[Please note that there has been a sudden change in schedule due to circumstances beyond my control. I had my eye on a pretty little redhead today, but instead I’m compelled to write on the further antics of Nadine Dorries… and others.]
Nadine Dorries’ difficulty with blogging began with a personal attack.
Nadine was not at all impressed with the outcome of the Science and Technology Committee’s report on abortion and so, with Bob Spink MP, released her own report.
That report contained a false claim about a Guardian journalist that Nadine refused to withdraw or even discuss… she quickly closed down the comments on her ‘weblog’.
Initially, she claimed that it was merely a time issue. Then a narrative developed where she was claiming that she was refusing all comments because of repeated comments, then abusive comments, then repeated abusive comments and “very weird posts late at night, which frankly scared me.”
It was only a matter of time before someone helpfully filled in the blanks and screamed ‘cyber-stalker’ for her.
(Note – It is not wise to cry ‘wolf’ at the expense of potential victims of genuine cyber-stalking.)
This narrative was further developed when Ellee Seymour sought to use it to her advantage, by suggesting that I was a cyber-stalker.
This narrative was quickly picked up and developed yet further by
Dizzy a sock-puppet that just happened to be around while Dizzy was, and then Praguetory. An unknown party fighting this same corner actually went so far as to create an anonymous weblog containing some appalling and deeply personal attacks, basically bringing Nadine’s claims to life in order to ‘support’ her (reported here). [UPDATE – This helpful effort was in fact created by John Hirst as a ‘joke’.]
Now, at some stage during this narrative’s development (right after Ellee’s adventure, to be exact) Alex Hilton went live with a post featuring a screen capture of a mystery Facebook profile and within about half an hour, it was revealed under comments to be the Facebook profile of one of Nadine Dorries’ daughters (with the full name revealed within a day).
[Note – I myself did not see this item until Nadine blogged about it yesterday.]
In an attack on Dorries that would have been well out of order regardless of this, Alex Hilton played the race card by falsely attributing a quote to Dorries’ daughter.
And, even if one disregards the above (and/or wishes to debate the merit of publishing details about Dorries daughters when she’s been doing it herself this past week), let’s face it; if someone is already claiming victim status and you pass them this kind of ammo… you’re not helping.
For pretty much the same reason why a woman should never yell ‘rape’ (and, yes, ‘stalker’) without good cause, a mother should never yell ‘paedophile’ without good cause. It has to do with resonance and responsibility.
Further, one would expect an MP to at least be cautious enough to not stray recklessly into this potentially life-destroying area.
But Nadine Dorries goes off the rails right after addressing the falsely attributed comment when she says this (the highlight is mine):
…the issue is now on it’s way to Simon Smith at Schillings , to ask his advise as to whether or not this matter is libel and actionable.
I suppose one wouldn’t expect anything else from the researcher of a Labour MP. It makes you wonder what kind of MP employs a person who spends his day going through Facebook accounts. Is this done on a Parliamentary computer I wonder? One paid for by the tax payer, in the time he should be working, again, paid by the tax payer?
It is not lost on me that he chose to highlight the Facebook account of my 22 year old daughter. However, has he been through the Facebook accounts of all of my girls? One of them is only 15 – and if he has – there’s a word for people like you Alex.
OK, so she’s justifiably upset.
That, for me, gets her off the hook for that totally unfair partisan generalisation and the assault on Hilton over his alleged/suggested use of taxpayer-funded resources for party political purposes (without a scrap of bloody evidence).
I’m even willing to let her threat to use the firm Schillings go by with nothing but a knowing smirk.
But to imply that someone is a paedophile?!
Even though, technically, that final passage is open to interpretation (the word might be ‘bully’ or ‘arsehole’, for example), the juxtaposition of ages that leads up to the closing statement gives it a pretty damn clear direction.
And even if this is *not* what was intended, I would expect an MP to be wary enough not to publish anything that might be misinterpreted in this way.
And even if that MP were so blind to the bleeding obvious that the above didn’t even occur to them, I would bloody well expect them to be wary of publishing personal outbursts if they were still stinging from a recent one.
And even if they were so blinkered that they’d miss all of *that*, I would *still* expect them to later correct their error by at *least* clarifying a statement like this one when it’s pretty bloody clear how it’s been interpreted.
Admittedly, the Age of Accountability appears to have passed us by, but MPs have been forced to resign over less.
Further class acts include…
Iain seeming less fussed by it and just letting his (mostly anonymous) readers get on with it under comments.
New corporate political gossip blog on the block Westmonster declaring Dale to be the ‘referee’, and basically chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
Alex Hilton publishing and not deleting or challenging anonymous comments that air groundless suggestions about the sexual orientation of Dorries’ eldest daughter and this charming comment about her youngest; “I’m gonna wait till the younger daughter is 16…”
David Reeves drops by, followed by (ahem) an anonymous supporter of David Reeves carrying the ‘Mad Nad’ stick.
… which is all very helpful.
Now, did I or did I not make it absolutely clear to readers on numerous occasions (most recently here) that this whole game of comment diddling, sock-puppeting and engaging in personal attacks while claiming to be the victim of personal attacks and/or screaming ‘cyber-stalker’ will eventually lead to someone screaming ‘paedophile’…?
I want a subsection under Godwin’s Law named after me, I do.
And while someone is sorting that out…
Alex Hilton: You need to delete a few of the more insidious or insensitive items from your blog and apologise to Nadine Dorries.
Nadine Dorries: You need to either clarify what you meant by that closing statement in your latest post or withdraw it. Then you can bury any resulting apology to Alex Hilton under your long-overdue apology to Ben Goldacre.
[Note – Those wishing to comment on Nadine’s original article can do so here. Comment moderation has been enabled at the mirror blog for reasons that should be obvious.]
UPDATE (21 Nov) – Iain finally spoke up in his own comment thread late yesterday. Here’s the bulk of what he had to say (timestamps link to individual comments):
Iain Dale said…
Trixy, Sam Farage is an adult. He joined a rival political party. That was a legitimate thing to comment on.
Nadine’s 15 year old daughter is not an adult.
I don’t recall any attack on Leo Blair.
November 20, 2007 3:51 PM
Phillipa Storm Dorries is 22 and an adult.
Insinuating that this Blogger is a paedophile……lame!
November 20, 2007 5:40 PM
Iain Dale said…
First of all, nadine did no such thing. Second of all, her youngest daughter is 15, not 22.
November 20, 2007 5:43 PM
Well, there you have it… straight from the horse’s ass.
Iain Dale appears to basing his case on what Nadine says could or might have happened, and not what actually did happen.
It would also appear (and this is *not* a threat or an incitement) that Iain will remain
totally selectively blind to the threat of paedo-smears until it happens to him personally.