Friday, 17 April 2009

Free Woolly

Long-term Comment is Free stalwart "Woolly Minded Liberal" has been banned, and his profile erased, for reasons which are far from clear and which the moderators have declined to discuss. On one thread, dozens of comments calling for Woolly's reinstatement have been deleted.

Woolly could be trenchant, even downright rude, at times, and his views on such matters as ID cards were, especially given his choice of moniker, rather strange. But if occasionally predictable he was always razor-sharp and made a valuable, and valued, contribution to debates. He was at his best, perhaps, in the religion threads, where his thoroughgoing scepticism (even about the existence of Jesus) produced some lively responses. A few months ago, Atheist Bus Campaign progenitrix Ariane Sherine thanked him personally for the input he gave in developing the now famous posters.

For anyone suffering from post-Woolly withdrawal symptoms, I've cobbled together some choice Woollyisms.

On the Atheist Bus:


This is more about atheist awareness. It is still impossible to get elected in the USA unless you pretend to have an imaginary friend and its still looked down upon here. Only last year Nick Clegg provoked a media storm by not sounding sufficiently religious.

All over the western world atheists are coming out of the closet and discovering that there are rather more of us than the media pretends.

Good job Ariane. Good job.

Any chance of another project for Darwin's bicentenary? Something along the lines of "If you believe that evolution is only a theory then you are an idiot!"


On journalistic standards:

I am currently enjoying Darrell Huff's book "How to lie with statistics" which was first published back in 1954. Its very dated in some ways, the idea of £30/week being a lot of money for a working man and the use of the word 'Negroe' for Americans with black ancestry (often only some and frequently a lot less than half) does look odd these days. But that isn't what the book is about.

What it is about is depressingly familiar to readers of Ben Goldacre's website and Saturday Guardian column Bad Science - the pisspoor state of journalism. Things were no better in the 1950s it seems, journos were lazy and innumerate back then and just as liable to strip out all meaning from any bit of science or research as they are now. They were at least as prone to sensationalism.

I had to laugh at yesterday's Guardian with its bold striking and deliberately deceptive headline bewailing a 'record fall' in house prices only to discover that it was just the biggest decline since the last one in 1991.

Plus ca change. There never was a Golden Age of responsible or professional journalism. The current generation, with certain exceptions, is it seems somewhat better than those that went before. At least the Guardian has some properly educated types who know a little about science working for it even if they are banished to the 'backwaters' of the Science section.


On the consolations of religion:

The problem is that I don't want the brain-dead rest you offer : I'd be bored in minutes. What I want can't be found in religion, it can only be found in the real world.


Woolly on Woolly:

By a happy coincidence I was thinking on the train this morning about who or what the next New Militant Atheist (CIF Faction) featured Imaginary Sky-Pixie of the week should be and was wondering about nominating myself. So many of the Deluded claim that atheism is a religion (Woolly's Law) that I think it is justified. I was thinking that we should do Richard Dawkins, maybe we will one of these days, but you've tipped the balance.

So there we have it folks, apologies to the abrupt change in the advertised batting order but this weeks Sky Pixie to be militantly disbelieved in is me : WoollyMindedLiberal. The pixie-eating Dawkins Sharks are still a bit peckish so get Disbelieving hench-atheists, militantly now.


Perhaps the mods will relent, or Woolly will sneak back under a different guise. Or perhaps not. Either way, please contribute your thoughts to the Official Heresy Corner WML memorial thread (as recommended, mirabile dictu, by the mods).

Update: You may also be interested in another Woolly-themed discussion over at CIF Refugees

156 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll miss WML...

I bet he's flying with the spagetti monster now... :) or more likly cheating the devil at poker.

Malphas (Beaye)

You'll note I have two names due to being banned from CiF once already... All I said was the Pope is a blood drinking, zombie worshiper with pockets full of Nazi gold.... what's wrong with that???

Anonymous said...

CiF (and I assume it's Andrew) has dealt with this in a very ham-fisted way. The comment count on the thread dropped from 102 to 72 and then 3 more disappeared. It's so bad as to be comical, and is rightly getting the bollocking it deserves. I wonder if we'll ever find out the ins and outs of the thinking behind pissing off quite so many people.

Woolly can indeed be "part troll", but there's usually a solid(?if that's the right term?) sceptical logic behind it. He's someone you who makes you want to do your homework before you get in the ring with him.

Cheers
B.Freed

The Heresiarch said...

I very much doubt the deletion on this thread is anything to do with Andrew. But you're right, it's incredibly ham-fisted, and it looks churlish.

asquith said...

Haven't been to Comment is Futile since I got banned, amongst a massacre of comments, having the temerity to disagree with Brendan O'Neill's usual wild assertions & generalisations.

I did get a new identity, but I stopped bothering to use it after a very small number of posts.

Dotterel said...

I generally agreed with the "atheist" bit of WML, but not the "rabid" bit: he was a bit too in believers faces for me, and I generally left him to it (although he did let me choose the "Imaginary-Sky-Pixie of the week" once: a great honour!)

Martin said...

Why do you doubt that WLM's deletion is something to do with Andrew Brown?

WLM was very critical of Brown and even more so of Mad Bunting. He was apt to doubt the extent of their cognitive faculties. Worse, he was often able to substantiate his claims.

Brown likes to play his schizoid 'I'm the only atheist in the village act' (atheist him? - it takes some believing!, whilst Bunting has comprehensively lost the battle to persuade anyone that religion does not rot the brain.

Oooh! - takes a deep breath of fresh air; I can write this sort of thing without having to worry about censorship!

It would not surprise me if it had something to do with Bunting: her threads seem to be heavily censored (which suggests she tries to read them). The practice of totally deleting comments is particularly ominous: it has only been brought to light recently.

CiR = Comment is Restricted

Ishouldapologise - Phil Hall said...

Nice blog Heresiarch. Complicated and well organised. You must be a librarian.

But Woolly always resorted to the underhand if he couldn't win an argument. Ad Hom. I always wondered if he had had a horrible experience in a religious school somewhere. They say when you understand someone's background then you can forgive them a lot.

In any event he won't be able to avoid sharing his thoughts. He'll be back. He has the right to his opinion.

Edwin Moore said...

Just back from the Glasgow Gaelic Feis, our youngest featuring on the harp - heaveny!

Back to look at the not so heavenly Cif Belief and god what a massacre - fine comments from pakichick and others competely obliterated including a wee Narnian chat between me and Sarka - bloody hell.

I wondered in one of the wasted comments if this was all not analogous to god debates - we prattle along then suddenly one of us vanishes with no word from Him Himself (Matt Seaton) or the supervising jinn (the Mods).

I'm voting PBS!

FrankFisher said...

Hi all, I've got a contact for Woolly and I'll drop him a line this evening, tell him of this thread - perhaps we can find out what happened, though if I know the Guardian, they rarely explain their battier actions.

I wish they wouldn't do this. Every internet nutjob's banning diminishes us - and I count myself in there. Woolly can be infuriating but that's half the point, and he has - or should - have a right to put his opinions.

To say he can come back in another guise misses the point - his "guise" is him, in large amount. We all grow into our various personae, I know I have. Unless he is and can be WML, WML loses free speech.

Edwin Moore said...

Hear hear Frank, spot on. If I have to stop being an old bagpuss on Cif I'm not going back. You wear in to a persona, Im too old and crabby to get a new one.

After TehranKid got banned, I posted several times asking why, and the posts got wiped out. In fact one I did this morning pointing out that Cif has a huge surplus of pompous white blokes (I know, I know) and as an Iranian mulsim Woman, TK gave a useful perspective.

Comment gone totally (oh and thank god for pakichick - agree with her not that often, but she is sensible and civil and has a good wit).

I wonder if there are legal reasons why they don't want to talk about TK and Woolly, but the current state of play - to avoid repeating my capricious deity argument - is like being fish in a restaurant aquarium - sometimes our finny pals go and we don't know why.

Wasp_Box said...

CiF seems a bit of a misnomer.

They should take a look at your comment policy (and the policing thereof) which seems entirely reasonable to me. I enjoyed WML's posts and if he isn't reinstated I think I'll give up on CiF.

Sarka said...

Yes, Woolly regularly annoyed hell out of me, but he did it well, and I enjoyed being annoyed...

GazzaofBath said...

Well I'm out of CiF for good now. The Belief blog is moderating itself out of existence, the Science blog (my real interest) gave little opportunity to comment, and the political topics were often too full of racists, BNPers, etc and hence rather hard work for 'liberal' contributions.

Banning WML, dumb political supporter of the LDs though he is, was the last straw. Plenty of other interesting blogs to comment in.

Martin said...

The Andrew Brown thread seems to get shorter by the minute. How they claim that moderation is off topic is beyond me: the issue is the quality of CiR (not F) and moderation is central to this question.

(By the way I have decided to censor myself on ISA's "ad hominem" references, but only just...)

GeneralX said...

It's a real shame this censorship on CIF.
Reading the comments is the most enjoyable part for me, they are always far more interesting than the original articles and an education in them selves.
As for WML, I hope it just a temporary ban: an out right would seem most severe.

The Heresiarch said...

I think its permanent. His profile has been deleted.

GeneralX said...

Heresiarch,

Very nice site by the way, I'm glad to have been directed here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the epitaph guys, more than I deserve. The last I heard from the CIF 'community moderators' - now there is a scary Orwellian term - was a week or two before my account was deleted.

I did ask why but never heard back. I think it was because I failed to grovel and promise to be good as I have in the past when placed on the Naughty Step. It was just after I reported some idiot for calling a contributor 'an evil murdering cunt' or something and jovially mentioned that it made my opinions look rather tame.

I'm not in any rush to return under another pseudonym, too busy with what you might call real life right now.

Here is the last communication I got from CIF.


Dear WoollyMindedLiberal,

You might have noticed that your posts to Comment Is Free are currently being submitted for pre-moderation. This is as a direct result of your following comment:

"I've given up the increasingly dull Andrew Brown threads, learned not to even bother reading Madeleine Bunting because I get sent to the 'naughty step' if I dare to point out her glaring deficiences. And as for Theo Hobson .....

I think you are right and I really must write off this ghastly old Tory as no better than Hobson, Vernon, Bunting and the rest of the lame-brains not worth arguing over."

This contravenes the following passages of our community standards:

"We welcome debate and dissent, but the key to maintaining guardian.co.uk as an inviting space is to stick to the passionate discussion of issues... Personal attacks on other users or authors have no place in an intelligent discussion. Similarly, we welcome criticism of the articles we publish, but will not tolerate persistent misrepresentation of the Guardian and the journalists published on the website. For the sake of robust debate, we will distinguish between constructive, focused argument and smear tactics."
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/talkpolicy/0,,210609,00.html)

Your posting history reveals that you have acted in a similarly abuisive manner towards our authors on several occasions in the past. As a result, any further infractions of our community standards will result in your posting rights being immediately and permanently withdrawn.

Regards,

Adam

Community Moderator

whirladervish Mahmut Dervish said...

I'm infuriated with Andrew Brown, he never owns his words and is a complete hypocrite. It's interesting he hasn't commented on his own blog. There doesn't seem to be a level playing field either as to who gets moderated or obliterated and why. Surely in the interests of democracy and free speech all positions should be heard then challenged if there is any disagreement. I think the Woollymindedliberal debacle should be brought up as often and as frequently as possible until something is done about it. We should write to the cheif editor of the paper and maybe post to other web debating sites explaining what's happening here. Anyway, I'll go and take so valium and calm down, maybe a quick prayer will help, who knows.

whirladervish Mahmut Dervish said...

Why doesn't the guardian stick to it's own policy when it's own writers defame and skew the positions of others like Dawkins et al. They're complete hypocrites, this is very new labour, no criticism can be allowed.

HankScorpio said...

Interesting stuff, Woolly, and thanks for sharing. I'm not quite as venerable a fixture on Cif but I've shared the same fate as you this week, after four weeks spent on the naughty step for a post on Marina's promo thread for her new book "Celebrity" (?).

My crime was to ask whether she wasn't biting the hand that feeds by dissing the celebrity culture given that her reputation had been forged on the gossip pages of the tabs under the patronage of her sometime beau, Mr Piers Morgan.

I'm a big fan of Mazza's generally, but the use of her Saturday column to push her new book, combined with the disassociation of herself from any complicity in creating the celebosphere, made me gag.

I wouldn't claim to be an innocent victim of the CiF mods, incidentally. I've often succumbed to the temptation of personal abuse towards other posters, so my own ban was an accident waiting to happen.

But...it seems to me that there is a clear hierarchy of offences under the new regime, chief amongst which is criticism of the GMG at any level, whether that be the hypocrisy of its star columnists, the hypocrisy of the "tax justice" campaign when set alongside GMG's use of tax shelters, or the hypocrisy of "liberty central" being vaunted on the same comment pages which practise arbitrary and excessive censorship.

septicisle said...

I hardly ever read CiF any more, but thoroughly enjoyed Woolly's comments and the arguments that often followed. I was modernromance on CiF, if anyone cared, which I doubt.

olching said...

Dreadful, ridiculous goings-on at CiF central.

Hank, your disappearance is one giant joke.

Woolly, I noted your absence a while ago and checked your profile after which MontanaWildhack investigated a bit more and put up a post on the refugee blog:

http://cifthreadrefugee.blogspot.com/2009/04/fight-power.html#comments

Rarely agreed with your comments, but your ban along with Hank's, Monkeyfish's and a number of others have really put me off CiF.

Martin said...

Seems I guessed accurately: it is the 'Emperor's New Clothes' story all over again.

I could never have guessed so well, unless WLM's criticisms had not been accurate.

The thing about Brown, Bunting and Hobson is their unerring ability to shoot themselves in the foot and the Guardian mods have followed suit - that's loyalty for you!

Edwin Moore said...

Thanks Woolly - what a cowardly and mean message that is, bad cess to them.

I'm not sure how I've survived myself. I took the Guardian to the PCC in Jan 2008 over a particularly foul blog which said, among other things, that Tony Blair should have become a Muslim rather than a Catholic (no irony sensor required - the blogger was scarily sincere).

The PCC picked on this aspect and told me my complaint was invalid because I am not Tony Blair (whom I loathe for many reasons)!

I guess because of my PCC effort Cif can't get rid of me because it would look like spite. Interestingly, the blogger - some sort of community 'activist' - vanished from the Guardian's list of contributors soon after.

I periodically drop out of Cif because I get bored with my own thought processes- it's one thing finishing Berchie's sentences before you read them, it's quite another realising that I know what I'm going to type as I read the blog.

But I never could predict what you were going to write, or Sarka, or Heresiarch or any of the other big boys and girls, and that's what made Cif interesting and a place for learning, and also a place for fun.

Not much fun any more, alas.

And hi Hank. I really don't care for Marina Hyde, not since she did a blog (quite recently) having a go at some poor publicity guy who was waxing over-enthusiastic on behalf of a client. I had a go at her in return on her thread over this - she is old enough to know that the publicity people have a tough job: kicking them is an unfair game, and has always been the mark of a bully in publishing.

Ach no fun at all. Off to open the £3.49 bottle. Thanks goodness for Heresy Corner.

The Heresiarch said...

Greetings fellow revolutionaries (I almost wrote "comrades").

Woolly, (and Hank), I find your description of what happened quite baffling. And completely unconscionable. That said, you did have a tendency to go over the top on occasion. But the occasional deletion would deal with that. The really outrageous thing is that no account was taken of all the valuable contributions you made, and the esteem in which you were held (most of the time) by the rest of us. They are now treating CIF as their own private plaything; which is fair enough, if that is what they want it to be, but in that case they should stop claiming it as a public forum.

Woolly, I hope you'll take up my offer to write the occasional piece here. As long as it's not about ID cards.

Anonymous said...

In case you missed it, Woolly....

My comment 13 Apr 09, 12:23pm

Obituary

WoollyMindedLiberal (2006 - 2009)

Regular contributors to CiF may wish to pause for a minute and reflect upon the contributions of WoollyMindedLiberal whose profile was sadly moderated out of existence last week. As the self proclaimed 'Lord of the Atheists', he raged against mindless belief in supernatural entities, satirically deriding the trenchant and boorish manner so beloved of the dynamic thrusting arrogant bullies that are wrecking this country.

I wonder if it mere coincidence that an article about foghorns appeared at about the time the omnipotent and omniscient Lords of CiF unleashed his deletion program. Hmmm....

Anyway, I would like to send a message of condolence to him in the after life. If you are reading this, Woolly, you should know that you will not be forgotten. Give my regards to donge.

englishhermit

MsChin said...

Any suggestions for CiFs thread on Tunes to die for?
- Woolly Bully

I'm struggling for one that includes Imaginary Sky Pixies, though!

Biskieboo said...

Farewell WoollyMindedLiberal. CIF won't be the same without you. My sky pixie and me will miss you x x x

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Now you've gone and said that I can't write about ID Cards I can't stop thinking about them. Don't be too hard on the moderators folks, keeping me in check probably wasted a lot of their time. They're doing the job to the best of their abilities I'm sure.

Just for the record englishhermit I wasn't the self-proclaimed 'Lord of the Atheists', I got made leader of the Militant Atheists by general proclamation. Well, by CaressOfSteel's acclamation.

Sealion said...

Truth be told, if myself and WML ever met, I doubt we'd like each other. I'm ok with that as I'm sure he is. The point I'm (drunkenly) making is that I don't come on the internet to find a chorus line of people who believe what I believe: I want people to disagree with me, I want them to challenge my perceptions, because its the awkward questions that make us think about what we believe and a hostile poster who will give you no quarter is sometimes the best person to reply to because you have to anticipate their argument and try to make it watertight. Sometimes to do this you have to learn more about your viewpoint, and sometimes (painful as it is) you learn that it is wrong.
So, here's to WML and everyone else who has ever pissed on my bonfire... the people we disagree with teach us the most.

Sealion

doesnotexist said...

This is worse than I feared, the sheer petty-minded cowardice of it. And the inconsistency. While technically they can justify banning WML for breaching their "community standards," if they applied the same standards consistently there'd be more contributors left above the line than below.

You know what I think was the last straw for the mods: "increasingly dull Andrew Brown threads." Mad Bunting is, well, mad, and Theo H, Inayat B et al can be tediously annoying, but there's something about the smug, sanctimonious, self-serving AB, as he tries to have his cake and eat it, which leaves a bad taste.

On other topics, however, I'm surprised by what is allowed to stand. On threads about rape, some posters seem to be allowed to play out their drooling fantasies with impunity, and make extremely demeaning comments about victims of rape. I'd have thought that was far more likely to be genuinely hurtful and distressing to other contributors than anything I have seen on Cif belief. But any comment which even hints that some (unnamed) posters might have an unseemly personal interest in the subject is instantly obliterated.

I have a feeling I might get myself exterminated sometime soon too, but stuff it, I'm not going to hold back from what I consider fair comment.

Montana Wildhack said...

Woolly - you will be sorely missed. I, like most people, come to Cif for the comments far more than the articles themselves. I tend to the soppy side of relationships and have genuine affection for a lot of people who are known to me only by a pseudonym and words on a screen. That's part of what baffles me about the banning of some posters - especially the likes of Woolly, Hank, and Monkeyfish - words on a screen in the comments section of Cif aren't likely to actually hurt anyone. I find it especially galling that Woolly has apparently been banned for things he said about Guardian columnists - X on a bike! They're professional journalists (hey - stop laughing!), they ought to have skins like rhinos - if not, they need to get out of the business.

RIP, dear Woolly.

doesnotexist said...

Montana, absolutely agree that the paid writers should have thicker skins. Also the genuine affection thing (even as a socially awkward bloke) - e.g. despite some early ... misunderstandings, I have a soft spot for Biskieboo and was cheered (but not surprised) to see her comment above.

Jonathan West said...

I think that the banning of Woolly was an unnecessary and overly thin-skinned reaction.

But that said, the fact is that the guidelines are published and it's not hard to stay just inside them.

Woolly, in the passage the mods quoted, I suspect that the key phrases were "ghastly old Tory" and "lame-brains".

If you had left out those two phrases, or had changed them so that they expressed contempt at the ideas of these people rather than the people themselves, the comment would have had just the same force (possibly even more) and they would have been able to find no excuse to ban you.

Instead, it's quite possible that in time Andrew would have been given little choice but to invite you to contribute above the line. You have to work the rules to your advantage.

Andrew called me a troll on his blog Why we need hell. Should I have applied to Matt Seaton for him to be banned?

Instead, I got a retraction and an invitation to write above the line. :-)

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Yes, its not hard to stay within the guidelines, its just terribly boring.

Tomper2 said...

I posted a comment on the Andrew Brown thread "Nominated for a webby" saying, "you couldn't have done it without WoollyMindedLiberal RIP" and the po-faced bastards deleted it.

Anonymous said...

As another former CiF blogger, also banned without my knowledge for no discernable reason or outline from CiF, I think the Guardian and CiF has had it's day. What purports to be a reasonable avenue of debate is constrained by idiot and probably jobsworth moderators who ruin any discussion, don't allow for humour, sarcasm and the like - in fact don't understand it. Matt Seaton appears to be the papers version of Gordon Brown - incompetent.

The continued highlighting of mega stars (sic) Toynbee, Ashley et al just serves to promote banality. The same old arguements are rehearsed every couple of weeks, with no progression merely a tool for patronising the contributors. The authors get away with far more than the contributors. The disgraceful article about Boris; Toynbee calling disable people invalids, about which no one complained. Bloggers would have been deleted. It's not good enough.

I don't read the Guardian and hope it goes out of business before Rusbridger gets anymore bonuses for crap.

Edwin Moore said...

'Andrew called me a troll on his blog Why we need hell. Should I have applied to Matt Seaton for him to be banned?'

Jonathan, Inayat recently came on one of his threads and called Miskatonic University a troll: 'Miskatroll' he called him. I asked Inayat to apologise, and also asked the mods to delete his comment - neither happened of course. One rule for them and so forth, so it goes.

Incidentally, among the many recently deleted Cif posts, Sarka suggested that Woolly might have been taken as a slave for Inayat, and I said the suggestion would make Berchie jealous - then it occurred to me I haven't seen him about for a while. Surely Berchie hasn't. . .?

parallaxview said...

hello Heresiarch and acolytes :)

nice to be back visiting your most excellent blog H.

Just wanted to share this rap with you in honour of WML.

My thanks to Steve Augustine (on another GU spin-off blog about something totally different) who drew attention my attention to this rap and I just thought - 'WML would love this'.

Malchemy said...

Hello Each,

Over moderation is crippling CiF and it looks like it will become as inane as the 5live boards have.


btw folks a troll from 5live has recently shown up on CiF goes under the nic of Grant, a less worthwhile poster is hard to imagine but his kind of spam will happily ooze under the mods radar leaving the thread cluttered with infantile dross whereas the incisive commentary of WML has been disbarred for the sake of a little acerbic banter. Have they forgotten that we are just looking at dots on a screen and not rubbing shoulders for real? A sense of proportion, apparently not!

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Tomper2 said...
I posted a comment on the Andrew Brown thread "Nominated for a webby" saying, "you couldn't have done it without WoollyMindedLiberal RIP" and the po-faced bastards deleted it.
I wonder what rule they could claim you were breaking, it was on topic after all.

Martin said...

I cannot quite make up my mind who is the prime mover in WML's deletion. Past form suggests Mad Bunting. Wasn't there a time when virtually any criticism was construed as sexism? And wasn't there a period when comments were not available (perhaps this was someone else)? Brown, on the other hand, has the Pecksniffian qualities that might provide the sense of self-justification to execute the deed.

I really doubt that anonymous moderators would have done this uninstructed. It is easy to imagine either Brown or Bunting saying "who will rid me of this turbulent priest".

How is that for a come-back name: StWoollyMindedLiberal?!

Tomper2 said...

I once got banned for saying I agreed with a headline in the New Statesman on a Madeline Bunting thread. I didn't quote the headline, link to the headline or even specify which headline I was agreeing with but I was banned anyway.

In case anyone is curious, the headline was "Silly Bunt".

doesnotexist said...

Martin, I think you are right - it's not just the work of dogsbody moderators. That might account for the capricious deletions of individual posts, but whenever a poster of genuine quality has been banned, it seems that they have offended (or exposed) one of a small number of oversensitive staff contributors. Others who have had worse insults thrown at them (Seth Freedman, say, or even Julie Bindel) don't seem to have gone head-hunting.

Martin said...

Tomper2, I think Mad. Bunt. would have been aware of the headline, but the moderators probably would need the allusion pointed out.

I wonder why the Guardian thinks so highly of her. I just couldn't bring myself to finish reading her New Atheist nonsense.

Actually, I think it is hypocrisy on the part of the Guardian; I think she is employed to rile and irritate and there should be little complaint if people get frustrated and worked up.

sarka said...

Woolly,
Am truly shocked that what you quoted was what you was nicked for...What on earth are these journos like Brown and Bunting scared of? Especially when e.g. Cath or Fisher, equally likely to be vigorously attacked, rightly keep to a water-off-a-duck's-back and give-as-good-as-you-get policy. I do detect that this narcissistic oversensitivity is more characteristic of staff journos than of chaps "raised from the ranks"...!

I know one Guardian journo personally, and a few months back when having a drink with her in Prague I confessed that I sometimes indulged in CIF..."OMG, those stupid mad people!" she said, loftily, no doubt smarting from the incredible and I fear deserved drubbing she had got on her one CIF effort (Fritzl and Nazism). It seemed like the one thing she didn't like was serious reaction to her pieces, as opposed to edirotial pats on the back...

As a below-the-liner I'm quite complimented if I annoy someone into passion...much more depressing to be ignored...I naively thought the mods, if sometimes obviously over-enthusiastic, were there just to protect our pages from littering by the occasional sad nutter of the Aryan Supremacy persuasion or whatever.

Hardly your case Woolly. Hope we meet again on some other thread, and if not, I'll be buying you a drink in the afterlife to help you get over the embarrassment!

stevehill said...

Hi all. Let me join the chorus: these guys have gone overboard, they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I'm conscious that a smart CiF moderator would be reading these comments and probably taking names down for future use. As a moderator of a popular music site, that's what I'd be doing! But on all the available evidence they are just not that smart.

Pity, it (CiF) was a good idea, till they decided Comment is Free was about as ironic as Arbeit Macht Frei. Apologies to Godwin for that one.

Anyway, I'll see how long I last there. But I know where my sympathies lie, and I will be returning here.

Steve

seattledodger said...

Woolly,

i'm a bit jealous. i'd love to piss off bunting and brown enough to get banned.

thanks, you've provided a goal to my aimless, pot saturated existence.

thanks for all the fun posts; i learned a lot about the little baby jesus who wasn't from you.

Anonymous said...

Here is a post wot I just posted:

BeautifulBurnout

18 Apr 09, 9:16pm (31 minutes ago)

Woolly Minded Liberal
Hank Scorpion
Monkeyfish
Hermine

Who else is for the chop?

I am sad that CiF has chosen to ban these people. They were quality posters who contributed to the rough and tumble of free discussion on here. Whether I agreed with their views or not, it is a damn shame that they have been removed. What is the point in participating in a discussion where everyone is agreeing with each other and the author of the article? Makes no sense, and makes for boring reading.

Please JR your decision. Thank you.


Shame on them. Really.

Anonymous said...

stevehill said:

As a moderator of a popular music site, that's what I'd be doing!


Hahahahaha! Oh snap! :o)

Anonymous said...

Woolly, three cheers for you and best wishes!

Why is that I read Ship of Fools with interest and affection but Andrew Brown irritates the hell out of me?

Is it because AB said this, about court-imposed 'faith-based' rehab programmes?

"These people are convicted criminals. [...] their right to freedom of belief is no longer absolute. Why should it be? If accepting or pretending to accept a higher power turns them into useful citizens, they'll just have to give up their atheist beliefs along with drunk driving. Or they can go to jail. This is clearly distinct from compelling someone who has not committed any crime to believe or pretend to believe certain things."

eleutheria

seattledodger said...

eleutheria, you're joking. did AB really say that?!?! do you recall when. he deserves to have that thrown back into his face. what a wanker.

Anonymous said...

Hi Seattledodger,

here!

Anonymous said...

Holy Moley!

If AB is referring to AA and similar, he clearly doesn't have a clue! I have a recovering alcoholic in my entourage who is an atheist and she is quite clear that "higher power" is nothing to do with god, buddha or anyone else but is a "higher power of your own understanding" which can be an aspect of your own personality or an inner strength you call on when times get hard.

Clearly AB hasn't got a scooby what he is on about.

Someone needs to disabuse him of his baloney and quick.

BB

seattledodger said...

i just put the following up on AB's latest crap (any bets on how long it, or i, last?):

Axandar, if you want a glimpse at the mindset that really does lead to religious oppression and intolerance, check out the following:

"These people are convicted criminals. . . . their right to freedom of belief is no longer absolute. Why should it be? If accepting or pretending to accept a higher power turns them into useful citizens, they'll just have to give up their atheist beliefs along with drunk driving. Or they can go to jail."

so all you need do is 'criminalize' some activity (i suggest smoking dope; all us atheists are pot heads - or is it all pot heads are atheists?) and then you, like the author of the above, can justify stripping anyone of their freedom of consciense and belief.

it's orwellian in it's implications and echos the rationale of the faithful down the ages as they have persecuted the non-believer or the heretic.

moderators, as CIF has no obvious interest in open debate, shall i go ahead and ban myself now, or would you like the pleasure?

seattledodger said...

i couldn't resist one more poke at AB. i put the following up and i'm sorry Woolly for taking your name in vain; but it was in a good cause:

CIF moderators, i submit the following for your consideration:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8003067.stm

it appears that 8 strathclyde police officers have listed Jedi as their religious affiliation; and nationally, the figure is almost Four Hundred Thousand jedi followers.

you may think you have destroyed Woolly,
but he will become more powerful than you could possible imagine.

Anonymous said...

Hi anonymous,

I gave AB the benefit of the doubt, thinking he had in mind something like Narconon rather than AA, but his restriction of religious freedom is untenable. Either way he's pretty clueless.

Seattledodger, well done!

CathElliott said...

I got deleted on the Andrew Brown thread for saying I was dismayed to hear of Woolly's banning, so I'll repeat it here.

Woolly, don't stay away too long: the place just isn't the same without you.

Hank said...

Hello kids, seems like the disillusionment with Cif is fairly widespread atm.

I'd guess that most of those on here and other sites who are angry about the direction in which Matt Seaton is leading CiF are angry because they care, or cared, about Cif, and/or the Guardian.

If so, then, tempting as it is to piss off and leave the site to wither and die, or be overrun by Guido's useful idiots (and I realise that Guido's got some camp-followers on here), the lefties and the liberals need to reclaim Cif for ourselves.

Boycotting the site, or banning ourselves as "seattledodger" suggests, makes it easy for Matt and his gang.

I'd recommend instead the passive resistance route, in which the regular posters who've yet to be banned simply post once on each of the blogs which are likely to be the most visited each day, eg Ashley Monday, Polly Tues, etc.

Each of those malcontents should simply post either "No comment" or, if you're being really brave/radical, "No comment until comment is free".

It won't make a scrap of difference but, just like reusing Waitrose carrier bags, it will make you feel better about yourselves (-;

Anonymous said...

Seattledodger

Excellent! My sister is a Jedi too ;o)

BeautBurn

stevehill said...

Et tu Cath? Blimey, I really hope they don't win that Webby now!

doesnotexist said...

I've just posted this over there:

"Still only 109 comments - my, this is a quiet thread, not like one of those hot Ariane Sherine threads.

(and mods, this is on topic - Ariane and her bus raised the profile of Cif belief more than all the other contributors put together. Of course she couldn't have done it without the help of many colourful posters below the line, as she graciously acknowledged.)"

I wonder if Ariane's personal thanks to WML were a factor in his demise - if they (whoever they were)couldn't get at her directly, perhaps they found a substitute, and woolly was the victim of vicarious vindictiveness.

doesnotexist said...

I just checked the loathsome comment by AB that eleutheria mentioned above, and noticed that later on that thread AB engaged in a personal attack (on Paulchina - totally unwarranted) which, if Cif were consistent, would be more than enough to get him banned.

Tomper2 said...

WML Wrote:

"I wonder what rule they could claim you were breaking, it was on topic after all."

According to the CommunityMod (I wonder what uniform that job comes with):

"it is CIF policy to treat all comments about moderation as off topic, and they will be removed for this reason. This includes comments about users who have been banned."

CiF might preach liberalism but it's run by Stalinists.

Edwin Moore said...

The Andrew Brown references are shocking - I thought he was an OK guy. No more AB threads for me.

doesnotexist says

'I wonder if Ariane's personal thanks to WML were a factor in his demise - if they (whoever they were)couldn't get at her directly, perhaps they found a substitute, and woolly was the victim of vicarious vindictiveness.'

That didn't occur to me - you may be on to something here. Woolly could have been a victim of internal politics.

Leaving Cif is an option - I wander off anyway from to time - maybe I'll just go for annoying one-liners, I can do that.

Greetings Cath - 'one of us, one of us'!

The Heresiarch said...

@ Sarka: Do you mean this one by Yvonne Roberts? That was pretty bad, yes.

Can I tempt you to write something for Heresy Corner? You have so many fascinating things to say.

The Heresiarch said...

This is something I post on the AB thread. I don't know if they'll let it stand.

Not quite the reaction you expected, is it Andrew? This could be CIF's "WI moment"...

btw - have you seen the horrible things that some people have been saying about you over at Heresy Corner? Nothing to do with me, honest. You're the fall guy here, since you wrote this ill-advised appeal for votes. The debate stirred up here and elsewhere is about something broader, which is an increasing conflict of interest between regular commenters, who enjoy (by and large) the discussions and those that run the site, who seem increasingly to be retreating into the comfort zone of traditional de haut en bas journalism. Which is a dead end.

There is dissention in the ranks. A mass defection by long-standing CIFers is now a distinct possibility. Is that really what you want? Here's looking at you, Matt.

FrankFisher said...

Well, we has a mass defection before - under Georgina. The format changed,a one commnet per thirty minute rule was bought in, regulars were banned, loads of people decamped to my site and I started getting 30,000 visits per week - but CiF trundled on on our absence...

So it is now. I don't think Matt is running the place as well as Georgina did - he doesn't seem to have as much empathy with the readers. Georgina listened and responded, and she tried new stuff. Like me, for instance...

That's the other, rather embarassing, thing. I'm pretty sure if I wasn't who I am I'd have been banned by now too. Makes me feel a bit like a collaborator. Don't know how long this is going to last, I feel I'm increasingly unwelcome over there.

Edwin Moore said...

'Don't know how long this is going to last, I feel I'm increasingly unwelcome over there.'

Well they have to keep it interesting which is why i keep mooching back. Have learned a lot of stuff including the fact that a lot of the stuff I think I know is wrong.

Just to take one example, Scottish issues, you get rational and interesting debate on Cif, which you don't get anywhere else - especially not on Scottish newspaper sites. I can rabbit about (ancient past) Thistle beating Celtic 4-1 or Holyrood politics and get some new perspectives.

Cif is a tree with many branches: on most nests sit tits of various plumage, but there are many wise owls also.

The thing is, advertisers notice this, they notice the chatter. The Guardian marketing people will be selling us Cif a lively space with lots of educated white folks eager to look at ads for Audis (ha) or homes in Spain (ha ha) or the latest iphone (ha ha ha).

But in order to have something to sell, they need the Woollys and the Sarkas and the pakichicks as well as the Caths and Allys and Pikeys. The place dies otherwise.

There is a real conflict here: the editorial side doubtless like SocialistMike saying 'Die Islamophobes Die', the marketing people like articulate income-flush people like Bruseellsexpat.

They need us, in short.

englishhermit said...

Way to go Cath. Are you still recommending CiF Belief for an award. It might as well be 'Fishmonger of the Year 2009' as far as I'm concerned, but I suppose it's an opportunity for a nice jolly in New York for Andrew Brown and some of his pals. Have you been invited BTW?

I can understand the reasoning behind Woolly's ban. When discussing spirituality, it can be annoying and distracting to be accused of being a nutter or delusional or whatever by the insistent 'foghorn' atheist voices and there have been occasions when I had to go and hack some stubborn turves to vent my frustration. But it is not a good enough reason for the total ban on Woolly. That goes against everything the Guardian is meant to stand for. It seems to me that it was no coincidence that the ban came into force at the same time as the 'foghorn' article and it was not because of any one particular post of Woolly's but because they wanted to remove the 'foghorn' voices. It was dishonest, craven and ultimately counter productive because it has brought the Guardian itself into disrepute.

BTW I did once manage to get Woolly to admit that the existence of God is possible but only after some serious digging for victory.

HankScorpio said...

@Heresiarch - you might want to think about posting your question to Matt on the "What do you want to talk about" thread, given that what most of the posters on there want to talk about is the modding policy in general, and Woolly in particular.

@Pikey - I shall miss our little chats (-;

FrankFisher said...

Yeah Hank - it's bollocks, but I'm sure you shall return. Just make sure I know who you are... How about ShankCopious?

Anonymous said...

The Guardian seems to be alienating their much of its natural constituency, old-fashioned liberals are not welcome any more.

It seems clear that the New Guardian just as New Labour have their special interest groups they wish to appeal to and sod everyone else. WML was just too much of a turbulent priest.

Anyways I'm sick of saying the same thing week in week out over on CiF so think i'll sit it out as well at least for a while, trouble is I think they will be rather glad we sad old atheists appear less over there, they will treat it as a victory.

Oh well. Good luck with this project.


Greensox

olching said...

ShankCopious...hilarious and so blatant. Or how about DrunkGropius, and for Woolly CruellyBlindedClitoral, and Monkey as FunkyDish. That should fool 'em.

Hank said...

Hey pikey, I've posted a fuller response on Montana's blog but just a quick line here to say thanks for the words of support on the "What do you want to talk about?" thread.

gazzaofbath said...

You've got to laugh (boo hoo hoo...). I posted a comment early on in the webby blog partly complimenting the range of issues aired on CIF Belief, partly bemoaning the similar lack of range in the Science Blog (a site I follow) and partly querying the loss of WML (while I was uncertain what had happened).

When the truth emerged I asked the moderator via a comment to remove my largely complimentary comment to CiF Belief because of WML's banning.

You can guess that this latter critical comment was deleted but the former more complimentary one was kept (the level of praise obviously judged to outweight the criticism)!

gazzaofbath said...

I'm very up and down on the time I have to post comments on any site and I really only got into the CiF site relatively recently via the Ben Goldacre, Richard Dawkins and PZ Meyers sites.

Although it is a nice change to cross swords with people of an opposite view, as on CiF, I can live without. Sometimes finding info, in contrast to fruitless arguing, is best achieved from interrogating persons of a knowledgable frame of mind, and similarly orientated too.

So I'm done with CiF and will concentrate on the aforementiond sites I started on.

Sisong said...

Ahhh, getting banned. Its like getting caned at school ... when it was still allowed that is.

Now you would probably be taken up before the European Court of Teacher Beatings or something ...

Anyway, its not that big a deal is it, really? Many of those who have been banned were those who had the most interesting things to say, right?

TehranKid was one ... Khartoumi another ... that wild guy from Turkey (can't remember his name, but brilliant .. if not passionate)... there are more.

I don't often agree with them, but respect them for getting off their fat arses and making the effort, right?

I think rather than just give up, its better to come back under another name and give 'em hell. In the nicest possible way of course ...

I think we should pick a day (May 1st?) or an article (Maddy's next stroke of genius) and all use posting names with the capital letters W M L.

Mine will be WildManLubbock.

I think it would be rather amusing to have 20 different posters each with WML names ...

A date would be easier ... and May 1st would be rather appropriate me feels.

P.S. Heresiarch ... great site by the way. Not the first time I have dropped by ...

P.P.S. Greetings all round ...

Montana Wildhack said...

I'd be more than happy to go along with Sisong's suggestion. Now, to think of a name....

Anonymous said...

Woolly - it really won't be the same without you, was always a genuine pleasure reading your posts. Anyway - whose hench-atheist will I get to be now ???

Hope to see you back soon,

Mundusvultdecipi.

Andrew said...

I haven't been reading the comments to the webby thread because it was the weekend and I had other things to do. I still do.

The system is not set up so that writers can zap comments. So all these delicious conspiracy theories about Madeleine Bunting and me are just wrong. The simple explanation, so far as I know it, is that Woolly found it "boring" -- as he said above -- to stick within the rules of civil debate; eventually the moderators found that boring, too.

I still don't see what's so shocking about my AA comment at all. I might blog about the reaction, because I don't understand it.

Andrew Brown

Edwin Moore said...

Well Andrew if you don't think


'I have no wish to stop people like peitha and JonathanWest from debating; in fact I think that they might actually be getting somewhere beyond point scoring. But at the same time, if all the threads fill up with the same arguments, there won't be room for any others. So being able to move all that kind of thing into Hell would be a real advantage. Or should I call it "Under the Bridge." in the hope that all the trolls will feel at home there?'


is insulting, please do write your threatened 'I will do such things' blog. Tell you what, do a joint one with Inayat and explain why calling respected posters such as Peitha and Jonathan (as you did) and Miska (as Inayat did) trolls is not a piece of gratuitous nonsense.

And in this

"These people are convicted criminals. [...] their right to freedom of belief is no longer absolute. '

You know what further, you sound exactly like the Borstal guv in Scum.

CaressOfSteel said...

If CiF is so keen to have its contributors treated with respect, why does it ask abusive idiots (sorry, "lame-brains")like Mad Bunting and Andrew Brown to write deliberately insulting pieces and then ask for comment?

The banning of WML, HankScorpio et. al. is the last straw for me. I shan't be commenting on their site again - although I am tempted to go out in a flurry of Derek and Clive style "you fucking cunt"s on Andrew Brown's latest self-congratulatory effort.

Woolly - really sorry to see you go, mate. It was a laugh for a while there - but this kind of thing always happens to people with secret volcano bases.

seattledodger said...

Andrew: "The system is not set up so that writers can zap comments. So all these delicious conspiracy theories about Madeleine Bunting and me are just wrong."

all right, Andrew. WML isn't particularly bothered, so if you say you weren't involved, i see no reason to disbelieve that (no pun intended). moderating a blog is a difficult job, and though i'm very suspicious of 'banning' posters (as opposed to removing specific posts), nobody at the guardian has actually asked my opinion.

"I still don't see what's so shocking about my AA comment at all. I might blog about the reaction, because I don't understand it."

Andrew, please do. i look forward to that discussion. if you honestly don't see the problem with enforcing 'belief' (for whatever reason) then we atheists have clearly not been doing our job.

Andrew said...

EdiwnMoore:

I really don't think that Peitha and Jonathan are trolls. In fact I went out of my way in the piece you were quoting to say that they were actually getting somewhere beyond point scoring, which is the antithesis of trollishness. Jonathan I bought supper for and invited to write for us, and he has become a regular contributor. Peitha is also welcome to write, and knows it.

My point in that exchange was that I wanted to make room for discussions which were not about the existence/non-existence of god, the idiocy of atheists/believers. There really is very little interesting and new that can be said on either subject; I do understand that some people want to debate nothing else, but there are readers who don't.

I don't speak for Inayat, nor he for me.

As for the AA point, I have dealt with that over on my blog.

doesnotexist said...

Andrew, it's not about zapping individual comments (you have peasants to do that), it's about banning posters. And posters who insult you or Madeleine Bunting relatively mildly seem far more likely to be banned than posters who insult Ben Goldacre or Cath Elliott or Frank Fisher or many others far worse.

If the "community standards" are applied inconsistently in your favour (and they are), I'm not particularly interested in listening to you saying it's not your fault. Come back when you've done something about redressing the inconsistency. Reinstating woolly, HankS et al would be a start, though it may be too late.

Anonymous said...

Hello Woolly,

So they got you in the end and Comment is "Free" is no doubt the poorer for it.

The whole of CiF is, of course, nothing of the sort (a complete and utter joke more like) and actually a perfect illustration of the censorious reflexes and the peculiar prejudices of patronising elitism at its very worst (the Guardian all over).

CiF is a dreary, debate-free zone that is unable to tolerate anything that falls outside the cosy consensus conformity that has blighted modern political discussion.

Anyone who wants proof of this need look no further that the Guardian moderators reply to you:


"We welcome debate and dissent,"


No, they really don't.


"but the key to maintaining guardian.co.uk as an inviting space is to stick to the passionate discussion of issues..."


To talk about "Issues" one often has to talk about people involved with the "issue" even if it means being downright rude or offensive (which I don't think WLM was).


"Personal attacks on other users or authors have no place in an intelligent discussion."

Says who? What is a personal attack to one person can be perceived as legitimate argument to others. This is especially true as some simply refuse to draw a distinction between themselves and their beliefs (as seen with various identity politics).


This is the reply they sent to me when I was banned (for describing Madeline Bunting as Mad'Ole Bint's in):


"You have had your posting rights withdrawn due to your continued personal attacks on both our authors and our other bloggers. "


To which I replied:

Did I? I thought that was the whole point of the cut-and-thrust of argument and debate but couldyou please be a littlemore specific?

I understand that you didn't like the use of the term "Mad'ole Bints'in" but what was I said about the other commentators that is supposed to have violated your
policy?

Their reply went on:


"A moderator had to delete several of your posts yesterday because they contravened our talk policy"


I did ask why the moderator had done this as my comments seemed rather mild at the time.

And they go on to say:


"Please take some time to think about whether Comment is free is a place where you can make a positive contribution."


Note the condescending tone. I sent a reply saying that I won't call her Mad'ole Bint's in anymore. They responded:


"We still feel you clearly breeched community standards. You show no remorse for your abusive comments, and therefore your account remains closed.

Please accept this as the end of the matter."


"You've shown no remorse"? Only in the land of CiF moderation can calling a journalist a silly name be seen as something equivalent to the holocaust for which there must be an apology or you won't be allowed to comment on our "intelligent" forum.

How infantile and pathetically insecure.

I yearn for a forum where comment really is free and if you don't like what someone has commented then you can skip it and go on to the next.


A fellow traveller in the Guardian Afterlife.


Theophobic

JayReilly said...

Very grim times. I am genuinely slightly cautious with postings now as if they have got WML then it doesnt seem anyone is particularly safe. The banned list includes a number of posters who arent even very abusive at all, far less so than many of us who still have posting rights.

Anonymous said...

I think you've all gone over the top. The Guardian is much more generous in what it allows people to post than most other newspapers on the web - ever tried posting a critical comment about a Mail columnist on the Mail site, anyone?

Woolly was frequently abusive to people he disagreed with. It could be amusing in small doses but got tedious quite quickly, and just made other posters angry, with the results that debates very quickly became polarised and bad-tempered.

I also think it's reasonable of The Guardian to want to protect people it employs, such as Madeleine Bunting and Andrew Brown, from personal abuse. You may not agree with either of them (I rarely do) but I think they have the right to be treated with a certain degree of respect on their own newspaper's website.

I have found the debates on Andrew Brown's blog to be both more interesting and civilised than when Woolly was posting. Atheists such as Jonathan, SameTurn and CaressofSteel make their points intelligently and generally without resorting to ad hom attacks.

Alex Jones

Jonathan West said...

Alex

I think the problem is the double-standard involved. If the above-the-line writers are entitled to protection from ad hom attacks, then they should not abuse that position by launching ad hom attacks themselves. But we have had several examples of such attacks being launched by above-the-line writers, sometimes in comments, sometimes in the articles themselves.

As for Andrew calling me a troll, he shouldn't have and I called him on it at the time, but I'm a big boy and such things bother me very little. I've dealt with far more high-pressure situations and been called much worse things than that. That level of insult barely registers on my radar.

Quite frankly, the example that WML got banned for was no worse, so if WML ought to be off the boards for that, so should several above-the-line contributors, including the CiF Belief editor himself.

Edwin Moore said...

Andrew says

'I really don't think that Peitha and Jonathan are trolls. In fact I went out of my way in the piece you were quoting to say that they were actually getting somewhere beyond point scoring,'

Hmm - well Jonathan agrees with the rest of us


'I don't speak for Inayat, nor he for me.'

No but you both have a habit of sneering at the people who ensure you have an income.

'As for the AA point, I have dealt with that over on my blog.'

Well, there's another deid end.

Anonymous said...

@Alex Jones

"I think you've all gone over the top. The Guardian is much more generous in what it allows people to post than most other newspapers on the web - ever tried posting a critical comment about a Mail columnist on the Mail site, anyone?"


Yes, I have very often as with the Times, BBC, the Independent and the Telegraph. Not all comments are shown but many (in very robust disagreement with the editorial line) have been displayed. I found the Guardian's CiF to be the most easily thin-skinned and censorious of them all.


"Woolly was frequently abusive to people he disagreed with."


If that's true then yeah? And? So? What?

Were you damaged? Or did you just tut and move on?


"It could be amusing in small doses but got tedious quite quickly,"


In your humble opinion. I thought that he comments were quite balanced considering the level of sheer idiocy and pathetic pig-ignorance that he took to task.


"and just made other posters angry,"


Which tells you far more about them than it does about WML. After all if his comments are (in your opinion) juvenile then it must be infantile to be upset about them. Yes?


"with the results that debates very quickly became polarised and bad-tempered."


Yes, I noted that WML's method of exposing the emperor's nudity frequently had that effect on those who still insisted that we should be appreciating the emperor's finery. No wonder the Guardian banned him.


"I also think it's reasonable of The Guardian to want to protect people it employs, such as Madeleine Bunting and Andrew Brown, from personal abuse."


I think that it's reasonable of the Guardian to employ a far higher calibre of writing talent and genuine journalists but I don't see that happening soon. Maybe they would then spend less time employing people who like to engage in personal abuse and ad hominem attacks ("oh that Richard Dawkins is arrogant, shrill, the high priest of atheism, etc, etc) but can't take it at all when it's dished right back at them.


"You may not agree with either of them (I rarely do)"


Come on. No one in their right minds would agree with them and that is probably why they're there. The more absurd and ridiculous your point-of-view then the more likely you are to receive your own blog on CiF.


"but I think they have the right to be treated with a certain degree of respect on their own newspaper's website."


No. Respect is earned not automatically expected.

Respect should be earned just as ridicule is healthily earned by those who stubbornly insist on writing fluent fantasy and incoherent dribble.


"I have found the debates on Andrew Brown's blog to be both more interesting and civilised than when Woolly was posting."


Then you're probably the only one who does.


"Atheists such as Jonathan, SameTurn and CaressofSteel make their points intelligently and generally without resorting to ad hom attacks."


Unlike Madeline Bunting, Andrew Brown, etc.



Theophobic

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

CaressOfSteel said...
Woolly - really sorry to see you go, mate. It was a laugh for a while there - but this kind of thing always happens to people with secret volcano bases.

Thanks old thing, yes it was fun while it lasted. I have a feeling that I didn't help my own cause by failing to take it very seriously with imaginary volcano bases. And in hindsight I can see how failing to hide my contempt for the unemployable low-brow self-important dullards that were all they could afford to hire as 'Community Moderators' probably didn't endear me to them overly. People's self-importance is often in inverse proportion to their actual importance in the world I find. I found their Editor's Picks to be almost uniformly illiberal and was so horrified when once they forgot themselves and picked me that I actually reported myself for abuse in the hope they would take it down. Possibly that might not have amused them overly.

The remarks I posted earlier on this thread were for comments that did not get me banned and I did actually make an effort to not visit the threads of infuriating stupid people who would only wind me up. I've still no idea what it was that actually got me banned. I think it was actually something I wrote when reporting a genuinely vilely abusive bit of slander.

My best guess is that it was my failure to contact the moderators and promise to be good that caused them to summarily delete the account. But it is just a guess.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

CathElliott said...
Woolly, don't stay away too long: the place just isn't the same without you.

Thanks Cath, but its not up to me. If the moderators ever let me back then I'll try to provide more entertainment in future.

ChooChoo said...

My Immensely Original Take on This

by

ChooChoo

WTF.

Martin said...

Andrew Brown needs to try harder in making out a case for the defence.

It is obvious that fairly vicious attacks on some writers seem to tolerated much more than on others. Can there be any other reason than that the thinner skinned demand action. This is more a simple description of what thinner skinned people in some kind of authority do, than a "conspiracy theory".

Attacks on Polly Toynbee are often pretty harsh (and I am not saying entirely undeserved), certainly more than the kind of criticism that leads to deletion and an outright exclusion on a Bunting thread.

It hardly amounts to a "conspiracy theory" to suggest that Polly T is less likely to be bothered enough to read her own threads.

Personally, I find Bunting's writing, peppered as it is with New or Militant Atheist, arrogant, shrill, foghorn etc., offensive and gratuitously insulting. There is a transparent lack of editorial control.

A simple question: how would a "lame-brain" be likely to respond to identification as such?

- Well, that wasn't too difficult to answer was it?

Jonathan West said...

Andrew

I really don't think that Peitha and Jonathan are trolls. In fact I went out of my way in the piece you were quoting to say that they were actually getting somewhere beyond point scoring, which is the antithesis of trollishness. Jonathan I bought supper for and invited to write for us, and he has become a regular contributor. Peitha is also welcome to write, and knows it."Let's just get the chronology right. You made that clear in the comments following your article, not in the article itself. The original article said this:

I have no wish to stop people like peitha and JonathanWest from debating; in fact I think that they might actually be getting somewhere beyond point scoring. But at the same time, if all the threads fill up with the same arguments, there won't be room for any others. So being able to move all that kind of thing into Hell would be a real advantage. Or should I call it "Under the Bridge." in the hope that all the trolls will feel at home there?Notice, that you are wanting to move "that kind of thing" (i.e. the debates I was having with peitha) somewhere else "in the hope that all the trolls will feel at home there".

I responded as follows.

I take exception to the linking of my name with the suggestion that trolls should be removed elsewhere. You might not like some of my comments in response to your articles, but I have been careful to ensure that my comments were relevant to the topic of your articles, have explained the reasons for my disagreement, and in most cases have quoted the specific part of the article I am responding to.Notice that I gave you the benefit of the doubt in not actually saying you had called me a troll, but merely that you had linked my name with the suggestion that trolls should be moved. I suppose there is a fie line there, but anybody reading that would conclude that you were thinking of us as trolls.

It was only after I had made that response (and Adam Rutherford and others had suggested I should have a go above the line) that you clarified with this.

I didn't mean to single out JW as a troll. He isn't one. But the sort of arguments he has been having with peitha do tend to crop up over and over again here.As I said, I'm a big boy, I can take being called a troll occasionally. But I'm not overly impressed by you calling someone a troll (no matter whether that someone is me or anybody else) and then claiming that you didn't really, and then going on to say that this (non)trolling behaviour is what you were referring to when you were suggesting the trolls ought to be moved. Its sounds too much like a masterly use of the non-apology apology.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

FrankFisher said...
Well, we has a mass defection before - under Georgina. The format changed,a one commnet per thirty minute rule was bought in, regulars were banned, loads of people decamped to my site and I started getting 30,000 visits per week - but CiF trundled on on our absence...Yes, the dogs barked and the caravan moved on. CiF was much more fun in the old days when you could all a deluded nutter a deluded nutter and didn't have to think up some euphemism.

I have the feeling it will survive without me. Henry Porter for example will be much happier with only supportive and approving voices on his blog.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Thinking back my proudest moment on CiF was saving some guardian correspondent's cat from being put down. It had lost a leg and apparently I provided the arguments the journalist's children deployed to allow the cat a trial run on three legs to see how it got on.

I wonder what became of that cat.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

ChooChoo said...
My Immensely Original Take on This

by

ChooChoo

WTF.
Is it my birthday? All my favourite commentors are here apart from CommanderKeen and LordSummerIsle.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

englishhermit said...
BTW I did once manage to get Woolly to admit that the existence of God is possible but only after some serious digging for victory.You see what a thoroughly reasonable chap I am and how I bend over backwards to not completely dismiss all sorts of improbable and unlikely claims. The existence of the great god Atum is possible even though the Guardian displayed religious bigotry and discrimination by censoring Arianne Sherine when she wrote about his moving and deeply spiritual story. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. They give space to a bizarre bloodthirsty genocidal apocalyptic death cult but no room for gentle harmless Atum!

stevehill said...

Whatever happened to Ariane? It's a month since she wrote anything....

You don't suppose the National Secular Society giving her an award put any noses out of joint, do you?

Grokes said...

"As for the AA point, I have dealt with that over on my blog."

And got soundly trounced in the comments. Again.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

stevehill said...

Whatever happened to Ariane? It's a month since she wrote anything....No, it's been a month since she was last published, according to twitter she has been writing and I assume she has been spiked. But that is not unusual.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Andrew said...

The simple explanation, so far as I know it, is that Woolly found it "boring" -- as he said above -- to stick within the rules of civil debate; eventually the moderators found that boring, too. Andrew Brown is fortunate indeed that he has never had any difficulty being boring.

Anonymous said...

Theophobic - I'm not going to answer all your points, because I've said what I want to say, but I just want to take you up on this, in reference to Brown and Bunting: "The more absurd and ridiculous your point-of-view then the more likely you are to receive your own blog on CiF."

Bunting has been a Guardian columnist for years and years, long before CIF appeared. What CIF publishes is her print column. As far as the paper is concerned, I imagine she's regarded as a star columnist. So I do think, yes, she has a reasonable right to be protected from the more extreme abuse (some of which is close to libellous) that she gets on the web.

I'd agree that CIF does seem to prefer bloggers with a provocative point of view to people with middle of the road views, presumably because the more extreme a post is, the more comments it attracts.

If you don't like The Guardian, of course, you don't have to read it and you don't have to go on CIF to argue. A few years ago you wouldn't have been able to publish comments about newspaper columnists on that newspaper's own site: getting outraged just because a very recent "right" has been taken away just looks like posturing.

Alex Jones

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Alex Jones said ...
Bunting has been a Guardian columnist for years and years, long before CIF appeared. What CIF publishes is her print column. As far as the paper is concerned, I imagine she's regarded as a star columnist. So I do think, yes, she has a reasonable right to be protected from the more extreme abuse (some of which is close to libellous) that she gets on the web.
Bunting is quite senior at the Grauniad for reasons that mystify most readers. Judging by her CV she must have once been intelligent and hardworking but these days she is allowed to be lazy and unprofessional. Oddly enough I quite often agree with her sentiments even while despairing at how she insults the intelligence of her readers with her disdain for research, facts or logic.

Ariane Sherine made the mistake of expertly puncturing the inflated balloon of Bunting's pompous self-regard when she showed how patronising she (Bunting) was to people from less gilded backgrounds than her own like Ariane. I'm sure that Bunting is far too grand to persecute the likes of Ariane herself but lower lifeforms eager to win her favour or in fear of their own jobs will do fervently.

By contrast Polly Toynbee does make some effort. She is often completely wrong but at least she has some reasons for her statements and isn't too lazy to look things up. Toynbee is not one of the magic circle at the Guardian and unlike the Demos-reject Bunting is actually employable elsewhere.

Edwin Moore said...

Woolly says about M Bunting

'Oddly enough I quite often agree with her sentiments even while despairing at how she insults the intelligence of her readers with her disdain for research, facts or logic.'

Agree. Her comments at the conclusion of the Blogging the Koran exercise were a pleasant surprise: she (and Theo) made it clear that Islam did not call to them and explained just why - she must be off off Inayat's Ramadan card list.

On the other hand she is, as you say, fabulously lazy and arrogant - there is a distinct flavour of the Beatrice Webb about her, of high-left grandee (though of course Webb was a grafter, Maddie will have work experience people in).

I quite like Polly (ducks) as I can imagine having an orange juice with her after some fraught NUJ meeting, but am amazed at how much she is said to earn at the Guardian.

And if Arianne has been edged out that's proof that the Guardian has indeed lost the plot. Unlikely, but one can never underestimate the spite of jealous colleagues at her high profile.

theocracy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
doesnotexist said...

That's a bit harsh, Theocracy - well it would be if it wasn't justified. He's now trying to divert his own thread off topic. Presumably he thought that no one would take the title "On being an enemy of freedom" literally. Isn't that ironic?

Anonymous said...

Woolly - I agree with what you say about Bunting, and I think it's a very interesting demonstration of the way newspapers' relationship with their readers has changed since the Internet. All the main broadsheets have their grandees - columnists who have been writing for them since the year dot and are traditionally regarded as untouchable. After a while, these people start to think they can say anything they like, with the minimum research and effort. Then the Internet comes along and two things happen:

1. Intelligent, thoughtful and well-informed people come along and pick their arguments to pieces by using reasoned argument supported by evidence. (You won't believe how satisfying for a lifelong reader of the graun such as myself to see this happen to Bunting the first time.)

2. Many of the same intelligent, thoughtful etc set up their own blogs and demonstrate that they can write columns at least the equal of that written by the senior newspaper columnists.

Both those things undermine the authority of the grandees very effectively. It would be nice to think that they also kept the grandees on their toes, forcing them to do a bit more research before they rushed their opinions into print, but it doesn't seem to be happening yet.

Alex Jones

Anonymous said...

"People's self-importance is often in inverse proportion to their actual importance in the world I find."

I find that too. And it would suggest to me that the martyred Woolly's part in the great scheme of things is vanishingly small.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Anonymous said...

I find that too. And it would suggest to me that the martyred Woolly's part in the great scheme of things is vanishingly small.Well I agree "the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on" as I misquoted earlier. Perhaps you should look that proverb up and get back to us when you think you've understood its meaning.

Anonymous said...

Good old woolly - as patronizing and superior as ever.

Edwin Moore said...

I prefer Gore Vidal's version - 'The caravans bark and the dogs move on' .

Anonymous said...

@Alex Jones


"Bunting has been a Guardian columnist for years and years, long before CIF appeared. What CIF publishes is her print column. As far as the paper is concerned, I imagine she's regarded as a star columnist."


Unfortunately so and thereby demonstrating the intellectual poverty and lazy journalism at the heart of the Guardian. I still remember her article repeating the canard of Richard Dawkins of refusing to debate Alister McGrath only to be corrected by the great man than he already had.


"So I do think, yes, she has a reasonable right to be protected from the more extreme abuse (some of which is close to libellous) that she gets on the web."


I can see how her fragile, thin-skinned ego and her absurdly twee middle-class sensibilities may need to be protected from the opinions of those who happen to completely disagree with her but whether it is reasonable is something I'll have to disagree with you.


"I'd agree that CIF does seem to prefer bloggers with a provocative point of view to people with middle of the road views, presumably because the more extreme a post is, the more comments it attracts."


A pity then that they don't apply the same standard to the provocative comments of the posters especially when they usually responding to the perpetual nonsense that Mad. Bint and co call writing.



Theophobic

Fencewalker said...

"Jonathan, Inayat recently came on one of his threads and called Miskatonic University a troll: 'Miskatroll' he called him. I asked Inayat to apologise, and also asked the mods to delete his comment - neither happened of course. One rule for them and so forth, so it goes."

One of my first posts on CiF complained about him trying that tactic. Instantly vanished.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Brian Whit has confirmed that I got banned for not replying to an email that did not invite any reponse let alone mention that failure to respond would mean my account being deleted.

Cock-up rather than conspiracy it seems. I did say the Community Moderators weren't terribly bright so its no surprise that they fail at a task that Chimpanzee can perform : theory of mind.

BrianWhit
20 Apr 09, 11:58am


Some of the comments here about Woolly are quite extraordinary. Without any knowledge of the facts, people are assuming that Woolly was in the right and the
moderators were in the wrong.

There is a talk policy which anyone can look up - and Woolly infringed it on many occasions. He was given plenty of opportunities to start behaving better, having been untrusted/retrusted numerous times (I'm told it was 11 times in all). The moderators were very patient with him but in the end they could see no point in giving him any further opportunities to mend his ways. He was then sent a final warning (to which he did not reply) before being banned.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Anonymous said...
Good old woolly - as patronizing and superior as ever.


Well if you don't like being patronised then try not being so childish!

doesnotexist said...

Woolly:
"Brian Whit has confirmed that I got banned for not replying to an email that did not invite any reponse let alone mention that failure to respond would mean my account being deleted."

But you don't know that responding would or could have made any difference. It's hard to tell whether Cif moderation is Stalinist or Kafkaesque.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

doesnotexist said...
But you don't know that responding would or could have made any difference. It's hard to tell whether Cif moderation is Stalinist or Kafkaesque.


True. But in the absence of evidence to the contrary I see no reason not to simply take his word for it.

I wouldn't say CIF moderation is 'Stalnist' or 'Kafkaesque'. I'd describe it as more Milk-Monitorish. You give a little bit of power and it just goes to their heads, they become massively self-important and use it to reward their friends and punish those they dislike.

wice said...

woolly:

"He was then sent a final warning (to which he did not reply) before being banned."

i don't think it means that you were banned for not replying to the final warning. apparently he just thinks, that mentioning that you didn't reply to the warning, makes you look bad. don't ask me why, cif mods are strange.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

wice said... i don't think it means that you were banned for not replying to the final warning. apparently he just thinks, that mentioning that you didn't reply to the warning, makes you look bad. don't ask me why, cif mods are strange.


You could be right. I often forget that people can be petty and deliberately use Ad Hominems to discredit others when they know they have no good argument.

The Heresiarch said...

Indeed they can, Woolly. Indeed they can.

Anonymous said...

Theophobic: A key distinction between Guardian bloggers such as Bunting and the people who post on CIF is that Bunting puts her name to what she writes, so she can be called to account. Most of the people who post comments on CIF do so in the safety of anonymity, and therefore many feel free to be as personally offensive and abusive as they want. I strongly suspect that Woolly would have adopted a more moderate tone if he had been forced to post under his own name.

Alex Jones

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Anonymous (Alex Jones) said...
I strongly suspect that Woolly would have adopted a more moderate tone if he had been forced to post under his own name.


All I can say is that if you think that then you really don't know me at all. And why would you since I've gone to efforts to ensure that you don't after all.

I'm not anonymous to MrPikeBishop for example and I've felt just as free to criticise him when I think he deserves it as anyone else.

Besides, how do we know that you really are Alex Jones? I could call myself 'Fred Bloggs' and nobody would bother to verify that I wasn't really his naughty brother George.

Anonymous said...

I had to self-exile myself from AB's blog before I said something terminal. The thing that was really beginning to peeve me was his whole "New Atheist" stance.

The man seems to have got atheism, secularism and logical positivism all muddled up, and has latched on to this pejorative "New Atheist" tag to (a) describe people he personally dislikes, primarily Dawkins, and (b) threaten the likes of us with exclusion if we behave like "New Atheists".

His arguments are exactly those of the pseudo-intellectual theists.

I mean, ffs, I expect it from Bunting and Hobson, but from a man purporting to be an atheist? Grrr.

WML (Dawkins rest you, sir) spotted Brown for the numpty he is early on in the proceedings. I, foolish henchatheist that I am, persevered against mounting evidence that Brown could be reasoned with.

arbeyu

(Apologies if this gets posted twice - for an IT-guy, I'm surprisingly cack-handed with computers. Especially with these "word verification" systems)

Anonymous said...

@Alex Jones


"Theophobic: A key distinction between Guardian bloggers such as Bunting and the people who post on CIF is that Bunting puts her name to what she writes, so she can be called to account."


Actually the difference between Mad Bint and the posters is that you are far more likely to get some sense and something approaching intelligent writing from the posters than any amount of aimless rubbish that she can put her name to.

I am sure that she is way paid for this privilege although no one but the Guardian knows why. Even the ridiculously right-on Demos didn't want her and I don't blame them - if it wasn't for the her mates at the Guardian then I am sure that Mad Bint would have starved to death years ago.


"Most of the people who post comments on CIF do so in the safety of anonymity, and therefore many feel free to be as personally offensive and abusive as they want."


Big deal.

"Oh please protect me from those horrible words, nasty thoughts and disagreeable opinions of those beastly proles" screams an unusually hysterical (than normal) Mad. Bint.

"Right away" says the overly zealous CiF moderator who adds "otherwise you may be irreparably damaged and your feelings may get hurt. God forbid - they may write something about you that's not even true."

"Like I regularly do with Richard Dawkins?" Mad Bint asks provocatively.

"that's what the Guardian employ you for" responds the moderator.

"I did wonder." says Mad. Bint.

The bottom line is that either comment is actually free or it isn't - I guess I am more acquainted with the idea of liberty than you are.


"I strongly suspect that Woolly would have adopted a more moderate tone if he had been forced to post under his own name."


Knowing what I do about how censoriously restrictive CiF is in comparison with other newsblogs (I have wrote on many) then I suspect that the tone would have made no difference. It is really an immature inability to cope with anything that falls outside their very narrow view of the cosy consensus conformity that I mentioned above.



Theophobic.

Edwin Moore said...

Woolly you're a GMF and P O'B fan! Pleased to know it.

Anonymous said...

WML's version:
"Brian Whit has confirmed that I got banned for not replying to an email that did not invite any reponse let alone mention that failure to respond would mean my account being deleted."

What Brian Whitaker actually said:
"There is a talk policy which anyone can look up - and Woolly infringed it on many occasions. He was given plenty of opportunities to start behaving better, having been untrusted/retrusted numerous times (I'm told it was 11 times in all). The moderators were very patient with him but in the end they could see no point in giving him any further opportunities to mend his ways. He was then sent a final warning (to which he did not reply) before being banned."

It would appear to me that woolly's interpretation that he got banned simply because he didn't reply to a mail is somewhat disingenuous. His repeated infringement of talk policy may also have been a factor, no? Perhaps a copy of the actual E-mail would help clarify.

This is not a defence of Cif's moderation policy. It is an attempt to deal with the facts of the matter rather than jump on a somewhat rickety bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

Suggest that the New Militant Atheists adopt WML as our new Messiah who died for our sins.

RobLangley (infrequent poster, constant reader)

Anonymous said...

Why don't contributors here recommend their very own top 5 of the very worst of the regular Guardian Columnists. You can always recommend you favourites, if you wish, however here are my own very worst:


The top 5 of the very worst of regular Guardian Columnists


1. Madeline Bunting - The undisputed queen of all that is fatuous and ill-informed, Mad Bint has cornered the market on hand typed hysteria and hard core stupidity. Not satisfied with merely being factually incorrect, Mad, digs the hole so deep that it can actually bend light. Her specialist talent is her selectively shrill over sensitivity and being so ultra thin-skinned so that she can deeply wounded If Richard Dawkins asks if she really does believe in the virgin birth in a way that Forced Marriages, Honour Killings and Female Genital Mutilation simply wouldn’t even merit a single word from her.


2. Theo Hobson - A close contender for the number one spot - there is simply no end to the amount of unbelievable rubbish that this man is capable of writing. Also infamous for his petulant hissy fits when he is inevitably taken to task for his inability to impose his idiot ideology over a material actuality that stubbornly refuse to conform. Theo is so utterly vacuous that it is sometimes difficult to believe that he actually exists leading some to argue that if someone as shallow, shrill and stupid as Theo didn’t exist then it would be necessary for the Guardian to create him.


3. Seumas Milne - Seamus inhabits a weird relativist universe where the absolute opposite is true. Where black really is white, up really is down and western liberal democracies are colonial imperialists and Islamic extremism simply doesn’t exist. Seamus Milne is now widely regarded as the useful idiot’s useful idiot as demonstrated by his writing on 9/11 that was eventually exposed by Francis Wheen in his excellent book “How Mumbo Jumbo conquered the world”.


4. Andrew Brown - A persistent writer of dull nonsense, Andrew often has to take drastic steps to liven up his asinine articles by writing something so absurdly contentious that he can then tie himself up in knots trying to deny that was what he wrote and if he did write it then it’s not what he meant and if that was his meaning then you just don’t understand. His mealy mouthed defence of Clifford’s Longley’s blatant plagiarism (whole articles actually cut and pasted from a Cretinist websites no less) when Clifford complained to the ASA about the Atheist Bus campaign, is vintage Andrew at his very best.


5. Mark Vernon - Reading Mark’s articles may leave one with the impression that Mark thinks that he is some kind of philosopher. He isn’t.




Theophobic

The Heresiarch said...

Mark Vernon and Andrew Brown are both avid readers of Heresy Corner, and excellent people in every respect.

Seumas would certainly be on my list, though, along with Julie Bindel, Inayat Bunglawala, Polly and Will Hutton.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

I've posted the email to this thread already - 17 April 2009 20:10.

A good thing you posted anonymously so we don't know who it is that is too lazy / stupid to bother with reading the earlier comments. Are you a CiF Community Moderator? If not then you should apply to become one as you seem admirably suited.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

I had many posts in response to the infallible Seamus Milne deleted. Maybe it was because I insisted on calling him the 'Dear Helmsman' and moaning that reality kept letting him down. Or could it have been comparing him to a stopped clock that is right twice a day. It was his piece defending Robert Mugabe that persuaded me his grip on sanity was even more tenuous than I had previously thought possible.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

I genuinely thought that Theo Hobson was a purely fictional character invented by the Guardian for our amusement until I heard him on Radio 4.

His finest moment was when he indulged in too much Xmas Sherry and penned his Baby Jesus article which he followed up with increasingly deranged posts in the thread that ensued.

BarabbasFreed said...

George Hargreave and the Christian Party bus got a rightly deserve bollocking. Style - nil point

Anonymous said...

"I've posted the email to this thread already - 17 April 2009 20:10."

Apologies, woolly - I overlooked that. Perhaps now you can respond to my comment on your claim that your ban is a result of failing to reply to one E-mail rather than a result of repeated infringements. I'm sure that you're not too lazy/stupid to stick to the facts here, are you?

Anonymous said...

@Heresiarch

"Seumas would certainly be on my list, though, along with Julie Bindel, Inayat Bunglawala, Polly and Will Hutton."


I quite like Inayat. I completely disagree with much of what he writes but to his considerable credit he does stick around to engage in discussion with the posters. Compare and contrast that with Mad Bint who would ever dream of doing anything of the sort (beneath her, obviously).

Julie Bindel - I don't read her articles regularly enough to comment.

Polly - has the right instincts (often a competent critic of religion) but her intellectual short comings often lead her to write and say the most embarrassing rubbish. Even Richard Littlejohn (not someone I at all like) was able to expose her blatant hypocrisy on Question Time.

Will Hutton - another useless utopianist who is never at all clear about what it is he is actually trying to say.


Very good choices. I wonder if we should nominate columnists from all newspapers. If so then I would have to include George Pitcher, Cristine Odone and lots of others.


@WoolyMindedLiberal

"I had many posts in response to the infallible Seamus Milne deleted...It was his piece defending Robert Mugabe that persuaded me his grip on sanity was even more tenuous than I had previously thought possible."


I remember. Even in terms of the post modernist relativism that Seamus uses to view the world - that really took some beating.


"Theos Hobson...his finest moment was when he indulged in too much Xmas Sherry and penned his Baby Jesus article which he followed up with increasingly deranged posts in the thread that ensued."


Undoubtedly his finest moment. I particularly liked his bad tempered scorn for atheists being "pretentious" (presumably he meant that atheists only pretend that they don't believe in god) and "cowardly" for not appreciating the nativity.

Does Theo still write for the Guardian? I only ask because I haven't seen many of articles there lately and I could always do with a good laugh.



Theophobic

WeepingCross said...

Nobody has mentioned Mr Brown's longstanding engagement penning what he himself says is a 'silly press column' for the Church Times (http://www.darwinwars.com/page1.html). I imagine not many Heretics take the CT very regularly. Not so long ago his endless and atrocious rudeness to the Archbishop of Canterbury (who I fondly imagine most readers of the Church Times feel generously disposed towards) nearly prompted me to write seeking his deposition, but the kettle boiled and the moment passed. Anyway, now he seems to spend more of his time denouncing the way the media treats His Grace instead; this week, he's coming to Rowan's rescue from the assaults of Rod Liddle (as AB says, 'a notorious adulterer, atheist, and an oaf' - I'm not quite sure how you demonstrate the last point). This is all excellent, of course, but I'm at a loss to work out what he really thinks. Still, such is the modern condition, encased in multiple carapaces of irony as we all are.

Fencewalker said...

"I quite like Inayat. I completely disagree with much of what he writes but to his considerable credit he does stick around to engage in discussion with the posters. Compare and contrast that with Mad Bint who would ever dream of doing anything of the sort (beneath her, obviously)."

Well, I thought this for a brief while, but actually he's quite selective about what he responds to: he's happy to pick on easy targets or rabid nonsense-mongers, or anyone who leaves themselves open to a lazy accusation. But if there's a more telling argument against him, or a provable falsehood in what he writes and he either ignores it, gets it modded or starts talking about what he's watching on TV, 'cos, hey gang, he's not obsessed with this islamism stuff (anyone remember him going on about the Dolphins on Attenborough [and so on]?).

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Anonymous said... Apologies, woolly - I overlooked that. Perhaps now you can respond to my comment on your claim that your ban is a result of failing to reply to one E-mail rather than a result of repeated infringements. I'm sure that you're not too lazy/stupid to stick to the facts here, are you?


Er, who are you?


Nope, I'm a warts and all kind of person. I've said repeatedly that I don't know exactly why I was banned since the moderators never told me nor did they answer my polite request for an explanation.

I've speculated at length on this and the other threads at how my attitude got me banned. I don't feel the need to repeat myself.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Fencewalker said...
Well, I thought this for a brief while, but actually he's quite selective about what he responds to: he's happy to pick on easy targets or rabid nonsense-mongers, or anyone who leaves themselves open to a lazy accusation.I've been accused of doing the same myself. Not always without some justice to the charge. Being busy was my reason.

Fencewalker said... But if there's a more telling argument against him, or a provable falsehood in what he writes and he either ignores it, gets it modded or starts talking about what he's watching on TV, 'cos, hey gang, he's not obsessed with this islamism stuff (anyone remember him going on about the Dolphins on Attenborough [and so on]?).Well A.F.A.I.K. unlike Milne & Bunting - Inayat isn't a very highly paid full time staff member who will be hoping the Tories get in before Darling can hit them with the £150k super tax (a Lib Dem idea). He's an amateur isn't he? Cut him some slack.

Jonathan West said...

I've written to the Readers' Editor at the Guardian with the following

When WoollyMindedLiberal was banned from Comment Is Free, the specific comment the moderators mentioned included a description of Henry Porter as "this ghastly old Tory ".

And yet, Harry Phibbs gets to write above the line (and presumably be paid to do so) in an article today which starts off by doing a drive-by insult of "the ghastly New Labour types who now run the Fabian Society"

The kind of personal insult that is specifically banned by the talk policies is the sort of thing that has been meat & drink to the newspaper industry for years beyond count. Books have been written which are compilations of the insults people have thrown at each other in the pages of newspapers.

It is a simple case of double standards for this kind of language to be accepted as a normal part of discourse within the pages of the printed paper and the "above the line" articles on the web, and yet not acceptable when the masses get involved in doing the same sort of thing. Either insults on your pages are acceptable, or they are not, and I think it is time for you to make up your minds.

One possible defence is that at least the insults written by paid journalists and columnists are by trained writers and are therefore expressed in a way that has some literary merit. I have to say that this is rubbish. An insult is an insult, and is all the more of an insult if it is expressed in a witty way that causes the target to be laughed at as well.
I don't expect to receive a reply, but we might as well try and get some sort of consistency out of them.

Martin said...

Stalinist or Kafkaesque? We have seen WLM's emails and there is more fog than clarity. Andrew Brown's "delicious conspiracy theories" is thrown in as an insidious diversion. Does he really expect us to believe that there is no communication between employed writers and the moderators or even communication amongst the moderators.

Deletion of WLM had to be a group decision, and there must have been some kind of reason. Sure he was sometimes rude, even occasionally objectionably so, but this is part of the format and there are dozens out there certainly no better.

CiF is competitive for attention, the more contributors are ignored the less likely they are to post. There is every incentive to outrage.

WLM, I thought, used ad hominem but usually in conjunction with a point that related to the argument; others are much more free with ad hominem's (IShouldApologise for example) and do not seem to know what an ad hominem is. Obviously it is done for attention, but if the Guardian did not want people jostling for attention they would change the format.

Nevertheless, WLM can say that for a while he made a bit of a name for himself - a modicum of success.

donoevil said...

WML, I was surprised to see you had been banned, though we don't usually post on the same threads. Hank - it's an outrage you've been reprimanded. You're sorely needed on CIF. It seems it's a right-wing paradise at times. Haven't seen FreemanMoxy either for a while - hope he's still around.

Having said that, CIF seems to be an obsession for some posters. Best to keep things in proportion.

Gerry71 said...

Dear Woolly

CiF is duller without you. I hope that they see sense and reinstate you. Thanks for your comments - no matter how much I disagreed with them I always enjoyed reading them. I can't quite bring myself to delete your profile/comments page from my bookmarks. Cheers,

Gerry

Phil Hall said...

Actually, I've deleted my "ishouldapologise" account at the Guardian. Perhaps they will still accept the occasional piece from me, but it feels like a waste of energy and time for the moment.

Phil Hall said...

I notice the comments are down to 20-30 per thread at the moment.

I suppose CiF eds are holding their breath and waiting for all those same people who posted some idiotic phrase of David Mitchell's to congratulate them on how civilised debate has become.

Sure.

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Thanks Gerry - although we rarely agreed I always found you intelligent and thoughtful. I actually missed CiF for the first time last night when I realised that I couldn't post a link to the Swine Fever pandemic in the making and say "I told you so" to all the serial deniers. But never mind, I'm sure others with a pro-science stance will do so.

HankScorpio said...

@donoevil - been offline for a couple of days so have only just seen your post. Thanks for the kind words but, like Woolly, I've been banned rather than reprimanded.

As has Jay today. All kicked off again over there on the "What do you want to talk about?" thread. Daft buggers couldn't really expect comments on a Blair thread to be anything other than hearty and justified abuse could they?

Oliver Vass said...

How late to the party am I?

WoollyMindedLiberal said...
All my favourite commentors are here apart from CommanderKeen and LordSummerIsle.

I'll take that personally!

I drifted away from CiF in January with only very brief forays since. I had noticed your absence, but hadn't realised you'd been banned! I shall be making my absence deliberate from now on.

I remember when there were only a few hundred contributors, people built a community. It's gone now.

I'd be very pleased to hear from former CiFers, just to keep in touch.

Oliver Vass aka Humanzee.
oliver.vass@hpa.org.uk

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Sorry Oliver / Humanzee. Back when CIF started out it often felt like we were the only two people who had ever read a science book in our lives.

Anonymous said...

the little gits:

"After Cif belief editor Andrew Brown introduced a revolutionary feature – Cif belief bingo"

I remember Wooly starting a game of CiF bingo years ago.

Tskkkkk.

puzzlebobble

Anonymous said...

I crossed swords with WML many times and, although I chose to cease posting on CiF partly because of his one-eyed approach, banning him is a bit too extreme.

Not being a regular poster I misunderstood CiF, thinking it was a forum for sharing ideas and civilized debating but there were too many like WML for my money, so I started my own blog.

Strangely, I think we would probably have got on pretty well face-to-face but there was too much sarcasm and too many personal attacks in his posts for me to want to engage with him.

Also, he became even more vitriolic when caught out pretending to knowledge he did not possess. Much of his information came from Wiki and his grasp of, say, physics and philosophy were slight. His interpretation of history, particularly the inter-testament period in the Middle East, was very selective and conditioned by his religious position (ie Atheist). Although not religious myself I am very interested in why Christianity has become so successful but WML chose to see this as my 'Closet religion.' Just one example of how it was impossible for us to get beyond the first stage of a rational debate.

I think he did offend a lot of people but for others, as most of those posting here, he embodied the spirit of CiF. I decided that if this is what CiF represents then it is not for me.