It is probably about time we discussed the state of the comments boxes here again – if anyone is interested. Personally I quite like the knockabout atmosphere of robust debate. I wasn’t always convinced that a pretty much open forum would work but I think nowadays that over the years it has proved its worth- even if the gangs of rabid right-wingers at the moment do tend to stifle debate. Speaking personally I rarely take insults seriously and If a thread is proceeding in an interesting way then you won’t catch me coming in with ad hominems etc, but if it all gets a bit ‘comedy knockabout’ and free for all who really cares? Its only text on a screen after all – isn’t it?
Over the years I have been targeted by and also tolerated some real weirdoes and obsessives (but then who remembers Will Rubbish now?) without much complaint. The exception I suppose would have been the absolute nutter who posted ‘Graham is a C*nt’ over and over into every HP thread as a result of my disagreeing with him about the smoking ban. But such mentalists removed who usually who cares? You have an argument with the likes of Anaximanders other Sandal or Flying Rodent and the next day all is forgotten.
Recently I have however been slightly annoyed by a couple of events. The first was when Socialist Unity characterised HP contributors collectively as ‘The cheerleaders for Israeli state-terror who contribute to that cess-pit.’ Now I have no objection to Andy Newman taking the view that HP is a cess pit (although if that is so then SU is surely an entire sewage works) but as I rarely comment at all on Israel/Palestine, I did object to being called a cheerleader for Israeli state terror. When I went to SU to inform Mr Newman of this and ask for an apology I was subjected to a lot of wiggling and lies until a final rather desperate position that there was something wrong with me feeling that an attack on HP collectively was an attack on me was reached (You are not Jewish so why are you bothered? was the message I picked up.) The second event was when Oxford Graduate and proto-media star Laurie Penny decided to collectively call HP contributors racists- you may remember her contention that:
‘Harry’s Place has pursued what has been seen as a ‘witch-hunt’ against any Muslim or Muslim-ally who does not fit the site editors’ strict definitions of ‘moderation’’
Of course this was complete and utter rubbish, and as someone who has argued constantly against the backlash against Muslims in these comments boxes I think I had every right to be offended by such a transparent attempt by Ms Penny to put herself in the media spotlight at HP’s expense. When this was pointed out to Ms Penny’s supporters in the HP comments boxes one of them charmingly called me a ‘paedophile’ for my troubles. Nevertheless all that is remembered is that a commenter at HP called Ms Penny ‘a silly cow’. All the rights and wrongs of Penny’s libellous and utterly wrong original contentions got lost amongst the sandwich of her fellow Oxbridge graduate’s defence of Penny against such a grave and wounding insult and other people pointing out that in many places not visited much by the Metro crowd ‘Silly Cow’ can be quite an affectionate comment. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the cow comment it was a reasonable discussion to be having and it did not really need to awaken the Stalinist desire for language control which was evident amongst some unthinking knee-jerk commenters.
One person who rushed nobly to Penny’s defence (ignoring the fact that she was slinging round accusations of racism, her friends were accusing people of paedophilia and (as I pointed out again and again that on another thread at the same time a commenter was calling ALL occupants of the inner cities ‘weeds’ and calling for their ‘removal’) was Marko Attila Hoare. Hoare is miffed at HP because when he picked a fight with long-time commenter Mettaculture many here took Metta’s side. Personally I tried to stay neutral. On one occasion when Hoare was contemptuously ignoring other commenters to continue this personal feud I suggested that he and Metta -as two of the most intelligent people commenting on HP should have their heads knocked together. Metta wrote a charming email apologising (which he had no need to do) Hoare seems to have taken it as a personal attack on his perceived entitlement to get his own way and fumed away silently.
Hoare’s characterisation of what happened when Penny accused HP of racism is framed in the terms of an ‘Educated’ young lady being attacked by working-class barbarians with pitbulls. It makes no reference to her doing anything to provoke HP’s dislike and suggests that she is merely being attacked for her class and not for anything she and her friends did consciously and of their own free will. This is what a real class war looks like, when you remove the entire context and reason for people being upset and can defend someone purely on the grounds of their class alone:
‘Now Laurie Penny is under assault from a whole pack of attack-dogs for being a 23-year old middle-class woman.’
Even with the most liberal interpretation possible, Penny was not being attacked for being a 23 year old middle-class woman. This is dishonest.
Yesterday (and totally out of the blue) on a thread which he had quite obviously chosen because I was defending an unpopular view against a gang of right-wingers, Hoare openly accused me of calling Penny a ‘silly cow’. When asked to apologise and withdraw this quite obvious falsity he repeated it again like a spoilt child demanding its ‘right’ to be right and quoted from my Facebook profile as well as ‘liberty is the right etc’ in defence of his right to lie about me. The smirking sense of the entitlement to lie about your ‘inferiors’ dripped from his every word. He could have apologised but chose to try and front out his untruths.
Hoare is a dishonest person and one whose prime motivation is to defend the rights of the already privileged in society. Leftists beware of him.