Guardian

Guardian Refuses to Ban Commenter that Advocates Murder of Jews


Yesterday we reported that in the Nicholas Blincoe thread, a certain regular “below the line” commenter, William Bapthorpe, openly advocated the murder of Jewish citizens of the state of Israel with the following comment which I’m reproducing in full for the benefit of those that may have missed it:

As mentioned in our post yesterday (take note Matt!), this comment was deleted however upon review of William Bapthorpe’s posting history subsequent to the post above, Bapthorpe continued to post prolifically (approx. 80 posts since 6 Jan) indicating that no action was taken against Bapthorpe.

In response to a number of complaints made by CiF Watch readers, we learnt from “Comment is Free” editor, Matt Seaton, that

[r]egarding the post in the Blincoe thread which you respectively have complained about, let me assure you that – contrary to the impression Cif Watch chooses to give – the comment was deleted promptly by moderators, and as per our standard moderation protocol the user has been placed in quarantine as ‘untrusted’.

In case you’re wondering what being “placed in quarantine as ‘untrusted'” means, Seaton later clarified that what he is referring to is so-called “pre-moderation”. In other words, the Guardian abjectly refused to ban William Bapthorpe, a point amplified in Seaton’s pathetic remonstrating over at Robin Shepherd’s excellent blog.

There is, further, nothing ‘revealing’ about the fact that William Bapthorpe (the commenter concerned) has not been instantly banned. Our standard moderation procedure places all offenders against our community guidelines indefinitely on probation, where they lose posting rights, prior to any further action – whether that is subsequent banning or retrusting.

Its funny because if you look at the Guardian’s own “Moderation approach” on their website it states:

Participants who seriously, persistently or wilfully ignore the community standards, participation guidelines or terms and conditions will have their posting privileges for all guardian.co.uk community areas withdrawn.

Notice how it states “seriously, persistently or wilfully” not “seriously, persistently and willfully”. Therefore, one serious breach of community standards would, according to the Guardian’s own terms, be enough to result in banning contrary to what Seaton states above. So lets take a look at the community standards to see what provisions Bapthorpe has infringed.

Well for starters there’s this:

“We will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or other forms of hate-speech, or contributions that could be interpreted as such.”

The reference to “religiously motivated maniacs” in Bapthorpe’s post was clearly directed at Jews consituting “racism” or “other forms of hate-speech”. Incidentally, on the subject of hate speech, I was informed by one of our readers that a complaint against William Bapthorpe was made to the metropolitan police today.

Then there’s this provision:

“…. we will consider removing any content that others might find extremely offensive or threatening.”

I would say that advocating the murder of “every last man, woman and child” falls squarely into that category. And then there’s this:

“We will remove any content that may put us in legal jeopardy…”

It appears that Bapthorpe committed a crime under UK criminal laws and by leaving such a post up could entangle the Guardian in criminal proceedings.

I think you will agree that you would be hard pressed to conjure up a comment that constitutes a more serious breach of the community standards than the one Bapthorpe made.

So why is it that an exception is being written into these rules specifically in the case of William Bapthorpe? Why is it that the Guardian is going to such great lengths to protect a commenter that advocates the murder of Jews? Why is it that the Guardian doesn’t even remove Steve Hill’s post that similarly advocated the murder of Jews (as we reported here)? Why is it that a Holocaust denialist is not banned despite repeated comments denying the Holocaust (as we reported here)? Why is it that other antisemitic commenters that frequent the I/P threads are not banned despite patterns of antisemitic abuse as evidenced in the numerous posts here on CiF Watch?

Perhaps Matt for once you will have the balls to come on to CiF Watch (a/k/a the “other place”) and state your case. We’re all ears.

23 replies »

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  2. The email response Mr. Seaton as posted by Yaacov Lozowick is in fact identical per-word to the one I recieved from Mr. Seaton yesterday afternoon.

    Therefore when Yaacov writes “I’m not convinced he read my comment”, one can only join his qualms.

  3. FooledmeOnce – he’s posted the same comment to everyone, including myself. He probably had it ready on his computer. The “respectively complained about” is meant to indicate this I think – ie that none of us is important enough to answer individually. I am not surprised that he didn’t read any of our comments. He can’t have had the time.

    ““We will remove any content that may put us in legal jeopardy…”

    Oh dear. Well obviously not quickly enough if CiFWatch got hold of it. I don’t know whether others have complained to the Met – I have and am waiting to hear from them.

    Evidence of Seaton’s blindness to the offence he has caused – he posted to Robin Shepherd’s blog, a self-righteous epistle which ended in an insult to Robin, and got well and truly hammered for it. I believe that he and the rest of the Henry coven live in a very different reality to the rest of us. Mitnaged would doubtless say that this escapade has caused considerable cognitive dissonance for all of them and Seaton’s lame attempt to wriggle out of the responsibility for it is evidence of him trying (and failing) to get comfortable again.

    Good! I hope this will change the facts on the ground for all of them.

  4. If William Bapthorpe had written that the religiously motivated Palestinians who attack Israeli civilians should be “slaughtered every last man, woman and child” I have no doubt he would have been banned immediately.

  5. Particularly striking about the Seaton response to all this – and he is typical of all the editorial team of CiF – is the “slippage” between objective reality of the colossal mistake CiF has made (for which he must take all responsibility) and the fantasy world they all inhabit – that if they say it didn’t happen then it did not (in effect they can wish it away).

    I read a case study once about a child of about seven years old referred for behavioural difficulties to a psychologist. The child used to keep jumping on the furniture in the psychologist’s consulting room. The child and the psychologist reached an agreement that if she did not do that, there would be a reward for her at the end of the session.

    The child came into the next session and immediately began jumping on the furniture. When the psychologist reminded her of what they had agreed she looked the psychologist square in the eye and denied that she had been jumping on the furniture (ie “If I say I didn’t do it then it didn’t happen”).

    So it is with the Henry coven and CiF. They all seem stuck at the magical thinking stage and there is a disturbing gap between what they say they are doing and their rationale for saying it and what is actually going on. They seem collectively to have lost the capability to reality test, no doubt because to do so would cause them great emotional discomfort.

    That cannot last, however, because they have caught out doing it. The best service we can do for such reality-challenged individuals is to confront them with that reality, however painful, as often as is necessary and not let them escape the consequences of distorting reality and lying.

  6. @ Mitnaged

    I see you were also banned from CiF. Were any reasons given? Was it triggered by a particular comment?
    Just interested …

  7. To: matt.seaton@guardian.co.uk
    Subject: Abhorrent Post on Comment is Free
    Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 14:44:52 +0000

    Dear Matt Seaton

    I used to post on your blog, but decided not to continue because of the appalling standard of vicious comment, and downright racism I found there. I still look in from time to time, to see if there has been any improvement. I also decided not to have anything to do with blogging on Comment is Free because of the disgraceful overt display of dual standards when certain comments were made. To me it seems you gave your moderators free rein to decide whose posts should be banned, and it became apparent to me more and more as time went on that your site was “on a mission” to demonise Israel, Israelis and after what I read recently, Jews.

    I read the following recently on your blog. I copied the post in question via a screen dump:

    WilliamBapthorpe
    6 Jan 2010 1.08PM

    @Iwouldntifiwereyou

    Somebody should patiently explain to the Israeli’s that settlements are illegal under international law.

    We’ve been doing that for the last forty years til we’re blue in the face. Sadly there’s only one way to deal with these religiously motivated maniacs who think their superstitious beliefs trump international law. 1. We ask them to leave their squats, kindly 2. If they don’t we force them at gunpoint. 3. If they still refuse they must be slaughtered, every last man woman and child.

    It was removed and quite rightly so, but not before (I am sure) many people like me read it.

    I also read your comment on Robin Shepherd’s blog, and how you had the audacity and arrogance to try and wriggle out of your culpability in this incitement to murder Jewish men, women and children, by allowing this to appear on your blog (for however short a time) I at least expected this awful racist man to be banned from your site, but what appalled me even more was that you seem to think that to monitor him was a suitable action to take.

    I have spread what appeared on your blog far and wide, and have received many comments, some from my Jewish friends, but many more from non-Jewish ones. We are unanimous in calling for this person to be totally banned.

    Your attitude to Robin Shepherd was reprehensible. It reinforces my opinion that a more balanced and neutral effect might be obtained if you, after giving a public apology on Comment is Free to those you have offended deeply, not only banned this man, but resigned from Comment is Free. You have shown and not for the first time, but you are incapable of running a blog which not only does not live up to its name, but blatantly tears down the boundaries between free speech, however uncomfortable it is to hear, and incitement to murder members of a minority.

    Lynne Ormerod

  8. Comment by WilliamBapthorpe:

    What do you want to talk about?

    williambapthorpe’s comment 13 Jan 10, 2:20pm (about 1 hour ago)
    @JayReilly, did you take your moniker from A Confederacy of Dunces? (Just to show that I know what you’re talking about…) A great novel with a very sad story behind its composition / publication. I had assumed it was your real name. Dunno why, because mine sure as hell isn’t William Bapthorpe.

    Anyhoo my comments seem to be taking an age to appear, if at all. Is it this ‘plucking’ business? Anyone else experiencing this?

    Either Matt Smeaton is misleading us (untrustworthy?)
    or WilliamBapthorpe can’t read the message that tells him that his comments are being pre-moderated. Which do you think?

  9. Lynne O – excellent email. Please keep us informed of what he replies, if he replies.

    I particularly endorse the public apology from CiF – hopefully not one incurring the writing style team.

  10. pretzelberg – I was given no formal reason although I asked for one.

    I suspect it was because I protested that CiF commissioned articles from Hamas terrorist leaders and their fellow travellers here, such as Azzam “I would if I could but I can’t get a visa” Tamimi. This was before the enactment of the law against support for or glorification of terrorism in the UK.

  11. Margie, I think that our Matt Seaton is being economical with the actualite (if indeed he is aware of what the actualite is at any one time).

  12. PS to Margie

    Why not write to Matt Seaton and ask how Bapthorpe’s ability to post an hour ago ties in with what Seaton said on Robin Shepherd’s blog.

    That he is “trusted” again (and he must be or why would he be posting) suggests to me that incitement to murder of Jews is not a serious offence to CiF but I could of course be wrong….

  13. @ Mitnaged

    A comment like yours could, I suppose, warrant deletion on grounds of being off-topic.
    But worthy of a ban it certainly was not.
    Surely it wasn’t just because of that comment?

  14. Let’s hope some one files a criminal complaint under the UK’s race relations acts, which makes it a criminal offense to utter any incitement or expression that could injure any group. And The Guardian, by allowing him continued posting privileges, has not only disregarded its own policy and terms of service, its broken the law.

  15. HairShirt

    So its idiots like you that waste the Met’s time for a comment posted on CIF! Do you apply the same scrutiny to youtube posters as well?

  16. I got banned from CIF cause I made a concentration camp joke, but I was only joking. How come I’m the only one, its not fair!
    Thank you

  17. pretzelberg, how can I know? The whole community policy is like something from Through the Looking Glass: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

    I certainly have my doubts as to whether Seaton knows what his own community policy means from moment to moment, when he is so confused in the language he himself uses and smokescreens in the way he does when put on the spot.

  18. @ NormanF

    Horrible though any such “slaughter the men, women and children” comment is, in this specific scenario you’d have absolutely no case to make in court.

  19. pretzelberg

    To Mitnaged …”I see you were also banned from CiF. Were any reasons given? Was it triggered by a particular comment? ”

    When I say he wanted to get banned I am only partially joking. I believe there to be posters who deliberately cross the line and dont care if they get banned ..then wear it like a badge. In fact it gives them time to write here.

    Re Bagpuss’ comment…this surprised me ..I read some of his posts and he did not strike me as extreme. My guess is he was drunk but even loaded I would never use such language …was he trying to be ironic ?? I dont know. He has done the pro peace , pro Palestinian lobby harm by his horrific remarks even tho ..as you say… he did not in any way say “slaughter the Jews ” as everyone except you and Irish think.

  20. Pretzelberg

    ‘ Mitnaged
    A comment like yours could, I suppose, warrant deletion on grounds of being off-topic.
    But worthy of a ban it certainly was not.
    Surely it wasn’t just because of that comment?’

    Do you know something the rest of us don’t ? If so, share. If not, shut up. You are hinting that Mitnaged is a liar, aren’t you? Either substantiate your irksome sly in tone challenge or bugger off. On balance your posts tend to pointless. You add to scrolling time, the time it takes to scroll past pointless whittering.

    On the basis of NormanF’s post, he does not present a decent claim, in my opinion. However the comment at the centre of this in itself should be perused by the DPP in my opinion. Where exactly did you read Law ?

  21. cifwatchwatch

    Do you apply the same scrutiny to youtube posters as well?

    Youtube is not on a crusade to destroy the one Western Liberal Democracy in the Middle East.

  22. Swiss Watch, I was banned long before CiFWatch came into existence, and partially joking or not you are looking like an idiot for the assumptions you make, aren’t you? Perhaps, using your cockeyed logic, Berchmans, Moron and LaRit are longing to get banned too?

    (Incidentally, who is “Bagpuss?” Is this your pet name for Bapthorpe? Are you drunk or is he your very good friend? Bapthorpe referred to slaughtering “religious maniacs” and somehow, given his previous deposits on CiF I doubt that he was referring to Palestinian Muslim maniacs. This means that we can safely infer that he meant Jews, if that is we have any sense at all, and most of us who took issue with the post do).

  23. Bapthorpe, Seaton, Red Ken, “Gallowsway” … there seen to be precious few people who are not jew-haters. Little wonder that the UK is going to the dogs.