Thursday, March 23, 2006

What Liberty Means

Liberty, says the strapline at Harry's Place, is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear. That doesn't include people publishing cartoons that offend Muslims -- Harry's Place didn't support that, on vague and hypocritical grounds of causing offence. And it doesn't include commenters at Harry's Place, whose comments, it seems, are sometimes deleted by those running the blog on the grounds of... them being what they don't want to hear. In other words, it's a pretty circumscribed liberty.

The most egregious example I've seen occurred yesterday, when David T, most bumptious of all Harry's Place commentators, ran into an argument about jilbabs. Neatly ignoring the actual content of the Law Lords' ruling, which emphasised that the school in question was largely Muslim, had a Muslim-friendly uniform policy already, and had only drawn the line at an all-encompassing jilbab, Dave T weighed in with his own back-of-an-envelope reasoning for why the Law Lords were wrong.

This looked, and looks, like an attempt by Harry's Place to look balanced alongside their fervent advocacy of the Iraq War. A few vague motions towards placating Muslims, and they can make everybody happy that their support for invading Iraq was based on elevated democratic principle rather than crude islamaphobia. In this, Dave T and the others are simply following Blair's lead with his preposterous Religious Hatred Bill.

When this was pointed out in their comment space, David T replied with a "Fuck off." After some mockery of this inarticulate response, and more of the same from him, he responded by deleting almost all the nasty comments, rendering the comments thread nonsensical (see, for instance, the first comment). Today all that remains is one strangled reply from him, giving a sense of the level of his debate. It says, "You're still a cretin."

I say all this not because its intrinsically interesting, or because I ever thought Harry's Place was actually committed to any sort of real debate; but to explain why I've begun this blog. I want to say things that the self-styled "decent left" would rather weren't expressed, and obviously that requires a forum not controlled by them -- hence this blog.

3 Comments:

Blogger james higham said...

"And it doesn't include commenters at Harry's Place, whose comments, it seems, are sometimes deleted by those running the blog on the grounds of... them being what they don't want to hear. In other words, it's a pretty circumscribed liberty."

Yes, I find Harry's Place a very strange blogsphere indeed. I can't get a line on what these people are doing. You gave your reasons for blogging yourself and yet I charge that you spend more time around the blogosphere than posting yourself, Stuart.

More posts please.

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