New Times,
New Thinking.

24 June 2008

Brave New World

The "blogosphere" is a haven for the cowardly, the vicious and the ignorant

By Martin Bright

There is a lot of guff talked about the “blogosphere”. In reality, it is neither a utopia of free speech nor is it entirely given over to conspiracy theorists and whackos.

I didn’t agree with all of Polly Toynbee’s column this morning. She doesn’t seem to be sure whether people are wrong to be miserable, or just miserable for the wrong reasons. But she does a good riff on why the Daily Mail is so angry at Transport minister Tom Harris for suggesting things aren’t so bad under a Labour government. It was a proper, thoughtful column, as you’d expect from the officially most influential writer on the planet.

But this is the response from a poster on Paul Staines’s Guido Fawkes website:

Josef K said…

Anyone got a chainsaw and we’ll cut the miserable bitch’s hands off.

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It’s the least we could do to create a fairer, less shrill, future with fewer bleeding hearts.

June 24, 2008 10:00 AM

I am increasingly of the view that reputable publications should heavily edit their posts to save readers from this kind of venom. The New Statesman is not innocent in all this and the Guardian’s Comment is Free site is in danger of terminally poisoning the newspaper’s brand with its torrents of abuse.

The same argument does not apply to Guido, whose brand depends on people being as nasty as they like on his site. But the anonymity is still a problem.

On the face of it “Josef K” is issuing a serious threat of violence. Perhaps Josef K is being ironic and is subtley sending up the kind of puerile mysogyny he seems to be expressing. Or maybe he is just a coward. It’s my experience of the blogosphere that it’s likely to be the latter. At the very least his mother should have a word with him.

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