Here’s an interesting experience. I have been edited for, I assume, expressing a contrary opinion on the Guido Fawkes website.
Guido Fawkes is a ‘libertarian’, nationalist, right-wing blog serving the world view of embittered middle-aged failures, and I wouldn’t normally want it on my search history, but it has been the outlet for whoever has been releasing the sex-attack stories about M.P.s over the last week. I went to it to get the ‘unredacted’ list of Tory miscreants and was, initially, happily surprised by the quality of the comments: there was a lot of coded racist prostate leakage, as you would expect, but there was an interesting strand on Orwell, and I posted a comment, which stands.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t help myself, and had a pop at someone whose comment described socialists as genetically defective. I had not declared my political position as it wasn’t relevant to my subject: he was having a go at Orwell, I think.
He responded with a standard, barely literate diatribe about the evils of socialism, claiming that socialism has failed as a system everywhere. I pointed out that China was actually quite successful and Cuba did alright, given the challenges it faced. He came back with a list of the injustices of the Chinese system; all, no doubt, true.
That brought another poster into the conversation: @kwh. He really cares about how evil China is, as you can see.
So, on Friday, I wrote a fairly long comment about the comparative freedoms and restrictions in China, the U.S. and Britain. I based it on figures from various reliable sources on state executions, police shootings, levels of imprisonment and population size. By the time I got home from work, my comment had disappeared. I did wonder whether they had a policy about comment length, so didn’t feel too aggrieved, except that I was proud of the comment, which I had carefully researched, and I hadn’t kept a copy, so it was lost. I shrugged my shoulders and forgot about it.
However, GF uses Disqus to supply its comment thread, and so, when someone else, @Thomson’s Hankey, answered my earlier contribution, I got an email. This morning, in idle browsing mode, I clicked through to the comments thread. This poster also fixated on the horrors of various injustices within China that have made it into the Western press. I decided to answer, as concisely as I could, but this time, I took a screenshot, before moderation.
I had made a couple of errors, so I edited it three times. After the first edit, the little note above the comment appeared, saying that it was waiting to ‘be approved’ by Guido Fawkes. Thinking back to my previous experience, I clicked on Awesome Screenshot, which isn’t that awesome (hence the poor quality of the images in this post), but is useful.
Then, I refreshed the page and my comment had gone. The thread now gave the impression that the one dissenting voice in this little exchange had been argued to silence. If you have a strong stomach for swivel-eyed right wing crazy, you can see the page here. Noble hatred prevailed; of China in this case, although I think the target is moveable for these people,.
Guido Fawkes is run by an individual who owns his blog and has a right to do with it what he wishes. If he wants to pick and choose the responses he allows on his comments thread, that is up to him; I’m not complaining. However, it does rather give the lie to his site being a portal for free-thought and unfettered reason and, given the rampant, violent, misogynistic and racist tone of a lot of the commentators on his blog, I can’t see that he has a case for saying that my contributions were offensive, in any reasonable sense. I started out by agreeing with one poster and, when my comments became part of a disagreement, they simply challenged what I saw as hypocrisy or error in some other comments, and I think I expressed myself in a moderate and well-argued tone.
Does this matter? I have never had a single comment on this blog, and I get, on average, a few hundred hits per month. It is not a true public forum, because it has not developed as such and, as a working person, I would not have the time to maintain it if it did. Guido Fawkes and I are in different leagues, in terms of influence and in terms of aspiration. For me, blogging is a way of gathering my thoughts in a space I control and the idea of becoming responsible for the contributions of others appalls me.
However, Guido Fawkes actively attempts to have an effect upon the political climate of this country. He works for the Russian embassy, through his media consultancy company, and his website is openly contemptuous of democracy, stating that the only honest involvement in politics is the desire to blow up parliament. He has a responsibility to be honest, and he is not honest. He is constructing chaos, worshipping lies, and pretending that he is simply documenting an existing state.
The article on China to which I link in one of my deleted comments is here. It is well worth a read and comes from a political site that is everything Guido Fawkes is not: informed, intelligent, open-minded and honest.