Good ideas, wrong forum


A blogger called David Paxton wrote a very long post as an open letter to Laurie Penny on the subject of a tweet of hers saying she wasn’t Charlie Hebdo because Charlie Hebdo is racist. (I’m not sure I think an open letter is supposed to be hugely long. I think if it’s hugely long it’s not an open letter but some other genre…like for instance a blog post.)

I agree with him overall but the post makes me feel…uneasy. It’s too elephant gun. It’s a long essay and it’s in response to a single tweet – that’s overkill, and in the current climate it’s not really all that cool for a man to use overkill on a woman, especially when she’s one who has been a target of a lot of harassment. But it’s not really all that cool in any case – plus it’s absurd. It’s one tweet. The response should be more proportional.

But on the substance I agree with him. Penny bought into the “CH is racist” canard, and that’s annoying, especially when a bunch of them including the editor had just been murdered.

The tweet:

Murder is vile and unconscionable. Freedom of the press must be protected. But racist trolling is not heroism. Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie.

She was wrong.

But…

Paxton goes on –

This single tweet is all this is about. You didn’t say much else about the attack as far as I could find. And I looked.

I was appalled by many responses to the attacks and wrote a piece highlighting my problems with them. Your tweet is featured in it under the section ‘Reflexive Smearing’. Reading it back I was still struck by what you had written and think it valid to revisit. I believe there is a disparity between what you profess to believe in, how you usually conduct yourself and the content of your statement. Something doesn’t add up and I would be much obliged if at the very least you could help clarify it and end my confusion.

My objections to your message are as follows:

Oh gawd. He’s already written about the tweet, and now, six weeks later, he’s writing about it again, at great length, because he thinks it “valid to revisit” and that “there is a disparity between” blah blah blah…it’s way too much; it’s overkill squared. And also why does he write that way? Without contractions? As if his blog were an academic journal? That kind of pointless formality gets up my nose.

I want to like his piece, I do think that kind of bullshit needs abundant criticism, but I’m sick to death of overkill and bullying.

Then there’s the conclusion:

Now this time has passed and you are able to reflect upon what you wrote, have you altered your opinion any?

I would like you to do one of the following:

1: Justify your opinion. For although you have the right to make it, such a strong opinion, especially about those unable to reply, requires justification.

Or:

2: Repudiate your previous statement. Do so publicly and set straight those whom you influence and may have taken your ignorant and precipitant declaration as somehow based on thought and knowledge. Of course, with this should also come an apology and an explanation. What serious person could provide less?

I don’t think I need to spell out the problem here.

Comments

  1. yazikus says

    I don’t think I need to spell out the problem here.

    No, I don’t think you do. I think many people have probably changed their minds about whether or not Hebdo was racist after they were able to learn more about the context of the magazine. Maybe even Penny. Now, however she is being ordered to jump, and jump high and right now in this ‘open letter’…. Yeah, not the best way to approach this.

    In other news, I finally subscribed and Ad-free FTB is awesome.

  2. says

    Yikes. Penny should never have been be singled out from the many people who were mistaken in the same way and so condescendingly “taken to task.”* What’s the purpose of that? It could just as easily have been an open letter to all of the people who took that position. I hereby demand that Paxton justify his assclamery or apologize forthwith.

    * Being a pompous conservative is no excuse.
    Or maybe it is.
    Whichever is more insulting. 😉

  3. PatrickG says

    It could just as easily have been an open letter to all of the people who took that position.

    That pretty well sums it up. Then just tag the people you think have done some bad thinking. There must be more than this one women and her one tweet…. right?

    On the other hand, I suspect he’s motivated by the hits — by demanding attention from her large audience. Might just be my cynicism.

  4. says

    I agree with him overall but the post makes me feel…uneasy. It’s too elephant gun. It’s a long essay and it’s in response to a single tweet – that’s overkill, and in the current climate it’s not really all that cool for a man to use overkill on a woman, especially when she’s one who has been a target of a lot of harassment. But it’s not really all that cool in any case – plus it’s absurd. It’s one tweet. The response should be more proportional.

    According to Paxton:

    You [Laurie Penny] didn’t say much else about the attack as far as I could find. And I looked.

    Given the apparent lack of anything further, the tweet provides a public summary of Laurie Penny’s position on the Charlie Hedbo massacre. It’s only one tweet, but it’s succinct and admirably packs in great deal. Consequently, a great deal can and has been said in response.

    That’s not overkill. Paxton’s article contains a number of sentiments that need to be expressed as frequently as possible.

    And what difference does the author’s gender make? Penny has stated her political position on an event that isn’t even about feminism. Paxton has responded to it, as an equal and in a civil fashion. To do anything less, simply because she is a woman, would be patronisingly offensive.

    Should other writers tread softly around their analyses because the subject has been on the receiving end of harassment? Online harassment and threats are sickening, but it is not evident that an experienced journalist and author, who writes for publications such as New Statesman and the Guardian, would expect or necessarily welcome immunity from forthright criticism on those grounds. Nobody pulls punches when criticising Richard Dawkins, and he has certainly been the target of death threats.

    David Paxton obviously feels strongly about this topic, as do many of us who are appalled at the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and are almost as appalled at the murder-is-wrong-but remarks that followed hard on its heels.

  5. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Moira @4,

    And what difference does the author’s gender make? Penny has stated her political position on an event that isn’t even about feminism. Paxton has responded to it, as an equal and in a civil fashion. To do anything less, simply because she is a woman, would be patronisingly offensive.

    But it wasn’t just the gender, was it? There were two clauses there, and you’ve addressed one only.

    I quote: “It’s too elephant gun. It’s a long essay and it’s in response to a single tweet – that’s overkill, and in the current climate it’s not really all that cool for a man to use overkill on a woman, especially when she’s one who has been a target of a lot of harassment.”

    It’s only one tweet, but it’s succinct and admirably packs in great deal. Consequently, a great deal can and has been said in response.

    Just not succinctly. 😉

    David Paxton obviously feels strongly about this topic, as do many of us who are appalled at the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and are almost as appalled at the murder-is-wrong-but remarks that followed hard on its heels.

    But, as you surely know from her recent posting history, so does Ophelia.

    (So, that appeal to the magnitude of one’s conviction applies no less to Ophelia’s unease, no?)

  6. says

    John @5

    But it wasn’t just the gender, was it? There were two clauses there, and you’ve addressed one only.

    I addressed the overkill and the harassment in different parts of my comment.

    But, as you surely know from her recent posting history, so does Ophelia.
    (So, that appeal to the magnitude of one’s conviction applies no less to Ophelia’s unease, no?)

    Yes, which is why this post is surprising. Paxton says exactly the same sorts of things that Ophelia has previously said, and to similar remarks as those of Penny’s. Ophelia says, “I agree with him overall”, but then says she nevertheless feels “uneasy”. She explains why, and that is what I responded to.

  7. John Morales says

    Moira,

    I addressed the overkill and the harassment in different parts of my comment.

    So did I. :)

    (Point being, it was one proposition with two clauses, not two separate propositions)

    Ophelia says, “I agree with him overall”, but then says she nevertheless feels “uneasy”. She explains why, and that is what I responded to.

    Fair enough — but I don’t see where your response addressed the (admittedly somewhat implicit) claim that Laurie was seemingly singled out, and which other commenters have noted. The six-week gap* between posts is suggestive, and I think it informs Ophelia’s unease.

    * No, I haven’t followed the citations and verified the claims, but this is not one you’ve disputed.

  8. says

    John @7
    You did not address the harassment — you merely repeated Ophelia’s comment.
    Okay, I think this is your comment re overkill (although @4 already covers it):

    Just not succinctly.

    If my “succinct” comment @4 isn’t sufficient, either, then let’s look at the negative aspects of the tweet:
    – racist;
    – trolling;
    – not heroic.
    There is nothing in the tweet to support any of those assertions. The tweet also declares a position of non-solidarity with the victims, and the overall attitude is, “Murder is wrong but . . .”
    Paxton, however, breaks the tweet down. He has five points to answer. He goes through and answers each of these in detail. He adds supporting information. Consequently, we have a long post.
    Could it have been a lot shorter? Probably, if Paxton’s writing style were less wordy. But that doesn’t constitute “overkill”. In fact, the article comes across as a summary of everything Paxton wants to say about the “but” brigade.

    I don’t see where your response addressed the (admittedly somewhat implicit) claim that Laurie was seemingly singled out, and which other commenters have noted. The six-week gap* between posts is suggestive, and I think it informs Ophelia’s unease.
    * No, I haven’t followed the citations and verified the claims, but this is not one you’ve disputed.

    Correct. I did not address everything in Ophelia’s post, and was explicit in what I intended to address up front. I did not, for example, say anything about the final line, since Ophelia could well have a point .
    It could be that Penny was singled out after several weeks because Paxton had thought of more things to say, and her tweet was representative of everything he wanted to address. Do I know that? No. It’s pure speculation, as is any other comment concerning Paxton’s motives. We could just as easily speculate that Ophelia has written the above post because Paxton is a conservative. Probably not the case, but that’s the whole point — speculation could go either way, and tells us very little.

  9. Bluntnose says

    I quote: “It’s too elephant gun. It’s a long essay and it’s in response to a single tweet – that’s overkill, and in the current climate it’s not really all that cool for a man to use overkill on a woman

    Laurie Penny is a prolific, very well known and influential journalist, writer and broadcaster. Very odd to characterise her just as ‘a woman’. Her womanhood is, I think, just about the least interesting thing about her. Is it always ‘overkill’ to respond to the tweets of outspoken public figures with controversial views in more than 140 characters? Because that would be awkward for this and many other blogs.

  10. says

    There must be more than this one women and her one tweet…. right?

    Of course there is. There was a chorus of voices singing “Je ne suis pas Charlie.” People wrote long posts about it (I linked to some in either one of my guest posts here or at my blog), argued about it in comments and on Twitter, and shared around decontextualized and misrepresented images and articles attacking CH. The piece Paxton links to by Olivier Tonneau was called “A Letter to My British Friends,” plural. To focus – and so imperiously and heavyhandedly – on one person and a single tweet from several weeks ago doesn’t make sense.

    (Incidentally, Tauriq Moosa has written some thoughtful posts on the subject in general.)

  11. says

    People wrote long posts about it*

    Which is another problem with focusing on (or returning to) a single tweet. Paxton writes: “This single tweet is all this is about. You didn’t say much else about the attack as far as I could find. And I looked.” She doesn’t make an argument there because it’s a tweet, so instead of responding to arguments – as he would have been able to do had he responded to full articles – he has to make assumptions about the basis for her expressed opinion in the tweet or assume there was none. Just in terms of basic communication, it’s a strange choice.

    * (Many are easy to find by googling “Je ne suis pas Charlie,” by the way.)

  12. says

    It’s also strange because he responded to the tweet at the time, in the context of a series of long posts addressing the arguments in depth.

    And that’s probably my final comment on the matter, other than to say that I too wish that more (some?) of the people who misrepresented and smeared CH in the wake of the murders had come forward or would come forward and publicly retract their statements, and acknowledge that their approach to forming opinions in this case was unsound. Has anyone?

  13. says

    The sheer length of the post is totally out of proportion to the single — and not at all unique — tweet to which it was responding. It’s like someone trying to give a long, stiff, pompous lecture to a kid who’s told a dirty joke or something. The kid wasn’t thinking all that deeply when he told the joke, it wasn’t meant to be a learned treatise on anything, and he’s not at all inclined to care either about the joke or about your long-winded humorless response. So the only result of your learned lecture is that you end up looking like an idiot and all the other kids laugh at you and think you’re a weirdo.

    And is this guy going to write long discourses in response to every single one of thousands of similar tweets on the same subject? There’s no right answer to that question — either way he looks like a stuffy self-righteous git.

    I don’t agree with Laurie Penny, but I do hope she “responds” to this time-wasting article by totally ignoring it and letting it pass. It would serve the author right.

    And the author’s conclusion — hectoring Penny for a response, and telling her what her response options were — was nothing but petty badgering from someone who thinks he’s entitled to a respectful audience.

    That’s not overkill. Paxton’s article contains a number of sentiments that need to be expressed as frequently as possible.

    If “as frequently as possible” means reflexive long-winded repetitive crankery in response to casual and relatively thoughtless tweets, then no, that’s not something that needs to be done. Responding like that to individual tweets makes it look like you’re trying to trying to hector EVERYONE who ever says anything you don’t approve of. If you’re so thin-skinned that you can’t help arguing with every ignorant tweet you see, then you should probably log off before you have a stroke. In unscripted public debate, as in real war, you really have to choose your battles wisely.

  14. says

    Moira @ 8 –

    It could be that Penny was singled out after several weeks because Paxton had thought of more things to say, and her tweet was representative of everything he wanted to address.

    But then he could and should have said that, instead of what he did say, which was that he was directly setting Laurie Penny herself straight, at enormous length, and then telling her exactly what to do.

    If his post had been about the wider phenomenon of people mistakenly thinking Charlie Hebdo is racist, and saying so, then it would have been useful and good. Instead for some reason he made it about one tweet from one woman. It’s the overkill directed at one woman over one tweet that I object to, not the substance.

  15. says

    As for whether CH really is or is not racist, I’d just like to repeat something I’ve said here before: part of the problem is that, though clearly not racist in their messages, the CH cartoons I’ve seen are just plain badly drawn, and not all that pleasant to look at. That means: a) they’re less amusing, and b) all the images are negative and unflattering, which can easily lead to the conclusion that the cartoonists had unflattering feelings toward whoever they were depicting. Also, bad cartoonists have a greater tendency to fall back on stereotypical features, such as thick lips on blacks or big noses on Jews; and that can easily lead others to conclude the cartoonists are racist.

  16. says

    I think we’re all familiar with that by now, aren’t we? Didn’t we hash it out a fair bit after January 7th? I think we all get why lots of people thought CH was racist at first glance, and why it took some time and effort for them to learn otherwise. I’m not sure I see much need to repeat it now, since nobody is saying “there is no reason whatever to think CH could be racist.”

  17. says

    I agree that the post is overlong. However I really don’t see the bullying. Laurie Penny is a well known journalist who writes for The Guardian and the New Statesman and appears on the BBC. Paxton is unknown. I am prejudiced on his behalf because he writes for the Gerasites, a site which was put up in honour of Norman Geras. Laurie P is influential. She 106,000 followers on Twitter. So though Paxton’s post is high-handed and if anyone took me to task in that fashion I’d give him the finger, the substance reasonable.

    I should say she has retracted from her original tweet.

    https://twitter.com/PennyRed

    “Never, at any point, have I ‘blamed’ the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. To suggest that I did so is reading in bad faith. ”

    “As I have been reading more about what went on, my opinions have become more complex. Too complex for 140ch. ”

    Her replies are @flymebobby who seems to be Paxton.

    That’s fair enough, and perhaps she will retract and explain what she meant by “racist trolls”.

    It’s a very serious accusation to accuse people in a magazine of “racist trolling”. It means their deaths are less terrible.

    I, and probably Penny wouldn’t, want to live in a society where people were killed for their political/religious opinions. However there would be a difference in the way we’d react if, say, Nick Griffin was murdered or if Peter Tatchell was. It wouldn’t be that Nick Griffin “deserved” it, it would just be that he’d be much less of a loss and not to be mourned.

    If instant reactions tell you something, the Charlie Hebdo affair told you something about a chunk of the Left. That is, when Islamists murder someone they scurry around looking for root causes in Western foreign policy or contexts of failure of respect. The Guardian was still at it after the Copenhagen murders. (The murdered Jews tend to get over-looked at such times). I found it indecent, the scurrying to find Charlie Hebdo unworthy of full mourning because of supposedly dodgy things it had said.

    Okay, I detest Laurie Penny who I think is (a) lazy and careless; (b) predictably right on. I first encountered her when she wrote about a blog I write for, Harry’s Place, that it was a mirror image of the MPACUK (not true). It turned out she hadn’t read Harry’s Place. She was going by what someone else had told her. To get the flavour of a blog, you read about 20 posts – hardly arduous.

    Next time was over the universities segregation affair. She wrote a piece in The Guardian that to complain about sex segregation at public meetings run by Islamists was “Islamophobic”. Turned out again she hadn’t done her homework and that people like Yasmin Alibai-Brown had protested about this. When she found out she changed her article slightly, and ended up with a dog’s dinner of self-contradictiing her own argument.

    There is this terrible reluctance to face the full horrors of Islamism. The emphasis in articles by Penny and her ilk is not to talk about the horribleness of the ideology and the actions, but its root causes of social deprivation and Western foreign policy to worry about possible backlashes (which in the UK, are actually quite rare) and to throw around the crappy charge of “islamophobia”.

    So, no, I don’t mind Laurie Penny being taken to task. I think she deserves it – even if it’s done pompously.

  18. says

    Sorry, I’m being grumpy.

    No problem, I’m even grumpier. So get off my lawn! Oh wait, it’s your lawn. Sorry…

    Laurie Penny is a well known journalist who writes for The Guardian and the New Statesman and appears on the BBC.

    Okay, that’s a valid counterpoint — Paxton wasn’t just hectoring random unknown tweeters, he was arguing with someone whose opinion mattered outside of Twitter.

    The emphasis in articles by Penny and her ilk is not to talk about the horribleness of the ideology and the actions, but its root causes of social deprivation and Western foreign policy to worry about possible backlashes (which in the UK, are actually quite rare) and to throw around the crappy charge of “islamophobia”.

    That’s not the whole picture, but it’s not wrong either. And SOMEONE has to talk about poverty, bigotry, and lack of opportunity when everyone else is screaming outrage about atrocities committed in the name of this or that religion. That alone does not constitute “reluctance to face the full horrors of Islamism.” In fact, it helps explain why not all Muslims are horrible, and to point at an actual solution, as opposed to just another police crackdown or bombing campaign.

  19. says

    You find quite a lot of people running off to join ISIS aren’t from deprived backgrounds. Some are well educated and with reasonable prospects. They will not necessarily have faced much bigotry either. Kenan Malik is interesting about that – that in the 80s when Muslims did face a lot more bigotry in the UK they joined anti-racist groups – because the ideology hadn’t gained traction in the West (though it existed in Egypt). I doubt if the glamour of an exciting ideology and playing holy warrior can be counter-balanced with handing out jobs or money.

    Why shouldn’t we scream outrage and keep screaming? These are Fascists – not wearing swastikas and shouting Heil Hitler but shouting Allah Akbar. It is fucking outrageous that Jews in the UK and France have to have their synagogues like fortresses and hire guards and that many are considering leaving. Sooner or later there will be more murders here.

    These are Fascists. And really, there is only one thing you do with Fascists.

  20. johnthedrunkard says

    Reflexive smearing of the victims of Islamism is a big deal, and worthy of a big response. That so many people, were pre-prepared with excuses and rationalizations in the case of Charlie Hebdo is absolutely sinister.

    No one has jumped in with snide comments about parking lot manners in re Chapel Hill. Indeed it would be unthinkable for anyone to do so publicly. But when Islam is involved, the long-entrenched, desperate rationalizations and appeasement pop up immediately.

    Penny’s blurb is just one snowflake in the avalanche, and it may be trying to repair a watch with a jackhammer to pile onto her. But she has, in the briefest possible space, demonstrated the gutless, multi-culti malaise that justifies jihadists description of the West as ‘decadent.’

  21. says

    Rosiebell, I think you’re missing the point (or several points) of the OP and comments.

    First, most of what you’re talking about is immaterial to Penny’s tweet. Your own first comment gets at what Penny was responding to:

    I, and probably Penny wouldn’t, want to live in a society where people were killed for their political/religious opinions. However there would be a difference in the way we’d react if, say, Nick Griffin was murdered or if Peter Tatchell was. It wouldn’t be that Nick Griffin “deserved” it, it would just be that he’d be much less of a loss and not to be mourned.

    Her tweet was in response to the “Je suis Charlie” movement. Most people on the Left wanted to support free expression but understandably wanted to be careful about who they were identifying with – they didn’t want to identify with or support racists. The problem was that so many rushed to declare that they weren’t Charlie without bothering to learn what CH was about, and many, even after they learned that their initial impressions had been mistaken, continued to find a way to blame the people at CH for their own ignorant misrepresentations.

    Penny was in the first group, which wasn’t as bad as the second. But both groups were numerous, and Paxton’s posts at the time talked about a large number of posts, articles, and comments by well-known people. Penny’s single tweet, as Raging Bee pointed out above, was a typical one-off. It was far from the worst, and she didn’t make any persistent argument. There’s no good reason for him to have singled it/her out weeks later for that blaring post. (As I’ve argued, it makes even less sense because it was a tweet and so couldn’t and didn’t back up its assertions with arguments or evidence.)

    And it does matter that she’s a woman and he’s a man. He’s singled her out for this obnoxious, demanding treatment. It creates the impression that women can be singled out and required to respond to any random man who demands it at their whim. I wouldn’t have a problem with his argument or his tone if the open letter had been directed to all of the people he’d talked about in his earlier posts. Further, she’s someone, Ophelia noted, who’s been subjected to campaigns of harassment in the recent past (or present, for all I know). People should be sensitive and responsible enough to recognize the context in which they’re posting and avoid to the extent possible contributing to a dynamic of harassment and disrespect.

    And it matters that he’s a conservative. The reason the issue of opposing Islamism while trying as best we can not to contribute to racism is a problem almost entirely for the Left is that the Right’s attitude toward Muslims ranges from callous indifference through active contempt to violent hatred (of course, there are individual exceptions, but the policies and voices they support or generally remain silent in the face of plainly put these attitudes on display). For the Right in general – I’m not making a specific comment about Paxton here, as I have no idea about or interest in his views on the matter – it doesn’t really matter if CH was/is racist, because racism against Muslims isn’t a pressing concern. I don’t automatically distrust this sort of criticism coming from someone on the Right. I just don’t care about it – it duplicates the same arguments I’ve made without being grounded in the same values.

  22. says

    the Right’s attitude toward Muslims

    I’m referring, to be clear, to the Right in the UK, France, and the US. Islamists are themselves also on the far Right, but obviously have different attitudes toward Muslims.

  23. says

    I’m referring, to be clear, to the Right in the UK, France, and the US.

    And to be absolutely clear, to the non-Muslim Right. There is of course a Muslim Right in these countries.

  24. says

    Ophelia @15:

    “It could be that Penny was singled out after several weeks because Paxton had thought of more things to say, and her tweet was representative of everything he wanted to address. ”
    But then he could and should have said that, instead of what he did say, which was that he was directly setting Laurie Penny herself straight, at enormous length, and then telling her exactly what to do.

    To put my words back in context:

    It could be that Penny was singled out after several weeks because Paxton had thought of more things to say, and her tweet was representative of everything he wanted to address. Do I know that? No. It’s pure speculation, as is any other comment concerning Paxton’s motives. We could just as easily speculate that Ophelia has written the above post because Paxton is a conservative. Probably not the case, but that’s the whole point — speculation could go either way, and tells us very little.

    But, for argument’s sake, let’s imagine the following is true:

    It could be that Penny was singled out after several weeks because Paxton had thought of more things to say, and her tweet was representative of everything he wanted to address.

    So Paxton sits down at his laptop, and says to himself, ‘Wow, I have to say this tweet is pretty impressive. Packs everything that’s so wrong about these arguments into 140 characters. I’ll use this tweet to write that summary I’ve been thinking about.’
    Not necessarily because ‘woman — must attack’ (although that might be it — the point is we don’t know either way) but perhaps simply due to the nature of the tweet.
    He then addresses the tweeter directly. He’s a writer and it’s a gimmick. Seen it many times before. So why take it literally, and read so much more into it, particularly when the person he addresses has much higher influence and status? In which case it’s not true at all that he ‘should have said that’.
    If Paxton has been spending time arguing with Penny on Twitter that could also explain why he used this tweet. Again, we don’t know.
    And I’m out.

  25. says

    @SC SaltyPoint
    I take it you live in the USA? I live in the UK. Penny is rather ubiquitous here & has been known to behave like an arsehole. She’s quite well known as a barometer of a certain kind of leftie silliness. I can give you a couple of instances if you insist. So I don’t think her femaleness has anything to do with it. If it had been Owen Jones, a rather similar though more thoughtful figure, he would have got the same going over.

    I did find something telling in the immediate reaction. My reaction was, oh thus horrible Islamists are doing their usual shit but in a new way – actually targetting specific people – journalists, cartoonists and Jews rather than their random bombing (as in the 7/7 attacks and various attempts which have been stopped by the security forces). It made me weep – not just the attack on the civilised values of satire and poking fun but that there will be a lot more to come.

    The ideology has never crossed Penny’s keyboard as far as I know and she doesn’t mention it in the tweet (ok it’s only a tweet), To me, like Paxton, it was a kind of summing up of the horrible sickness with the Guardian Left. Don’t mention the ideology (‘cos it’s got the word “Islam” in it and that might make you look Islamophobic, see?) but find a kind of extenuating circumstance of disrespect among the victims, or the culture of the victims.

    The “Je ne suis pas Charlie” was fairly disgusting. I would have felt a fool saying “Je suis Charlie” and so I didn’t. I knew a bit about CH – that it was a satirical mag, and a bit of reading on the subject told me about its history and thrust – which aren’t much to my taste, used to gentler satire. But to disassociate yourself from the victims of Islamic fascism so ostentatiously – that was pretty vile.

    @Moira Clark – if you read Paxton’s piece you’d see Penny had blocked him on Twitter though she seems to have unblocked him.

  26. says

    @SC SaltyPoint
    I take it you live in the USA? I live in the UK. Penny is rather ubiquitous here & has been known to behave like an arsehole. She’s quite well known as a barometer of a certain kind of leftie silliness. I can give you a couple of instances if you insist. So I don’t think her femaleness has anything to do with it. If it had been Owen Jones, a rather similar though more thoughtful figure, he would have got the same going over.

    I did find something telling in the immediate reaction. My reaction was, oh thus horrible Islamists are doing their usual shit but in a new way – actually targetting specific people – journalists, cartoonists and Jews rather than their random bombing (as in the 7/7 attacks and various attempts which have been stopped by the security forces). It made me weep – not just the attack on the civilised values of satire and poking fun but that there will be a lot more to come.

    The ideology has never crossed Penny’s keyboard as far as I know and she doesn’t mention it in the tweet (ok it’s only a tweet), To me, like Paxton, it was a kind of summing up of the horrible sickness with the Guardian Left. Don’t mention the ideology (‘cos it’s got the word “Islam” in it and that might make you look Islamophobic, see?) but find a kind of extenuating circumstance of disrespect among the victims, or the culture of the victims.

    The “Je ne suis pas Charlie” was fairly disgusting. I would have felt a fool saying “Je suis Charlie” and so I didn’t. I knew a bit about CH – that it was a satirical mag, and a bit of reading on the subject told me about its history and thrust – which aren’t much to my taste, used to gentler satire. But to disassociate yourself from the victims of Islamic fascism so ostentatiously – that was pretty vile.

    As for the Conservative angle – Leftists I know lament that it’s the Right that is clear about what Islamism is, and also the whole tip-toeing culture of “respect ” that has stopped it being called out. The Left has obfuscated.

    @Moira Clark – if you read Paxton’s piece you’d see Penny had blocked him on Twitter though she seems to have unblocked him.

  27. says

    @SC SaltyPoint

    Salty Current.

    I take it you live in the USA? I live in the UK. Penny is rather ubiquitous here & has been known to behave like an arsehole. She’s quite well known as a barometer of a certain kind of leftie silliness. I can give you a couple of instances if you insist.

    I don’t insist. That you’re trying to use this a a launching pad to go after Penny – who wrote a total of 23 words on the subject at the time – illustrates part of the problem with Paxton’s post.

    So I don’t think her femaleness has anything to do with it. If it had been Owen Jones, a rather similar though more thoughtful figure, he would have got the same going over.

    No one here has suggested that he singled her out because she’s a woman.

    As for the Conservative angle – Leftists I know lament that it’s the Right that is clear about what Islamism is, and also the whole tip-toeing culture of “respect ” that has stopped it being called out.

    Leftists you know believe some real bullshit.

    In any case, you’re not responding to the arguments people are making about the subject of this post, and appear to be stuck in rant mode, so this will be my last response to you.

  28. says

    @SaltyCurrent

    “No one here has suggested that he singled her out because she’s a woman.”

    Ophelia’s post
    “him overall but the post makes me feel…uneasy. It’s too elephant gun. It’s a long essay and it’s in response to a single tweet – that’s overkill, and in the current climate it’s not really all that cool for a man to use overkill on a woman, especially when she’s one who has been a target of a lot of harassment. ”

    Her femaleness is part of Paxton’s supposed unfairness to her.

    BTW Penny does get a lot of misogynist crap chucked at her so I think she’s reasonable in being wary of people tweeting at her.

  29. says

    Rosie – no, it’s not exactly that her femaleness is part of Paxton’s supposed unfairness to her. It’s that, given the fact that she is a target, and the fact that he singled out one person’s one tweet for that very long critique – it was at best stupid and thoughtless of him to have chosen her to single out. It’s too bad Paxton didn’t choose Owen Jones. But he didn’t, did he.

  30. Okidemia says

    Sorry if I’m a bit off the actual subject of the post, but I’m really curious about this.

    Echoed in the discussion from start (comment #1), something along the lines:
    I think many people have probably changed their minds about whether or not Hebdo was racist after they were able to learn more about the context of the magazine.

    Did this really happen? To any significant rate?
    I mean, have you met people that acknowledged changing their mind about the derogatory accusation of racism?

    I’m asking, because I haven’t seen anything about it, at all. I’ve only read post first assessment rationalizations about how even if the authors were anti-racist activists, they were still racist so far.

    So I’m really curious. And maybe a small bit hopefull.

  31. David Paxton says

    Wow. 10,000+ words discussing why my 2,500 words was over the top. 😉
    Just stumbled across this looking up something else. If you’d let me know about this at the time I probably could have saved you all some bother.

    Some interesting points have been raised here and some really nonsensical ones too. I thought a lot about whether to make that response in the manner I did and am still satisfied with my reasons. If you wish me to explain and justify I will be happy to. But if this is all done and dusted I’ll just let it go.

    What I will say is, Laurie Penny is somebody I consider to have a good heart. I could talk for some length about my problems with her, they are numerous, but I thought she would have been capable of actually being forced to rethink a position. In public. A position I find appalling. I think I was proved correct there and I think this has been valuable for that reason.

    There’s much more to say, but as already said, this may well be done with already.

    Regards…

    David
    @canyouflybobby

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *