Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fallen comrade


I am horrified to discover that John B has closed down Shot By Both Sides. I don't know exactly why this has happened, but it seems he bowed to the pressure of shit-stirring types trolling his comments. It's a sad loss. Annoyingly, he seems to have taken his archive with him.

There was some bloody good stuff there, and it's a shame that a genuinely assertive free-thinker has felt the need to move on. John took no prisoners, and he didn't feel the need to qualify his invective with long-winded justifications. And he had a sense of humour, which is more than can be said for a lot of us on the Left.

Let's hope someone fills the breach!

[UPDATE: Many have commented on the falling of John B and the reasons behind it. For those still seeking clarification, John wrote a post (link may not work) in which he called for the British Board of Jewish Deputies to be gassed. Not because they were Jewish, but because
they had reported Ken Livingstone for comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concetration camp guard. John also called for the gassing of people who wrote to the BBC to complain about Bob Geldof saying 'fuck' on national television.

It's time to put my own views on paper (well, virtual paper). Mrs Wildebeest is the daughter of a concentration camp survivor who lost most of his relatives in the death camps. Neither she nor I found Livingstone's remarks particularly offensive - nothing that he said was overtly anti-semitic. He might have been guilty of hyperbole, but it is Livingstone's style to blurt first and think later. That wouldn't have excused a genuinely offensive remark, of course, but Ken was clear that the journalist was indulging in a hate campaign against him and was 'only following orders' - the same defence offered by concentration camp guards. We thought this was the right side of the line.

Now, John, in his turn, is also someone whose humour is delivered with a blunt instrument. Again, it's his style. Sometimes it works, occasionally it doesn't. It should have been obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that his remarks were not to be taken literally. After all, there are plenty of people in the country (and the world) who would quite happily gas the British Board of Deputies in real life. John knew that, and he knew that his remark would have an extra edge as a result. It was clumsy humour, perhaps - even lazy humour, you could argue. It was mildly offensive - it was meant to be. It was aimed to hit the target of his satire in its most sensitive spot (some would contest that this is the very job of good satire). The key point is: was John calling for the gassing of Jews? No. Was he making a deliberately offensive joke, in order to offend Jewish readers? No. Was he using the cruellest possible metaphor, in order to express his derision and anger at the actions of a minority of over-sensitive individuals? Yes. Should he have been asked to apologise? Perhaps. Should he have been blackmailed into closing his blog down? Of course not.

People tell Nazi jokes all the time, and if we can't get around that then we might as well give up living. There is a line between genuine hatred on one hand and humour on the other. Some humour can cross over that line. It depends entirely on the person utilising the humour, his motives, his intended audience and his own level of integrity. If Bernard Manning (say) had made the same remark as John, it would have been in a very different context with a very different intention.

If John was guilty of anything, it was a lack of subtlety. But that was the style of his blog. Like him or loathe him, the blogworld is a poorer place without him.]

[FURTHER UPDATE: Pop over to Talk Politics for more. And, while you're there, read the excellent post about Holocaust Memorial Day.]


Blogger doctorvee said...

It was much worse than comment trolls.

10:23 pm  

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