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.
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guidelines or terms and conditions will have their posting privileges for all guardian.co.uk community areas withdrawn.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.