Monday 16 November 2009

Shut up, little girl, don't you know grown-ups are talking?

I apologise in advance, guys. I don't normally like to blog about the blogosphere, and I try to ignore what the blogosphere says about me, but this just takes the entire gluten-free cake.

Alright, so last week, I wrote an article about sectarianism in the liberal blogosphere for The Samosa. I was writing to brief, but it was a brief I thoroughly agreed with. In the piece I criticised, amongst other sites, anti-Islamist forum Harry's Place for slipping far too often into immature and unhelpful bullying, witch-huntery and ad hominem attacks.

Yesterday, Harry's place helpfully responded with a bullying ad hominem attack, on myself this time. Rather than actually addressing my points, the article and long comment thread consist almost wholly of a rant about how posh, rich, stupid, spoilt, young (and therefore ignorant) and female (and therefore silly and irrelevant) I am. It's worth reading in full, but if you can't be bothered, here are some choice exerpts:

From the article:

'People like Ms Penny - home counties raised and not long out of university - simply haven’t had that much time to reflect on matters beyond their own limited life experience and can’t therefore recognise political reaction if it comes with more melanin than she herself inherited'

'another member of the expensively-educated bien pensant community again...logically challenged and hopelessly muddled'

'since when did Socialism mean the rest of us had to be rearranged to suit the whims of a self-obsessed privately-educated, Oxbridge-cocooned twenty-three year old?'

From the comments:

'Silly cow'

'A stupid spoilt little girl'

'I feel sorry for her. She has no defences, no survival skills, nor any real moral framework that that would allow her to negotiate the world in an autonomous and secure way. She’s stuck in adolescence, is very weak and vulnerable.'

'a very silly, preening, posturing, vain, pretend revolutionary.

'I will criticise this spoilt little girl in any way I want'

And, most succinctly: 'Would she, please, just shut the fuck up?'

All this carries on for over 170 comments, Gosh, 170 comments, just for lil'ol me! I haven't been so thrilled since daddy bought me my third polo-pony :D

It includes a lot more invective, some speculation about my accent, and a few brave people jumping in to point out that responding to a piece about bullying and witch-huntery with a bullying witch-hunt might not be the smartest of ideas. As one commenter put it:

'The point of Laurie Penny’s article is - HP Sauce engages in smears and witch-hunts of anyone who dares dissent from its idea of what constitues ‘civilised debate’. So it responds by… smearing her, launching ad hominem personal attacks, and patronising her. The response has done her work for her. '

I'm flattered to note that a couple of knights in shining HTML have already ridden to my defence at Bleeding Heart Show and Pickled Politics. This is the point at which, for the good of my own mental health, I should probably just step away. But instead, I'd like to actually respond to the charges for once.

I'm pretty well used, by now, to being attacked on the basis of my age, my gender, my class, my background and my education, especially when people can't find much to criticise in my actual writing. It may come as a shock to some, but I’m aware that I write from a position of extreme privilege, despite having lived a lot more in my 23 years than some people at HP sauce give me credit for. I’m afraid that pointing that out isn’t going to shock me, or anyone who knows me, very terribly, although the news that I'm apparently both a Labour Party member and from the Home Counties did come as a surprise. (I was born in North London, grew up in Brighton, and have never been a party member in my life).

I’m quite open, on this blog and elsewhere, about the fact that I’m hugely lucky to have had the education and life chances I’ve been blessed with - my parents aren't peers of the realm, but we have always been reasonably comfortably off, and with my 80% scholarship they were able to afford to send me to a local independent school. I know I’m still very young and have lots to learn, but I see it as my duty to use those chances to contribute to a debate about meaningful social issues, and not just run off and make lots of money in PR or investment banking.

Tom Miller (who should know, because I've come begging to him for work more than once) pointed out on the thread that I'm actually not personally very wealthy, and am perpetually struggling to cover my rent and bills. Others have pointed out that I've had my fair share of tough life experiences, some of which I've discussed on here, some of which I haven't and shan't. These things are true enough - but they don't mean that I'm somehow exempt from class privilege. However hungry I get, I know that if I swallowed my pride, called my dad and told him I had nothing to eat, well...*sings* he would stop it all. And when I had my breakdown at 17 and was carted off to the loony bin for a year, I had my parents' private healthcare insurance making sure that I wouldn't be kicked out of hospital when the NHS cover ran out, as it did for many of the young people I shared the ward with. There's every chance that private health insurance saved my life.

It's not that I haven't fought, struggled and worked extremely fucking hard every day for the past five years just to survive. It's not that the struggle to stay well and stay productive and work for a secure future doesn't take everything I have, every day. It's that I'm privileged to have had the opportunity to work that hard at all. I know that. In fact, it's that knowledge that gets me out of bed on mornings like this one, when I'm convinced that I actually am the spoilt, selfish, weak, pathetic person that the haters like to tell me I am.

On the other points...yes, I'm young. Yes, I'm female. Yes, I am, in fact, 'little' -5 feet nothing in socks and a hefty 9 stone of ladyflesh. Tell me something I don't know. I've spent a long time being told that I'm too mouthy and opinionated for a girl, that however many books I read and measured debates I engage in, my gender and appearance mean I'm just a jumped-up, silly cow, no more. I've spent years being told to shut up and sit down and let the grown ups talk. I've spent 3 years of a neonate journalistic career being told that I'm simultaneously 'pretentious' (because I went to Oxbridge and know some long words) and 'stupid' (because...well...because I'm a girl, maybe?). And that's okay. I knew, when I decided to give journalism and writing a shot rather than go straight into teaching, that I was laying myself open to exactly the kind of bullying that nearly destroyed me when I was a weepy teenager. I'm stronger now. I know, and people who know me know, that I'm not some sort of spoilt, silly upper-middle-class princess who's never visited the real world, airlifted into a cushy media job by daddums. I've met those people, and I'm 100% convinced that I'm not one of them. If I were, I'm pretty sure I'd have a full-time paying job by now.

Criticise my writing, my ideas, my politics. Tell me I'm wrong, that I haven't read enough, that I need to educate myself more. Criticise my over-use of the semi-colon and inability to spell the word 'acheive'. Criticise my Marshall McLuhan fetish, my weakness for overblown feminist polemic, my frantic desire to find and create bridges between parts of a British left so divided that the effort itself may very well be useless. But don't call me a silly little girl. Don't tell me I'm unaware of my own privilege. If you do, don't expect me to run off crying. Don't expect me to sit down and shut up when the grown ups are talking. I am opinionated, articulate and unapologetic, and I am far fucking stronger than a lot of people would like to believe.

The only other thing I'd like to point out that I offered HP the chance to contribute to my article and put their point of view across - and they turned it down. Had they offered a retort, I'd have included it in the piece to make it more balanced. Instead, they refused to engage and devoted an entire article to a lazy ad-hominem attack. Not the first I've dealt with, nor the last. So it goes. Right, enough whinging from me, I've got work to do.


  1. Well done, Penny! You've responded far more articulately to their points than they did to yours (as I would have expected).

    I get sick of Harry's Place resorting to personal abuse.

    And, being from a working class backround myself, I think we should be delighted when people from more privileged backgrounds support the left, not attack them for it. Mocking someone for the coincidence of their birth is a vile thing to do.

  2. Hear, hear. I know nothing about the site in question, but reading the responses just made me cringe. Hardly showing themselves in a good light.

  3. I am as always in awe at how mature and sensible and gracious you are in the fact of personal attacks on your character from people who don't even know you.

    The irony of playground behaviour such as those comments on the HP site focussing on your youth is... well. Would be entertaining if it weren't so annoying. And the whole, "this is the internet, so we're allowed to be rude and horrible to everyone and if they don't like it it's their fault" thing... gods. The last time I heard such rubbish I was a teenager and criticised for not being able to take a joke when I was being extensively bullied. Being decent should not be a class, age, gender or anything else-specific virtue.

    But then, what would I know. I may be 31, but I'm also female (oh noes!), Oxbridge educated and middle-class. I don't even work, and I'm sure that being disabled and unable to do so is absolutely no excuse. How dare I even express an opinion. The shame. ;-)

  4. "She has no defences, no survival skills, nor any real moral framework that that would allow her to negotiate the world in an autonomous and secure way."

    Hello? What's feminism if not that? This comment annoys me more than the others because it's not just a personal attack on you, it's an attack on everyone who supports feminism. What could be more moral than wanting women to be equal to men instead of disadvantaged?

    It seems that anti-feminists can define feminism as whatever they want in order to delegitimize it. Jennie Rigg's critique of the "blokeosphere" mentioned that male political bloggers somehow assume that feminism isn't politics. Meanwhile conservative historians have vehemently argued that feminist history is illegitimate because it is political (that is when they're not completely ignoring women's and gender history).

  5. When 170 people criticise you the intelligent thing to do would be to reflect and listen. Not to post a self-congratulatory response.

    I notice that you don't mention how many supported you on Pickled Politics or Bleeding Heart. I wonder why that might be.

  6. Hello - I've nipped over from HP - I wondered whether they explicitly turned down your invitation to comment on your piece - or just didn't reply, maybe because they get a lot of emails? I was interested to read the other comments above - I like HP, on balance, but I think, collectively, it's less sensitive to sexism and misogyny than it is to racism. I think I'm right in saying that they don't include feminism/women in their list of topics on that bar to the left of the blog - and I don't always get a great response when I point out sexism/misogyny in comments - obviously it's only a minority that do this but it's a kind of discourse which I rarely see at all on other blogs.

  7. Anonymous,anonymous,anonymous...hmm.

  8. "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

    The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)

    Hiya chick! If people didn't think you had some serious purpose they wouldn't bother to rag you would they?

    Take it as a compliment.

    Your writing got under their skins...

    ... like scabies!


  9. Anonymous: When 170 piss-ants criticize someone, I'm not sure it's even worth glancing at.

    Penny, I don't see any reason for you to defend yourself against such inanities. Indeed, I'd caution against it, for many reasons. Not least being that you it's impossible to answer to such people; they are not interested in "debate". They're interested in proving how inane they are, and that's not something you, or anyone, can argue against.

    So they attack you in personal terms? So what? Substantive argument is interesting, but arguing against these rhetoricians [sic] merely makes them happy. Getting a response is a wet dream to many of them. They will use whatever they can against you, and if that doesn't work, personal insults are fine. These people view winning an argument as metaphorically beating their target. Be under no illusion about your status with these dastards: they don't view you as a person, but merely as a target for their vitriol and hatred.

    None of it is about feminism, women's history, socialism, or whatever. It's about the power of the mob, for they really are an unthinking mob. You have no need to get in the mud with them, and I'd strongly counsel against it. Let them wallow in their own muck and mire; it's what they enjoy, need, in fact. They can't manage to claim humanity for themselves, so the excrement-laden forage they claim as their own is their own.

    Pity them. Don't bother engaging them.

    Carolyn Ann

  10. You seem to have missed the issue behind the criticism, which is that your statements about HP show that you spend almost no time reading the blog and don't understand the views and politicsd. You also (perhaps aware that you were messing up) spent more time attacking HP for it's lack of comment moderation than you did for it's politics. Your "artice" was a disgrace.

    So you wrote a bad article and got a snarky response. On a blog. What a surprise.

  11. Never heard of "Harry's Place".

  12. Hang on a second.

    Your original piece claimed 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’; to whit, near non-involvement in politics."

    Now this is bollocks. Utter bollocks.

    So to suggest that HP are 'bullying' you when they take issue with this comment is childish in the extreme.

    "Rather than actually addressing my points, the article and long comment thread consist almost wholly of a rant about how posh, rich, stupid, spoilt, young (and therefore ignorant) and female (and therefore silly and irrelevant) I am".

    Again, you are being dishonest. The article simply does not consist "almost wholly" of a rant about you or your background, as a basic glance at it will reveal. Rather, it consists - "almost wholly" - of a refutation of your misguided initial statement about HP's attitude towards Muslims.

    Granted, there is some speculation about what would motivate you to come out with such drivel - but frankly, if you aregoing to present another blog's editors and commenters as bigots, then you're going to have to expect a little criticism back. If you don't like that, then I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself.

  13. I think you've proved your point. Whatever function HP Sauce may once have had, these days its entire function is to do a Three Minutes Hate on whomsoever has crossed it today. The Saucers resorting to an ad feminam against you is absolutely par for the course, and you're in very good company.

    And frankly, a bunch of middle-aged white blokes beating up on a young woman... I'm happy to stand with Laurie Goldstein, and the dignity you've shown here is remarkable. These smear merchants are totally beyond civilised discourse. A pox on them.

  14. Whoop whoop. Winner by knockout, Laurie Penny. Fuck dem HP scum. They're a bunch of racist, misogynist, arrogant, self-important, bullies.

  15. Penny,

    Well said!

    Harrys' Place has gone in for personal attacks as a means of winning a phyrric victory for a very long time now. Try telling them that there was anything even slightly debateable in the heyday of the Euston Manifesto...

    You are not alone in being attacked this week. Osama Saeed is also the subject of their particularily childish form of debate.

    Once upon a time, in a land far far away, I could have understood that, if you do not take responsibility for what people say on your comments thread, then you could claim a sort of childlike innocence of the damage done. However that sort of threadbare reasoning goes out the window when commentators fire that particular starting gun week after week after week.

    The likes of anonymous ^ doesn't understand the difference between vituperation and arguement.

    It would be a far better world, would it not, if s/he kept their opinion to themselves.

    You got right under their skins. Well done.

  16. "When 170 piss-ants criticize someone, I'm not sure it's even worth glancing at."

    Well it was glanced at and has produced posts in its turn so it obviously got under someone's skin did it not?

    But to write off the views of 170 people as pis-ants without even considering them? That is the act of a really confident dictator in the making.

  17. Perhaps Gavin, Elly, Symon and Carolyn can advise as to the appropriate response when you are the subject of an evidence-free accusation of racism/bigotry?

    Clearly, issuing a swift "silly cow" apears to be beyond the pale and wholly disproportionate.

    We have authors at HP whose professions and even places of work are known publicly. From the comments of those supporting Laurie it would seem DavidT et al ought to shoulder the burden of false accusations of anti-Muslim bigotry as if it were all part of the cut-and-thrust of debate in the blogosphere. If you don't like the heat, and all that. But mention your attacker went to Oxford and has limited life experience...well, that's a step too far.

    Laurie, I ddin't have you pegged as the sort who would prefer to be patronised rather than confronted. Who knew?

  18. I don't mind being confronted. This would be by way of being my response, you see.

    And 'silly cow' is a deeply sexist, misogynist and offensive phrase. If I happened to be an Asian-british young woman and you had called me a 'brown cow', would you find the superfluity of hatespeech as a counter attack easier to understand?

    This is all fairly ironic, particularly considering that I never actually accused you or other site authors of racism, merely of liking a squabble far too much.

  19. Moreover, Brownie, when I said that HP implicitly condones bigotry, I meant it: you condone bigotry by allowing hateful, miogynist, racist, Islamophobic comments to be published on your site, and allowing bigoted, ignorant trolls to control the debate. I don't apologise for that assessment: it's you that needs to step up and look at what your site has become.

  20. Brownie,

    What a lot of rubbish! Why are you on here defending the dignity of someone like Marcus? Why is Marcus not here?

    Your web site has quite a scattergun approach to Islamists, has it not? You use Islamist much as others might say Zionist. Is that not true, Brownie?

    I have asked you, over on Pickled Politics, where you posted and ran, exactly what you have against Osama Saeed, who I described as as near a BMSD member as it is possible to be.

    No fucking reply.

    I researched - OK, checked out on the internet - the person that wrote that article for you. Turns out he is a Centre for Social Cohesion drone.

    For a bear of very little brain like me, it seems Harrys' Place is in the thrall of some extremely interesting characters, Marcus and a certain Mr Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens.

    You, at least, used to be able to argue a case, argue a point, without descending into the mire that Laurie Penny or Osama Saeed are expected to navigate.

    Get a grip!

  21. For what little it is worth, you have my support Laurie, never been a fan of the vitriol at HP and the numerous smear and spite campaigns they've run and nice to see someone call them on their terrible bullshit, esp. the quagmire that passes for their comments section.

  22. When 170 people criticise you the intelligent thing to do would be to reflect and listen. Not to post a self-congratulatory response

    What bollocks. There's about 20 racist trolls on HP which argue amongst themselves whole day and fill up the comments with their indignation.

    170 comments != 170 people. Even if taking into account some comments defended her.

    Anyway, nice riposte Laurie.

    you condone bigotry by allowing hateful, miogynist, racist, Islamophobic comments to be published on your site, and allowing bigoted, ignorant trolls to control the debate.

    Absolutely true.... which is even more hypocritical from a site that constantly makes a point of highlighting anti-semitic comments on other sites (CIF) that get deleted soon enough.

  23. Y'know Laurie, I was wondering, before I wrote that post, why so many people latch onto your personal background to attack you, whilst I've never had the same problem. If you were to write a 50 word biography of us both, you might not find too many differences: like you, I'm still technically young at 25, and I also had the good fortune of going to a pretty good university. And yet you're consistently attacked for those things whilst I'm not.

    "Why is this?" I wondered. Is it because one of us was lucky enough to have been born in The North? Is it because one of us happens to be male? Or is it because one of us specialises in dry, wonkish irrelevances which reveal little about the author, whilst the other is quite enthusiastically personal?

    I suspect the last reason is the most likely. I fear people use your honesty against you, and that makes me pretty mad because if everyone felt too intimidated to be personal with their politics then everyone would either write under pseudonyms or write like me. And that would make the blogosphere a bloody dull place to inhabit.

    So as much as I'd like to bask in my gallantry, it was much less a case of being a knight in shining HTML and more a case of being a ravenous blog-devourer who's sick to death of people's background being used to delegitimise them.

    All that politeness aside, I despair that a smart person can get through life and retain a fetish for Marshall McLuhan ;-)

  24. Oh dear. Some people seem to have mistaken playground bullying for meaningful discourse. I never bothered with HP and I don't see any reason to, after this. Good response. Frankly, I'd take it as a badge of honour.

  25. No fucking reply

    Er, I think you need to take the meds, mate. Not only have I replied, but you've replied to my reply. But don't let that stop you.

    Laurie, if you were Asian and I referrd to you as a "brown cow" I'd be explicitly and specifically referencing your colour and I'd be gulty of engaging in racist speech. Substitute "brown" for "silly" and I'm calling you, er, silly. Not saying it's pretty, but we're not in the same ballpark, are we?

    particularly considering that I never actually acucsed you or other site authors of racism

    Oh, you were a little more subtle than that, granted. You merely accused us of conducting a witch-hunt against any Muslim that has shown a passing interest in politics, the clear implication being that - so far as HP is concerned - the only decent Muslim is a quiet Muslim. I mean, there's nothing at all for someone like me, or DavidT, or Marcus, who have spent our student and adult lives arguing and marching and writing against racism to get annoyed about there. No siree. HP authors may have written more posts about the need to confront the BNP in the last 12 months than PP, Liberal Conspiracy and Samosa put together, but that's no reason to take umbrage at accusations that we're a bit suspect on anti-Muslim racism. Whatever were we thinking of?

    when I said HP implicitly condones bigotry, I meant it

    Yeah, I'm not sure what gave you the impression that we doubted your sincerity? Trouble is, when the authors at HP post against bigotry, when the bigots in our comments threads are confronted by the authors and the vast majority of non-bigotted commenters, these claims of yours look manifestly silly to anyone who isn't already a committed HP detractor.

    When you've read us for more than a couple of weeks, you might come to realise that you've been led up the path by those with an axe to grind.

  26. No Laurie.

    You claimed that HP subjects "any Muslim" who does not have "near non-involvement in politics" to a "witch-hunt."

    That is a ludicrous and transparently false claim. It is also quite clearly an implication that HP writers (and not the commenters at the site) are bigoted against Muslims. Why else would they - as you suggest - object to Muslims being involved in politics, regardless of their political beliefs?

    You still have not withdrawn - or even qualified - this allegation. All you have done is complain about being bullied.

    Well, that's fair enough - I can see that some of the criticism at HP is personal. But as Brownie says, it's fairly trivial stuff compared to accusing HP authors of being bigots.

    Mark T

  27. Brownie, 'cow' is a sexist term. It's dehumanising and specifically gendered. Have you ever heard of a man being labelled a 'cow'?

    And 'silly', whilst not specifically gendered, is almost always directed at women to make them feel irrelevant and out of place.

    By calling me a 'silly little' cow, you and your commenter are calling me something that's demeaning, dehumanising, patronising and belittling, all on the basis of my gender. If you don't see that, you're either being wilfully stupid or you generally don't realise how fucking offensive your site is to women.

  28. I gave the example of 'brown cow' **(I apologise to non-white readers, I'm not trying to automatically equate the struggles of anti-racists and feminists here)** because it is both a racist AND a sexist insult. You're insulting the person based on their skin colour and their gender.'Silly cow' is an insult predicated on gender. You should apologise or get the hell of my blog, frankly.

  29. I should apologise? For not calling you a "silly cow", I presume?

    First I'm a bigot. Next I need to apologise for a seixt comment I haven't made.

    Why not go for the hatrick? Are you sure I'm not a homophobe? Obviously, there's no evidence for this at all, but that hasn't stopped you so far.

    It's customary at this point for me to demand you apolgise for falsely accusing me of directing a sexist comment towards you, but unlike you, some of us are accustomed to the rough and tumble of blog debate and I'm happy to let it pass.

    You might want to be more careful in future, however, as there are nasty blogging types out there who don't share my magnanimity.

  30. Brownie,

    22.00 hours.

    Hmm...I cannot prove that you are lying, but I suspect you are.

    Let me be quite clear about this.

    I am accusing you of saying that Osamma Saeed is not a democrat, and that he is some sort of Islamist.

    When that is an obvious lie.

    I am saying that you, and your chum Graham are lying bastards...

    That is what I am saying.

  31. Brownie, in a comment above, you said that it was not disproportionate to 'issue a swift 'silly cow''. You said quite specifically, by way of sarcasm, that 'silly cow' was an epithet I deserved.

    No, FYI, I can't see any evidence that you're a homophobe. But I would like you to apologise for insulting me.

  32. Oh, and on your first point, I didn't call you a bigot, and shan't, no matter how much you seem to want me to. What I said was that you condoned bigotry and allowed it on your site. Very important distinction, although clearly a little too subtle for you, as decided as you already are that I'm a 'silly cow'.

  33. "self-obsessed privately-educated, Oxbridge-cocooned twenty-three year old"

    Even if true, I think Penny would still have all the wisdom required to critique internet trolls. When she's wiser, she'll just ignore them.

    Being an angry feminist commentator might be cliched for a 23-yr old Oxford educated bisexual, but it has to be a better life choice than pouting around Annabell's for a dear husband, or getting massaged on a golden Thai beach?

    "silly upper-middle-class princess who's never visited the real world, airlifted into a cushy media job by daddums. I've met those people, and I'm 100% convinced that I'm not one of them. If I were, I'm pretty sure I'd have a full-time paying job by now. "

    They get paid? In media? :-D

    Anon of Not Searched

  34. Douglas, there is no lack of clarity about what you're acucsing me of, but I'm going to keep sticking my story of never having written a word about Saeed in my puff, let alone levelling accusations of Islamism against him. I'm doing this because it's the truth.

    Now, you say I am lying. So it seems there are two options: I reproduce every word I have ever written about anything thus proving I have never written about Saeed; or you cite the passage that reveals me as a liar.

    I'd say the ball's in your court, bub.

    Is there anyone else who wants to lie about me tonight? Come on, don't be shy.

  35. I've screen-captured this thread for safe-keeping.

    Just in case Laurie decides to delete - probably quite wisely - her rather embarrassing contributions in the morning.

  36. Oh noooo! Poor widdle Brownie! Quite happy to spread lies and cast aspersions on 23-year-old women he's never met, but throws a tantrum as soon as people start calling *him* names. Poor dear. Bless.

  37. Anonymous, I'm really not ever going to be embarrassed about calling someone sexist for calling ME a 'silly cow'.

  38. Isn't it funny how it is always the anonymous cowards who are obsessed with capturing the screen and making records when they themselves hide behind the anonymous tag?

  39. "Criticise my writing, my ideas, my politics."

    OK, so back to the original post at Samosa.

    Anyone is going to be annoyed at being told their blog is a mirror image of MPACUK, a barmy army of naïvety and believers in conspiracy theories. My favourite post of theirs was something like:- Zionists cause old people to die of cold. I can’t find the post, but their reasoning was – Iraq war caused by Zionists, spending on Iraq war was cutting heating budgets in the UK, old people dying of cold, so conclusion, Zionists hypothermia enablers.

    But in my search for that post I found this:-
    The heading:-

    Why are all Zionists liars?

    The text accompanying the video:-

    Listen as to how George Galloway brilliantly smashes the lies of this Zionist supporter.

    HP has its moments of idiocy and too much sensationalism, but it doesn’t match up to MPACUK.

    "It is a truth universally acknowledged by anyone who has spent time moderating blog comments that as well as being a brilliant place to share ideas and force the pace of social change, the blogosphere has a tendency to lure idiots, bigots and bullies from their hiding places."

    OK, that facetious cliché did make me wince. It’s been used by every third columnist in the years since the first televisation of Pride and Prejudice. But I really would like to know what examples you have of where the blogosphere has “force[d] the pace of social change”. There's a hell of a lot of typepad-talk out there but not that much action.

    BTW the personal attacks made on you at HP were pretty lousy. When I was your age if a middle-aged bloke had called me a spoiled little girl when I was spouting my ideas I would have poured a pint over him (we didn’t have the internet those days, you understand).

  40. Fascinating.

    How about responding to my comment at 22:03?

    I'm not really expecting a cogent response though, given how you've constructed Brownie's sexism out of thin air.

    Mark T

  41. It certainly seemed, from my reading of the site, that contributors had extremely harsh and exacting standards for what 'moderation' involves. But if you can show me evidence that this isn't true, of course I'll think again.

    The point of the article, though, if you'll actually read it, wasn't to call HP bigots. It was to call them - and MPACUK -bullies, who have become mired in unhelpful sectarian slanging matches. Harry's Place, once upon a time, had a genuinely useful role to play on the left, and the arguments of the Euston Manifesto group are valid and vital in the spectrum of left discourse. But the writers and commenters at HP seem to have lost sight of any sort of wider objective, and now focus on pissant little personal vendettas. That was the point of the article BEFORE you responded with this post. I think you've proved my point quite nicely :)

  42. Penny,

    I know you are going to either conclude I'm patronising you or not allow this comment to appear, but I'm appealing to what I hope is your instinctive impulse to do the right thing. I did not and have not called you "a silly cow" either here or at HP, and unless you plan on some form of retroactive editing of the comments on this thread, anybody can see that I haven't.

    I did suggest both here and on other fora that someone falsely accusing others of anti-Muslim bigotry is on dodgy ground complaining if they receive a "silly cow" in response and added "whatever the de/merits of such a comment" at PP (I think) if you care to look.

    You've accused some people of things that could get them sacked from their jobs if others took these claims seriously, you do know that, don't you?

    Admit it, Penny, you mistook me as one of the HP commenters who has used a sexist insult toward you and now you don't want to look silly by backing down. I've no idea why you've taken this path as I've already mentioned that I couldn't care less about yet another false accusation against me. It's blogging and it was ever thus.

    So I will not ask for an apology I am owed, but mark me I will defned any suggestion I have made the remarks you accuse me of.

  43. Apolgies, Laurie, I used "Penny" in error.

  44. No darling, I didn't misread anything. You said, on this site and others, that I should accept being called a 'silly cow' - as if the epithet wasn't a hugely sexist, misogynist, demeaning term. That may not matter much to you - why would it? You're a bloke! - but it matters a hell of a lot to me to be called a cow instead of properly engaged with.

    I did not accuse you of anti-Muslim bigotry, merely of hosting and condoning it, and fostering sectarian pissing competitions, which is a very different kind of stupid. That's your editorial decision - I was merely questioning it. Sorry if that offends your delicate sensibilities.

    If it wasn't clear to anyone here :BROWNIE IS NOT AN ANTI-MUSLIM BIGOT. HE MERELY HOSTS AND CONDONES ANTI-MUSLIM BIGOTRY IN COMMENTS THREADS, ALONG WITH OTHER HP MODERATORS. Brownie, is that clear now? Or are you going to carry on wilfully ignoring what I actually have to say?

  45. Note to Laurie - suggesting that someone should accept being called a 'silly cow' is, sadly, not the same as calling them a 'silly cow'.

  46. and - '"whatever the de/merits of such a comment" - hang on, you expect a cookie for THAT?

    Calling someone a 'silly cow' is a VIOLENTLY MISOGYNIST, DEHUMANISING INSULT. It is never 'merited'. Not even Anne Widdecombe deserves to be called a 'silly cow'. You don't get out of it by saying that there 'might not be merit' in the comment, you sexist ass.

  47. Anonymous - it's not the same, but it's a very near equivalent. No, he didn't CALL me a silly cow. But he said it was okay that someone else did. Get me?

    I'm sorry, this must make very boring reading for everyone else. I don't know why I'm actually bothering to try to show people with this depth of misogyny why their comments are offensive. But it's the principle of the thing.

  48. ETA: I'm bored of this discussion now. I'll sum up:

    Brownie is offended because he thinks I called him a bigot, when actually I accused him (rightly) of hosting bigoted commentators on his site.

    I am offended because Brownie appeared to call me a silly cow, when, as it has been shown, he merely said it was okay that someone else did.

    Okay? Right, okay. Any other comments on this topic will be deleted. My blog, my rules.

  49. I've learned a bit tonight. I already knew that Laurie was full of win, and the HP crew are as nasty and useless a band of Scoopies as I can imagine. But . . .

    What's funny, though, is the way that Brownie's walked right into it. Let's recap:
    1) LP accuses HP of firing the starting gun for offensive bastards, and of engaging in ad hominems when called.
    2) HP members engage in an ad hominen against her, which fires the starting gun for some offensive bastards.
    3) She comes out fighting and . . .
    4) Brownie, in a transparent attempt at plausible denial, re-enacts the HP+Morgoth relationship in his head in just one sentence. It's not him that just called Laurie a 'silly cow', you see, readers, it's merely that it would be reasonable and explicable if _other people_ did, in the situation that he's describing. She should expect to hear it, and if unnamed others say it, it's fine and dandy for HP to host it. Textbook.

    The relationship between Marcus, Brownie and Gene (what's 'Steele' up to these days, anyway?) and their crew of gimps, racist commenters and attack-muppetts (Hi, Brett) has been beautifully summed up in just one sentence in one post. 16th November 2009, 20:47. Ta, Brownie - it's been real.

    Chris Williams

  50. Ooh. I've been called a "dictator"! That's a first. In the past I've been called authoritarian, controlling, a "fucking liar", and a few other things, including an accessory to murder. But a dictator? Nope.

    I hope I can stand up to such, er, inanity. It's gonna be difficult. I might cry.

    The accusation was leveled 8:38PM by a very brave [sic] but anonymous soul. I don't know how anonymous could be so brave! I mean, it really takes guts to indulge in anonymous name calling. Idiot.

    170 comments doesn't equal 170 people, I know. I was referring to (another?) bravely anonymous soul at 5:43PM. What anonymous was saying, in affect, was "conform to what we think". I find that quite distasteful! My apologies for any confusion.

    So far this discussion hasn't produced many surprises: those who are criticized have accused others (well, mostly Laurie) of lying, dishonesty and not understanding what they said. I'm waiting for "you missed the point"; it was nearly said, but a "we" haven't quite made it that far. Such asinine cliches are, however par for the course.

    On the Harry's Place header, it says "Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear" Apparently many of the commenters at Harry's Place and at least one of the editors of the blog, are fine telling others what they don't want to hear, but don't want to hear criticism of themselves. Fine libertarians, indeed. I also dispute the assertion made in the header. It seems Harry's Place would be more accurately described as "We find objectionable things to say about those we don't like"? Liberty is not solely confined to derogatory assertions; it is so much more than that. The contumelious freedom of Harry's Place is a long way from liberty.

    Laurie made a fair criticism of Harry's Place. If the Harry's Place editors object, perhaps they should look at the comments, and tone of
    "conversation", that prompted such criticism? And if they don't want to be accused of bigotry, maybe they should make sure they're not hosting it, not indulging in it and not condoning it?

    I understand liberty to have, as a part of it, the right to free expression. That has, as part of it, the right to voice objectionable, even reprehensible, opinion. Free expression also contains the right to refute and/or criticize such opinion. Harry's Place seems to be under the impression, judging by the comments on the blog, the topics covered, the shrillness of many of those posts, and the feeble efforts at refutation in Laurie's blog post, to be solely dedicated to the idea that they can say objectionable things, but that others cannot.

    In other words: they can, and eagerly do, issue criticism, but are upset when others criticize them. Granted, there is no demand for consistency (or accuracy) in free expression, but getting upset when someone criticizes you, in what are really mild to moderate terms, well, that opens you to charges of hypocrisy.

    So far I've not seen any clear response to Laurie's criticisms. I also remain underwhelmed by the Harry's Place editors' comprehension of liberty.

    Carolyn Ann

  51. Penny, you know better to expect reasoned and rational debate on the blogosphere!
    Wear their criticisms as a badge of honour - I know one newspaper where journalists have a tradition of framing their first libel-threat letter for posterity. If you are annoying someone, you are doing your job.
    Having said that you must distinguish between people who write critical articles and those who comment on them. Don't expect anything from the latter - not even correct spelling. It certainly is not worth taking to heart ( I was just called a shit head for a constructive article on taxation ) and if someone has to resort to name-calling and schoolyard insults to put you down, you know they have no actual argument.

  52. I thought Laurie's original post was unfair and I can understand completely why HP writers were deeply offended by it. (Obviously she had a point about the *commenters* though). But I thought the riposte by HP had too many snarky, ad feminam (though not as far as I remember especially sexist), irrelevant (and possibly inaccurate) comments in it. Laurie - I really can't agree that 'silly cow' is 'violently misogynist' but it is sexist and I think I'm with you on the debate with Brownie - in so far as he invoked the phrase and implied it was acceptable even if he didn't precisely address it at you.

  53. Hold it but don't squeeze it.

    That's all I've got to say.


  54. Brownie, 16th Nov 22:50

    No. You have the obvious option of walking away from defending Harry's Place, which has laid claim to this sort of shite, including this rather aggressive attack on Penny Red, and on Osama Saeed. Or you don't.

    It is your choice.

    You apparently know exactly what I think....

  55. Penny, well done for calling Harry's Place on its bullying and for refusing to be put down by their usual abusive response techniques. In particular, thanks for going on pointing out the particular forms of misogynist and patronising abuse some members of the collective and a great many of the commenters invariably direct at women who challenge whatever particular piece of received wisdom they regard as beyond criticism. And as I'm an observant Jew, the tirades of abuse directed at me are even more intense. Religious observance is of itself a target of abuse and vilification on the part of some HP collective members and commenters.

    Like you, I've been subjected to tirades of the sort of violent, childish and deeply personalised misogynist abuse, and gave examples on the thread which grew out of your blog.

    I see today's response from Marcus is to put up yet another defensive blustering post which uses resorting to reductio ad absurdum and frivolity rather than dealing with these issues.

    I've been commenting -- and even had some guest posts-- at HP for some years. Over the last year, I've been dismayed by the extent to which it's becoming increasingly abusive, to some extent because some of the more recent collective members now on HP seem to be particularly given to resorting to such methods.

    I read and comment on HP because I think it represents a left wing view on British and world politics--including Middle East politics which I think is positive and hopeful. But I'm increasingly feeling alienated and depressed, because I think their abusiveness and the regular entirely personalised attacks on individuals, and women in particular, discredits both them and their politics.

    Ultimately, they allow and justify abusive responses in the name of free speech. But the reality is that they are unable to come to terms with their own misogyny and arrogance, and to the extent to which they continue unthinkingly to label as insane anyone who offers arguments they can't cope with.

  56. "Harry's Place seems to be under the impression, judging from the comments on the blog.....they can say objectionable things, but that others cannot"

    Ignoring that awkward gramatical construct (a blog "under the impression"??), you've given no evidence for your assertion whatsoever.

    I'll tell you what's a great rhetorical construct: Claim that the comments in a blog reflect the overall character of that blog. That way, the authors' genuine output can be ignored and their viewpoints substituted.

    If you want to make a general point about the inherent problems with having an open comments policy, then do so. Please don't be so intellectually dishonest as to attribute a viewpoint (racism, bigotry) to the authors that they clearly don't have.

    And talking of intellectual dishonesty, Laurie has sadly fallen at the first hurdle. In her desire to infer sexism on the part of Brownie, it is quite obvious to any disinterested party that she's mischaracterised his point, possibly wilfully.

    I disagree with the substance of much written by HP authors, and I sometimes find the ferocity of attacks on their targets too much (I'm a sensitive soul), but I have never, ever seen them engage in the kind of misrepresentation that Laurie has on this thread, and the original thread.

    Look again at what Brownie wrote about the identifiablility of the authors, and try to understand exactly what he meant when he wrote what he did.

  57. I don't know the background, but ad hominem attacks of this kind are clearly very unfair.

  58. I've been the subject of racist abuse on an HP thread where absolutely no one stood up for me. I posted about my experiences of racism as a person in the UK of East Asian extraction, in support of the idea that white people in a white-dominated society could be racist and exclusionary without intending to. I was continually belittled for it in racist terms, and although he did not participate Brett of HP had the temerity to claim no one was minimising racism against ethnic minorities. You can see the thread here:

    I don't know that I agree wholly with your original assessment of HP, Laurie, but their response to it has been appalling.

  59. I thought Penny's original article was ridiculous:

    a)HP has pretty much complete freedom of speech in the threads, so you're bound to find comments you don't like (the other blogs had to follow suit). Actually the moderation policy tends to focus on homophobia (since a few moderators are gay) and physical threats. Pretty much anything else is allowed.

    b)blaming HP's Jewish commentators for the racism at sites like MPACUK was patronising and orientalist. It assumes Muslims are not morally responsible adults in their own right. Anyone faintly familiar with the history of Arab and Islamic nationalism in the 20th century knows it has a rich history of racism, particularly towards Jews, all its own.

    c)In fact the above thread posters have very diverse political viewpoints. Far more diverse than you'd find at HP.

    d)Associating HP, where a lot of Jews do hang out, with a Neo-Nazi flaming death head, asides being both absurd and literally inflammatory, was bound to get some comment. Penny's surprise looks somewhat feigned.

  60. Looking at the responses on "The Samosa" website, I found this by someone named Bill Corr. I can't quite work out if it had been left there or had been cut and pasted.

    "Sunday, 15 November 2009 14:57 Bill Corr
    "We are truly fortunate to have so large, and so fecund, a Muslim minority.

    "While it is true that - of all 'Faith Communities' - Muslims have the highest rate of unemployment, the highest rate of incarceration, the highest rate of certified and compensated disability and the fewest educational qualifications, Muslims are a dependable voting bloc for the Labour Party."

    How interesting, I thought. Someone who thinks that being disabled is on a par with being jailed and badly qualified.

    Although I suppose that is what the government secretly thinks, with all its talk about getting people back to work (because all an ill or disabled person really needs is a pep-talk and a computer course!!!!).

  61. Take a Harry's Place post and rip it to shreds in detail - if you can. Then you win. It's not exactly a Herculean endeavor. But you can't slag them off in general terms and then complain when they do the same to you. Sling mud, you get muddy.

  62. "The point of the article, though, if you'll actually read it, wasn't to call HP bigots. It was to call them - and MPACUK -bullies"

    That's disingenuous, Penny. You clearly ascribed the chief blame to HP and its Jewish, or pro-Israel Jewish (i.e. normative Jewish) commentators for "starting it".

    Which is absurd. Asghar Bukhari, the founder of MPACUK, gave a donation to David Irving's defence case in his early 20s. OK, he's repented of that now. But there was no need for HP to teach him anything regarding racism or bigotry.

    As I wrote earlier, anyone remotely acquainted with the modern history of Arab, Islamic nationalism or Islamism knows it has a rich history of racism, especially towards Jews, all its own.

    I started posting mostly at HP because the other places I posted, Lenin's Tomb, Jews sans Frontieres, MPACUK etc would routinely delete my posts sympathising with Israel or Zionism. I thought they were pretty reasonably expressed. I'm a PhD student, and I generally keep within the bounds of acceptable discourse, even if I lapse into the odd obscenity, now and then. I got fed up with it. At HP, there is pretty much complete freedom of speech. If I spend ages writing something, I know it'll get posted.

    Muslim, Anti-Zionist, Islamist, pro-Palestinian and antisemitic posters frequently comment on HP. Some are regular fixtures, and are just as much part of the "community" as anyone else. They aren't deleted or banned. Challenged, yes. And some other commenters do express Islamophobic opinions
    , which I think deplorable from a personal view, and I say so. But that is the price of free speech.

    Yes, of course, I find the company conducive, because there are a lot of Jews who also have quite normative, though by no means uncritical, support for Israel.

    But you like to hang out where you feel welcome too, no?

    And, like you, I also am quite seriously disabled, mobilitywise, so I am room or house confined a great deal of the time. HP is probably where I most hang out on the internet.

    I think it has one of the best freedom of speech policies on the internet.

    The other strength of HP is that the hand of the site owner, David Toube, is much less ever present than, say, Richard Seymour at Lenin's Tomb. There is a community of above thread posters who comment on diverse issues. I know very little about gay matters. But I am happy to read a post by Brett, Gene or Peter Tatchell.

  63. "c)In fact the above thread posters have very diverse political viewpoints. Far more diverse than you'd find at HP."

    Was supposed to be

    c)In fact the above thread posters have very diverse political viewpoints. Far more diverse than you'd find at MPACUK.

  64. WOW, it's like the vile standard of HP commentators has transferred wholesale to this blog.

    A lot of ducking going on by the HP defenders, a lot of heads buried in sand, a lot of shouting down people who don't tow the line.

    Typical stuff really for that place.

  65. "Penny Red said...
    No darling, I didn't misread anything. You said, on this site and others, that I should accept being called a 'silly cow'"

    No luv, he and other posters said that you shouldn't be surprised if in response to unjustified accusations of racism someone calls you a 'silly cow'.

    Now as you haven't deleted the postings of violent mysogynists from your site you yourself, dammned by your own logic, must condone violent mysogyny.

    And if violent mysogyny is of such concern to you perhaps your energies might be better spent, as far as your sisters are concerned, elswhere. Or perhaps you're just too frightened of being accused of anti-Muslim sexist bigotry by some champagne socialist blogger.

    Let's be honest here, you deliberately set out to cause offence, got caught out and you're now playing the victim...... and the gender card.

    BTW - Your own comment about "pissing competitions" a tad sexist. Shame on you.

  66. Dear Daniel,

    are you addressing or referring to me? If so, may I ask why, or what, exactly, is your beef with me?

  67. I'm referring to a whole raft of commentators over here, including yourself, who justify the foul atmosphere that runs its course over at HP.

    I don't mind that it is a selectively moderated cess-pit of comments but trying to excuse this or justify it, smacks of wanting your cake and eat it.

    You are not alone in this.

  68. Wow, with all these comments it looks like I've arrived a little late to the party! It makes me so angry when some people use the internet to insult people. Like you say, if they'd had a go at your writing it would be sort of understandable, but it's all personal attacks. Just remember there's an awful lot of people on your side in this.

  69. Well, Daniel, there aren't many places on the internet where a Jew sympathetic to Israel can hang out with such freedom, especially a housebound one.

    A lot of HP commentators are like me. There is prejudice. I don't defend it. But there is appalling prejudice at the contenders, such as Lenin's Tomb, Jews sans Frontieres. And forgot MPACUK.

    But, in addition to the prejudice, there is a lot of good stuff too.

    At least at HP there is pretty much complete freedom of speech and exchange of ideas and information.

    It's easy for you. You're able bodied. You can walk. You can do pretty much what you want.

    I used to act and dance. and travel the world as a teacher. Those days are over. So, now, I have my PhD research, which I do from my desk, and I can hang out with Jews who love Israel and gentiles who are sympathetic. As well as a fair number who think the diametrically opposite, and say so, on a regular basis.

    If you think I'm disgusting, whatever, go ahead. I don't care, obviously. I'd just say that, clearly, you think you've left that poshness of your background behind.

    I beg to differ. I think there is an arrogance in you, that resembles that in my posh school chums and associates of my youth.

    The work you have done on Poles and immigration looks very interesting.

    But I think you think that you part of some kind of elite, a hangover from your upbringing.

    And free speech is free speech. One is bound to confront what one doesn't like.

  70. The contributors at Harry's Place are deeply unpleasant, abusive and sectarian people.

    Although they pose as defenders of British values, they appear to be a narrow clique of vehemently anti-muslim Zionists, though their greatest ire is vented on anti-Zionist Jews, whom they seem to regard as traitors.

    Anything that exposes their hypocrisy and bigotry is OK with me.

    Well done, Penny.

  71. Daniel Hoffmann-Gill is right. HP pompously trumpets that liberty means the right to tell people what they don't want to hear, and then its moderators delete everything they don't want to hear.

  72. zkharya:

    If I may out myself as a Jew first off and say that as long as sympathy with Israel never translates itself into a blind allegiance and a myopic failure to see that it makes terrible mistakes both political and spiritual then I'm all cool with that.

    But HP is not that place and I distrust places that turn to the cat call of anti-semitie with too much eagerness, seemingly oblivious to the bigoted irony of turning so quickly onto 'others' while it lectures people about the crimes undertaken against Israel and Jews around the world.

    And that freedom you speak of at HP is often just the freedom to hate and be angry and bitter and piss in the wind, wet trousers is never a good look comrade.

    And pointing out prejudice elsewhere doesn't save you from any participation in verbal act of violence or hatred. It just means you are going BUT THEY DO IT.

    I do enjoy Edmund Standing's work against the BNP a great deal but read little over there due to the hostile and negative environment to those that speak out of line for want of a better word.

    And free speech is always to be enjoyed with reason, control and decency, none of which is ever found at HP.

    So swim in shit by all means but don't dress it up as anything more noble than that.


  73. "Although they pose as defenders of British values, they appear to be a narrow clique of vehemently anti-muslim Zionists, though their greatest ire is vented on anti-Zionist Jews, whom they seem to regard as traitors."

    Well, that's code for

    "they consist in no small part of Jews sympathetic to Israel and Zionism in fairly normative Jewish fashion".

    Which suggests that that is in which your beef chiefly consists.

    There is prejudice in HP commenters. But there is prejudice in its rivals too.

    At least HP has pretty much complete freedom of speech with a pretty much complete range of prejudices too.

    You can comment. Penny can comment. Lord Daniel Hoffman-Gill can comment.

  74. In reference to Anon at thirteen hundred hours, I must add that they deny doing so!

  75. "and then its moderators delete everything they don't want to hear."

    Bogus and untrue.

  76. Zkharya:

    Your argument consists of basically going: OTHER PEOPLE DO IT TO as if that is in anyway a grown up defence of what occurs at HP?

    Mind bogglingly naive and verging on the childlike and to repeat, you confuse freedom of speech with freedom to behave like a dick, the two are mutually exclusive and freedom of speech when given to idiots is seriously over-rated.

    Do people have the freedom of speech to smear you as a sex offender?

    Not at all and the Internet is such a blank format that due care has to be taken with words and sorry to break your heart but many bloggers have had comments deleted at HP because they found them not to their liking.

    Goodness me, your blind, nigh-on devotional faith is not an endearing trait, where is the investigative and open mind?

  77. "In reference to Anon at thirteen hundred hours, I must add that they deny doing so!"

    Then they are liars, on top of everything else.

    In particular, they delete any commentary that they can't deal with, i.e. any criticism that calls into question their ridiculously tribal "Pro-Israel Moderates" versus "Islamist Fanatics and their Apologists" view of the world.

  78. >>> "Bogus and untrue."

    Well that is at variance with my experience, but of course you never get to read deleted comments precisely because they never make it out the other side of the "Thank you for your comment, it is now being reviewed by the Moderators" black hole.

  79. >>> At least HP has pretty much complete freedom of speech with a pretty much complete range of prejudices too.

    This is a lie.

    One or two critical comments might make it through but then the commenter is banned (as a "troll", of course) and free rein is given to the hate mongers and bigots to post their ad hominem abuse.

    HP specializes in kicking people when they are in no position to respond.

  80. Anonymous,

    people post anti-Israel, anti-Zionist even antisemitic things on a regular basis, as even a casual glance at threads will tell you. By and large, the things that get deleted, in my experience, are homophobic remarks (I've made some schoolboyish "jokes" in the past) or aggression that borders or tips into physical threats (I've been told to "cool it" before).

    Occasionally, on some threads, there is premoderation, as for instance on the Dispatches program, where there is likely to be a lot of trolling. But trolls are by and large allowed too.

    If you think you are being treated unfairly, Anonymous, why don't you post here exactly what you wanted to say. Then try again. If it doesn't go through, and I think your cause is just, I'll represent you.

    I don't know what else I can suggest.

  81. Anonymous is 'anonymous' because he's lying. The most common acucsation levelled against HP is that the comments boxes are TOO unmoderated. Now here's this liar claiming we delete anything we don't like.

    Too funny, mate.

  82. "One or two critical comments might make it through"

    Complete and utter rubbish.

  83. Well that is at variance with my experience, but of course you never get to read deleted comments precisely because they never make it out the other side of the "Thank you for your comment, it is now being reviewed by the Moderators" black hole.

    The only pre-moderation at HP traps comments that include too many HTML links. Otherwise, there is no pre-moderation. 99.9% of commenters have not and never will see the "waiting for approval" message but it is almost never issued.

    Crikey, you'll say anything, won't you?

  84. OK Brownie I will post a comment on HP now. I will reproduce what I see here.

  85. Brownie:

    We've had this over at Lib Con, many, many people have had comments moderated in the past. That is a fact, you can argue it by all means but just like much at HP, it becomes merely hot air.

    I'm also interested in zak's slide down the pole of freedom of speech to include some things that are not allowed to be free, while I agree with this I am confused as to how the slip down the greasy pole has occurred and why does it matter to Brownie and Zak so much to defend the 'honour' of HP by commenting here again and again and again?

    It's not as if you'll convince many of us that HP is a positive and good place to be involved in.

  86. Just posted a comment on HP. This is what appeared:

    Hello Brownie, now are you the liar or am I?

    Thanks for your comment! It has been placed in the moderation queue, and if it is approved it will be published here soon!

    QED I think

  87. OK, Daniel, asides your trying to impale me on your greasy pole, one can ask why you return, again and again.

    If HP is of such interest to you, you can scarcely complain if it is of such interest to others.

    It was of sufficient interest to Penny to write equating it with a flaming hells angel death's head. And for you to defend her doing so.

    I should tell you that Penny appears to have blocked my last post to you. Since it was fairly lengthy, and I suffer from carpal tunnel s. I'm not in the mood to repeat it, right now.

    One thing it said was that what you consider endearing is scarcely of concern to me.

    I've said what I think ridiculous about Penny's article.

    If you go and post on HP, it is highly unlikely your or Anonymous' post would be blocked.

  88. >>> Anonymous, why don't you post here exactly what you wanted to say

    I see, so I am supposed to respond to articles on Harrys Place on Penny Red?

    And then you will decide if they are suitable for Harrys Place?

    How utterly absurd.

    And what deceitful people you are.

    I know for a fact that critics get banned and/or their posts deleted, so for goodness sake stop lying.

  89. Well, anonymous, it's one way you could prove HP is as censorious as you maintain.

  90. Zak:

    Your argument seems to always fall down to: WELL THEY DO IT and you are repeating this with me, if you must know I came here from Lib Con and left a message of support, I am now engaged in this pointless tit-for-tat because the idiocy of some of the comments was vexing but I think it really is time, point made and all, dragon slain to go and compose my list of top albums of 2009.

    HP is of no interest to me but what is of interest is when any website is a source of spiteful slander and smear personal attacks.

    "I've said what I think ridiculous about Penny's article."

    Indeed you have, now perhaps you should bugger off, no one is convinced by your approach, it has been debunked, best return to the more friendly pastures of HP.

    I don't want to post on HP and that should be clear to you from my comments regarding the bloody place.

  91. Just read the recent post over at HP.

    It takes something to be the biggest snide at HP, but I think Marcus edges it.

  92. Daniel,

    I do not justify or defend racism or Islamophobia at HP. And just because I comment there does not make me part of it.

    I've said what I think worthy of defending about HP, and why I find it conducive, inter alia.

    And stop tring to bugger me with your greasy pole yourself.

    I'm not keeping you here.

  93. Hi Penny,
    You begin stating Harry's Place is an anti-islamist website as if you are in opposition to this position. Are you pro-islamist?

  94. Simonsen:

    Islamism and Zionism are two sides of the same coin.


    You may not but others do there, without censure.

    That is the point you seem to have missed.

    No idea where you've got this buggering idea from either, homophobia perhaps?

  95. Good work.

    The self-proclaimed 'grown-up' politics of Harry's Place is repellent for many reasons, including the bullying that you rightly call into question. A good example of this is simonson's comment here at 15.42.

    For me, though, the most repellent aspect is that place's reliance on a geopolitical outlook that would be hackneyed and maybe even evidence of a lively sense of self-ridicule if it weren't the same MO used by the people with the power.

    Only slightly less repellent is the way its writers dispense the sort of knowing responses to individuals ideas and events they don't approve of that policemen are wont to make when dealing with known 'faces'.

    The least repellent aspect of Harry's Place — because it's the weakest and most obvious and therefore the most rebuttable — is its insistence on denying and debasing any alternate views, other than the ones it promotes, of Islamism and Israel.

    There are two really good things about Harry's Place. First, it's a moral ready reckoner for negative (geo)political currents. Second, it fails in its purpose as a propaganda site because the only people reading it are the contributors and their friends.

  96. Well, that is an unfortunate corollary of free speech.

    "No idea where you've got this buggering idea from either, homophobia perhaps?"

    You introduced it.

  97. Also, I still think Penny's characterising HP as the flaming death's head chief to blame for racism on even Islamic website was ridiculous.

    And, I think, there is something incongruous about the freedom with which she did that, and the offence she took at one commenter on a thread calling her a "silly cow" (as one lady commenter said, "it’s worse to call someone a racist than to call someone a silly cow"), which I think was Brownie's point, albeit dodgily expressed.

  98. "And secondly, I never accused anyone here of being a racist - since when was Islam a race?"

    Not only did essentialise HP as racist, you essentialised it as responsible for a racist flame war.

  99. "its insistence on denying and debasing any alternate views"

    Well, if by "debase" you mean vigorous disagreement, sure. But "deny" is rubbish.

  100. People that go on about ‘privilege’ as a substitute for a reasoned argument against what has been written really anger me. Would they dare turn round and state that someone’s position is invalid because they’re from an economically deprived background?

    People like that tend to forget that any benefits we enjoy are generally built on the successes of preceding generations. So, like you I know I am tremendously lucky in life and had a great start but I could only be considered ‘middle class’ due to my parents’ successes which in turn depended on those of their parents and even further back than that. Those weren’t simply personal ones but the political ones that saw greater access to education and economic support.

    I seem to recall that Marx’ “Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon” goes into some detail about one’s Class being not simply a matter of birth but with the interests of the Class whose interests one identifies with and strives for. Marx and Engels are cases in point!

    Sorry to hear you’ve been subjected to knee-jerk ageist, sexism and plain unpleasantness but glad to see you’re not going to be silenced by it.

    As for wanting to help reunify the Left let me know what I can do to help! I know how difficult it can feel and it’s sadly nothing new… as one person I know only half tongue-in-cheek put it “What kept the CP in Britain together back then was that the Euros and the Tankies were totally united in their greater hatred of the Trots.”

    (btw, found this thread via some enraged Tooting-types - in particular a certain Leicester Tigers-loving 'fellow privileged Oxbridge type’ of our mutual acquaintance.)

  101. Harry's Place is pretty dreadful. Laurie must be getting something right if they have to resort to insults in this way.

  102. 'you condone bigotry by allowing hateful, miogynist, racist, Islamophobic comments to be published on your site, and allowing bigoted, ignorant trolls to control the debate. I don't apologise for that assessment: it's you that needs to step up and look at what your site has become.'

    This assessment is 100% accurate. I've written guest posts for HP and I generally share its political outlook, but I couldn't agree with you more. I'm very sorry, because I like the HP bloggers personally, but for the reasons you describe, HP is increasingly becoming an embarrassment to the political tendency it represents.

    Having read the thread in question, I'd like to congratulate you on having so successfully pushed so many sexist, ageist and classist buttons in so many people. When you get that kind of response, you can feel sure you're doing something right, and I hope you'll keep up the good work.

  103. PS Judy's evaluation of HP, above, also chimes 100% with my own sentiments.

  104. zkharya: It is not worse to call someone racist than to call someone a silly cow. Calling someone racist is a charge which is a matter for evidence - it can be false, but it can also be true. But calling someone a "silly cow" is sexist, and sexism is always unacceptable. Your statement is like saying that it's worse to call someone a racist than it is to call someone the n-word or p-word.

  105. Aaaaaggghhh!!! Shut it down Laurie, MAKE THE CRAZIES STOP!!!
    I know I should look away, just like with CIF threads, I.. just... can't... do it...

  106. Zak:

    Why have 3 comment when 1 will do? You are quite the shield bearer for HP aren't you although the point has now been reduced so much to be pointless.

    Oh bit of a fact check, I didn't introduce owt to do with buggering, I did introduce the flag pole you're on which is not a euphemism for cock believe it or not.

    And I'm glad you STILL think that it is ridiculous but it doesn't make it true to the rest of us.

    And there is nothing incongruous about it, you seem to be willing to stretch any idea to grotesque lengths in order to justify your virtual fanboy approach to HP, breaking the ideas down into tiny, tedious parcels because the large scale concept has already been proved false but you cling on here.

    And I think you need to stop putting word's in Penny's mouth, you are now building strawmen in this pathetic rearguard action.

  107. Christopher Jones18 November 2009 at 11:44

    Just ignore them, and keep fighting! I know its horrible to go through, but at least they think you're worth attacking. With any luck you'll open a few peoples eyes in the process!

  108. So white, middle class, wealthy, top university-educated lawyer-with-posh-as-fuck-voice Marcus holds another up to ridicule for not being a horny-handed daughter of toil. You couldn't make it up -- that's what HP is for.

  109. Hi
    This was the thought that occurred to me (going back to the issue of your privilege, which you're very 'cards on the table' about) - as an actual or perceived benificiary of an unequal system, are you supposed to simply keep quiet, be happy about your luck and have no interest in working at making it more equal?
    That's the implication of the attacks on your background - nice. I remember fondly those school assemblies where I learned to be glad that the kid getting the shit kicked out of them wasn't me...
    Take care

  110. Albeit, I'm a year late, but it shouldn't really matter all that much.

    Laurie, know this: You inspire me at least as much as each and every one of the other top (Marxist) socialists of our time ("Marxist" meaning not simply "Social Democrat"). Whether you share the same political beliefs as me or not, in my eyes, doesn't matter - for the simple fact that every word that comes out of your mouth is well-spoken, every piece of text well-written and, most vitally, you speak up for those who cannot.

    Keep doing what you're best at - Political Journalism - and always remember the perks of looking and being young (and, to a lesser extent, short): You can always dupe the bus service into thinking you're a minor! ;D Heck, I know a friend who does so and she's in her Thirties.

    Keep your head up, Laurie; I'm rooting for you. :)

  111. My name's Rachael. I was directed here via Helen Lewis. Supremely glad she did so. I was raising the point to her about the lack of representation (in my mind) of females with mental health issues among feminist panels, such as the one which took place yesterday with the NS. I don't just mean the obvious mental / physical fallout- as someone who has survived anorexia, I'm sure you're aware of these already, and believe me I'm going through them myself - I mean the impinging social setbacks. The loss of friends. The gaping hole in the CV / benefits claims, which to a potential employer looks suspiciously like laziness. Oh and of course - as someone forced into a "menial" job (I work as a cleaner), the perception of my lacking any ambition. Just because I'm a skiv.

    As an egalitarian, I find the latter to be particular bullshit. I was raised to believe every job undertaken is a purposeful one, and though I didn't set out in life to be a cleaner, I still find time at the end of the day - when I've settled my raging exercise-OCD demons by thrashing my guts out with a hoover, and the gym - to sit down and write.

    So not quite ambition-less. But still feeling unrepresented. I'm one of the lucky ones, as are you - there are still plenty more women, sitting in those inpatient units with no voice other than their respective illness. This is where I'd like to hear more vigorous, stronger voices - such as yourself, Helen Lewis, maybe even myself now that I don't feel quite so passive-aggressive - walking among them. Speaking for them, reaching out with their hands, telling the world how they feel, how they very much want to get back into the world but don't know how. And also, those on the outside but faced with those much wider walls of the world, than what they were consigned to for months. I'm sure you remember how very daunting it is, to be on the other side of a locked door.


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