are full of omissions and inconsistencies" - you can do this sort of thing all day, and you can do it for any massacre anywhere. (Vidal-Naquet is very good on this method in _Assassins of Memory_.)

Of course, that's not to say that everyone who disputes an official account of a massacre is ipso facto a Holocaust denier. Hopefully this rather vital qualification didn't escape Ollie.

11/02/2009 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Email sent (though from one of my less-frequently-checked email addresses).

I had a very long post about the Cohen but teh internets managed to mangle it beyond recognition so I gave up. But it's good to see that others feel the same way - see this this
piece in the Telegraph. It makes this point:

It’s now possible for columnists and companies to hear what people are saying about them. That’s unnerving for columnists, not least because their opinions are now frequently challenged by people who know more than they do.

Which is what I feel lies behind the Cohen (who would previously have looked an expert on ome of the things he can't even be bothered to look up on wikipedia) and also sums up Aaro's position on blogging (he's much more open about it). nick's piece makes no sense since he seems to be happy with SOME online campaigns, just not others, and he has badly misread the reaction to Jan Moir. Part of this is his wider beef with 'commercial interests who want to change editorial policy', which only works so far considering that nobody seems to have stopped advertising in (or indeed writing for) TehGraun even with the presence of Seumas Milne; and Nick seems unhappy with 'Tory oligrachs influencing editors' but he writes for Standpoint which is paid for directly by a partisan Tory oligarch.

There's a really unpleasant side to a lot of Decent discussion of 'free speech', where criticism of someone's writing becomes 'an attempt to silence them'. Not only does this never work both ways, but it's so transparently untrue that I can't imagine even those who write it genuinely believe it (see the response to that Cohen slur on the Fabians).

11/02/2009 03:12:00 PM  

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