Syria, censorship and right thinking

15 Apr

For nigh on a year my extremely close friend and below-the-line commenter zerohoursuni has been on “pre-moderation” at the Guardian. That means all his comments are subject to delay before they appear, if they appear at all, below any opinion piece he sees fit to comment on.

He doesn’t know why he was singled out. Graun practise is to blanket refer its grey-listed to a set of rules, none controversial and none, he insists, contravened by him. He thinks his crime was to include, in an offending comment, on-topic links to articles on a steelcityscribblings site often critical of the Guardian. But criticising the Graun, oddly enough, does not feature on the Shalt-Nots page he was referred to for likely cause of his current location on the naughty stair.

Pre-moderation purgatory may mean simply a delay in comments appearing. Or it may mean they don’t appear at all, as with the comment zerohoursuni made yesterday, shown below, to what he and I agree is warmongering irrationality from the ever pompous Martin Kettle.

But first let’s hear other voices on the attacks on Syria, for crimes of which there’s zero evidence and subzero motive. My views on Guardian coverage of Syria are no secret but I’ve spoken less about its tendencies toward censorship. The two are closely related, however. In a recent piece on the position on Syria taken not just by liberal media but much of the far left, I wrote:

Anyone still of the view the Guardian is a benign organ offering genuine plurality of view might read Olivia Solon’s ‘forensic’ piece, referenced in an earlier post on this site. They might note its attacks on two journalists, Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley – who unlike any of its own journalists, least of all San Francisco based technology writer Solon, report from inside Syria – and the fact Beeley and Bartlett requested but were denied right of reply. If that isn’t ‘no-platforming’, could someone explain what the term actually means?

It’s a bitter-sweet experience, given my decidedly marxist views, to hear hard-headed sense on Syria’s continuing ordeal – in our name, at our expense and at some risk of WW3 – spoken not by liberals or leftists but those on the right of the political spectrum.

Men like Peter Hitchens, icily logical against the fact-free wafflings of a liberal professor  …

… or (thanks, Mike, for the heads up) neocon Tucker Carlson at Fox News – does he still have a job there? – going deliciously offscript in his demand for plain logic …

Reporter goes rogue and destroys TV pundits calling for the invasion of Syria, live on air

Then there’s Britain’s former ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford. He’s no right winger, but nor is he on the left. I stand by my February description of him as a “liberal of the old school … a decent man who deserves a hearing”. Thanks to Jawed for alerting me to his responses on BBC Radio Scotland to Doumagate.


Oh – almost forgot. Here’s the spiked comment of zerohoursuni, placed for his own protection on premods. But wait! Look closely. It appears it was not his comment being spiked, but that of his sparring partner, the elegantly mnemonic ID6886597. Idi‘s view having somehow upset the Graun moderators – search me for why: I see in its deep structure only brainwashed drivel, and since when did they have any issue with that? – there was now no need for zhu‘s to appear.

I have to hand it to them, it raises censorship to an art form. Couldn’t make it up, could you?

10 Replies to “Syria, censorship and right thinking

    • He’s a shady character, it’s true. I once caught him eating fish and chips in his car, parked in a disabled bay. Challenged, the only lameness he could evidence was that of his excuse: an allegedly sore throat. I reported him of course, but his views on world events tend broadly to accord with mine.

  1. Very good article. Hitchens is an enigma. The one question he did not reiterate is where is the evidence, not supplied by either terrorists or their sycophants, showing that Assad used CW and not, as the local Syrian people say, the terrorists themselves. His saving grace on this occasion is that although he is anti Russia and Assad, he is also not in a rush to take us into a Superpower conflagration.
    Naughty zerohoursuni, I did like his comment though. Reversing burden of proof, indeed. As with Duma, so also with the Skripal and previous CW accusation in the Khan Sheikhoun incident.
    I hope you don’t mind if I copy and paste on my blog(with the hat tip of course)as you did encourage it the last time I made the request.
    Many thanks,

    • Go for it Susan.

      As for Mr Hitchens, he is indeed anti Assad and anti Putin. Ditto Tucker Carlson. IMO that makes them even more convincing when their questions are those any sane and unbiased person, regardless of their political stripe, would ask.

  2. Well, that’s the reason right there, black on white, why zerohoursuni had his comment squelched — I mean read this: “You reverse burden of proof. US, UK and France have produced neither evidence of Damascene involvement nor a shred of motive.”

    See, he presumes far too much, that is to say, that his statement can be read to imply, and indeed must be read to imply, on the basis of absolutely no evidence adduced in its favor, that a “chemical attack” actually took place. And without any evidence to even corroborate a “chemical attack’ as such, let alone that anyone at all could be responsible for it, how could such an assertion be left to stand?

    Furthermore — and I’m certain that the Grauniad Mods had this foremost in mind when they vetoed zerohoursuni’s misbegotten opinion — what is it about the supposed greater moral repugnance of “chemical weapons” as compared to that of guided bombs that kill and maim and traumatize with shrapnel and flying debris? Does anyone but zerohoursuni really get this? And if it’s only zerohoursuni who does, wouldn’t it be better if he just kept the opinion to himself? Better yet, what if we could keep him from his own opinions? I mean, wouldn’t we?

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