I found some terrific comments this week but my computer died and I lost the screenshots. No matter. In the week that Nelson Mandela died, one expected to find a wealth of racist comments on Telegraph blogs but all the articles about Madiba have closed comments threads. It’s only Brendan O’Neill, who I suspected would be first out the traps with an article about how apartheid was good (the RCP was against sanctions and was thus aligned with Thatcher) and how Mandela was a ‘terrorist’, who’s allowing comments on his thread. But rather than write about Mandela, he’s penned this tribute to ‘free speech’ instead.
‘Free speech’ in O’Neill’s world is when people are allowed to say whatever they like, no matter how abhorrent, free in the knowledge that they won’t be challenged. Because, in the mind of Eddie Munster, if someone challenges your vile views, they are guilty of ‘stifling’ free speech. Without any trace of irony, he tells us:
Firstly, because it is always better to have dodgy extremist ideas out in the open, where they can be challenged and ridiculed, rather than festering underground, hidden away, unquestioned. And secondly, because it is only by defending freedom of speech for all – yes, even for whackjobs – that we can guarantee it for ourselves, for everyone, for the decent as well as the daft.
My bold. The views left on Telegraph blogs are rarely challenged by blog authors and those who try to challenge them are shouted down. The Telegraph has become a place for neo-Nazis and Enoch Powell worshippers to congregate and they are often attracted by the blog author’s views (I give you James Delingpole). The Lyin’ King, in another blog disputes this, but he doth protest too much.
O’Neill appears to have realized that all the comments threads on the Mandela articles are closed, so he circumvents this by titling his blog
If we are serious about freedom of speech, then everyone must have it
Eddie slyly ends his blog with a recording of Nelson Mandela ‘saying farewell to South Africa’. This was done to draw in the self-styled ‘patriots’ and give them a space to air their disgusting views.
This week’s comment is particularly vile and appears to have been left by someone who could easily be a member of The World Union of National Socialists.
Brendan O’Neill is absolutely correct. Historical facts must be separated from PC re-writing of history. History uses the same scientific method as the natural sciences.
The FACTS about WW2 must always be remembered; for example, that far from being a dictator, Hitler was an extremely popular politician. Hitler was democratically elected as Chancellor and supported by an overwhelming majority of Germans. It is a huge mistake to demonize National Socialism as “extremism”. Such derogatory labels simplify history, hamper rational analysis and can easily be used for censorship. Demonizing National Socialism means that you fail to understand it.
“FACTS”, eh? In spite of what he says, you won’t find Eddie challenging these views. This reader believes that Hitler was “an extremely popular politician” and that Nazism has been demonized. Really? But it’s the final sentence that’s the most ignorant. “Vitaly” claims that “Demonizing National Socialism means that you fail to understand it”. Really? Tell than to the millions who died in the death camps. It seems to me that those who clam the Nazis were “demonized” have failed to learn their history or have chosen to ignore it for ideological reasons – like our boneheaded friend,”Vitaly” here.
Here’s part of Hannan’s mealy-mouthed protest:
Now there’s a new variant of the phenomenon: judging a blog by its comment thread. Again, the absurdity should be obvious. Bloggers are not responsible for what happens after they have posted.
Here’s a tip, Danny: if you don’t want to attract the comments of nutters, then don’t write blogs that appeal to them. You could, of course, challenge such views but instead, you’d rather blame it on ‘trolls’ than accept responsibility.