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Monday, June 18, 2007

Closure notice

Paul Staines has been pardoned and this micro-site has now closed.

The past content remains in its archived state, but no new content should be expected and comments have been disabled.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Where is my thinking hat?

There is a whole lot of white noise emanating from the rightwing blogosphere at the moment. Something or someone seems to have rattled their collective cage.

Mind you, rather than buckling down and ensuring their lazy attacks have substance, they actually think they’re on the right track: that unsubstantiated attacks - based on poorly researched non-stories - are in fact the right way to go. Guido Fawkes (AKA: Paul DeLaire Staines) certainly thinks so: -

I would have done him over harder.

He is paid from the public purse and is a public servant. If he wants to express political opinions he should change his career.

Didn’t he also get caught posting a sycophantic “Miliband is Brilliant”* comment on the Miliblog. I rest my case.

Simon Walters is right.

He’s a tough guy, our Guido. Very tough.

Simon Walters, you will remember, is a ten-a-penny hack at the Daily Mail, whose laboured attempt to draw a tempest of shit around former Downing Street aide Owen Barder, only served to attract several languid Tory bloggers with nothing better to do. A quick bit research uncovered that the story was in fact manufactured bollocks.

This is the mentality of the right. Led by a slippery shape shifting Blairite clone, they have nothing of consequence to bring to the table, so they go sniffing after any mainstream media scraps that might tickle their rabid readership.

What Iain and Paul do not seem to understand, is that by publishing uncorroborated nonsense, they actually do the rest of the blogosphere a disservice, by fueling the MSM’s claims that we’re nothing more than a bunch of irresponsible parasites. Mind you, they probably do understand this. The point is: do they care?

As we can see over on our sister site, research is inconsequential if it threatens to distort the intended narrative.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Caught in the act

There's an old adage that says when you're in a hole, stop digging. This little snippet of wisdom has obviously eluded Paul Staines as he hacks away, revising this less than stellar post about Gordon Brown's campaign site.

Unity has done an excellent job of catching the duplicitous tax-dodger in the act of unmarked revisionism, assisted by Staines' javascripting fanboy, Dizzy.

First Staines spins a non-story into an example of fraud by the Brown camp, but gets some of the details wrong.

Then Dizzy steps up to the plate and, in a related post, points out Staines error.

Staines then revises his original post so as to give the impression that he had all the details correct in the first place.

It just so ironic that in spite of Dizzy being so full of himself as a l33t haxor and Staines' own pompous self-aggrandizement as the UK's leading Matt Drudge wannabe, neither of them is capable of putting together a coherent and consistent story of any consequence, instead taking a New Labour-esque approach to spinning and distortion. Compounding the irony is the fact that Staines' post would have carried more credibility if he had simply tagged the update, but his rampant desire to appear infallible precluded any such action.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Censorship and hypocrisy (in spades)

In light of Tessa Jowell's misguided call for bloggers to adopt a Code of Conduct, self-proclaimed Libertarian hero Guido Fawkes (aka Paul Staines), has posted yet more hypocritical dribble for his rabid readership to agree with. You can just imagine them, no doubt in their bedrooms, agreeing like those shabby nodding dogs that you get free with a certain car insurer.

Of course the dear readers here at Guido 2.0 know better. We know that Guido is a hypocritical charlatan who – behind the mask - is terrified of 'the truth' and will use the full force of the law to suppress it. Won't you, Paul?

Johnny-Come-Latelies like Paul Staines and Precious Iain Dale don't care very much for what makes the blogosphere work, no, all they care about is what they can get out of it. Iain Dale promises us, "Just for the record, I never portray myself as an expert on blogging," yet he has the temerity to edit a Guide to Political Blogging! I mean, Iain, do you think we're that fucking stupid?

Likewise Paul Staines has the sheer cheek to write, "freedom of speech means you will find people saying disagreeable things in disagreeable ways," and yet Paul Staines has repeatedly done his best to hinder the work of those who are saying disagreeable things in disagreeable ways about him by preventing deep-linking to his site.

FYI - a credible commentary of Jowell's clanger can be found here.

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How very original

Paul Staines' election-day entry contains a 'parody' of a Backing Blair poster, and it's not the first time he's ripped off my material in order to whore his website.

Perhaps one day Dale and Staines will develop some imagination (or at the very least some halfway-decent image manipulation skills). Until then, they'll have to continue ripping off other people's work.

(Or, in other words, perhaps "they would enjoy more success if they tried something less derivative and more novel".)

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Nothing to see here... move along...

As you may have noticed, at this weblog, we have a habit of linking to evidence when we make a claim.

But Paul Staines would rather you didn't have easy access to that evidence...

Bloggerheads - This is a first... 'bloggers' objecting to deeplinks

Just imagine how 'Guido' would react if Downing Street pulled this stunt on him...

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Honest John

Tim has already done a fine job of chronicling the scurrilous and largely anonymous bullying directed towards John Hirst (see posts here and at Iain Dale's Dairy) who blogs as Jailhouse Laywer and, on occasion, pops in comments at my main online home, the Ministry of Truth.

The full background to John's personal history is best explained in this article, which appeared in the Guardian in November 2006 - I'd recommend that you read it all but a brief summary of the salient points of John's past is that in 1980, he was convicted of the manslaughter of his landlady on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was give a life sentence with a minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years. On being sentenced, the trial judge, Mr Justice Purchis, said of John:
"I have no doubt you are an arrogant and dangerous person with a severe personality defect. Unfortunately, this is not suitable for treatment in a mental hospital."
John actually served 25 years in prison before paroled, not because he continued to be a threat to the public long after his initial tariff had passed, but because of his tendency to 'buck the system' and challenge authority while in prison. While inside he also got an education via the Open University and now blogs at

John recent came to the public's attention after mounting an effort to challenge the laws that prevent prisoners from voting while in prison - you may have your own views as to the validity of his arguments, but its an argument he is entitled to make and have put to the test in law.

More recently, as Tim has documented, John has come under systematic attack by a small clique of right-wing bullies whose modus operandi is, perhaps, best illustrated by these comments from Paul Staines's 'blog':
Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

Actually, it seems you are correct for once. Calling Guido a liar for skim reading a Google alert that arrived (late) this morning seems a little harsh.

A correction will be made.

You are still a granny killer, that can't be corrected so easily.

3:50 PM, April 25, 2007


crackers said...

Hirst you axed a defenceless old lady. You do not regret your killing. You call it manslaughter. You know it to be killing in cold blood. Murder to us.You show no remorse. You are the lowest form of vermin. Of this I am 100% sure. Stay in your dung heap and shut the fuck up. Your pretentious self serving ramblings are utter bilge. Like you, scum.

4:27 PM, April 25, 2007
Irrespective of the validity of any argument John may advance, to these bullies his arguments can be automatically gainsayed by mounting ad hominem attacks that describe him as a 'granny killer' and/or 'axe-murderer'.

Neither epithet is correct, as John will point out - his victim (in 1979) did not have grandchildren and he was convicted of manslaughter, not murder, little that seems to matter to those who take pleasure in baiting him, for whom his failure to show remorse for his crime is taken is 'proof positive' that he should be regarded as a murderer who killed 'in cold blood'.

Staines' above all others, should be well aware of the importance, if not necessity, of placing a correct interpretation on someone's past actions. That was, after all, the sole premise on which he threatened a number of bloggers with the the prospect of a libel action when evidence of his own past misdemeanours resurfaced earlier this year. Who knows, perhaps Staines' comments might not have been quite so harsh had Hirst used his time in prison to pester the trial judge for a personal testimonial to support his contention that he did not commit murder, rather than on obtaining an Open University degree.

They bullies wrong in their libels, not just legally and factually, but also because they, like Andrew O'Hagan, the journalist who wrote the Guardian article linked to above, fail to recognise or appreciate the significance of a single salient fact that is staring them in the face. One that the article explicitly mentions here:
He [Hirst] says he wasn't uncontrollable; he was suffering from Asperger's Syndrome, though that was only diagnosed much later.
The personality 'defect' to which Justice Purchis referred on passing sentence in 1980 is Asperger's Syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder that is often referred to as 'high functioning autism'.

On the key symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome - and other forms of autism for that matter - is something commonly referred to a 'mind-blindness' - they lack a functioning 'theory of mind' due to their condition and this severely inhibits their capacity to engage in common social interactions that most people take entirely for granted.

Our ability to relate to other people and engage effectively in social interactions with other human beings relies extensively on our capacity to perceive things from another individuals 'point of view' both intellectually and emotionally. It is this that enables us to judge the 'mood' of others from their 'look' in their eyes, their body language or tone of voice and make judgements about whether what one is about to say or do is appropriate to the social environment in which you find yourself at a particular time and assess how that may affect or impact on others and how they might react to us as a result. It is also central to our ability to empathise with others and appreciate/understand how they feel and how their experiences may affect them - and, by way an ironic twist, this ability is also essential if one is attempting conceal one's own feelings, or tell a lie, dissemble or deceive others.

The 'mind-blindness' one finds in Asperger's Syndrome and other autistic spectrum disorders, rob those who these conditions of this capacity to relate to and undertand others, particularly on an emotional level.

An individual with Asperger's syndrome is typically blunt to the point of brutality in their honesty - one of the key diagnostic traits that psychologists look for when assessing an individual for any autistic spectrum disorder is a pathological inability to tell lies or conceal their feelings and opinions which is typically coupled with a tendency to 'speak as they find' with any seeming consideration for how that impact on others. This frequently results in their being perceived to be rude, abrupt and disrespectful, not because that their intention but because they cannot read the kind of visual/social cues that we take for granted as indicators that we may be 'speaking out of turn' or behaving inappropriately.

This inability to read social cues can often result in their developing a social phobia. Although they cannot 'read' the kinds of non-verbal cues that others give out as warning signs that their behaviour may be innappropriate, individuals with Asperger's Syndrome can, and do, develop an intellectual understanding of their propensity for making social errors and may be highly self-critical on becoming aware of their mistakes, with the result that they may come to shun social interaction with others for fear of making such mistakes and their inability to deal with them adequately. It also impairs their ability to interpret the actions of other correctly, particularly in relation to whether actions are carried out with deliberate intent or merely accidental; this commonly results their experiencing feelings of paranoia

O'Hagan's article includes this observation about meeting Hirst:
It is obvious within seconds of meeting Hirst that he is probably neither a monster nor a model citizen, but he presses his Open University learning on you without ever knowing that the overwhelming sense he gives is not of educated reasonableness but of chaos and vast insensitivity. This is just an observation: he makes a case for himself very persuasively, but everything he says makes you wonder whether this man is totally in control of himself.
Intellectually, Hirst may be, and almost certainly is, very much in control.

What he cannot control, due to his condition - or rather 'manage' which is better term - is his social interaction with O'Hagan because his condition means that he cannot pick up non-verbal signs from O'Hagan that would indicate that he has made a comment that O'Hagan finds abrupt, or insensitive. Hirst's 'problem' in his interaction with O'Hagan is simply that his condition renders him incapable of observing the usual 'social niceties' that Hagan expects to encounter as a routine facet of everyday life.

A little further on, O'Hagan comments:
It has to be said that Hirst has a slight tendency to pathologise his victim. "She'd had six or seven ex-offenders living there," he says, "and they couldn't bear her. She was unbearable. She stole our food. It was as though I was her carer, and I was so fragile it was unbelievable. I was like a walking time bomb. She claimed she had been in a concentration camp. She was trying to control my life and ... wanted to be waited on hand and foot. I had my own life to lead."
And a little later still...
I wonder if Hirst knows how callous he sounds. It is difficult to avoid seeking a connection between the coldness of his descriptions of what he did - "It was like swatting a fly that's buzzing around you" - and the question of whether he is truly reformed. Sitting in his living room, I begin to feel afraid of John Hirst. He would say such fears were stupid, because the stupidity of other people's doubts about him are self-evident to John Hirst, but something in him seems amoral and the self-control he often speaks of seems teetering in his case. When he stops talking about how he killed Mrs Burton, he stands up and returns to the kitchen. I look again at the CCTV showing the space outside and wonder if I could handle him.
If you've understood my description of the effect that Asperger's Syndrome has on John's ability to interact socially, then you will understand the he did not know how callous he sounded to O'Hagan and that this something that O'Hagan himself would have understood had he appreciated the significance of John's condition.

O'Hagan states that there is something in Hirst that seems 'amoral' - this, ironically, is not an unfair observation.

John is not a moral man in the conventional sense, because his condition robs of him of the capacity for emotional subjectivity and introspection upon which our practical sense of morality is based - Hirst does not 'feel' the difference between right and wrong in the way that most people does. However, Hirst may be, and almost certainly is, an ethical man; one who possesses a keen intellectual understanding of right and wrong, albeit one that would appear rather abstract to most of us.

This explains the very matter of fact way in which he talks about the crime he committed more than 25 years ago and the events since. Intellectually he accepts, fully, that his actions were wrong and that the punishment he received was just retribution for his action - more than just, in fact, in the sense that he served ten years longer in prison than the period specified in the sentence handed down by the trial judge. What he cannot do is engage with that understanding in any meaningful emotional sense - it is something he knows and knows to be true, a series of unquestionable material facts, but not something he feels because his condition renders incapable of engaging with those facts in an emotional way.

I should point out this is not to say that John is without emotion and feeling - far from it - rather that he lacks the capacity to understand and rationalise what he feels in way in which he can find meaning. What he cannot do is externalise his emotions, project them outwards in a fashion that would enable him to rationalise what he feels.

This is crucial to understanding John's evident lack of remorse for his actions, as evidenced by this exchange with O'Hagan:
"But do you want to be forgiven by her?"

"Honestly, I don't give two fucks," he says. "That might sound callous, but it isn't. Her being in the court brought home to me what I'd done. Here's someone now before me who hasn't done anything, and I was feeling for the daughter, but all I could see was her anger and bitterness coming back. She probably wanted me to be hung, but it still wouldn't have brought her mother back ... I've satisfied retribution. I've satisfied deterrence. I owe society nothing now."
All the hallmarks of Asperger's are there to be seen in this passage, if only one knows what to look for.

John can 'feel' for the daughter because, at an intellectual level because he can understand how the death of her mother would, or perhaps should, have made her feel, but he cannot empathise with how the daughter feels as he perceived those feelings in the court room, nor can he understand or appreciate how the emotions she expressed towards him at the time of the trial - anger and bitterness - relate to and stem from her feelings of grief at the loss of her mother.

Hi comments are, therefore, typically blunt and to the point and his emotional appreciation of that situation is limited, lacking in nuance and based only on what he could perceived as being clearly evident from the daughter's reaction to him. What he saw from the victim's daughter was anger, bitterness and resentment, emotions that would all too understandable to most of us but which to John, with his limited if not existence capacity to empathise and understand them and how they rooted in other feeling not obviously evident but present nonetheless- grief, loss, sadness - those feelings served no purpose. As John says himself, nothing that the daughter could do, say or feel, and nothing that the court could do to him, even had the death penalty have been open to the court - could change what had happened and bring her mother back.

To feel remorse one must do more than simply understand that the wrongness of one's actions, one must also form an emotional connection with the victim and the victim's family. One has to empathise with them, understand on an emotional level how they feel, feel a sense of grief and loss for their grief and loss and for having been the cause of those feelings.

John feels none of that, because his condition - Asperger's Syndrome - precludes his forming the very emotional connections necessary for him to feel remorse.

He can no more express remorse for his crime than a blind man can see or a tetraplegic can step out of their wheelchair and walk across the the room. His lack of remorse is neither a matter of choice nor proof that his crime was pre-meditated - the necessary condition for a murder conviction - it is merely a function of his condition.

John has a disability - although whether he sees his condition in that way is another matter - and it is that disability that prevents him from feeling or expressing remorse for the crime he committed more than 25 years ago.

That does not absolve him from responsibility for his actions. He committed the crime and served the sentence that he was given by way of punishment for his actions - more than the sentence in fact. But, as John rightly points out, neither the crime itself, now his lack of remorse, makes him a murderer or a 'cold-blooded killer' - nor, to my mind, does it justify the callous and ignorant behaviour of a few anonymous on-line bullies who seem to think that they can safely gainsay any argument he cares to advance merely by labelling him an 'axe-murderer' or 'granny-killer'.

If John is sometimes rude, abrasive, disrespectful or merely - to some - a nuisance by way of his persistence in pursuing a line of argument, his behaviour can be explained and understood. It is not something he does by choice but is, rather, a consequence of his condition, his disability.

What excuse or explanation is there one can advance to justify the actions of those who take pleasure in hounding him. Those who are rude, disrespectful and abusive towards him by concious choice?

None whatsoever.

Those who refuse to engage with John by way of intellectual argument, who choose not to address his comments, consider the points he advances and challenge his opinions are not just cowards and bullies but the kind of bullies who - by their consciously chosen behaviour and attitudes - would seem to think nothing of persecuting a physically disabled man by kicking his crutches our from under him.

That is what the character of their behaviour amounts to. The abuse they direct towards John is directed towards his condition, his disability, and ignorance, in this case, is no excuse. The bullies cannot claim to be unaware of his condition, it is there referenced in black and white in Andrew O'Hagan's article, and any of them who might claim not to have read that article, who may have joined in the hounding of John Hirst simply to 'follow the crowd', they are the kind of ignorant scumbags whose conduct is beneath even contempt. Which is worse, the bully who 'kicks a cripple' because they can, because their victim cannot fight back, or the bully who joins in just to be part of the crowd?

John Hirst may have killed a woman, more than twenty-five years ago and spent most of his adult life in prison as a result - but he is still a better man than any of those cowards and bullies (male or female) could ever aspire to be.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Paul Staines is a fact-murderer!

Paul Staines has been caught playing fast and loose with the facts again... and again about Lord Levy.

For Those Who Came in Late #1: 'Guido Fawkes' declaring live on Newsnight that Levy will face trial.

In the original version of this post from Wednesday, 'Guido' declared that "this morning's papers are speculating about charges being placed", but when he was put on the spot about that, all he could dig up was one newspaper speculating about it. On Sunday. He also declared that the police were staying very close to Lord Levy and suggested very heavily that it wasn't necessarily for his protection.

When the possibility that these claims were somewhat inaccurate arose in comments, there was usual fuss and bluster involving both 'Guido' and some helpful sock-puppets, the basic gist of which was; "The almighty Guido is always right and you're wrong, so fuck off."

For Those Who Came in Late #2: You'll want to watch this alternative take of 'Guido Fawkes' on Newsnight.

But then... *gasp*... 'Guido' finally had to admit that he had made an error! To John Hirst no less!

For Those Who Came in Late #3: How the anonymous bullies who hang out with Dale/Staines like to avoid/undermine any point John Hirst raises by shouting "Axe murderer!" at him.

Take a look at Staines' comment and the anonymous comment that followed it:

Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

Actually, it seems you are correct for once. Calling Guido a liar for skim reading a Google alert that arrived (late) this morning seems a little harsh.

A correction will be made.

You are still a granny killer, that can't be corrected so easily.

3:50 PM, April 25, 2007


crackers said...

Hirst you axed a defenceless old lady. You do not regret your killing. You call it manslaughter. You know it to be killing in cold blood. Murder to us.You show no remorse. You are the lowest form of vermin. Of this I am 100% sure. Stay in your dung heap and shut the fuck up. Your pretentious self serving ramblings are utter bilge. Like you, scum.

4:27 PM, April 25, 2007

That second comment is worth including here because it follows to the letter the 'logic' behind calling someone convicted of manslaughter a murderer as outlined in this post. It's also worth noting that 'Guido' admits to deleting 50+ comments from this thread (see #5 below) but he thought that this one was worth keeping.

Now, onto Staines' comment:

1. In his post he claims to be doing research on Levy for an upcoming book. Under comments he claims that he only skimmed a Google alert about the subject of his book. Please raise your hand if you're buying it.

2. You are not on solid ground if you respond to a valid argument by screaming "Axe murderer!" at your opponent.

3. John Hirst (who really should try to avoid using sock-puppets for any reason, as it simply adds to the confusion) points out here that "there is no public record of my victim being a grandmother"... so, in trying to draw attention away from one glaring inaccuracy, 'Guido' has blurted out another!

4. But at least Paul Staines had the courage to do this himself instead of saying it via a sock-puppet... but we also have the far more passionate and detailed anonymous comment that followed to consider. When you rely heavily on sock-puppets to do your dirty work for you and they appear at just the right time with startling regularity, you only have yourself to blame when people suspect that you're a sock-puppeting loser who spends a great deal of time anonymously shouting down opponents and/or patting yourself on the back.

5. At the request of (ahem) an anonymous contributor, Staines closed comments at midnight and deleted "fifty or so" comments that pointed out what an arse he had been 'bored' him. Way to maintain that Fonzie-like demeanour, Paul.

So, the post has been updated, and comments have been closed. That's the end of it, right?

Well, no.

The updated version of the offending post still contains the following passage:

Guido is also working on another book, with the working title "The Trial of Lord Levy", for publication, on the advice of lawyers, after the verdict.

Verdict? You what? I think Paul will want to have another word with his lawyers.

One cannot have a verdict without a trial... and a trial generally doesn't take place until charges have been brought. To date, no charges have been brought against Lord Levy.

Just as he did on Newsnight, Paul Staines has again presented this possibility as a certainty. He'll want to watch it with that wishful thinking.


Guest Post: Staines and Hain - The Wonder Years

Much hilarity over on Guido's blog this week as our fearless watchdog of public morality catches Peter Hain, candidate for deputy leader of the Labour Party, bang to rights.

Here's what Hain plans to do in the first 100 days of a new Labour government.

"By the Monday, after polling, the new government should be launching the next phase: the first 100 days during which it must stamp a new approach on the nation.Exchange controls will need to be quickly imposed with new powers over foreign capital movements. All financial institutions and companies should be required to halt new investment overseas. The pension funds and other financial institutions should be required to purchase government stocks to fund a massive expansion of a rejuvenated National Enterprise Board. Immediate import controls should be imposed, pending full negotiations in the context of planned trade and planning agreements. Privatisation of British Telecom should be reversed......price controls should also figure during these first 100 days....It is essential to involve the unions directly over decisions in all economic activities etc etc

Shocking stuff, we're sure you'll agree, particularly if your a rabid libertarian with a thing for offshore investments and a flexible attitude towards taxation.

The trouble is, Hain's manifesto was written in 1983.

Of course, we've all done silly things when young. We'd like to tell you the silly things Paul Staines got up to when he was at university in 1986 but the last time we tried everyone's favourite libertarian champion of freedom of speech reached for his lawyer.

After their youthful hijinks, however, the similarities between our two heroes end.

Hain, needless to say, has long since disavowed the naive attitudes of his youth. A "political journey" he calls it. A euphemism which means he now votes for Apartheid-esque policies like house arrest instead of protesting against them as he used to.

Staines however is still the staunch anti-racist as he was in his younger years as his tolerance of characters such as 'little black sambo' in his comment threads testifies. We've yet to see him modify his views on taxation either.

Still, you can see why Staines would feel superior to the hapless Hain. Hain is fighting to be deputy leader of the Labour Party. Paul Staines blogs about Gordon Brown picking his nose.

(This is a guest post by Justin McKeating. You may remember him from such blogs such as Chicken Yoghurt and Iain Dale's Dairy)