Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Oh you activists! Oh you authors!

The Rowntree Trust produced a report (not linked to by Dave - here it is. It's fairly sensible. Dave doesn't like it. Apparently he can't find anything factually wrong with it, however, so he spends his column this week in some really quite sleazy ad hominem attacks on its authors.

Some of its authors, that is. Dave has the sense to realise that he's not going to get far in pretending that Ross Anderson isn't an expert on computer security, so Dave (a journalist and author) gets on with calling Terri Dowty a "self described musician and author" (which isn't really true - she might describe herself thus in other contexts, but in the introduction to this report she says "Director of Action on Rights for Children. She has many years’ experience in education and children’s human rights. She sits on the Advisory Council of the Foundation for
Information Policy Research".

Dave also uses the old political hack's trick of trying to dismiss a piece of research by claiming that its authors are "biased" and not "dispassionate" about the social evils they're writing about. And then a completely unrelated comment about questions in the census, a smear about civil liberties being something that only the rich care about ("The rich have themselves; the poor have only the government". He actually writes that). All in all, pretty sorry stuff.


Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"I think the libertarians, the aged hippies and the privileged have taken over the argument and that their cultural preferences have tilted the balance against social justice. Of course, the rich have themselves; the poor have only the Government."

My homework on the State v Liberty
by David Aaronovitch aged 14.

12/08/2009 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Richard J said...

You can take the boy out of the CPGB, but you can't take the CPGB out of the boy...

12/08/2009 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But he does /imply/ that Ross's judgement isn't to be trusted. Check the contributors list. Four academics, two of whom campaign on privacy issues. So he's implying that those two are not to be trusted, because they have a prior interest.


12/08/2009 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Aaro is, of course, an expert on all the subjects he is paid to write about.

12/08/2009 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Note he's raided the treasury for a new weasel adjective - 'parti pris' to mean 'prejudiced' - though AFAIK it's actually a noun.

Lovely to see the 'paranoia' card being played, too.

And I know BB basically says this, but it really does bear repeating that there is not a single bit of actual relevant substance. Motive, credibility, as though this were all opinion or a report of secret findings. 'He says', 'she says', mutter, mutter, meta, meta.

What's in the box, Aaro? Who does he think he is, Noel Edmonds? Come to think of it there is a slight resemblance.

Exception for Michael Wills: "Of course, he is parti pris [sic] too, the difference being that we know he’s a government man."

Not like those sneaky bastards with their carefully hidden prior vested interest deriving from, er, opposition to ASBOs. Only those who have reached the opinion that ASBOs are great should be trusted on the matter of privacy.

"And what I think he pretty clearly shows is that the original report contained several key errors, a host of unsubstantiated assertions, some fairly dodgy references and a number of unfortunate omissions."

Unlike the oracular report Aaro fails to link to, Wills shows things, see, so there's no need to take anything on trust in his case.

And of course Aaro isn't 'parti pris', so we can certainly take his word for it that these are real and material defects and not, say fer example, a load of old bollocks.

He probably just didn't have space to elaborate on this central plank of his one-plank argument, having used up so many words sighing at a poster and wittering about Facebook and Pink Floyd.

12/08/2009 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

I wouldn't mind but surveillance/ databasing is such an important debate and it's tossed off with cavalier flippancy even by his pathetically low standards.

He's evidently got a fucking bee in his bonnet on this one but is utterly misguided.

If one is going to go to town on a document like this, then you need to be substantially covered in your counter-argument or you'll get shredded.

Defending asbos pieces belong in the Daily Mail. As for pontificating on surveillance read some books DA, as it's an old subject of huge interest with a mountain of fiction and philosophy to expand one's understanding of it - not circumscribe it.

12/08/2009 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found it rather funny to be portrayed as an ageing hippy. For 'self described' musician and author, read '4 years at music college and 20+ on contract to BBC + music teaching' and I think a full A4 page of publications (and it's two books, actually) entitles me to 'author'. I'll leave the wacky home ed bit to my older son in a recent article in, er, the Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6872998.ece

If Aaaronovitch had done some research beyond one 10yo book-jacket, he might also have discovered that I changed career a few years ago.

12/09/2009 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"If Aaaronovitch had done some research beyond one 10yo book-jacket, he might also have discovered that I changed career a few years ago."

He doesn't do research, just paroxysms when writing thinking man's Jeremy Clarkson pieces.

12/09/2009 01:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think when David A said "He's a government man" of Michael Wills, he was quoting the Talking Heads "Born Under Punches", which is mabe the theme tune he plays in his head

"Don't you miss it, don't you miss it.
Some 'a you people just about missed it!
Last time to make plans!
Well I'm a tumbler...
I'm a Government Man...

Take a look at these hands. They're passing in-between us.
Take a look at these hands
Take a look at these hands. You don't have to mention it.
No thanks. I'm a Government Man...

I'm not a drowning man!
And I'm not a burning building! (I'm a tumbler!)
Drowning cannot hurt a man!
Fire cannot hurt a man. (Not the Government Man.)"

which is somehow appropriate

Ann On

12/09/2009 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a smear about civil liberties being something that only the rich care about ("The rich have themselves; the poor have only the government". He actually writes that).

At the risk of being off-topic, that's exactly the same line Polly Toynbee pulls on a regular basis as part of her 'Let Them Eat Sure Start' defence of the government.


12/09/2009 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that "businesspeople, mainstream politicians, and journalists" are all softees on teh muslims, but the decent ordinary prole folk 'ates em and their minarets is so infuriating. Journalists write the Daily Express and Daily Mail and it is read by businesspeople who discuss it in their golf clubs with their head of their local Conservative association.

Ann On

12/10/2009 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Oh, no, no, I see what's happened - ha ha ha - This is arrogant middle-class individualism! you want arrogant middle-class collectivism! One thread up, turn left!

Or as my demotic friends would say (in between writing leaders about middle-class black foreign femi-lesbo tulip-munchers) - "widen chew fuck off back where you come from!"

12/10/2009 01:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops - don't post at 12:53 am - that comment was supposed to be on the Ayaan Hirsi Ali minaret thread.
Ann On

12/10/2009 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

And if I may pass on my own lesson, don't at 1:32 redirect stray comments with Python allusions and garbled irony.

12/10/2009 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

@Tim I actually thought it was rather amusing. Then again, I do work for Viz, so what do you expect.

12/10/2009 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Now you've made me look like I was fishing for compliments, you bastard.

You leave me no option but to retaliate in kind: I'm no longer a faithful reader of Viz, but a friend has a habit of interspersing his phone calls with selections from the 'letters' page, which remain highly entertaining and often witty.

12/10/2009 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Now that is a failed joke.

12/11/2009 10:26:00 AM  

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