Over recent weeks there has been a great harrumphing of editorials about how the usual internet bogeymen (pedophiles, drug runners, terrorists and alleged assassins) have been utilizing Tor to carry on their business away from the prying eyes of law enforcement agencies. This has recently been brought to a head with the arrest of Eric Eoin Marques the owner/operator of “Freedom Hosting” in Ireland, the main provider of Tor hosting services. (more…)
The Daily Wail is up in sanctimonious arms about a “notorious internet troll” they have exposed. Why is the Wail’s blood up? Because uncompromising blogger Old Holborn verbally slaughtered a couple of sacred cows that no one dare tell bad taste jokes about. And it caused the twatterati to descend into a frenzied virtual lynch party.
This is the face of one of Britain’s most notorious internet trolls.
As his alter ego Old Holborn, Robert Ambridge is responsible for a series of vile and offensive Twitter posts that have brought him death threats.
Apparently death threats are not as vile and offensive as taking the micturation out of a taboo subject.
Thousands were outraged when Ambridge, who appears on his Twitter page with his identity disguised by a plastic pig mask, tweeted about the Hillsborough Stadium disaster. He posted a picture of two overweight women and claimed ‘this is what crushed the 96’.
Whereas the millions who have never heard of OH and are too busy having a life to tweet probably couldn’t give a stuff.
Moral outrage. The most persistent bane of our post normal society. A dangerous threat to free speech. Is OH offensive? I’d say yes, having read his blog on and off over the years. Sometimes I agree with what he says and on other occasions I think he’s a git. I wouldn’t issue a death threat to shut him up though no matter how offensive his remarks. Nor would I be insisting that “something must be done” to silence him. If he wants to be a git making gittish remarks designed to annoy authoritarian gits then that’s his prerogative.
Ambridge, 51, a recruitment consultant and father of six from Braintree, Essex, also made disgusting comments about the murder of James Bulger which deeply upset his mother. But an unrepentant Ambridge claims people who are offended by his comments have only themselves to blame.
Yes, being offended on the behalf of someone you’ve never met has become a full time sport for the perpetually affronted brigade. My reaction? OH is being a controversial git gleefully poking what he knows is going to be a hornets nest to provoke a reaction. The adult thing to do, if you are offended by him, is ignore him, not give him the oxygen of publicity. But it seems we are not dealing with adults and that includes the journalists and the police.
‘It is not my responsibility what other people find upsetting. I didn’t target anyone. I didn’t send an email. They chose to read what I wrote. If they don’t like it, they should turn it off. I don’t care what people find offensive.’
Because making crass remarks might be offensive to those prone to outrageous bouts of herd apoplexy but it is not an offence in law. It certainly isn’t a hound ‘em and flog ‘em out of gainful employment offence. Oh wait, yes it is. People have the right not to be offended. By anyone or anything. Anywhere or at any time. And the authorities will be there to mollycoddle wounded feelings and take names. All in the name of social inclusivity and clamping down on naughtiness to make the world a better place for everyone who is happy being a touchy-feely herdthink drone.
Justifying his tweet about Hillsborough, he added: ‘This is dark humour. People might not like my humour but I think it is funny and it gets a chuckle.’
So where is all the outrage about taking the mickey out of fat people? Don’t they deserve to be treated with sensitivity? Well no, because it is socially acceptable to believe that all fat people are greedy and stupid and deserve all the derision they get even when they don’t. Unlike Merseyside’s tragically deceased they aren’t a protected species when it comes to verbal abuse or offensive jokes. Either everyone is a target or none at all. I’ll settle for everyone because none at all is a tyranny.
This week, the self-proclaimed ‘satirical terrorist’ will seek to justify his vitriolic internet posts in an ITV documentary called Fear And Loathing Online.
Well yes, OH can be quite loathsome when he puts his mind to it. However the only fear in this particular Wail story comes from the death threats of the morally outraged. OH hasn’t actually threatened anyone, merely piddled them off. Not the same thing. So how come he’s the only pariah in town right now? Have the thousands of column inches dedicated to our not bombing Assad being wrong, wrong wrong, finally run out of steam?
Ambridge agreed to be filmed without his pig mask, although his face was not shown. But The Mail on Sunday traced Ambridge to his dilapidated Victorian home in Braintree.
Matthew Hopkins journalism at its most odious. I’ll assume that howling mobs, pitchforks and flaming torches were optional extras not available on expenses.
With an appearance more akin to Coronation Street’s hapless cafe owner Roy Cropper than a cutting-edge satirist, he initially denied he was Old Holborn.
So what is a “cutting-edge satirist” supposed to look like? And who wrote the benchmark specifications for the physical appearance of one? Fatuous journalism at its most infantile.
But later, speaking at the wheel of his battered Toyota vehicle, gap-toothed Ambridge said: ‘I am there to upset the apple cart. It is a form of entertainment. Trolling is like putting a fishing line in a shoal of fish and seeing what you can get.’
I can see a pattern building here. It’s not just OH’s opinions that are low rent. His dilapidated house, battered Toyota and crooked teeth are proof that the Wail is dealing with a lowlife scumbag who needs to be put in his place – six feet under if the Twatter mob get’s its way. He hasn’t broken the law. The fact that he’s overweight, white and middle aged isn’t a criminal offense although the Wail is trying to build a case on those shifting sands of stupidity. He has six children. So what? I am led to believe he has worked hard to bring them up instead of relying on the state to do it. That isn’t a crime either.
Ambridge worked for Alchemy Recruitment in Braintree until April, when he was first outed as a notorious online troll. Following his Hillsborough comments, people bombarded the firm with phone calls and threatened to burn down its offices.
OH is a blogger who stirs the smelly stuff with a big spoon and then muses upon the fruits of the fall-out. He’s certainly not everyone’s cup of cha. Internet trolls lead the unsuspecting into an ambush which isn’t OH’s modus operandi at all. But then, given the inferior, poorly informed and lacking a shred of research dross that passes for journalism these days, I suppose the confusion is understandable. After all the newfangled blogging media has only been around for a decade and a half – give or take. Not enough time for the legacy media to catch up.
However, the ancient practice of witch-hunting is alive and well in the twenty-first century. Anyone associated with someone possessed of
free speech a penchant for controversy an aversion to political correctness the Devil’s evil forked tongue and tail is fair game and must be purged for the good of society. Don’t you just love this popular resurgence of a deeply unsavoury hysterical historical custom?
An investigation was launched by Essex Police over tweets relating to the Boston bombing, as well as the Hillsborough disaster and the Bulger murder. Ambridge has since left the company.
So are they going to investigate everyone who believes OH is entitled to his opinion no matter what sacred cow he’s tipped? Are they also going to investigate the death threat tweets and emails he and his former employer received? If not, why not? Or is it now legal and acceptable to put someone in fear of their life for upsetting the herd or because they employ someone who has?
Police said the CPS is considering whether to pursue a case of criminal communication through social media involving a 51-year-old man from Braintree.
Clearly there is a certain demographic that never found its way out of the infants playground. It is not the job of the police to nurse bruised sensitivities and pander to the chronically indignant. Their job is to investigate, arrest and charge actual criminals, not harass people who upset the mores of self-indulgent, social puritans. So OH caused offense with his crass and very black humour. So what. It’s not like he was caught red-handed molesting kiddies, drowning kittens or mugging old ladies for their bingo money.
I was disgusted by the people who happy-danced at a certain old lady’s funeral a few months back. But they were entitled to do that. I was content to mutter “gits” at the TV screen. I certainly wasn’t motivated to hunt them down and send them death threats on behalf of the bereaved family. Nor do I expect the police to “investigate” the matter as a possible “hate” crime. Yes there was hate. A lot of it. But was it a crime? Hardly.
* It seems the Wail doesn’t know the difference between a controversial, politically incorrect blogger and a troll, notorious or otherwise. Hence, Trogger.
I don’t have a twitter account, and frankly, I just don’t see the point.
Seriously dude, unless you are organising a protest in Tahrir Square, what is the point?
Now, as from today? Why would anyone care about it. Why would anyone use a free speech medium which bans free speech?
Ok, ok, right now it is only stuff which offends slebs, totalitarian feminists and their hangers on – gullible fools, useful idiots, knaves and politicians, because these are really the only people who care. Down the road tho? Pics of our animal slaves are sure to offend some animal libber somewhere, so you can guarantee fubsy pictures of kittens doing cute funny things will reach the top of the ‘its gotta be banned’ list sometime.
Old Holborn has a bit of a rant on the same topic here.
Canada’s Senate has passed a Bill striking down the use of “Hate Speech” as a weapon to silence critics of… well whatever.
Now can we see something similar in striking out Section 5 of the Public Order Act iDave? You potato two-faced twat?
No I will not be holding my breath.
When an established publication publishes a diatribe, they provide an umbrella for its author to shelter them from the new threats made available through this new regulatory mechanism. They are already pretty good at shielding authors; as long as they have jumped through the new hoops and behave reasonably, there’s not much more threat here than before.
But when the same writer tweets an opinion, or when I post my opinion about it on my personal blog, this new regulation allows the well-resourced members of the media elite to subject us to weapons tuned for deterring the Murdochs of this world. The penalties involved are out of all proportion to any harm as well as way beyond your and my means even to buy insurance, let alone to pay.
All the talk so far has been about how these “exemplary penalties” will “encourage” (hah!) publishers to sign up to the regulator. But look at it from the other end: it effectively means that large media companies will now be able to offer writers a sort of indemnity cover. Publish something that someone takes exception to and, yes, you’ll have to print an apology compliant with the regulator’s direction, but at least you won’t lose your house. Since they’re better-placed to handle greater regulation, it plays right into their hands. There’s still some doubt about whether the new régime will apply to personal blogs or not, but it hardly matters. As Johnathan Pearce notes at Samizdata, it’s always easier for big businesses to absorb regulation than small ones. Even if individuals are exempt – which will simply accelerate the process of investigative journalism moving away from the mainstream towards individual blogs – smaller media companies are going to be hit harder than the big boys, whose legal departments (do we have one of those, Kitty Kounters?) will have been gearing up for this for months.
In fact, it struck me this evening that what Parliament has done, rather appropriately with a Royal Charter, is create something like a medieval trade guild. While it doesn’t go quite as far as those institutions in actually banning non-members from practicing their craft altogether, those who sign up will have greater rights and privileges granted by the state for being good boys and girls and doing what they’re told, just as the guilds did, while those who don’t will be punished for ploughing their own furrow. The guilds justified their existence, too, by the need for “regulation”. What they meant in practice was that craftsmen who were out of favour, or couldn’t afford to join, became lesser citizens. Freemasonry was born out of this system, as the itinerant masons who travelled Europe building cathedrals banded together to stand up to the local guilds. With the likes of the Spectator and the Telegraph refusing to take part in the new system, the words “free press” seem to take on an extra meaning from today.
So the rich and powerful have their privacy (when it suits them; blanket publicity otherwise), and News Corp. (the Sun’s refusal notwithstanding) will take it in its stride. It’s the small operations, the local and regional papers who are already struggling, whose lives will be made difficult. Ever get the feeling, Levison fans, that you’ve been had?
(As if they’re listening.)
This is your proposed “press regulation” Charter:
A “relevant publisher” is a person (other than a broadcaster) who publishes in the United Kingdom: a. a newspaper or magazine containing news-related material, or b. a website containing news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine)
Remember Spycatcher, you idiots. That is all.
(It’s always hilarious watching politicians trying to regulate a global distributed network. Used to their top-down centralized control systems, they just can’t comprehend it. If it weren’t so terrifying it’d be kind of cute, like kittens playing with matches.)
Yang Jisheng. A Chinese academic who has written a book that might do Mao’s memory irreparable damage. Yes, it’s about the Great Famine that resulted from Mao’s absurd and evil schemes. Yang Jisheng – at great personal risk – dug out the archives on a period of human insanity and vileness that ought to be at least as well known as the Holocaust or Stalin’s purges.
Here’s a taster (for want of a better word).
A decade after the Communist party took power in 1949, promising to serve the people, the greatest manmade disaster in history stalks an already impoverished land. In an unremarkable city in central Henan province, more than a million people – one in eight – are wiped out by starvation and brutality over three short years. In one area, officials commandeer more grain than the farmers have actually grown. In barely nine months, more than 12,000 people – a third of the inhabitants – die in a single commune; a tenth of its households are wiped out. Thirteen children beg officials for food and are dragged deep into the mountains, where they die from exposure and starvation. A teenage orphan kills and eats her four-year-old brother. Forty-four of a village’s 45 inhabitants die; the last remaining resident, a woman in her 60s, goes insane. Others are tortured, beaten or buried alive for declaring realistic harvests, refusing to hand over what little food they have, stealing scraps or simply angering officials.
When the head of a production brigade dares to state the obvious – that there is no food – a leader warns him: “That’s right-deviationist thinking. You’re viewing the problem in an overly simplistic matter.”
I have just been out to buy cat food because kitty’s cupboard was bare. Now that is not “right-deviatonist thinking” – that’s arithmetic. You have twelve pouches of cat food and the cat eats twelve pouches then poor kitty then has none and I have to get my boots on. This blog is called “Counting Cats” and at some level little Timmy (who is not exactly a maths professor at Cambridge) has a stronger grasp on arithmetic than a Chinese Communist apparatchik. He at least has a folk conception of zero and will mewl until the situation is ameliorated and because I am not a Communist apparatchik but a reasonable, rational human being so do I.
I increasingly regard Communism as a religion – a bizarrely humanly invented one. It’s the only way I can understand the squaring of “never jam today” with the fact there clearly isn’t any jam, nor was there, nor will there be and jam doesn’t happen by wishing it to be so. I guess what I’m saying is these committed communists (and Yang Jisheng was one in his youth – even when his father starved to death in front of his eyes – another reason Yang Jisheng is a brave man – to challenge everything you were brought up to believe and admit you followed a false prophet for years is intellectually brave).
I say a “bizarrely human invented religion” and I need to clarify what I mean. This is hard. What Communism (in most forms) does is create a quasi-religious mythology that manages – all too often – to get away with the seeming paradox of championing the “ordinary Joe” whilst deifying whatever “Great Leader” lives in the palace. But there is another paradox and it is the conflation of “religion” and “science” (and the scare quotes are there for a reason). The reason of course is that it is neither religion nor science but a load of hokum dressed-up in pseudo scientific terms and expressed in an almost transcendental manner. That is Communism’s power. It touches both the bases of a quasi-mystical “worker’s paradise” where money is too cheap to meter (religion) with what appear to be scientific arguments that this state of affairs is not just desirable and doable but inevitable if only everyone believes enough. Like bringing Tinkerbell back. It’s a heady brew appealing simultaneously to both idealism (of a sort) and a faux rationalism. Do I dare go further and suggest the obvious contradictions here fit with a belief in the dialectic and thesis hitting antithesis as the engine of progress?
I don’t believe that because I can see when the cupboard is bare. As I said so can a relatively simple critter such as the Dear Kitty. Yes, Mao refuted by a cat! No where have I heard that one before? I can also spot intellectual bankruptcy as well as cat food deficits. And it is intellectually bankrupt. Occam’s razor cut’s the throat of Communism. I mean there is either no food because of colossal mismanagement (I also regard such epic mismanagement as actually evil in somewhat the same way I regard homeopathy, quacks, cults and any number of other frauds*). Of course some of the agents are poor misguided souls who like Agent Mulder “want to believe” and some just wish to gain power and stuff and see this as a convenient vehicle and the synergy of faux-science with faux-religion is a powerful vehicle for that. Just get your ouija board out and ask the shade of L Ron Hubbard. Some of course are just thugs and some just terrified of those thugs. Yang Jisheng became neither and for that I salute him.
*Examples of Communist intellectual bankruptcy might include Lysenkoism Or Stalin’s truly bizarre objection to Fermi-Dirac statistics in Quantum Mechanics – Fermions within a system all have to have different quantum states – so they “don’t collectivise” was Uncle Joe’s objection. The idea of Joe Stalin being well-up on cutting edge physics is peculiar enough but what is really weird is that that is bizarrely atavistic as well as showing some (deranged) understanding of physics it is a prime example of someone who would undoubtedly have called himself a materialist objecting to the nature of… matter itself on a spurious quasi-religious “make it so!” basis. There was also a bizarrely vile attempt under Uncle Joe to produce a subservient soldier/worker class (Morlocks?) by attempting (against both any er… conceivable ethics or even brute biological science) to cross humans with gorillas. Deranged science and deranged ideology hand-in-paw. Some women actually volunteered to be (artificially) inseminated with Ape jizz. Seriously. Now that really is pseudo-science allied to some sort of “vision thing”.
Collins, 38, of Kew, south-west London, was convicted at St Albans Crown Court of harassment causing fear of violence between January and July 2011.
The court heard Collins had waged a “campaign of abuse”, keeping a dossier of Ms Larke’s past sexual experiences.
* * *
Justice John Plumstead ordered Collins to carry out the unpaid work within 18 months and told him to pay £3,500 in prosecution costs.
* * *
Sentencing Collins, Judge Plumstead said it had not been a “run-of-the-mill case of domestic violence”.
* * *
The jury heard Collins subjected the video games public relations worker, from Pirton near Hitchin, in Hertfordshire, to sustained emotional and domestic abuse during their seven-month relationship.
The court was told that Collins made her sleep facing him, throw away DVDs because they featured actors she found attractive and made death threats against her.
The entertainer and presenter had denied the charge, claiming Ms Larke was a compulsive liar.
The verdict was returned after nearly 12 hours of deliberation over three days.
The couple lived together in Kew from January to July last year and had a deeply troubled relationship as Ms Larke tried to overcome alcoholism.
Collins did not show any emotion as the verdict was announced.
Well, the two crimes don’t exactly compare but one is obviously more serious than the other. One is a vicious and sustained exploitation of a clearly vulnerable woman.
So let’s turn to something that is really just about causing offense.
They weren’t prosecuted. And indeed Ross has a chat show and Brand is in Hollywood.