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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Freedom of Expression is Absolute (unless it's about me!)

Oh no! It's yet more faux-libertarianism and lies from Paul 'Guido Fawkes' Staines.

As Tim has already explained, Guido has posted a defence of his selective comment deletion. Guido wants you to think it's all about good blog housekeeping, but we know what Paul is really doing is ensuring that his cool persona is not tarnished by those in the know.

Yet - and this is very cheeky - in the very same breath, Staines is also seeking to big himself up as some kind of libertarian hero, spouting off in defence of jailed Iranian bloggers (all part of the spin people, all very MTfuckingV).

Sunny (Hundal, of Pickled Politics fame) pulls Staines up on his libertarian posturing, pointing out what a shallow charlatan the real Paul Staines really is: -

11:33 PM, April 11, 2007
Sunny said...
Absolute freedom of speech eh Guido? I'm not sure you believe in that since you've been known to attempt to sue people to withhold information about your past? I don't want to be posting links since you will probably delete my comment, but you know what I'm talking about.

Freedom of speech is never absolute so please stop pretending to be a hardcore libertarian. And I think you mis-understood the point of Jonathan's article.

Ouch! Methinks someone hit a nerve.

Guido, clearly smarting from Sunny's well-placed dagger of truth, is quick to respond: -

11:51 PM, April 11, 2007
Guido Fawkes Esq. said...
There was no "attempt to sue". There was a plain warning that if any false claims were made litigation would follow.

Re Freedland - it is a very poor argument to claim that someone "misunderstands" when you merely disagree. At a loss as to what you think was "misunderstood" given Freedland's argument isn't addressed here at all.

Incidentally, "the right to freedom of speech is absolute" would be a more accurate headline. So we almost agree on something.

Note that Guido doesn't actually refute what Sunny implies, but merely pulls at a loose thread in his comment, playing semantics if you like (Guido knows that his litigious threats had the desired effect - i.e. the link to an article from the Guardian, which showed a young Paul Staines in a very bad light, was removed from Sunny's site).

But Staines is also being a little economical with the truth. It wasn't "a plain warning that if any false claims were made litigation would follow," at all; Staines threatened legal action to have certain documents kept from the public sphere and claimed that he had a full retraction from the newspaper (he had a letter from the journo, but it could hardly be called a retraction). So not a warning, but a demand. Legal action was presented as a certainty if any reference to the article was not withdrawn, and at one stage it was presented as a certainty even if it was withdrawn.

Those of us who remember that fateful Sunday morning remember the free-speech defending Staines throwing his legal threats around with little regard for his libertarian pretensions (he even made a threat on his blog, but this was soon pulled so as not to burden his followers with the truth behind the mask).

Paul Staines, as part of the compromise that saw Sunny pull the offending post, promised an interview with Pickled Politics to settle the matter. This turned out to be a waste of everyone's time, as Paul - our defender of truth and warrior against the evils of spin, refused to discuss the matter at all.

You see this is our problem with Paul Staines. He's a nothing but a hypocrite and completely full of shit.



Anonymous said...

Showed him in a bad light?

eh, but the Guardian article wasn't true....

If you're purporting to be upholders of truth and fairness against the evil right-wing bloggers, it would do you more credit if you would refrain from slinging mud in this manner.

9:08 AM, April 13, 2007  
Tim said...

FACT: Paul Staines claimed that a retraction existed, when there was no retraction.

FACT: What Paul Staines claimed was a retraction was actually a personal letter from the journalist who wrote the article. (A letter that was written four years after the article was published.)

FACT: Paul Staines offered to make that letter available and/or give us permission to publish it, and then reneged on that promise. (Chris Paul appears to have published it anyway, so well done him.)

FACT: Nowhere in the letter does the journalist say that Staines did not do what the article said he said... it merely claims a change in position regarding Staines' possible motivation(s) for what he did.

FACT: The only legal obstacle to republication of the article is a nifty libel loophole that means that anyone who wants to publish the article again today has to prove all over again that Staines did what he did. How easy do you think it would be to source the relevant evidence/witnesses a couple of decades after the fact?

FACT: Staines, who declares himself to be a libertarian, has no problem exploiting this little loophole and bullying bloggers with threats of legal action

FACT: It is mostly anonymous contributors who pop up to claim that - because the article can no longer be republished - it can therefore be classified as withdrawn, untrue, etc. etc. etc.

But thank you for popping by and being a cowardly custard about it, Mr Anonymous.

10:02 AM, April 13, 2007  
Aaron said...

Mr. Anonymous,

The article DID show Mr. Staines in a bad light. FACT.

At no point did I comment on the veracity of the article, only that, up until this point, Paul Staines has not provided the promised evidence that the article was factually inaccurate. He has provided a wishy-washy letter re. any motivations the young Master Staines may have had at the time, but there is no retraction offered. Mr Staines was deliberately “economical with the truth,” it seems.

Would you dispute this? After all, YOU seem to be sure of the accuracy of the article, which leads me to presume that you are aware of a retraction that has not yet been shared with the rest of us?

11:44 AM, April 13, 2007  
Carl Eve said...

If the article was untrue Staines could have a) sued or at least b) complained to the PCC. He did neither. And has still done neither all these years later other than threaten to sue using our archaic and money-weighted libel laws. Which stinks.
The article was NOT retracted. Having personally spoken to the library at the Guardian, who has the most up to date record of the article, there were no attachments regarding Staines contesting the piece.

As a rule, proper, ethical journalists don't sue each other. Staines doesn't appear to rate himself a proper, ethical journalist, suggesting they're all conniving shits and he's so much better than they.
Ironic really.

10:02 PM, April 16, 2007  

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