We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Warhammer edition)

“When even Warhammer nerds leave the battlefield, isn’t it time the anti-woke mob laid down their arms?”, writes Jasper Jackson in the Guardian Observer. Mr Jackson starts by introducing himself as a Warhammer player. I shall likewise declare my interest by introducing myself as a former payer of mighty sums to buy Warhammer kits for a member of my family. I was aware enough of the game to smugly chide the Observer sub-editors for failing to distinguish between Warhammer 40K and proper Warhammer. (I was promptly de-smugged by the discovery that someone has gone and changed the Eldar into Aeldari without telling me. What brought that on, then, an attack of elite T’au copyright lawyers?)

I digress. Mr Jackson continues,

But in recent weeks the sprawling Warhammer fandom has been enveloped in a dramatic controversy – or at least you would think so, from some news headlines.

“It’s Wokehammer! Games Workshop engulfed in gender row with fans after it said Warhammer squadron that was previously thought of as men-only has ‘always had females’,” screamed one MailOnline headline. What had prompted these claims of outrage was Games Workshop introducing a new female character into one of its science fantasy games, Warhammer 40,000. The character in question was part of a group of genetically engineered warriors called Custodes, which had, so far, not had any women models in it – but, according to Games Workshop, had always been included in the weighty narrative “lore” of the game.

The Mail had seen a number of tweets complaining about it, such as one from a games designer saying that Games Workshop was “‘gender flipping’ characters for ‘woke points’”. This was portrayed as a widespread backlash from fans. But, as a fan who frequently browses message boards for tips on playing and painting, or to look at interesting bits of background dug up by people who have bothered to read the many books published about the various Warhammer universes, my experience has been quite different.

If you actually look at the online spaces where fans of the games discuss the hobby they love, most don’t seem very bothered.

I commend the Mr Jasper’s eschewal of sensationalism. But as a pitch for an Observer piece, “most don’t seem very bothered” has its limitations. Eight paragraphs to learn that Reddit slumbers. What, I started to wonder, is this article for? In the ninth paragraph, I found out:

But where once those getting angry about changes bringing greater inclusivity might have been the overwhelming majority, this time they seem at best a vocal minority. That this is the mood on Reddit is even more surprising, given that the social network was once one of the primary breeding grounds for Gamergate, the toxic online movement of 2014-15 that spewed hate towards women with the temerity to create, play, enjoy and critique video games.

Despite not being a Warhammerer myself, I do have an alternative hypothesis to offer Mr Jackson as to why Gamergate exploded and Custogate fizzled: it is that people react differently to things that are different.

BONUS OVERNIGHT MUSINGS: The reason why the Warhammer community finds the retconning of the Custodes order to include females to be, at most1, slightly annoying in a “Put a chick in it and make her gay” kind of way, is that “Custodian Calladyce Taurovalia Kesh” is just one new character in a sprawling fictional ‘verse. Warhammer clearly were jumping on a bandwagon in the Orwellian way that they intoned “Since the first of the Ten Thousand were created there have always been female Custodians” despite never having previously mentioned this in the 37 years since the game was released. In addition, as someone quoted in the Daily Mail article suggested, the Sisters of Battle have a right to feel slighted2, especially given their feminist origin story: the order was created to circumvent a rule that the Ecclesiarchy was not permitted to maintain any “men under arms”. But in the end, allowing for the two nitpicks I mentioned, Warhammer’s adverts offering the Calladyce product line for sale would get four stars on eBay for the honesty of their product description.

In contrast, the whole point about Gamergate was industry-wide dishonesty in product descriptions. Jasper Jackson, who seems a nice Guardian-reading boy, thinks Gamergate was about male gamers hating female gamers, and also thinks, not entirely logically, that male gamers who hate female gamers would also hate female fictional characters appearing in their games. With those assumptions it would make sense to be pleasantly surprised that the number of woman-hating male gamers had gone down since 2014-15. The problem with that line of thought is that conclusions drawn from wrong assumptions are worthless. This summary of Gamergate given by commenter “bobby b” in 2017 was rightly praised as being far more accurate than anything you’ll find on Wikipedia:

I still get a chuckle out of how it all started – one guy who, discovering that his game-designer girlfriend was spreading her charms widely, wrote a long blog post about it, letting out the secret that her paramours were writers in the game-critique industry who were giving games high ratings for factors unrelated to the actual games (wink wink).

And then he got piled on by people defending her right to lie to him and sleep around because she was a poor repressed woman, and then they got piled on by guys saying, no, she’s a whore and so are these game critics, and then the SJW types decided all gamer-guys were nerdy neanderthals who hated women, and the fun began.

1 Or not annoying at all. In the comments below, “Agammamon” puts forth a satisfying in-universe justification for the existence of female Custodes.

2It is not wise to slight a member of the Adepta Sororitas.

Climate: the Movie – now shadow banned by YouTube, so…

… here it is on BitChute, just in case they take the final step and delete it 😉

How to spread prejudice

Once again the media’s efforts to avoid mentioning that a criminal is a member of a group they wish to protect have ended up stirring people up against that group. Here are two examples of the Streisand Effect as applied to criminals that I came across in the last two days:

The first example was reported the Telegraph about its rival the Guardian: “Guardian writer boycotts newspaper for failing to tell readers ‘cat killer’ murderer was transgender”.

A writer for the Guardian has boycotted the newspaper for failing to tell its readers that a cat killer who murdered a stranger was transgender.

Scarlet Blake, a 26-year-old trans woman, was found guilty last week of murdering Jorge Martin Carreno in July 2021 on his way home from a night out, four months after Blake’s Netflix-inspired killing of a cat.

Louise Tickle, an award-winning journalist who has written for the Guardian for more than 20 years, has accused the newspaper of “deceiving its readers” for using the word “woman” in its headline and omitting the fact Blake was transgender in an article covering the case.

This is the revised version of that Guardian story. It now includes a brief mention of the fact that Blake is transgender.

The second example comes from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and refers to the murder of Laken Riley:

Being in the UK, I cannot see the actual article due to GDPR regulations (why do we still have those?), but the tweet from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that links to its report says “A 26-year-old Athens man has been charged with murder in the death of a nursing student on the University of Georgia campus.”

The AJC’s description of the man charged with Laken Riley’s murder, Jose Antonio Ibarra, as an “Athens man” when he is actually a Venezuelan illegal immigrant prompted Elon Musk himself to tweet, “Why did you lie to the people by calling an illegal from Venezuela an “Athens man”?”

Hint to the Guardian and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: when you try to hide something about the perpetrator of a crime and the truth comes out, people do not approach your next report of a similar crime with an open mind. They very reasonably tend to assume that you are hiding the same thing you hid before. Not only does this do the exact opposite of your intention – cause readers to overestimate the prevalence of the group you tried to protect among criminals of that type rather than underestimate it as you tried to make them do – it also means that they lose trust in everything else you tell them.

Samizdata quote of the day – attempting to purge the Web of misinformation is a fool’s errand

However, in the real, non-ideal world of mediocre and shallow thinkers, cowards, selfish careerists, and the occasional scoundrel, political and scientific censorship never works out in the way envisaged by its public advocates. In the non-ideal world of imperfect knowledge and corruptible character, censorship is just as likely to frustrate the pursuit of truth as to facilitate it.

Nobody’s Wisdom or Knowledge is Infallible

Consider, first, the fact that nobody, not even the most educated or brilliant person, possesses perfect, infallible knowledge, whether on moral or scientific questions. Of course, some people may, as a matter of fact, be better informed or wiser than others on this or that issue. However, the notion that anyone could enjoy a form of knowledge or wisdom that is uniquely infallible or immune to challenge, is preposterous. Who but God alone could possibly redeem such a far-fetched claim, and on what basis?

The idea that there is a superior class of persons whose knowledge and insights automatically trump the knowledge and insights of others is inconsistent with ordinary experience, which confirms that people reputed to be highly knowledgeable and wise can make grave and even catastrophic errors. In addition, it is based on a deeply naïve and misguided view of the complex and messy process through which human knowledge is acquired.

David Thunder writing “Why attempting to purge the Web of misinformation is a fool’s errand”

… but frankly I think is a scoundrel’s errand.

Senior election official admits vote-rigging

The Guardian reports that

A senior official in Pakistan has admitted to election rigging amid protests breaking out across the country over claims that its general election results were unfair.

The confessional statement throws further questions over the legitimacy of the 8 February elections, which were marred by controversies and allegations of rigging in Pakistan.

Commissioner Rawalpindi Liaqat Ali Chatta told reporters that authorities in Rawalpindi, Punjab province, changed the results of independent candidates – referring to candidates backed by the former prime minister Imran Khan’s party – who were leading with a margin of more than 70,000 votes.

Chatta said there was so much “pressure” on him that he contemplated suicide, but that he then decided to make a public confession. “I take responsibility for the wrong in Rawalpindi. I should be punished for my crimes and other people involved in this crime should be punished.”

He also accused the chief election commissioner and the chief justice of Pakistan for their roles in the rigging. Chatta was arrested by police after the statement.

For those unfamiliar with Imran Khan, the currently jailed former prime minister and leader of the party against which Mr Chatta says the vote-rigging was directed, in the 1970s, 80s and 90s he had fans worldwide as one of the best all-rounders in cricket history. During this period he was “known as a hedonistic bachelor and a playboy who was active on the London nightclub circuit” as Wikipedia puts it. Then he went home to Pakistan and binned his previous liberalism like a used condom. He encouraged the strict enforcement of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and has pushed for insulting Muhammad to be made a crime all over the world. He is a hypocrite and a jerk. But those things do not change the fact that there is a strong prima facie case that his party should rightfully form Pakistan’s next government. His being in jail on an obviously trumped-up charge strengthens not weakens that argument.

The Guardian article was light on detail about how Commissioner Chatta (also spelled Chattha and Chatha, and I think the Guardian article is mistaken when it says his first name is Rawalpindi – it looks as if they have mixed up his name with his job title) says that the vote-rigging in which he participated was done. This article from Arab News gives more detail. It quotes him as saying,

“The wrongful act I have committed in this election [is that] we have made people, who had lost [the election], win 13 MNA (member of the National Assembly) seats from Rawalpindi. We have turned up to 70,000[-vote] lead of individuals into their defeat,” Chattha said.

“Even today, our people are putting fake stamps [on ballot papers]. I apologize to all my returning officers who were working under my supervision, who were crying when I was asking them to commit this wrongful act, and they were not willing to do it.”

I toyed with the idea of just posting about Pakistan, and leaving it up to the commenters to make the obvious parallels with the United States, but decided that would be a cop-out. → Continue reading: Senior election official admits vote-rigging

Suppressing inconvenient facts requires skill and hard work

Are you ever tempted to give the mainstream media the benefit of the doubt? After all, in many areas of life cockup is more probable than conspiracy. I can sympathise with a journalist who is told to get 500 words out about an unfamiliar subject in twenty minutes and then gets it wrong or omits important details. One must also bear in mind that many Guardian journalists, for instance, still get their news from the Guardian. Similar naivety famously led the Independent and many other newspapers worldwide to claim on the day that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted that the three men he shot were black. As pointed out by Glenn Greenwald in that tweet, all these people had “reporting on current events” in their job description, but had evidently never even glanced at the TV footage of a trial watched by millions. However they were almost certainly deceived rather than deceiving. They would not have chosen to look so stupid.

See, I am capable of sympathy. Then along comes something to remind me that though many in the MSM are merely gullible and lazy, many others put a lot of conscious, careful effort into what they do.

Here is a Guardian report by Gloria Oladipo about a church shooting in the US: “Shooter at Joel Osteen church bought weapon legally despite history of mental illness”

→ Continue reading: Suppressing inconvenient facts requires skill and hard work

What did you think when you saw this headline?

“White middle-aged men are ‘bottom of everything’ says bank worker sacked over N word”

I thought it meant that the bank worker had either called someone the N-word or had referred to them by that term. I was wrong. The man in question is called Carl Borg-Neal, and you can hear him tell his own story on this video. Mr Borg-Neal was sacked from Lloyds bank, where he had worked for more than a quarter of a century, simply for saying the word out loud as part of a well-intentioned question during a training session on “Race Education for Line Managers” – a training session which had been billed to attendees as a space where they could speak freely.

I am going to quote the Free Speech Union’s own account of the case at length. Much as I admire the FSU’s work (I am a member), I would have preferred to quote just one or two paragraphs and then provide a link to the rest. Unfortunately the FSU’s article on Mr Borg-Neal’s case is to be found under the general URL for the whole organisation, https://freespeechunion.org/, which means that the link will soon point to whatever their next bulletin is about, rather than to Mr Neal-Borg’s case in particular. It would be better if the FSU had a unique URL for each article. I digress. Here’s the article:

The Free Speech Union has won its biggest ever legal victory at the Employment Tribunal, securing damages likely to exceed £800,000 for Carl Borg-Neal, a dyslexic Lloyds bank manager who was sacked following a workplace free speech row.

This is a fantastic result and it’s worth pointing out that Carl’s final compensation package – which includes damages for past loss of earnings, future loss of earnings, a pensions award, compensation for discrimination, aggravated damages and compensation for personal injury – is well in excess of the amount typically awarded to Claimants at the Employment Tribunal.

In July 2021, Mr Borg-Neal was one of around 100 senior Lloyds managers to participate in an online training session entitled ‘Race Education for Line Managers’. Provided by an external organisation, the training formed part of the bank’s ‘Race Action Plan’, launched in the wake of George Floyd’s death the previous year.

Carl had worked for Lloyds for 27 years without incident, was popular among colleagues and had risen to a managerial role at head office. Far from being indifferent to racial equality, he had recently joined a new scheme mentoring young colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds and was working with three mentees, one of African descent, one of Asian descent and one of European (non-UK) descent.

At the start of the session, the trainer read out a script that established the parameters for what was to follow. “When we talk about race, people often worry about saying the wrong thing,” she said. “Please understand that today is your opportunity to practice, learn and be clumsy… The goal is to start talking, so please speak freely, and forgive yourself and others when being clumsy today.”

Carl was relieved to hear that since his dyslexia can occasionally cause him to ‘be clumsy’ when speaking ‘freely’. During a subsequent discussion on ‘intent vs effect’, he decided to take the trainer’s statement at face-value. Thinking partly about rap music, he asked how as a line manager he should handle a situation where he heard someone from an ethnic minority background use a word that might be considered offensive if used by a white person. Met with a puzzled look from the trainer, he added, “The most common example being use of the word n***** in the black community.”

→ Continue reading: What did you think when you saw this headline?

Robert Reich’s article about Claudine Gay’s resignation is dishonest even by Guardian standards. Sorry, make that US academic standards.

In the days when Comment really was Free at the Guardian, an article as dishonest as this would have received short shrift from the commenters below the line. Because since then the Guardian has decided to protect its writers from hearing what their readers think of them, the author, President Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, probably believes he made his case well. Here is the article: “Powerful donors managed to push out Harvard’s Claudine Gay. But at what cost?”

In the fifth paragraph, Mr Reich writes,

I don’t know enough to address the charges of plagiarism against her, but it’s worth noting that all of them apparently came from the same source, via the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative online journal.

He doesn’t know? Could he not have found out? It’s been all over the news, and not just from the Washington Free Beacon, though it was their scoop. (The first two links are to the NYT and the BBC respectively.) It’s not as if Reich would have had to spend months on research and do a paper with Harvard citations and everything. As well as being a former Secretary of Labour, Robert Reich is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California at Berkeley. One might have expected an academic at a famous American university to be concerned enough by a claim of plagiarism against a distinguished colleague to put some effort into potentially clearing her name rather than weakly throwing his hands in the air and saying, “I dunno”. Unless, of course, he did not wish to know.

A little while later Reich does it again. He writes,

Stefanik then asked the presidents whether calls for intifada against Jews on campus violated the codes of conduct or harassment policies at their universities.

This is deceptive. The answers from the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania that caused such deep outrage were not said in response to Elise Stefanik asking them about whether calls for intifada against Jews violated the codes of conducts or harassment policies at their universities. They were said in response to Elise Stefanik asking them whether calls for genocide against Jews violated the codes of conduct or harassment policies at their universities. Watch the video. The relevant exchange is right at the start. Rep. Stefanik says, “And, Dr Gay, at Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment, yes or no?”. Dr Gay replies, “It can be, depending on the context.”

Genocide. Not intifada. Genocide. My apologies for being so repetitive, but the difference between “intifada” and “genocide” matters rather a lot.

Weirdly, one of Reich’s subsequent paragraph gets this right:

They should have answered unambiguously and unequivocally that calls for genocide of any group are intolerable.

What happened to make Reich change from claiming the equivocal answers from the three university presidents came in response to a question about “calls for intifada against Jews” in one paragraph to correctly saying that the issue was “calls for genocide against Jews” three paragraphs later? One might expect a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley would see the importance of accurately quoting someone. Unless, of course, the professor of public policy wanted the public to be confused.

Related post: “Why you can be a free speech absolutist and still think the presidents of Harvard, MIT and UPenn should resign in disgrace.”

Should the faces of the students at San Francisco State University who were happy to pay to kill Jews be blurred out, or not?

Ami Horowitz
@AmiHorowitz
My new video!
How bad is Antisemitism on campus?
Will Leftist college students give me money to kill Jews?!!!

The video linked to in the tweet starts with a clip of Horowitz talking to a San Francisco State University student whose back is facing us. Horowitz says,

“…And we want to fund operations against soft targets, schools, hospitals, Jewish cafes…

The video then cuts to Horowitz talking straight to camera. He says,

“I’m Ami Horowitz and anti-semitism is rising precipitously across the globe. How bad is it? I’m here at San Francisco State University, one of the most left-leaning instersectional schools across the country.

I’m here to raise money to kill Jews.”

Horowitz, who, in case anyone is unclear on this point, is not actually trying to raise money to murder Jews but to warn how commonplace support for the murder of Jews has become at American universities, proceeds to politely stop various young people who are walking along the paths in the SFSU campus and solicit their support for terrorism against Jews. There is no obfuscation about “Zionists” or “Israelis”; Horowitz says “Jews” throughout and is abundantly clear that he is talking about physical violence. In the sequence starting at 1:02 he says, “Attack, blow things up … blow shit up … all we have a rockets and suicide bombers”. The SFSU students are fine with that.

I can sympathise with Rebecca Levin who said in the replies,

Can you release any full conversations without breaks? I find this a bit hard to believe even as a Jew who recently graduated from college and editing can be deceptive and well, I’d really like for you to be a fraud vs this actually being real.

I, also, would really like this not to be true.

It would be a good thing for Horowitz to release the full videos. Deceptive editing is on my mind right now. Remember the way that George Eaton of the New Statesman was nice as pie when he went to interview Sir Roger Scruton and then maliciously edited Scruton’s words to make it seem that Scruton believed that each Chinese person is “a sort of replica of the next one”, when what Scruton had actually said was how frightening it was that the Chinese Government was trying to force each Chinese person into being a replica of the next one? Remember how Eaton posted a picture of himself swigging champagne to celebrate how he had got Scruton fired from an unpaid government role?

Well, that same George Eaton is celebrating again now. He has just been made Senior Politics Editor of the New Statesman. Deceptive editing does happen and is no bar to a successful career in journalism. At least… not if the journalist is left wing, a protection that Mr Horowitz does not have.

Like Rebecca Levin, if Mr Horowitz’s video were to be revealed to be deceptively edited, the moment of annoyance I would feel of seeing left wingers gloat at the “gotcha” would be far, far outweighed by the relief of knowing that it was not really the case that 28 out of 35 San Francisco State University students Horowitz spoke to expressed support for killing Jews and 17 out of 35 students Horowitz approached pledged money to kill Jews.

But, even though I would like to see the full unedited videos, it is difficult to see how the girl with the black bag could claim to have misunderstood Horowitz when he told her at 0:36 that he was raising money to strike Jews “around the world, in France, in Germany, in Britain, wherever they are”. Conceivably he could have edited out her horrified objections to this proposed terrorism, but could he really have made her appear to say, as she does say at 1:14, “Because it’s like, part of their religion. Like, they wanted to take over”? She then pledges him $30.

Given that the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania, three of the top universities in the United States, found it tricky to say whether calling for the genocide of Jews was against the rules of their respective universities, I suppose we should not be surprised that San Francisco State University (“SF State prepares its students to become productive, ethical, active citizens with a global perspective”) wants to follow their lead.

Is contributing money that one has been explicitly assured (0:55) will be used to blow up “cafe’s, hospitals, Jewish schools, Jewish buses, synagogues, that kind of thing” legal in the United States? Whether it is or not, is there any good reason why the anonymity of sweetie with the black bag and the others who openly put their support, and in many cases their money, down for some Jew-killing should be preserved?

Listen to victims*! Tell their stories! (*Approved categories only)

For any Irish readers asking themselves, “What is a victim impact statement?”, the office of Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions has guidance:

If you are the victim of a crime you may make a Victim Impact Statement. A Victim Impact Statement is an account in your own words of the effect that the crime has had on you. You may, for example, have suffered a physical injury, be affected emotionally or psychologically. You might also have lost out financially.

But what if the victim cannot speak because the crime was murder? A later section of the guidance, “Who can make a Victim Impact Statement?” says that “a family member of a victim who has died, is ill or is incapacitated because of the crime” may speak in their place”. Ryan Casey fell into that category. He was the boyfriend of Ashling Murphy, who Wikipedia describes as “a 23-year-old Irish primary school teacher and traditional Irish musician … who was attacked and murdered by 31-year-old Slovak Romani father-of-five, Jozef Puška”.

In his Victim Impact Statement, Ryan Casey said that he and Ashling…

…had talked about how many kids they would have, and imagined they would be “little hurlers and camogie players and even better – musicians”. He said it did not make sense to him that someone who is “a burden to society can completely and permanently destroy someone… who is the complete opposite”, describing Ms Murphy as “a light with dreams, compassion, respect, a person who contributes to society in the best way possible”.

Mr Casey told Puska: “Because of you, I’ve lost my Ashling. Because if you, I will never get to marry my soulmate. Because of you, I will never see her smile again… I will have to somehow carry on without her.” He accused Puska of smirking, smiling and showing “zero remorse during this trial”.

Powerful words. Too powerful for some:

In case it disappears, the tweet is by @griptmedia and says,

Irish Times journalist Kitty Holland says the Irish media “were right” to not publish the full comments of Ryan Casey, boyfriend of murdered 23-year-old Ashling Murphy, claiming that his remarks were “incitement to hatred” and that it wouldn’t be “helpful” to share them.

The video clip within the tweet is taken from an edition of the BBC Northern Ireland programme “The View” shown on Thursday 30th November 2023. The presenter is Mark Carruthers.

To be frank, I have never been quite comfortable with the idea of Victim Impact Statements, or Victim Personal Statements as they are called here in the UK, occurring as an official part of the trial. Back in 2005, I quoted a letter to the Independent by one C. Lehman that said, “If we allow victims’ families to speak to judges about the effects of someone’s death, we risk creating a hierarchy of murder based on sentiment, the willingness of family members to speak and their fluency in doing so. Sentences should rightly vary according to the nature of the crime, but surely not according to whether a victim had a family who loved him, or whether the victim’s family can speak fluent English.”

The letter writer was not alone in their concerns – though no one seems to have anticipated the opposite problem, that the words of the family members of deeply loved victims would be so eloquent that they might actually change things – but their arguments did not prevail in either the UK or in Ireland. So be it, but if a society is going to make a point of giving an official platform so that those bereaved by murder can express their pain to the world, for God’s sake, let all of them be heard.

“Despite police not revealing the suspected knifeman’s identity or motive”

“Violence in Dublin after five hurt in knife attack” reports the BBC:

There are violent scenes in Dublin after an earlier knife attack in the city centre in which five people were injured
It is not clear exactly what caused the disturbances – involving clashes, and reports of a number of vehicles set on fire

The BBC’s line about it not being clear exactly what caused the disturbances is disingenuous. It is entirely clear what they are rioting about. From the Telegraph:

Violent anti-immigration protesters descended on Dublin city centre on Thursday night after five people were injured in a knife attack outside a school. At least three small children were injured in the attack in the Irish capital, as well as a man and a woman. A five-year-old girl sustained “serious injuries” and was receiving emergency treatment, police said. Despite police not revealing the suspected knifeman’s identity or motive, far-Right thugs emboldened by “misinformation” descended on the streets of the capital, setting fire to a police car, a tram and a double-decker bus, among other vehicles, and throwing fireworks at officers.

The only thing that is not entirely clear is whether the rioters are correct in thinking that the man who stabbed the children and adults is an Algerian migrant, as believed by those replying to this tweet by Micheál Martin, the Tánaiste (the deputy head of the Irish government).

It does not excuse the riots in the least if the rioters are correct to think that the would-be child murderer is any or all of a migrant, legal or illegal, or a Muslim, or from an ethnic minority. But the obfuscation from the Irish authorities and media on this point is making the situation worse.

The usual flashpoint for riots throughout history has been a rumour of crimes committed by a member of Group A against Group B. The riots in the Lozells district of Birmingham in 2005 have been almost forgotten because whites were not involved, but they were a typical example of the type, having been sparked by a completely unsubstantiated story that a black girl had been gang-raped by a group of South Asian men.

Sometimes the rumour is true, sometimes it is not.

If, as in that case, the inciting rumour is not true, the best tool for squelching the false claim and quelling the violence is a trusted press, taking the term “press” in a wider sense than just newspapers. If the rumour is true, the best tool for quelling the violence is still a trusted press. It can do things like publicising condemnations of the crime from leaders of the group to which the perpetrator belongs. What a pity that Ireland, like much of the Western World, no longer has a trusted press because it no longer has a trustworthy press.

It’s not “Despite police not revealing the suspected knifeman’s identity or motive, far-Right thugs emboldened by “misinformation” descended on the streets of the capital”, it’s a damn sight closer to “Because of police not revealing the suspected knifeman’s identity or motive, far-Right thugs emboldened by “misinformation” descended on the streets of the capital”. If the official sources of information won’t do their jobs, don’t be surprised when people turn to unofficial sources instead.

*

Related posts: “Try not lying” – about the sexual assaults in Cologne and other German cities during the New Year celebrations of 1 January 2016, “If you do not want to see the BNP vindicated, try not proving them right”, and “Politically correct evasiveness fails on its own terms”.

Lest we remember

In my recent post, “Peace-lovers love using the passive voice”, I asked you to supply particularly egregious examples of media attempts to downplay murders by Hamas and other protected groups. Ben did just that. From Canadian TV:

In case it disappears, the tweet from @CTVNews says, “Canadian peace activist Vivian Silver, who went missing after Hamas attack, has died.

The use of “has died” rather than “is dead” makes it sound like she passed away in hospital within the last few days. Actually, she has been dead for a month because she was murdered on October 7th, alongside more than a thousand others. The only thing that has happened within the last few days is that they finally identified her remains. In most situations I would not read so much into a journalist’s slightly odd use of the present perfect for an event a month ago, but when every such oddity of phrasing works to push the murderers out of sight, it is not a coincidence, it’s a technique. Most headlines are written to grab the reader’s attention; these headlines are written to be forgotten. Like the small print in a dodgy contract, they are carefully crafted to meet the technical requirement of having been stated somewhere, but, in a betrayal of the normal function of journalism, those who write them would prefer you not to read on. That someone “has died” is scarcely news at all. Every morning’s news report gives its crop of vaguely prominent people who have died during the previous few days. They don’t want you to think about when or how she died. They don’t want you to think about the state in which Vivian Silver’s body must have been found, given that her remains were not identified for a month. They don’t want you to feel the horror of her murder.

I am going to post an image. If I have done this right, it will be hidden “below the fold”, so you must click the link in order to see it. I put it below the fold because it is horrifying. Am I doing the same as CTV in that tweet I was complaining about, then? No, the opposite. They do all they can to stop their readers ever thinking about the reality of terrorism. I am giving readers who cannot stop thinking about it the option not to see one particularly distressing photograph. The image I am talking about shows a poster put out by the Royal Ulster Constabulary in response to the La Mon restaurant bombing carried out by the IRA in 1978. These days people discussing this poster feel obliged to blur it out, but in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles they were not so sensitive. The poster shows what CTV and so many others in the modern media want to hide. Again and again, it says the word they will not say.

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