...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Day 2606: The Terrible Tale of Master Max Gogarty's Going Away


You have probably heard this one already:

Young Max, a talented young writer™, was going on holiday, in order to have a GOOD time and meet LADIES.

Unfortunately, the Grauniad decided that it would by JOLLY LARKS to give all the readers of their CommentIsFreePublicity a chance to HEAP extra-special helpings of CHOICE SCORN upon the be-Aviatored young head of the eager adventurer.

For it turns out that Maxie hadn't so much written for Channel Four's drama "Skins" as written for their, er, WEBSITE; and that Maxie's dad hadn't so much not written for the Gruaniad as, er, HAD.

Quite soon, Max's daddy (who is a freelance journalist who only OCCASIONALLY works for the Grauniad… mostly he works for his own firm that, er, helps people make useful contacts in the media) was saying that Max wasn't going to be carrying on with his diary and he hoped everyone was happy now!

The Grauniad's travel editor issued an "apology" that amounted to rather more of a telling-off for the readership than an admission that he had allowed into print a piece of second-rate schoolboy prose that should have been sent back heavily marked with "must try harder".

And, of course, he ducked entirely the fact that much of the comment on the blog was criticism not directed at the boy, but at the paper (and the editor) that pasted up such cheap filler in place of some proper material.

Then the Grauniad commentators – the so-called commentariat – weighed in, and were soon denouncing the MOB with a cutting "ooh, you bullies" or sympathising with Maxie for "His Hate mail hell".

And I DO sympathise with poor Max. He is not MUCH older than me, and I know that I would be VERY UPSET if hundreds of people posted comments like those on MY fluffy diary.

On the other fluffy foot, I would try not be so THIN SKINNED about it either. And not JUST because I have elephant skin. Hundreds and thousands of people publish their diary on the Wibbly Wobbly Web every day: if you want to get it publicised by a big newspaper site – or even just the Grauniad – and ESPECIALLY if you get the feeling you are going to get paid REAL MONEY for it, then you have to be a CUT ABOVE the average. Otherwise a whole lot of those hundreds and thousands of people will have EVERY JUSTIFICATION in saying "Oi, that's no better than what I might write!" Which is what happened.

I am afraid that the bleating commentators of the Grauniad want SPECIAL TREATMENT for one of their own. Or at least the SON of one of their own. (NO, not necessarily a Grauniad writer, but a member of the same "chattering class".) And it's true that it can't have been very pleasant. But they are WRONG to call the responses "Undemocratic".

There isn't ANYTHING that is quite so DEMOCRATIC as a comments column in full flood: DEMOS KRATOS, the POWER of the MOB as the Ancient Greeks used to put it.

In our "democracy" we have the idea of protection of the minority, to make sure that all voices can be heard and to free people form conforming to the majority. But that doesn't mean giving the minority – or the individual – a free pass to do anything. That is called special privilege: the old divine right of the ruling class.

And it is funny and revealing (though not really unexpected) to see the Grauniadistas standing up for THAT!

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