All things in moderation…

Well, wouldn’t you know it. On the very day I decide to put down some candid thoughts on the business of moderation, a ruck kicks off between two of Slugger’s bloggers, comments are removed and a row ensues about free speech on Slugger. Demonstrating that the Internet is ultimately a free space, Ignited has *some* of the original copy. He reports feeling “quite perturbed at the censorship of Turgon’s comments as it undermines what I believe was the strength of Slugger: that of freedom to contribute, and debate with fellow commentators”. Chekov feels a line has been crossed: http://url.ie/15bv.I don’t intend to comment directly on the events of the other night, except to say that on Slugger we try not to duck difficult issues. In this case we made an approach to interview Belfast City councillor and former MLA Billy Hutchinson, and it clearly caused some upset. That’s not unusual for Slugger. We have a very mixed audience and not everything we chose to cover is comfortable for all of our commenters.

I would make three remarks on the general principles involved.

One, moderation is something that by and large has fallen to two or three experienced bloggers. Often it’s a fairly easy call, but at other times, the surgeon’s knife is called for. Understanding how to moderate with a light touch is a skill to be acquired and not something that comes as easily as it may seem.

Two, the purpose of light touch moderation is primarily to improve the general level of debate. In general that is how we go on. Personally I am much more likely to clip abuse hurled at some third party than any given criticism of me. But the rule should be that so long as it is civil it should stand.

Three, we are serious about finding new ways of developing the comment zone to encourage higher level discourse here, but strong and adept moderation will likely always form the backbone of good online engagement. As I have said before we need greater bluntness in our exchanges combined with greater civility.

I hope we will be able to arrange for and publish the interview with Billy Hutchinson within the next week or so.

In the meantime we’re going to do some in-house work on this to develop more of a common code and try to make sure there are more than just the core team of moderators. In the meantime, let the conversation continue

  • RepublicanStones

    Damn…i hate it when i miss a good handbags session 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    Watched pot and all that…

  • dosser

    Wasn’t it Kissinger who said that ‘academic fights are more brutal than our fights in the real world because the stakes are so low’?

    I think this can also be applied to the internet.

    Another apposite statement might be: ‘bald men fighting over a comb’.

  • Kathleen

    Well I’m going to say something here. Firstly when I contacted Billy hutchinson it was to interview him surrounding his time in long kesh, his experience there and loyalism generally as well as the pup. Nothing like that was to come into it. That stuff about hurting and killing people would be for a much more experienced blogger than me and I didn’t want to touch it.

    That was the reason for removing some of those comments.

    Secondly, not everything is there. ?? called me terrorist loving scum for interviewing him, Mick Fealty said he was banned for it, but he was still commenting last night. His comment:

    I’m just off the phone to mick… ………..

    oh grow up and dry your eyes and suck round some more terrorist scumbags

    Turgons comments were edited because they were outside my remit, all we have is his e mails to show what he wanted to say to me:

    L:ets look at the attitude:

    Kathleen,
    I questioned the appropriatness of interviewing an individual who has no political strategy, no political support and no popularity. His only “claim” to fame is the noteority of being a terrorist murderer. I could probably with a few phone calls get you an interview with Torrens Knight the evil killer at Greysteel since I know a man who went to argue with him about the utter immorality of his actions. I would not, however, as Knight (like Hutchinson) has no mandate other than his own evil actions. One might as well do a political interview with the man who murdered those young women in Ipswich.

    Interviewing Billy Hutchinson is different in that the PUP are a political party, Turgon doesn’t seem to get that:

    Do not even pretend that you giving a mandate less criminal the opportunity to say his piece was going to get justice for the McCords.

    The PUP are not mandateless, and if the McCord family didn’t want the questions posed or objected why write the questions out.

    Like I said before this was above my pay grade as someone famously said. I merely wanted the experiences of the kesh and to look at loyalism generally as Billy had said previously it was a legitimate cause. That was my remit. That stuff of taking the life of loved ones is not for a beginner like me, I simply wasn’t going to touch it.

  • cynic

    Ho hummmmm

    Its not right to interview terrorists but it becomes ok if they are elected? [text removed – mods]

    Well at one point Billy was elected so doesn’t that make him a former politician?

  • dub

    Kathleen,

    Seems the whole thread has now gone? Why?

    Also, whatever about things being beyond your remit, it is imcomprehensible to me that Turgon’s comments were actually removed. I have read them on Ignited. There was no man playing, insults or anything else.

    I myself have said some pretty harsh things to Turgon on this site. None of the comments has ever been removed nor has he asked Mick to remove them.

    You were at liberty not to put the questions Turgon asked to Billy Hutchinson if you wanted. But why remove the comments? I think this was a DISGRACEFUL act of censorship.

    ??’s comments were unpleasant from what you have posted but they are not to be conflated with Turgon’s which it seems to me you are doing in your post here.

    This is nearly worse than removing Turgon’s comments in the first place. You are now trying to put him on a par with a poster who has personally insulted you. Turgon did not and in my opinion would never do that.

    The murder of Thomas Devlin was an obscene act. I personally feel that it is perfectly legitimate to ask Billy Hutchinson questions about this murder. He is a public representative for this area and has clear associations with the murder gang who carried out this bold operation.

    Not to ask him questions about this whilst the murderers go unpunished is imho lily livered. Just my opinion. I seem to recall him criticising the family on one occasion for their actions in trying to seek justice. This alone means that he should be asked over and over about this killing until he comes up with some answers.

  • kathleen

    O and before I head off,this comment from the serpent:

    Only on Slugger….

    West Belfast Catholic Conservative protects Liberal Loyalist Murderer from Bible Bashing Polemicist from Middle Earth !!

    Mick Fealty said:
    Yep. We owe him as much to enforce the site rules. More than happy to do that for that thread.

    Thats owed to everybody, it wasn’t in this case. Neither was it shown to me. If interviewing people like Billy Hutchinson is terrorist loving scum somebody better tell NI journalists.

    So who is in charge of who gets interviewed?

    Name calling to that extent – thats not questioning my reasons thats personal. If some stuff was removed that in some opinions should not have been removed put it down to learning on the job, I didn’t know learning on the job would involve those kind of jibes….

    I hope we will be able to arrange for and publish the interview with Billy Hutchinson within the next week or so.

    What and take more insults for my trouble. And what of the interview of Dawn Purvis from the PUP?
    Are they out of bounds?

    Mick Fealty said don’t just grab what is around you, reach accross to unionism… look what I got for my trouble.

    Do it again… gimmie one good reason why I should?

  • Kathleen

    Seems the whole thread has now gone? Why?

    Nothing to do with me….. I didn’t close it.

  • Kathleen

    Well at one point Billy was elected so doesn’t that make him a former politician?

    He’s in a political party work it out cynic…

  • Mick Fealty

    Kathleen,

    ?? has been banned, but he may be posting under another IP. He’s been banned for just those remarks you’ve replicated above.

    Let me be clear, if you see someone you know to be banned persisting with posting on Slugger, please report it to me and I will take action.

    I cannot take action if I do not know about it. Hearing about it in the comment zone first is far from ideal.

    Right, now I am going to clip this thread as a demonstration of what I mean by light touch moderation.

  • kensei

    I don’t think the thread should have been removed but Turgon was clearly man playing. The relevant bits should ahve been cut and thread locked if need be, rather than a complete nuke.

  • Kathleen

    Turgon is an experienced blogger. He was at liberty to contact mick about anything I proposed to do. I simply didn’t want to fight in house on line. That was a mistake, I should have taken him on, but prefered to take it behind the scenes….

  • dub

    Mr Hutchinson had responded angrily to Thomas’ parents’ claims that Mount Vernon was harbouring their son’s killers and to their criticisms of Bertie Ahern’s decision to give a grant to the loyalist area

    Ms Holloway believes the ex-UVF killer should have been focusing on appealing for help to catch Thomas’ killers.

    “Billy Hutchinson had a really good opportunity last week to urge those close to Thomas’ killers to come forward and tell police what they know,” she said.

    “Someone like him has a lot of influence in that community and it would have been helpful if he had come out and said that if anyone had information they should share it with the police, but he did not do that.

    “Instead he accused us of attacking an entire community.

    “If he had listened to ourselves and the police, he would have known that we were appealing to those closest to the murderer to come forward with crucial information.

    “Instead, he insisted that no one in the area knew anything about the murder and warned that we should be careful what we say, which I found quite threatening.

    “But we will never stop appealing for help in seeing those responsible for Thomas’ murder behind bars.”

    Mr Hutchinson had hit out after it was revealed Thomas Devlin’s parents had written to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern criticising a grant to a Mount Vernon community group with which he is involved.

    They had asked that the Taoiseach put pressure on community leaders, including Hutchinson, to use their influence to deliver the killers.

    Said Mr Hutchinson: “I understand that the woman is completely devastated by the murder of her son, but what she has to do is recognise that what she is doing is branding a whole community. I am on record as saying anyone with any information about the murder of Thomas Devlin should give it to the police.”

    (from Belfast Telegraph:http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sunday-life/news/mothers-fury-at-hutchinson-smokescreen-13904717.html)

    There we have it: Billy Hutchinson feels free to threaten the parents of Thomas Devlin. If I ever got the chance to interview this man, this is the very first line of questioning I would take with him.

  • Kathleen,

    I don’t mean to be harsh, but you seem hell bent on continuing to point the finger of blame on Turgon. Personally I have no problem with you interviewing Billy Hutchinson as I think it could be very interesting. That aside you are going to have to get used to harsh criticism and diatribes against you and your subject.

    Let it rest and move on.

  • Kathleen

    The murder of Thomas Devlin was an obscene act. I personally feel that it is perfectly legitimate to ask Billy Hutchinson questions about this murder.

    Absolutely, like the questions from the McCord family I was bringing that with me:

    Have you talked with the parents of Thomas Devlin?

    If so and without betraying confidence, did you offer them hope or gloom?

    With respect to the murder of Thomas Devlin, who needs to come forward and what needs to be said?

    With respect to the murder of Thomas Devlin, are, or have, the PSNI or other security services acted in such a way as to protect their intelligence ‘assets’?

    posted by somersetroadresident,

  • dub

    Kathleen,

    I think it was a great idea to interview Billy Hutchinson. And Turgon’s comments were legitimate. You were at liberty to disagree with him or point out that you would not ask those questions. Removing his posts was bizarre and Kensei, I cannot see how his posts were man playing.

    Mick,

    AS it appears that you removed the entire thread… why?

  • kensei

    dub

    The issue isn’t Billy Hutchinson. The questions Turgon asked were fair game. His point is made effectively. He went beyond that and played the man, both Kathleen and Billy Hutchinson.

    The complaint about “democratic discussion” while trying to shut down debate is a veritable irony explosion.

    At the end of the day he should not be making difficulty for other bloggers, accusing them of bad faith or jeopordising their relationships. If he has serious issues he should take them offline.

  • Kathleen

    There we have it: Billy Hutchinson feels free to threaten the parents of Thomas Devlin. If I ever got the chance to interview this man, this is the very first line of questioning I would take with him

    Then you do that. Meanwhile I was taking questions on both those issues.

    That aside you are going to have to get used to harsh criticism and diatribes against you and your subject.

    And thats fine too. But Turgon was clearly on a mission here. From Turgon..

    Not busy because not interviewing Billy Hutchinson?

    You will forgive me if I do not cry for you. I will state again, however, that in no way did I prevent you interviewing Hutchinson. I said I disapproved of it and accused you of a vanity project: that was all. I have no doubt that you do not regard it as man playing: you just do not like being criticised and man playing was your sob strategy. I am afraid being a blogger means you get criticised: that is life.

    Now I see from the emails that you have been complaining to Mick: that is fine. It is immaterial to me to whom you complain or what happens. I believe in democratic debate and as such one can criticise other’s decisions. You clearly do not.

    In addition the spurious suggestion that you were going to help the McCord family by asking questions is pathetic. The McCord family seem not unreasonably to want justice. Do not even pretend that you giving a mandate less criminal the opportunity to say his piece was going to get justice for the McCords.

    Now by all means continue whinning to Mick and anyone else you wish to: the reality is that you removed comments because you did not like them. We all get comments we do not like and the rest of us just get on with it: you are not special. You deserve no special status: telling me you are a middle aged mum cuts no ice with me.

    How many times??? Mick Fealty knew who was being interviewed.. If there was a problem he should have said…

    Who I interview shouldn’t be an issue for anybody else but mick fealty. Forgive me but isn’t this HIS space…

    If Turgon had problems with that, he ought to have sought clarification from behind the scenes (mick) first, before putting up his fists and preparing to fight on an in house issue on line.. At least thats my take of the situation.

  • kensei

    Ignited

    The point missed is that in order to get the interviews personal relationships have to be made. That is complicated when threads are filled with bile or moralising and compromises the ability to get further interviews. There is a certain amount of acceptable flack. But just like the people that get escorted off Let’s Talk or Question Time for being ranting or beign disruptive, Slugger has to enforce a certain amount of civility regardless of who the subject is.

  • Kathleen,

    Really? A email between yourself and Turgon? Now that is pretty pathetic if I’m honest.

    Big bad Turgon eh?

    Stop digging the hole.

  • Kathleen

    Kathleen,

    Really? A email between yourself and Turgon? Now that is pretty pathetic if I’m honest.

    Big bad Turgon eh?

    Stop digging the hole.

    What hole is that? The laying out of the situation is not digging a hole. I didn’t put the thread up…. Mick Fealty needs to state his position on what goes on here. Unless somebody died and theres someone else in charge about here?

    Who is a legitimate subject to interview for slugger o’toole,and if a person agrees will they be afforded the commenting policy or not?

    Then again who is going to risk jibes like that to interview for slugger o’toole….

    Or shall we stick to recording what on the telly..?

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s not as simple as that Ken. Wasn’t it you who said that in giving Pete some needle that you were ‘only throwing rocks at your betters?’ 😉

    If bloggers on Slugger have to sign an oath of Omerta against criticising other bloggers on Slugger, we might as well pack up and go home. Mostly it increases the value of the comments zone. Sometimes it doesn’t. So long as the engagement is civil, I don’t see a problem.

    We are not a single party signed up to the same aims, though we are signed up to a common means: civil discourse. There is no, nor should there ever be, a party whip.

    Okay, why did I take off the thread? Easy. My wife is at 40 weeks today, and I have even less time to fact check every contribution on that thread to feel secure enough to put it back up online.

    If I can just remind people, all of the output on Slugger happens because people volunteer their time. I would like us to move towards tighter and more consistent handling of comments that fall outside the commenting policy. We’ll look at up dating and fine tuning that policy too.

    I am unhappy about the sharing of private correspondence on this thread and elsewhere on the site. That is a matter I will deal with separately to the ongoing question of moderation.

    I’m not personally worried about being quoted on anything I’ve written privately, but others may not feel the same way. It’s a breach of confidence I am not prepared to tolerate by commenters or bloggers.

  • dub

    He went beyond that and played the man, both Kathleen and Billy Hutchinson.

    Kensei,

    I honestly cannot see that he did that. He stated unpalatable facts about Billy Hutchinson, yes. I cannot see that he has played Kathleen anywhere.

    Kathleen,

    I think it is very sad that this interview is not going ahead. I would have loved to have seen it. And it was entirely up to you what you asked Mr Hutchinson. I just cannot understand why you cut Turgon’s comments, nor can i understand why you are not going ahead with this.

    Turgon,

    I completely disagree with you when you imply that by interviewing Billy Hutchinson that one would be somehow condoning his actions in the past, present or future. I do agree that you have been gravely wronged here. I think you comments about “whining” fall below your usuual standards of high taste. But then you are angry and I would be in the same situation. Also I support you in your wish to see Hutchinson taken on fully in relation to the murder of Thomas Devlin. His on the record threats to Thomas Devlin’s family are shocking.

  • Kathleen

    Mick I’m in a position where I have to defend myself. I have a legitimate right to do that.

  • kensei

    Pete

    It’s not as simple as that Ken. Wasn’t it you who said that in giving Pete some needle that you were ‘only throwing rocks at your betters?’ 😉

    Yup, but I would not do so if it was likely to jeopordise Pete’s ability to do what he does. There is a difference between chucking a rock and trying to blow someone up. And Pete has been doing this a lot longer than Kathleen.

    And note, I’ve stopped more or less because I don’t want the shit involved.

    If bloggers on Slugger have to sign an oath of Omerta against criticising other bloggers on Slugger, we might as well pack up and go home. Mostly it increases the value of the comments zone. Sometimes it doesn’t. So long as the engagement is civil, I don’t see a problem.

    There is a fuzzy line here. The interview with Billy Hutchinson is both contentious, requires arranging and the establishment of personal relationships and has direct repercussions on future ability to get further interviews. If Turgon had a big issue, then it seems appropriate to me that he takes it offline and discusses it with you and Kahleen. I don’t see anything in the policy that says this is not allowed, or that Turgon can go off on one about “vanity projects”. There are other ways he can make his point. His questions are fair game. He has the capacity to post up something on relevant incidents. But if he really can’t support the site’s ability to be open to everyone, then I can’t see how he can continue.

    If someone on Let’s Talk or Question Time starts yelling out questions about incident x to Gerry Adams, however fair the question that person will be removed as it jeopordises the overall enterprise. Similarly here. You might not like the person but you shut up and deal with the issues raised. The system cannot deal with a big argument everytime someone controversial is to be interviewed and Slugger does not need the online equivalent of Protestors outside the door.

  • kensei

    I’m not personally worried about being quoted on anything I’ve written privately, but others may not feel the same way. It’s a breach of confidence I am not prepared to tolerate by commenters or bloggers.

    On this I’d tend to agree unless there is an exceptional need e.g. public contradictory statements.

  • veritas

    kathleen since she has arrived or forced herself on slugger has been a complete and utter disaster waiting to happen…

    she posts threads and gets annoyed when her lack of subject knowledge is highlighted, takes the hump and retreats into the realms of threats and innuendo…

  • Dewi

    “Mick I’m in a position where I have to defend myself. I have a legitimate right to do that”

    Kath, you asked Turgon to take things off-line, he does and then you publish him. Don’t know what one of the Slugger rules that breaks but it’s a breach of trust IMHO.

  • Kathleen

    Kath, you asked Turgon to take things off-line, he does and then you publish him. Don’t know what one of the Slugger rules that breaks but it’s a breach of trust IMHO.

    Be reasonable. There are now two threads up on two different blog concerning me. I have a legitimate right to defend myself in the face of that.

    Veritas I didn’t force myself on slugger… I was asked and accepted.

  • Turgon

    dub,
    It is fair to say that my emails to kathleen were sharp. I would not have said that on line.

    I would like to point out, however, that the emails kathleen has posted are one side of what I took to be a private discussion. She initiated the discussion and indeed continued it; hers were the first and last comments. If necessary in order to defend myself I will publish the whole transcript. Kathleen asked me to delete it but I kept it. It might shed a somewhat different light on the discussion.

    However, I would prefer not to put up the emails. If people insist I will do so but I feel that emails between two people should in general be kept confidential.

  • Mick Fealty

    Kathleen,

    I should not need to make my position public. Doing it privately should suffice. But here is:

    “Who is a legitimate subject to interview for slugger o’toole,and if a person agrees will they be afforded the commenting policy or not?”

    That is for *you* to decide, with my backing of course. The blog comments are an important part of the deal, but commenters comment, they do not set the editorial choice of the blog.

    People may not like that choice? Tough. They have to live with it, but they are also, so long as they remain civil, entitled to argue with it.

    Clearly the commenting policy gives us a lot of latitude to act without explanation.

    We have become (or perhaps we have always been) a very closed society, use to being demonised, and as Lionel Shriver perceptively noted, demonising others in the way we ourselves have been.

    The emphasis here is on openness. Open to voices that rarely get heard, be they civic leaders, or political dissents. They do not need a mandate to have something useful and interesting to say.

    They should not expect an easy ride here either. All we can promise them that is that the criticism they will face will be made through rules of civil engagement.

    Civility and bluntness is the top and bottom of this…

  • Kathleen

    Kathleen asked me to delete it

    I asked you to remove my name from your list… Yes I did have the last say, I asked you to stop.

  • DC

    Personally I couldn’t give a toss about personalities asserting themselves to stress a particular point of view of their own.

    Here is a book:

    http://booksxyz.com/profile3359099.php

    It states:

    ‘Too frequently analyses have neglected to study the wider changes that have occurred inside and outside Northern Ireland. These have had profound effects in changing attitudes towards violence, paramilitaries, the position of women and ideas of nationalism and sovereignty. This book places the implementation of the Belfast Agreement in a wider context to provide an analysis of why implementation has been so difficult.

    Kathleen is fully entitled to hold an interview with whoever she wants, just like the researcher in this book did, in an attempt to gain insights.

    Just because he is a convicted murderer and doesn’t fit in with someone’s morals doesn’t mean he should be attacked outright when not on topic, but having said that on a point of fact it is correct and shouldn’t have been removed.

    It shows a certain degree narrowness on both parties, but then this is Unionism and Nationalism whatever can we expect when it puts on its historical glasses and looks back all the time trying to score points.

    It all got a little anal didn’t it.

  • Turgon

    Just to mkae it clear the quotation on #18 on the previous page is from a private email I sent in response to emails from kathleen. As I said I have no desire to publish transcript of all the emails but if kathleen continues to selectively publish parts of a discussion then I will do so.

  • fin

    Lets be honest, if the questions posed on the original thread had been used the majority of answers would have been “no comment” and hence a rubbish and pointless interview.

    Turgon, has actually formulated a good question elsewhere for which I would like to hear Billy’s views.

    It was in relation to the amount of support for loyalist\unionist paramilitaries within loyalism\unionism and possibly its ebb and flow and overall relationship, and as someone else added on the same thread, how it differs from nationalist
    epublican support for violence.

    Billy was an obvious target for this style of questioning, however, there are senior unionist politicans who could rightfully be asked the same questions because of their actions in the past!

  • fair_deal

    Kathleen

    Since I started blogging on slugger I have made about 3 or 4 apologies for something I have done or said on a thread, works out about 3/4% of all my blogs on slugger. It taught me that the most sensible course when an error is made is to admit it is a fair cop and apologise.

    It has also been my experience that all new bloggers face a tough response from commentors at first. It is test of their mettle and depth and a good opportunity to learn from and get through.

    The alternative is to go into full justification mode. As my negotiation/mediation trainer crudely explained, justification is like masturbation, the only person who is getting screws is yourself.

  • Dave

    “That stuff about hurting and killing people would be for a much more experienced blogger than me and I didn’t want to touch it.” – Kathleen

    When why ‘touch’ such an individual at all? Would you interview Rosemary West about her love for her husband, Fred, but omit to mention their mutual interest in nubile females that brought both of them to public attention? I think it is unhealthy to place these people outside of the context wherein they operate and thereby allow them to be artificially recast as other than they actually are. But then again, that un-healthiness is at the core of your present peace process, so it’s perhaps understandable if we get to see the ‘cuddly terrorist’ persona on a pro rata basis. To paraphrase The Dubliners, “Thank g-d there’s a border between us.”

  • William

    There needs to be consistency on Slugger…Willie Frazer and in recent days Jim Allister have both been subjected to personal abuse and in Willie’s case, in my opinion, lilbellous remarks from some of the Republicans.

    I have pointed both of these out to Mick, both in postings and personally and nothing whatsoever was done about it.

    I wonder why? I suppose Frazer and Allister are fair game, but the touchy rebels and terrorists have to be molycoddled least they go back to what they know best.

    BTW Mick, I’m still awaiting the email of explanation. Not holding my breath I hasten to add !!

  • “My wife is at 40 weeks today, and I have even less time to fact check every contribution on that thread to feel secure enough to put it back up online.”

    Cor blimey Mick,

    You do allow trivialities to impact on your work, what next the snow?

    Only kidding, I hope she is fine and all goes well, beside a new life all this is chicken feed.

    Take care.

  • Kathleen

    As my negotiation/mediation trainer crudely explained, justification is like masturbation, the only person who is getting screws is yourself.

    eeerrrrrrrrrr….. Depends on how you feel about masturbation, whether you like it or whether you don’t 🙂 Maybe you should have asked him… 🙂

  • Neil

    I reckon you can never throw something like that open to the floor, not here. You pick any figure from Republicanism or Unionism and some people here are going to go for the throat. Civility is not universally likely.

    The other thing I would say is that the removal of comments is always going to be siezed upon, and rightly so. Once you have the idea to throw things open to the floor, you have to weigh up what the possible outcomes are.

    With a character like Billy, there was always a strikingly high chance that you were going to have people saying things like ‘Ask him why he’s a total ?’ Not nice, not clever but hey, this is the internet where the not nice and not clever can foist their opinions onto other folk.

    So the genie was out of the bottle there and at that stage any idea of censoring the questions should have already been off limits.

    Speaking of genies getting out of bottles, I had a wee lad five weeks ago Mick. I think I’ve had about six hours sleep since then, if I were you I’d be getting some back up sleep at this stage…

  • Harry Flashman

    “[i]Okay, why did I take off the thread? Easy. My wife is at 40 weeks today, and I have even less time to fact check every contribution on that thread to feel secure enough to put it back up online.[/i]”

    Indeed Mick I have had occasion on the past to point this out to you privately and it is with a heavy heart that I do so now in the public forum.

    You really must make your mind up, you need to prioritise things. What is it to be, a life in which your family and personal well being take centre stage or do you face up to your responsibilities to a bunch of sad losers who have nothing better to do than bitch and whine about politics and society in Northern Ireland with other similar deadbeats who revel in anonymous argumentation over the internet?

    You need to get your priorities straightened out my friend.

    (I don’t need sarcasm tags now do I? Best wishes to you and the missus, I will certainly be thinking about you in this very stressful – but exciting – time. Good luck).

  • Dewi

    Seconded Harry and he’s not even getting rich out of it. Hope all goes well Mick – “Dewi” is a nice name or “Gwenhwyfer” if a girl….

  • Scaramoosh

    It is a common feature of the psychological illness known as “Borderline Personality Disorder,” that those associated with the person diagnosed with the problem, often feel that they have to walk on eggshells – living in fear that they may say something that will trigger off violent rage.

    In many respects N.Ireland is a good example of a place that suffers from said Borderleine Personality Disorder (pun intended).

    Most of us walk on eggshells all of the time; scared of saying the wrong thing should we be seen to upset the exisiting staus quo.

    It does not require a PHD in psychology to know that this is not a healthy position to be in. We should not be prisoners in repsect of others peoples baggage.

  • Turgon

    Dewi,
    I like the name Ethelbert: clearly I was not allowed to call either of my boys that.
    Best wishes Mick

  • Greenflag

    ‘The emphasis here is on openness. Open to voices that rarely get heard, be they civic leaders, or political dissenters. They do not need a mandate to have something useful and interesting to say.’

    Glad to see that reaffirmation of what slugger is about . The day it’s not will be the day this sometimes commentator will no longer feel ‘welcome ‘ 😉

    As for people getting their knickers in a knot over interviewing Hutchinson ? He’s as entitled to be interviewed as any other former ‘war’ criminal? As the chap appears now to be committed to ‘peaceful ‘ political means what is all the hullabaloo about ?

    DE WAR IZ OVER FINALLY .

    I read the French Government has asked the Germans to send 1,000 or so German troops into Strasbourg to help the French army make up for it’s deficit in manning levels because of the need to reduce defence expenditures .

    Now if 60 million French and 82 million Germans can bury the ‘hatchet ‘ why can’t Unionists and Republicans in Northern Ireland ?

    Is there anything special about them ? Have they any greater claim to ‘morality ‘ in their local ‘war’ from either side of the divide

    Like shite they have!

    The problem is of course that there are still far too many Norn Ironers who would still rather bury the hatchet in the other side’s head than admit that there is more to morality than black versus white or orange versus green !

  • I complained about the moderation on that thread, but I think Kathleen was absolutely right to remove the remarks about the vanity project, if not some of the other ones. Turgon is a blogger whose I work I like and respect, but I do feel that was (wo)man playing.

    I expect that Billy Hutchinson knew full well the type of questions that were liable to crop up when he agreed, and that there is nothing wrong with asking him – or any other politician – tough questions. I do think perhaps people were being over-sensitive on his behalf.

  • Archie Purple

    Nathan is a lovely name for a boy, as in:

    ‘Nathan derogatory may be said on Slugger about terrorists’

  • fin

    France and Germany, two nations that don’t insist on banging on about the war or make a big deal in dragging it to the surface every year.

    Germany also apologised for the behaviour of its government and armed forces during the war.

    Both are countries that look to the future and have pretty much carved the EU up among themselves.

    Germany a divided country until a couple of decades ago ……………East Germany says YES

  • Cahal

    Comments attributed to me on Ignited where not made by me. They were made by Turgon.

    Having said that I had comments deleted for absolutely no reason.

    I questioned whether Hutchinson should get the same respect as any other person. That was deleted.

  • Cahal

    Scratch that, I’m still sleeping.

  • Kathleen

    Garibaldy, thanks for that. No I’ve found the comments section to be a problem when I ask for interviews. Not everybody, but a lot. I’ve had remarks from people who simply won’t comment because of it, and people saying they are interested in the interview but don’t want offensive stuff said in the comments. I think they feel they are leaving themselves open. As a consequence of this who in their right mind would touch an interview now with a barge pole?

    I feel very strongly, (no I’m not talking about Billy) about nailing people up there for anoymous people to throw things at. The moderation is arbitary, and live people who have agreed to talk find themselves, or may find themselves, in a position they didn’t bargain for.

    If people agree to be interviewed tehy need to be comfortable about doing it, and in general my experience is that they don’t feel comfortable due to the comments. That has been my experience.They want an awful lot of reassurance, and now I realise I can’t gurantee they aren’t leaving themselves open to personal attack or their personal information spread about on line.

    It leaves them wide open….

  • fair_deal

    Correction

    0.3/4% not 3/4%

    Kathleen

    “Depends on how you feel about masturbation”

    I see your wit rivals your common sense

  • Kathleen

    ok my last on this. In general this was new territory, neither slugger nor I had been on this ground before. I suspect that is where objections to interviewing BH came from. Never before has an interview been done BY slugger on someone of billy’s background. As part of a blogging/commenting team people may have found that objectionable. No one stopped to think that maybe the wider audience should have been brought into this. That was an oversight on all our part.

    There is new ground out there to be broken. Particularly now that the troubles are over and in a world with so much else going on, all this stuff has been put on a back burner.

    Before the past was bedded down I was interested in getting BH or someone or many like him to record their experiences of the past. Simply because for one reason or another its a story that has not been told compared to the republican side.

    The other issues are NI politics are now as dull as dish water – soon there won’t be any need to record stuff from the telly, I thought it was a way forward to do ‘outside broadcasts’ 🙂 a bloggers workshoop which I had initially looked in to. But in truth the enthusiam has been zapped. I don’t mind commenting and sharing ideas but its time for me to do a little thinking and prioritising of my own…

  • Kathleen

    Depends on how you feel about masturbation”

    I see your wit rivals your common sense

    No FD. It’s a perfectly logical question given the analogy. You didn’t really accept that advice first without questioning it did you? If so I think its best not to take your advice on board.

    Now real life beckons… 🙂

  • Kathleen, I’m surprised people have been put off. Politicians must be more delicate flowers than I realised. I hope you aren’t put off permanently over all this. I certainly appreciate that you’ve put a lot of time into it, such as going to the SDLP conference, and bringing people closer to what is actually going on. Plus the Gerry Kelly thing was hilarious.

  • PUP

    I finally feel like jumping in here.

    This has degenerated into a slugger problem; about slugger posters, bloggers, their comments, commenting rules and moderation.

    Billy Hutchinson, was and is prepared to do the now infamous interview. He, as always will answer any question the interviewer chooses to ask. It is up to the slugger selected interviewer to balance probing questions with the respect that would be afforded any interviewee. Suffice to say that no topics or questions have ever been off limits.

    I want to make it clear, Billy does not need nor does he seek protection from the internet. Obviously when the resulting interview is posted, people can say what they want. It is for slugger to moderate those comments only as and when that is absolutely necessary.

    From a personal perspective my view is: – If posters stick by the principles on which Mick Fealty has built this site and his reputation (this goes for any comments on any topic) then slugger can maintain the high standard of discourse and debate I feel has been slipping of late.

    The PUP seem to receive generally negative responses on slugger. I feel that perhaps some of that may be down to a lack of a PUP presence on slugger. I can only assume that much said about us goes unchallenged and we make little or no input to the site. With that in mind, I will endeavor to read and contribute more to the site.

  • lapsedmethodist

    I wonder could it be that the particular murder in question – that of Thomas Devlin – was so beyond the Pale that anyone allegedly connected with it becomes a pariah?
    For example, a tit-for-tat killing which leaves a dead victim and grieving relatives has about it a certain ghastly logic totally absent from the killing of Thomas Devlin.
    If this should be so is it then not a fact that there is indeed a hierarchy of victimhood, no matter what anyone says?
    I don’t know. So I’m asking.

  • Kathleen

    I think the interview needs to be done, for many reasons. I am willing to do it anytime, then afterwards I will think about blogging and what I want to do.

    But I will do the interview anytime.

  • fair_deal

    “If so I think its best not to take your advice on board.”

    No really I am shocked

  • veritas

    “The PUP seem to receive generally negative responses on slugger”

    You don`t say…Would it be because their to the uvf, who continue to rob, threaten relatives of victims they murdered, are heavily involved in the drug trade, continue to refuse to decommission, continue to rearm, etc, etc, etc…

    Yeah the pup are picked on…

    Kathleen are you resorting to threatening to quit slugger if you don`t get your own way?

  • veritas

    should have read…

    “would it be because of their links to the uvf”

  • kensei

    veritas

    Kathleen are you resorting to threatening to quit slugger if you don`t get your own way?

    I got into a brief argument with Kathleen when she started due to my normally combative style. But it was resolved and I try to deal with things slightly differently in differnet contexts.

    Not everyone likes it or can cope with that type of environment. Nopt everyone likes conflict. If you want those people to stay and contribute you have to lay off and bit and extend some slack. Given that Kathleen has posted up soem differnet stuff, that would be a loss. Perhaps she needs thicker skin. but perhaps this place needs ot be less of a bear pit, at least in places, to get other people in.

  • Kathleen

    Veritas my own way about what? I’m not looking anything. Nothing is being negotiated… 🙂

    I’m not threatening to quit.. 🙂 I said I need to prioritise and rethink.

    jeez!!

    I need to rethink the road ahead because I like doing things that are different, refocus, see what is working for me and what is not.

    Maybe a photoshop of all the male bloggers here and a lovely girl competition…

    Ken photograph please….

  • Kathleen

    Plus blogging can be good when you do stuff and send it to others to post, being part of a team. Covering stuff other people want. I like doing that. Thats good too….

  • Turgon

    I have been trying to avoid commenting for a while on this but I feel that I should point out that I did not in any way prevent anyone (kathleen or anyone else) doing an interview with Billy Hutchinson. I criticised that decision: there ias a world of difference between criticism of and preventing something. I of course have no power to prevent kathleen or anyone else blogging about anything.

    If my comment about a vanity project was unacceptable then maybe fair enough. However, I and many others have had much worse said about us. I for one, despite my ability to remove any comment from my own blogs, do not do so. None of my other comments, I submit, could be called playing the woman if the woman is kathleen. Criticism of Hutchinson for being a murderer is in my view fair enough on a blog about Billy Hutchinson (his being a murderer being pretty widely accepted: I await anyone trying to sue me over that).

    My further comments were due to my initial comments being removed. I felt that this was the removal of free speech.

    The suggestion that I should have complained to Mick about the interview is not appropriate. I have the right to publicly criticise the decision of another blogger. I would suggest that I have less right to try to use back door channels to try to reverse the decision.

    I think the thing to grasp here is that I and all of the rest of us have the right to criticise a particular course of action which I or anyone else takes. However, we cannot prevent it. I did not prevent the interview. I do not pretend to be sad that the interview was pulled but it is a logical fallacy to say that I prevented the interview.

    I do hope kathleen continues to blog but I am afraid that I do not feel it reasonable to have some bloggers off limits to criticism from other bloggers.

  • dewi

    More importantly Turgon “Frodo Fealty” has a wonderful alliterative ring to it….

  • Turgon

    Dewi,
    Yes: I think we need an online petition to force Fealty to give his child a daft name.
    Maybe Frodo, Finglofin Fealty?

  • kathleen

    Dewi,
    Yes: I think we need an online petition to force Fealty to give his child a daft name.
    Maybe Frodo, Finglofin Fealty?

    Would it be alright if I criticised that. I think that is a terribly insensitive thing to say to someone waiting on a new life. Is everything subject to commnent?

    The other thing is turgon, an awful song and dance has been made over a couple of comments being removed. I mean the world is in chaos and you’re up in arms over a comment or two.

    I can understand you wanting to distance yourself from the interview, but the whole thing is as Mick Hall described it chickenfeed.

    It really is time to move on….

  • dewi

    Yep Kathleen – but you need to chill as well.This is a wonderful forum facilitated by some fairly thick skins.

  • Kathleen

    I never met a bigger bunch of girls… screaming over a couple of comments and not big enough or tough enough to tolerate an interview. Of course turgon posed questions for billy then ran away to his moral high ground. Like I said a big girl.

    This is a wonderful forum facilitated by some fairly thick skins.

    And like I said I’ve been doing some thinking. From here on in watch out…..:)

    I do hope kathleen continues to blog but I am afraid that I do not feel it reasonable to have some bloggers off limits to criticism from other bloggers.

    Tugon old son, here is twenty pence go down to the shop and phone somebody who gives a fig.

    Grr…. come on put ’em up! 🙂

  • Driftwood

    Kathleen
    Any chance of an interview with Mark Harbinson?

    And Mark McGregor, what about Colin Duffy?

    if we could get them to do a joint interview maybe in the same studio? I have a couple of questions for them.

  • RepublicanStones

    Throw in a case of Stella and box of flags and I’d pay to see that Drift me aul flower.

  • Mark McGregor

    This will be my only contribution to this thread now it seems to have developed some of the civility Mick has been calling for.

    I completely support the idea of interviewing people like Billy and I completely accept Slugger should carry out those interviews in the same respectful manner they have been carried out with every other person ever interviewed.

    I remember how we lost an interview with Bairbre de Brun during the last European election, the final link in a series of interviews with candidates, due to the abuse and slurs added via comments in advance.

    However, that wasn’t a case of genuine and difficult questions, that was due to the site allowing people to carry out ‘carryout’ electioneering.

    My only point on this interview was while questions may be outside the remit (and it seems from ‘PUP’ that was not even the case) that they should be left on the thread as valid questions even if unused in the final interview.

    I questioned the level of moderation.

    What I found personally unacceptable was to discover just before the blog entry was removed that it had been updated, with comments closed, accusing me of something I completely dispute and give me no right of reply.

    I made a valid and legitimate comment within the site policy and saw the blog altered to have ‘man not ball’ pop at me.

    As such I’ve found the complaints of man playing a little hard to stomach.

  • The Serpent

    Hi Kathleen,

    I see you have given my pithy contribution an airing having clipped it the first time within about one minute of my posting. See Below:

    “Only on Slugger….

    West Belfast Catholic Conservative protects Liberal Loyalist Murderer from Bible Bashing Polemicist from Middle Earth !! ”

    Now far from being an attack on you or (wo)man playing or an ad feminum slur it was simply a fairly puerile attempt at a tabloidesque headline to summarise the thread as I saw it to date at that point.

    West Belfast Catholic – Self declared community background
    Conservative- Blogged sympathetically on David Cameron

    Liberal Loyalist Murder – Should have said self styled socialist loyalist murderer (oops!)

    Bible bashing polemicist – fair enough description of Turgon IMHO

    Middle Earth – Where the Tolkein inspired Turgon may dwell.

    I simply thought your over protection of Mr Hutchinson was a tad over the top especially when you were protecting him from as mild mannered a beast as Turgon (savaging by a dead sheep springs to mind).I doubt that Billy Hutchinson is quite as thin skinned as yourself.

  • joeCanuck

    Forecast: Stormy and cold today. Much calmer and warming up tomorrow.

  • Dave

    The society of Northern Ireland decided to turn its homicidal psychopaths into its political elite with the express purpose of persuading them to stop murdering its citizens. You agreed to give them power to rule over you, turn a blind eye to their lucrative rackets and other criminal acts, etc, and in return they agreed to stop murdering you. You can phrase it euphemistically, but that’s the gist of the Faustian bargain.

    The State granted equivalence between loyalist murder gangs and republican murder gangs when both gangs were released from prison under the terms of the GFA, so that expedient pretence by republicans that their campaign of sectarian murder was less squalid than the loyalists’ campaign of sectarian murder has been long abandoned. Eames and Bradley restate this equivalence in the here and now.

    So what is the difference between Billy Hutchinson and, say, Gerry Adams other than the size of the mandate? Both of them were principle organisers of sectarian murder gangs. It is hypocritical to isolate Mr Hutchinson while Mr Adams is centre of the provincial stage, and talk of decommissioning as a remarkable difference is disingenuous and self-serving.

    Remember, kids: the new official line is that everybody is a victim and that even psychopaths are victims too. Behind every extreme AP disorder is a politician waiting to be born. Okay, that’s not true: there were no psychopaths in Northern Ireland, despite comprising an average of 2% – 3% of the population elsewhere (coincidently enough, a similar number to the percentage of the NI population who were members of the various murder gangs).

    Besides, even if one psychopath did come to political prominence (probably imported fenian genes), you should know that psychopaths do, contrary to that eminent criminal psychiatrists like Robert Hare think, posses a conscience and are therefore capable of feeling remorse and empathy, and thereby make excellent benefactors and moral stewards of a society. Nope, they are not wholly self-serving (that’s a TUV lie); they are, in fact, perfect speculums of selflessness and thereby perfect in political roles where they are required to put the interests of others before their own interests.

  • Dave

    “My wife is at 40 weeks today…”

    At the risk of playing the man, aren’t you a little old for making babies? 😉

    Best wishes, anyway.

  • fin

    Aaaaah Dave, just when I thought that Slugger had moved forward enough to be able to discuss unionist violence without immediately jumping to “republican murder gangs”.

    well done to everyone else for keeping it grownup and making it to 3.5 pages

  • Dave

    Well done for not noticing that the Shinners signed up to the GFA which granted de jure equivalence to the loyalist and republican murder gangs. Naturally, the self-serving Shinners had no objection to letting the loyalist murder gangs back out on the streets because such an objection would have been based on non-equivalence and that would have meant that the Shinners would have to remain in prison on a point of principle. Since psychopaths don’t have any principles, the Shinners had no problem accepting that both sectarian murder gangs were equivalent.

    Billy Hutchinson and Gerry Adams are exact equivalents. Of course the Shiner sheep will continue to insist they were not equivalent even though their shepherds conceded that point 11 years ago. Won’t they, fin? 😉

  • Dave

    Driftwood, how many sectarian murders do you have to commit or direct before you qualify as a sectarian murderer? One is enough. There is no difference whatsoever between the loyalists and the republicans.

    If your narrative is that you were fighting a war and that your POWs should be released at the end of it, then your narrative fails when you agree to the granting equivalence between your imaginary category and civil murderers, i.e. to those whom you consistently dismissed as sectarian serial killers and “loyalist death squads” who were deemed to be pro-state and anti-catholic and therefore not legitimately involved in a ‘war.’

    The ‘soldiers’ could have held to their ‘principles’ and declared it an outrage that civil murderers should be released back onto the streets, refusing to sign up to such a deal, but that would have required that they had any principles to hold to.

  • DC

    To sum up then Dave: what is Unionism and Nationalism if it is nothing worthy at all?

  • Kathleen

    I’m working on the questions now, sorting them into batches, so if anyone else has any?

  • PUP

    *No criminality of any kind is acceptable.
    *Anyone with any knowledge of a crime should take that to the PSNI
    *No form of threatening behavior should be tolerated in society
    *The drugs trade is a drain on our communities and people – the full force of the law should come down on everyone selling drugs.
    *There should be no illegally held weapons in Northern Ireland (or any part of the world)
    *There has been no indication that they have continued to rearm-but hypothetically see above.

    Nothing has ever been said by the PUP to contradict any of the above and never would be.

    In response to:-

    “The PUP seem to receive generally negative
    responses on slugger”

    You don`t say…Would it be because their to the uvf, who continue to rob, threaten relatives of victims they murdered, are heavily involved in the drug trade, continue to refuse to decommission, continue to rearm, etc, etc, etc…

    Yeah the pup are picked on…

    Posted by veritas on Feb 04, 2009 @ 05:20 PM

  • veritas

    Yeah we`re all stupid, blind and dumb….

    The uvf isn`t linked to criminality especially drugs, hasn`t continued to arm and get this, this will make you laugh….

    isn`t linked to the pup….

    Yeah the pup are picked on…

  • PUP

    I didnt say that UVF members are not involved with criminality. According to the IMC individual members are. I accept that assessment, because they know better than I do. What I said was ‘that is unacceptable’ and that the full force of the law should come down on anyone involved in any criminal activity.

    I genuinely dont think the UVF have ‘rearmed’ as you say. No member of the press, police or IMC have suggested they have.

    The PUP has an historical link to the UVF. Having said that, I work full time for the PUP, the only time I hear about them or even the mention of the name itself is here or from a journalist -fact.

  • veritas

    “The PUP has an historical link to the UVF. Having said that, I work full time for the PUP, the only time I hear about them or even the mention of the name itself is here or from a journalist -fact.”

    That must be the understatement of the decade…

    talk about ostriches…

    If this the level of content you intend to post, I can`t wait….

  • Dave

    “To sum up then Dave: what is Unionism and Nationalism if it is nothing worthy at all?” – DC

    Did you have content deleted or is this fragment supposed to mean something? I don’t see a problem with either nationalism (except the obvious one that both of them conflict within one sovereign territory). The problem lies with the textbook cases of APD who masquerade as militant defenders of their respective nationalism but whose actual motivating dynamic is self-empowerment at the direct expense of others (the classic dynamic of the sociopath) – and, of course, with the muppets who were brainwashed by the State into thinking that those who are devoid of conscience are capable of redemption and that such pathological types who are most responsible for destroying your society should be the ones who are most capable of rebuilding it.

  • Dave

    “I’m working on the questions now, sorting them into batches, so if anyone else has any?” – Kathleen

    Here is one you can ask without ‘taking a position’ on anything controversial or creating an unpleasant interviewing environment: “What are your views on why the republican movement attempted too create the impression among the general public that there was no moral or legal equivalence between loyalist and republicans killings?”

  • Mick Fealty

    veritas,

    Some level of content would be welcome from you. Your contentless quips give us little to figure by what knowledge and authority you so casually dismiss the opinion of others.

  • PUP

    I will post honestly.

    I will post factually.

    I will post openly and as 1 user.

    I will post as intelligently as I can muster.

    I will not post short or negative comments about others.

    I will not criticise without offering an alternative.

    I will post with respect for the views of others

    In response to veritas’ ‘argument’:- So to begin with we were too close to the UVF and now not close enough?

  • Doctor Who

    Karthleen

    “Mick Fealty said don’t just grab what is around you, reach accross to unionism… look what I got for my trouble. ”

    To be fair K. most of the inapropriate posts on the original thread where from republican trolls.

    You cannot be naive enough to think that you introduce a thread asking for questions to be put to a former terrorist and not expect trouble.

    What where you expecting posts asking, “Hey Billy, what was your favourite subject at school.”

    Perhaps you where out of your depth but I can´t help thinking you have a big stirring spoon behind your back.

    As regards bloggers moderating threads, I really do not have the confidence that any of them besides maybe Fair_Deal would do it fairly.