Monday, February 20, 2012

The Tory bully-boys win again : after brief outbreak of common sense, Scotland rejoins the Holocaust as one of only two banned topics on Political Betting

Yes, I know this is murderously hard to keep track of. Last Sunday, we were led to believe that Scottish posts had been subject to an utterly random near-blanket ban on PB. On Tuesday, we were told that it had only ever been intended as a ban for a single thread on Sunday - although that explanation had the distinct feel of a retrospective reinterpretation about it. This morning, however, the writing was on the wall again as a succession of hard-right, Jock-bashing members of the PB Tory Herd returned to their relentless "something must be done, Mike" efforts to squeeze the life out of yet another dissenting group. Note : as you read the following comments, you might be forgiven for not picking up on the fact that the subject of Scotland was actually introduced to the thread by a Labour poster...

SeanT : "So this thread went offtopic and on to Scotland by comment TWO.

I appreciate that it wasn't a Nit Wot Dunnit, but really, guys. pb is like a favourite local pub that's suddenly been taken over by transsexuals.

The regulars are squeezed into the corner while the hairy freaks with their pre-op manboobs dance and jiggle to Barbara Streisand Goes Techno next to the bar billiards.

Can't you get your own place? Really? Or maybe book a room at the back of the boozer, it's called pb2.


Marquee Mark : "Sorry, OGH, I don't press the contribute button so it can be James Kelly's own personal Nit echo-chamber.

It's been great as a site for the past six years I've known it. Probably my favourite meeting place on the web. But its delightful balance of immediate flags for interesting news, insight, whimsy, humour and occasional invective has been lost in recent weeks.

I know the formidable effort you have put into it. But I suppose all good things come to an end. I hope I'm wrong and that it can be rebooted and that balance refound.

But cheerio. I'm out of here."

Slackbladder : "Second post in and it's already hijacked by Scotttish stuff...I'll come back in the next thread.

I really can't be arsed anymore."

RodWarner : "Morning - Scotland again? Goodbye..."

But of course we could rely on PB's right-leaning Liberal Democrat proprietor Mike Smithson to demonstrate his neutrality and independence from his site's Tory Herd by standing firm against such pathetically unsubtle attempts to blackmail him into selectively censoring an ideologically undesirable group of posters, couldn't we?

Oh, don't be daft. Right on cue, we had this announcement at 12.07pm -

"From tonight, unless there is a specific post, discussions on the Scottish referendum shall take place on the NightHawks thread. If posters want to continue during the daytime they will be directed there."

To adapt the old joke about Gwynfor Evans' hunger strike, Marquee Mark barely had to forego his PB lunch before getting the bully-boy website of his dreams back. Admittedly, it's a somewhat more carefully-worded ban this time, but it does still mean that "the Scottish referendum" will, along with the Holocaust, be one of only two banned topics on the majority of threads - absolutely every other off-topic discussion under the sun (cheese, the Zapatista rebels, Katie Price, and above all else 'Ed Miliband is crap') will remain perfectly OK, regardless of the theoretical subject of the thread. And will other Scottish/SNP topics not directly related to the referendum still be allowed? I suspect we won't have long to wait to find out, as the newly-back-in-harness Stuart Dickson isn't the sort to be cowed from posting about whatever he feels like posting about. Unless of course Smithson bans him altogether yet again, which wouldn't entirely surprise me, given the somewhat capricious set of rulings we've seen over the last eight days.

And, as I observed the last time the ban was imposed, this could easily amount (depending on how the rule is enforced by moderators) to a constructive ban on all pro-SNP posts on all threads other than "Nighthawks". Supporters of every other political party in the entire world will not be subject to such a ban. Which makes it all the more gloriously ironic that just before censorship was re-imposed, the ever-delightful Plato was amusing herself by chortling away at my 'paranoia' for writing on this blog about an anti-SNP moderation policy at PB.

She then of course instantly 'liked' the decision to impose a ban. You just couldn't make it up - and luckily with Plato you don't have to.

UPDATE : After the PB poster AlanBrooke made the observation that "lots of people like the idea of free speech until they see what it looks like", I added this comment -

"Not a bit of it, Alan. We've established today that the Tory Herd love free speech. For themselves. Free, unchallenged, undiluted by dissenting voices, unionist Tory free speech."


  1. I take it you're the same courageously anonymous member of the Tory Herd we had on the other thread?

    Just checking.

  2. So, just to be clear:

    There are 3 (or sometime 4) threads per day. There has been a request to discuss detailed discussion of the "Scottish Question" to one of those: i.e. 25-30% of the time.

    That doesn't seem unreasonable, given that there are a bunch of other important issues (the EU, the NHS, the US, general polls, etc) that are also interesting to discuss.

    This doesn't seem to be an unreasonable compromise to me: For good or ill, when discussed, Scotland does tend to take over the threads (in the way that some of the other O/T posts such as F1 don't)

    Don't take it so hard ;-)


  3. Sigh. It wouldn't be unreasonable if exactly the same rule applied to every other off-topic discussion, such as those on Andrew Lansley and "Ed is crap", which as you know perfectly well "take over threads" just as often (if not more so) than Scotland.

    What is demonstrably unreasonable is to single out Scotland as the one topic (apart from the Holocaust) that is banned on 70-75% of threads.

    I do appreciate your constructive tone, though, Charles - it's rare in these discussions.

  4. Your friend, Shaun T, sounds charming. You must bring him round for a coffee sometime... preferably when I'm out.

    As for the charmless 'Anon', of the first post: I trust he covered his mouth when interjecting with that incisive, pithy little contribution.

    I should have a yawning policy if I were you, James. Yawners only take up space; like hairy transexuals, really. Ban 'em, I say!

  5. The twitter announcement from Rupert Murdoch has certainly got them talking about Scotland again.

    That is the cat amonst the pidgeons.

  6. Thanks for that, David - I saw your very thoughtful contribution last night.

    Marcia : If Murdoch really has come round to the idea of independence, that could make a big difference.

  7. @David Farrer

    Just read the comment a couple after yours

    As an Ashkenazi Jew working in IT, but with a couple of published books and decent numeracy, I can't help think that the comment is a piece of racist shite

    Is that typical?