I have remarked before on my uneasy knowledge that writing gives away rather more concerning the writer than is suspected. Fortunately, at my age, I have passed what the Freudians call my 'fuck 'em threshold' and I don't much care. Even so, it is painful to see a younger man make a complete ass of himself by stripping off his pretensions to learning and mooning his ignorance to all and sundry. I refer to the ineffable, Ed Rooksby, and his entry for Saturday 22nd October entitled, inelegantly, as "Oi, Griffin! No!!" In it, Rooksby informs us of the forthcoming trial of a leading member of the BNP. He adds a few gratuitous insults to prove both his 'right-on, power-to-the-people' credentials, and his lack of wit. Still, this is the stuff of political discourse between the 'Dave Sparts' of the 'Trot-lot Tendency, and their political equivalents, the knuckles-brushing-the-floor 'grunts' of the BNP. He added the news that there is to be a demonstration outside the court, unfortunately giving the wrong date, thus providing another indication that he is, in reality, not so much a 'Dave Spart' but more of a 'Frank Spencer' of the revolutionary movement.
So far, so tedious, but then a commenter wrote in to say that in his opinion the BNP had some good policies. Quick as a flash, our tribune of the people, the man who never stops bleating about freedom and liberty, came back with this:
"You have a very interesting IP address 'Terry'. I know exactly which computer you were using.
Perhaps I should request computer services look at the records and find out who was logged on to that computer at the time you posted on this site?
You might like to know that the university and students' union does not tolerate people with nazi views on campus.
I suggest you don't come back to this site because, 'imo', you are a fascist."
What delighted me, as well as depressing me (I will explain the paradox later), was Rooksby's dead give-away of his Pavlovian instinct to turn informer and bully. It particularly amused me because a few posts down from this, there are some 150 comments from sundry Lefties screeching their rage because some-one had threatened to inform John Band's employers concerning his scabrous comments on Jews. I wonder what they think of Rooksby's threat?
Anyway, I wrote in to say that it was "... a pleasure to see Ed defending the principle of free speech, that is, of course, the 'free speech' to which he, and the fascists of the SWP and their ilk, give a nod of approval. Anything else is subject to sinister threats of informing... " I also pointed out the oddity of some-one who, no doubt, prided himself as a defender of free and unbiased courts of law in which defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, helping to organise a mob outside the courtroom.
The first paragraph of his reply was as follows: "It doesn't surprise me that you'd support a misogynist and a fascist. I can see why you'd favour the BNP too. I am absolutely confident that you have no understanding of the theory or philosophy surrounding the idea of free speech (start with JS Mill). It would be incredibly easy to note that there is no politically or ethically impartial or neutral definition of 'free speech' or its limits - your definition is the one you have given 'a nod of approval to'. But this is baby stuff - this is far too easy. And it would be besides the point to try to argue with you, here, anyway - you're not in the slightest bit interested in free speech. The purpose of your comment, as always, is simply to irritate."
This is the point where it becomes depressing rather than amusing. Ed Rooksby is not some 'oik' off a building site, recruited as a bit of muscle to aid the revolution. He has a university education. Currently, he is studying for a doctorate, and, God help us, he is actually teaching! Yet from the quote above it is patently obvious that he couldn't think his way out of a paper bag. As I asked in a second comment, how does supporting everyone's right to free, lawful speech and to the right of a free trial turn into support for Griffin and his wretched Party? I would defend Rooksby's right to express his ludicrous opinions, despite a desire on my part to shoot him on the grounds that listening to him would, to me, constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
Then, this high-minded intellectual informs me that I obviously have "no understanding of the theory or philosophy surrounding the idea of free speech (start with JS Mill)". Mill was, of course, the man who wrote: "We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still." Rooksby, I would remind you, was the man who threatened to inform the authorities of his BNP commenter and thus 'stifle' the life out of his university career. Some liberal! Some moral philosopher! And some teacher, too, for he claims that "there is no politically or ethically impartial or neutral definition of 'free speech' or its limits - your definition is the one you have given 'a nod of approval to'." I don't remember any of that in the two volumes of J.S.Mill that I own. Anyway, in a charitable mood, I offered him a definition of free speech which took me all of, say, ten seconds to formulate: "Any expression of opinion should be permitted that is within the law of a democratic society, defined as, a society in which the people have a free vote to decide on their government." Easy enough to do, so at this stage, one is entitled to ask, as we pay his salary, what is the subject of Rooksby's doctoral studies? Plumbing? Patchwork quilting? It surely cannot be anything requiring a reasonable level of intelligence and an ability to think.
There then followed an eruption of insults along the lines of "... you remind me of a dementia afflicted octogenarian, deliberately pissing his pants and gleefully throwing his own shit around in some pitiable attempt to get himself noticed", followed by an injunction, "Now fuck off and don't come back here. I'll only treat you with the contempt you deserve from now on, you sad old man". Any parents reading that may wish to weigh carefully and exactly what advantages there are, if any, to be had from a university education, particularly at York university campus where Rooksby 'teaches' - if that is quite the word for what he does.
The sharp-eyed amongst you will also notice that at no point does Rooksby mention his support for the potential subversion of law courts, in which a man's freedom might be at stake, by intimidatory mobs gathering outside. Why would he? After all, in an exchange with another commenter he openly admits that there are two classes of political men; those with whom he agrees, and those with whom he disagrees, and their fundamental rights are definitely not equal in his eyes, thus: "I think the idea of free speech you seem to have suggests [sic] that we should see all political/ethical viewpoints as equally valid. They are not." There you have it, folks, straight from the ass's mouth, or as I put it in my original comment, "Always such a pleasure to see Ed defending the principle of free speech, that is, of course, the 'free speech' to which he, and the fascists of the SWP and their ilk, give a nod of approval."
I will finish with one further point, raised by Rooksby and apparently endorsed by another commenter, to the effect that I am nothing more or less than a 'wind-up merchant'. In other words, my purpose in commenting on 'Trot-lot' blogs is simply to enrage the authors concerned. I have confessed before that my style of writing contains a whiplash that can sting but only if they offer up a big, fat, juicy target to lash at. I would point out that there are other left-wing blogs with whom I communicate on entirely equable grounds. Some time ago, Oliver Kamm, famously but innacurately, accused the much-missed 'Ryan of Manchester' of being the "stupidest blogger in the West". He should have looked in York!