Why personal abuse is not acceptable…

We recently received a letter from one Ed Moloney who was not pleased at a series of comments made by commenters on Slugger during the run up to the election. However after a robust and lengthy correspondence we have resolved the matter amicably – see statement below.

Whilst we don’t agree that the statements were necessarily libellous, we also don’t believe that public figures should be subjected to the kind of personal abuse Mr Moloney received. It serves as a potent reminder to some of our more passionate commenters that neither blogs nor their commenters are above the law.

The agreed statement:

On the 20th April a series of seven messages were posted in the comments zone on Slugger O’Toole, which represented an unacceptable and wholly inaccurate personal attack on the integrity and work of one of Northern Ireland’s most senior and highly respected journalists, Ed Moloney.

The comments remained there until Slugger received a letter from Mr Moloney highlighting these ‘disgraceful and egregiously inaccurate slurs’ on his person, whereupon we removed the same material immediately.

Mr Moloney, in common with most journalists whose work appears here, has no problem with robust criticism of his analysis and work. What he (and we) cannot tolerate are offensive and untruthful attacks on his personal integrity.

Although the matter has been amicably resolved between Mr Moloney and Slugger O’Toole, the issue of using Slugger’s freely offered facilities to unfairly attack the integrity of any public figure remains a concern.

We have now established a large team of moderators. Their job is to keep an eye on the comments and remove, post hoc, any likely offensive material as promptly as possible. To that end, we reserve the absolute right to edit or remove posts at our discretion.

The commenting facility here at Slugger is open to all. We want to keep it that way. The only way that can be guaranteed is that you play clean and play fair!

  • Jo

    I am pleased that this was amicably resolved (but can only dimly recall the relevant events!)

    Slugger does not contain the same levels of personal abuse as another site which I could name and I think that this is down to to ethos – if there is a significant ad hominem or extremely provocative slant to the way issues are highlighted in the first place, it encourages a similar format in responses and a deteriorating set of increasingly personal interactions thereafter.
    Election and McCartney issues apart, I think things have remained fairly civilised here, but I see no necessity for bad language at any time!

  • Wichser

    I still think the approach is too mumsy, some of the moderators don’t seem able to distinguish between legitimatelt challenging individual posters and their views and the wqay that they articulate them and this rather anal ‘play the ball not the man’ obsession. It spoils the ability to debate.

  • Henry94

    highly respected journalists, Ed Moloney.

    Flattery is still allowed then?

  • iluvni

    ‘one of Northern Ireland’s most senior and highly respected journalists, Ed Moloney.’

    who wrote that bit…. Moloney himself?

  • The Watchman

    I object to this statement. There’s a split infinitive in the fourth paragraph.

  • Mick Hall

    Henry,

    You are a highly articulate person, someone whose posts I enjoy reading, yet you seem to have a blind spot as far as Mr Moloney is concerned. Before he wrote his book the secret history of the IRA Mr Moloney was amongst those journalist considered by the RM as ‘in the loop’. It was only after he critiqued Gerry Adams that you and your party members turned on him and he became fair game. Please explain how a man who was regarded by the PRM as an honest and decent writer, can almost overnight be regarded as you portray him today. The mistake your comrades made, is just because he agreed that the injustices your members suffered back then was wrong, this made him your patsy.

    Because people disagree with you does not make them bad writers or tools of the intelligence service. Just why have you such a low opinion of him? give me an example? I would be very interested to know what actual piece of his work is so inaccurate and badly written that it made you hold your current opinion. Plus why out of all the journalists who cover the north, many without distinction, Moloney tops your list to scorn.

    In my humble opinion he is a fine journalist and always has been.

    Regards

    PS must leave slugger now and do some work, it seems to have had me under its spell this morning.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    I find the hostility puzzling. In his book I thought Moloney came across as an admirer of Adams.

  • Jo

    Wischer:
    If you want a less mumsy style, go to A Tangled Web. Personally, I dont see the need to use the eff word.

  • Wichser

    Jo

    I don’t see a need for it either and don’t use it, that wasn’t what my post was referring to or didn’t you bother to read it ? I have no desire to contribute to the revolting ATW thank you, they ban you over there simply by virture of one daring to challenge their far right christian militarism, even in a respectful fashion.

  • peteb
  • Henry94

    Mick Hall

    Reading your post someone may get the impression that it was something I said which caused the problem. I hope that is not the case and if it is I would like to know what.

  • Jo

    Wischer:
    Steady, please. I read your post and was simply contrasting the house rules there and here.

    I know you dont use the eff word and Im glad not many here do, either. Now, calmmmmmm….. 🙂

    (I’m consumed with curiosity as to how you challenged the f-r-c-m. I only got as far as being called an effing liberal and that did it for me. Gratuitous agression is the phrase that came to mind – and that was a woman who said that (allegedly)) 🙂

  • Jo

    Wischer:
    Steady, please. I read your post and was simply contrasting the house rules there and here.

    I know you dont use the eff word and Im glad not many here do, either. Now, calmmmmmm….. 🙂

    (I’m consumed with curiosity as to how you challenged the f-r-c-m. I only got as far as being called an effing liberal and that did it for me. Gratuitous agression is the phrase that came to mind when I was called that – and it was a woman who said it (allegedly)) 🙂

  • crat

    In the context of this ‘story’ would saying ‘Ed Moloney seems like someone with far too much time on his hands’ be against the commenting policy? Is he person that threatened legal action*?

    *Threatened to have this site shut down.

    Wonderful man.

  • bertie

    I’m going to make a confession. As right releif to balance the serious nature of topics under discussion I seek shelter in the Big Brother forum. I have to say the emotions of mostly hate to the housemates or to other posters who comment on anyway unfavourably about someone’s particular hero can be worse than anything I’ve seen here!

    On this topic I remember two post on Slugger:-

    “How do we play the ball and not the man when the man is the ball?”

    and the answer:-

    “very carefully”.

    Considering what we talk about on here and how close it is to what can be painful as well as touching us at the core of our loyalties and identities I think the balance on Slugger is quite an acheivement.

    Group hug, Group hug, Group hug,
    Sorry wrong forum ;0)

  • Jo

    Nice one,Bertie 🙂

  • Mick Hall

    Mick Hall

    Reading your post someone may get the impression that it was something I said which caused the problem. I hope that is not the case and if it is I would like to know what.

    Posted by: Henry94

    Henry

    Please do not be silly. you understand perfectly what I meant, what makes you feel the rest of the people who read slugger would be unable to do so, do you have such a low opinion of the intellectual level of your fellow Sluggerites 😉

    Now getting back to why you have such a low opinion of Mr Moloney’s writing….

    Regards

  • Henry94

    Mick Hall

    My only contribution to this discussion was a mild joke about flattery so I assumed the basis for you question was a previous discussion. Is that the case?

    If so then I also think it is reasonable to be concerned that someone could get the impression that something I said caused the problem.

    Because if from this

    i highly respected journalists, Ed Moloney.

    i Flattery is still allowed then?

    you extrapolated all this

    i you seem to have a blind spot as far as Mr Moloney is concerned. Before he wrote his book the secret history of the IRA Mr Moloney was amongst those journalist considered by the RM as ‘in the loop’. It was only after he critiqued Gerry Adams that you and your party members turned on him and he became fair game. Please explain how a man who was regarded by the PRM as an honest and decent writer, can almost overnight be regarded as you portray him today. The mistake your comrades made, is just because he agreed that the injustices your members suffered back then was wrong, this made him your patsy.

    i Because people disagree with you does not make them bad writers or tools of the intelligence service. Just why have you such a low opinion of him? give me an example? I would be very interested to know what actual piece of his work is so inaccurate and badly written that it made you hold your current opinion. Plus why out of all the journalists who cover the north, many without distinction, Moloney tops your list to scorn.

    then it is not justified.

    If you have some basis in another discussion for your points then quote me directly so that it is clear that I have never said anything at all about Moloney that may be actionable. In particular I have never said he was a bad writer or a tool of the of the intelligence services. I think it quite extrodinary that you would suggest that I did in the context of this particualr discussion.

  • Mick Hall

    Henry,
    I read you last post with some amusement, but im afraid I cannot oblige you by preceding down this particular cul de sac. However if we could get back to why you have such a low opinion of Mr Moloney’s writing…. If im mistaken in thinking this, and you hold him in high regard, or simple feel it is none of my business what you think of his writing, you only have to say so.

    In the meantime I wish you well, but fear we are going to have to agree to differ on this..

  • Henry94

    Mick Hall

    I’m happy to disagree on matters of opinion but on matters of fact we must establish the truth.

    Do you accept that I made no allegation that Ed Moloney or any other journalist was a tool of the intelligence services.

  • Boom-tish

    And we thank Mick and Henry for their version of Abbott and Costello during Slugger’s comedy hour….don’t quit the day job, boys.

  • hlmch2

    Boomish

    LOL 😉 great stuff.

  • crat

    Ed, (we know you read)

    You complained so much Mick had to apologise as well as delete the offending comments?

    You do realise this website is for free?

    What did you threaten? How long did you continuing complaining after the comments that offended were removed? Was Mick kissing your ass a stipulation for you to stop wasting his time?

    You. Squinter. Same. Think on that.

  • cladycowboy

    I hope this isn’t libellous but who the hell is Ed Moloney?

  • crat

    Ed Moloney?

    A man with enough time to indulge in this rubbish?

    ”one of Northern Ireland’s most senior and highly respected journalists’

    Seems like a bit of a whinger.

  • cladycowboy

    crat

    It was supposed to be a rhetorical question, thought it would be a fitting end to the thread 😉

  • crat

    I bet this won’t be in the biography‘: Chapter 9, ”one of Northern Ireland’s most senior and highly respected journalists’ has an lengthy and sometimes robust (mmm, as pete would say)exchange with a blogger, leading to the most arse lickingly fine apology possible.

  • Robert Keogh

    Some people think far too highly of themselves. Flames have been part and parcel of the internet since before there was one, and an inimicable element of human nature for time immemorial.

    Ed should cop himself on and if he has a problem with comments made he can respond to the commentator right on slugger.

    This really smacks of “Mommy, mommy the bad boys at school made fun of me and made me cry!”

    Is it possible to reproduce the offending comments so we know what caused all the stink in the first place?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Quite apart for the libel aspect there is the tedious necessity each time certain commentators’ colums are blogged of ploughing through half a dozen posts dealing not with the content of the piece but how columnist X is biased/retarded/illiterate/on the MI5 payroll or whatever. Can we not at least take it as read that we’ve worked out by now which poster don’t like which columnists and move on to the subject matter?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    btw I don’t wish to appear puritanical. Flaming and abuse can be fun if done well but there is a time and place for it. The place of course is DebCen, not here.

  • Nic

    “Wichser”, eh? The mods here obviously didn’t study modern European languages in school….