A note on commenting and the use of red and yellow cards…

I’m involved in a number of conversations at the moment with people who have been banned. Despite a profound difference in their politics, two of them have pointed to the fact that others have got away with breaking Slugger’s cardinal rule: play the ball, not the man.

It’s a pretty lame excuse for poor behaviour. But there is a more constructive point to make about it too. We do not premoderate posts. If we see something that breaks the rules of the site, of course we take it down. And with persistently mischievous posters we are prepared to go some lengths to make sure they understand they cannot break our rules with impunity.

But, and here’s the point of this short post, we need you to tell us when people are breaking the site rules. That’s why we have the ‘flag as offensive’ button. Of course it can be over used, but if you don’t tell us about people you feel are blatently ignoring the site rules, do not presume we already know about it.

Bad behaviour is not just bad form, it discourages other more knowledgeable readers from commenting. And it can sometimes make Slugger feel like you have to be part of some pub banter network before you can speak.

So please help us to keep the standard bar high even as we eep the entry bar as low as we possibly can. Play the ball, not the man. And use the ‘flag as offensive’ button, even where you think it’s a borderline case.

  • Mick I thought that was obvious re no premoderating. I comment here –I have never been reported for falure of making any “play the ball, not the man” responses but I have encountered where some contributors put themselves in the position of the ball and thus their argument gains some protection via house rules.

  • Turgon

    I agree with Christy here. I fully understand the concept of play the ball not the man but also regard it as a bit of a nonsense; indeed it can be a perversion of debate.

    We are told things like “If Pol Pot, Genghis Khan or Adolf Hitler chose to post here they should be taken on over their arguments”.

    That is, I submit a nonsense. If such people were to show up it would be entirely reasonable to point out that they are mass murderers and a such their claims on x, y or z need to be viewed through the prism of what we already know about them.

    The man not ball rule is appropriate to a debating society and by extension an internet debating forum.

    Slugger, however, is not a debating society or forum: no it is a political forum. Politics is not a purely theoretical subject: it is a practical one in which debate is conducted but one’s known positions are not left at the door. If they are that is wholly hypocritical and actually would be to the detriment of the site.

    I frequently engage in extremely robust debate with many different people: I call people liars when they lie; I call them cheerleaders; I point to hypocrisy, volte faces and U turns. All that is the currency of political debate.

    I also get attacked: repeatedly people have brought up the Torrens Knight issue to damage me. That in many ways is man playing. My views on and condemnation of Knight have been repeatedly stated. My condemnation of the TUV member who supported him is on record. Only once have I explained the member’s position and despite personally liking that member I still condemned and condemn his action. I regard it being raised as pretty unpleasant but essentially fair comment.

    I think the only things we should be about banning are libel and abusive language.

    Let us remember that in the recent past (and in the present) people are murdered for political reasons in Northern Ireland. As such pointing that out to the supporters of murder and calling them on it repeatedly even when they are trying to pretend they are normal proper politicians is entirely appropriate. From my point of view doing anything less dishonours the memory of those the murderers killed.

    I for one will contend for my views and if people feel hurt I do not care in the slightest. They supported doing far worse.

    Here I stand I can do no other.

  • pippakin

    The cards can become a talking point almost whataboutery in themselves. Perhaps it would be a good idea to keep the ‘offence’ button but punish the offender privately as previously done by email.

  • Here I stand I can do no other.

    Not running for office again then Turgon?

  • Turgon

    I have never run for office and I am afraid I do not think I will be doing so any time so. I will never say never though.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    It might be an idea to flag the actual post that led to the card or is it the case like in rugby where yellow cards are often handed out for an accumulation of persistent minor offences which of themselves do not a yellow make?

  • There’s interesting Turgon , I thought i knew who you were but given your comment above I obviously don’t unless there has been an immaculate inception.

  • Turgon

    Quite a lot of people know who I am but I would thank them for never having revealed it. There is a boringly prosaic and I feel honourable reason for hiding my identity.

    On the topic of the cards it is interesting. The relatively public “humiliation” of a card may make people think before they say something. However, a card beside the name may make people think that that poster’s view is irrelevant. Yet we are told that views should be considered on merit and not on the basis of who is stating them. There seems a bit of a quandary there.

    I think I would rather we followed pippakin’s suggestion though as I said before I am very dubious about cards and anything which censures comment unless it is libel or offensive language.

  • pippakin

    I see someone has a yellow card, the second? Now ordinarily I wouldn’t bother to mention it, especially as I’m sure he/she would answer in gleeful kind and its only too well known that I am not without sin. but, it does hilight my point. I have no idea what the offence was or even if its still the original offence. So my sympathy has to be with him/her, because you know what? Its a form of censorship since as far as I know the offending comment is removed leaving the rest of us to imagine the worst!

    I suspect things are going to get rather more heated than usual. The GE in Ireland is an opportunity for everyone to put the boot in (football parlance) to whichever party they most dislike or consider a threat to the one they support. I know in advance that the offender I referred to was doing no more than defend his/her party and since its well known that attack is the best form of defence…I suspect the offence button is going to be very busy.

  • Turgon,

    I’d actually agree with you in some respects – I have no problem with fierce argument or even tribalism in politics. But I think that it misses a point in the context of this site. On the one hand, I’d argue (as I think you are doing in a different way) that politics is a clash of social forces and those forces are necessarily resentful and antagonistic towards each other, and that political debate only really works if you can drive your opponents off the field – after all, it’s not some educational training exercise to improve literacy or language. To divorce people from the ideas that they espouse is to misunderstand ideology.

    However, to say “on this site, we’re here to host a debate that is restricted to ideas and not personalities” isn’t any kind of censorship, nor does it cut across your aims because Slugger isn’t the worlds only interactive website, and it’s just offering one way of actually getting to acheive what you say you want to acheive. There are plenty of forums where you can call anyone you like nine different kinds of murderer / hypocrite / thug, and so on. Here you have to do it by dealing only with what they *say*.

    You could argue (and I *think* Mick does argue, implicitly) that there is more utility in hosting a site where people are prepared to go into some detail about the complexity of their arguments in the sure knowledge that they aren’t simply going to have to either desert the field or spend the next couple of days dealing with personal invective.

    You know enough about Northern Ireland’s politics to know that almost any argument can be interfered with by a ‘yeah-but-no-but-the-party-that-you-support-is-led-by-a-bloke-whose-wife-shagged-a-teenager” argument (or much worse). And the point that you use to illustrate your argument (Torrens Knight) is the classic ‘guilt-by-association’ argument, and it’s not one that works: E.G. ‘You agree with something someone from SF said. SF are apologists for the Provos activities, therefore you condone the murder of Jean McConville….’ If I beleive that I’ll have to consistently repeat lengthy unnecessary rebuttals on a particular site, I’ll eventually stay away from it. The part of ‘Godwins Law’ that everyone forgets is that the first person to use the word ‘Nazi’ is immediately adjudged to have lost the argument – and that the argument is officially over at that point.

    Take Pete Baker, for example. He uses links extensively to previous arguments. His posts – when you think about them – are highly complex exercises in consistency. You have to better Pete’s *arguments* if you want to put him in his place and it ain’t easy, but if you do it, you’ll feel you’ve actually achieved something (not a sensation I’ve experienced, I might add….)

    Now, Slugger has compulsory registration on the site. My own view is that this is a good thing and every commenter will be more and more bound by a need for consistency.

    The key point, though, is this: By fixing rules of engagement in the way Mick is doing here, commenters who have views that do not meet humane intelligent standards will not be able to turn up the volume of ‘noise’ to drown out the ‘signal’. They are actually *more* likely to expose their own hypocrisy / complicity / stupidity if they are obliged to stick to the point, be consistent in what *they* say, and not resort to misdirection.

    And this means that more people will engage and drive up the quality of argument. In politics as in life, most people actually don’t hold trenchant and tribal views. We’re uncertain on many things and equivocation makes for better arguments and better voters.

    If political debate is simply a cat-fight between people with strongly-held views, it won’t achieve anything for anyone. It’s the logic of the Dunning-Kruger effect that a site that only welcomes robust certainty will become stupid very quickly


    One final argument (against myself and in favour of your view) is the only point that got Christopher and Peter Hitchens in agreement when they debated on the radio a while ago (paraphrasing): “People say that it’s bad when argument generates more heat than light. They forget that the only source of light is heat.”

  • “I call people liars when they lie; I call them cheerleaders; I point to hypocrisy, volte faces and U turns”

    Turgon, surely calling people liars is not the language of parliamentary debate. It’s certainly not conducive to constructive public or private conversations.

    Hypocrisy should be exposed and, in that respect, the man not ball rule and accusations of whataboutery can become obstacles.

    U-turn is a word that is often used to attack a political opponent yet a politician who is prepared to change his/her mind for the greater public good is to be applauded.

  • “highly complex exercises in consistency.”

    Paul, bigots are strong on consistency whereas I’d like more opportunities for politicians to be able to change their minds without being lambasted just for the sake of it.

    I prefer conversation to debate, the free exchange of ideas and constructive interaction, sometimes adjacent to the topic, where I can garner information that will influence my own opinions. Evidence is important but so too are patterns of behaviour, especially when evidence is sparse.

    A strong party system, especially a highly centralised one, IMO is more likely to produce consistent clones than good politicians.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I have I suppose two concerns.
    There is I suppose a core Slugger team of “thread-starters”. Do the same rules apply to these people as it would appear to me that on occasions one or two can be offensive. Indeed thats their way.
    Are they given a degree of latitude that other Sluggerites/Sluggerettes dont have? Is the playing field even? Id argue that some threads are for the expressed purpose of playing the man…..albeit unpopular men.

    The yellow card/red card thing…..football metaphor but the argyment that republicans and unionists both feel aggrieved by the referee is not…..in itself….an argument that proves fairness.

    Who are the moderators? Do people monitor their “own” threads …are yellow and red cards….or the removal of a post deemed “offensive” used….on occasion as a means of saving people embarrassment?

    I think in pre-yellow card days, I was “warned” but not received a yellow or red card since the new system was in place. I dont think I necessarily play the ball or the man. I play the system.
    For example I introduced the concept of an “Overclass” and was criticised but Mr Fealty wrote to me stating he doesnt care how often I use it. Chris Donnelly has recently introduced the concept of “Adams haters”.
    Its an evolving thing.

    Deep down Im not impressed with psuedo rules that make it all “fair”. Its really much more basic than that. Its Sluggers “gaffe” so its Sluggers rules.

  • “They forget that the only source of light is heat.”

    I thought it cuts both ways. Light passing through a lens can generate intense heat. Also light passing through a prism can generate the colours of the rainbow. In politics, is a prism more useful than a lens?

  • Pete Baker


    “highly complex exercises in consistency”

    Baconian, even. ;o)

  • Greenflag

    ‘It might be an idea to flag the actual post that led to the card’

    Might work if the post was ‘highlighted ‘ in yellow or red for a week or so and then removed from the board . In that way the poster as well readers could get an idea of what’s ‘cricket’ and what is not ? With the Irish GE coming up and the Northern Ireland Assembly just three months away -debate – is likely to become ‘hot ‘ . I must confess I’ve been surprised to see a few posters ‘carded ‘ but I can never figure out why because the post has been deleted before I get a chance ?

    Overall though I think Mick and the admins do a pretty good job of being fair with not too much heavy handedness .

  • Fionn

    another bloody yellow ….wtf

    though I see one poster called Adams an imbecile and an idiot on two diff posts,

  • joeCanuck

    Civility is free.

  • pippakin


    WTF??? you might like its new, er name,, and an ‘expert’ like Sarah Palin says so, so it must be right. Winning the Future.

  • DC

    I think you’re being a bit presumptuous Mick about people holding back from commenting if they sense it is a bit OTT.

    Have you ever seen the comments over on order-order.com or even the Guardian as well.

    Trouble with Slugger is too many big fish in a small pond in that you worry about what MLAs and other such small readerships think. Basically get over it – the internet is global and stop ruling on what you view is sensible, by all means if things get caustic then remove comments, but let’s not keep on at this reminding thing and reminding us to be careful now.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Canuck is indeed correct.
    Civility is free. And people who are polite know no other way. Its the way they were brought up.
    The impolite people know no other way. Its the way they were brought up.

  • slappymcgroundout

    To borrow from the one soul, the first enemy of hope is silence, civility and repression. Explains why, when the one blind beggar cried out for healing, some others said that he was being uncivil and told him to shut up. Good for him that the good book reports that he cried out all the louder.

    As concerns you all, there is much the same reason to be uncivil. Which is to say that what some would regard as uncivil is merely the expression of grief and suffering. My suspicion is that Pete has Sinn Fein on the brain, with Gerry as the emodiment of Sinn Fein, owing to his grief and suffering. And grief and suffering can become obsession and rage. And so if you’ve seen the one Star Trek movie, First Contact, then you’ve seen Captain Picard reporting on all the grief and suffering that he felt in relation to the Borg, and then a short time later the one gal quotes him Melville: He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it. That’s how Gerry became Moby Dick. And the reason why Pete and some others stand embraced in an unending struggle is simply that the others have their own grief and suffering. And the more the pain and suffering rises to the surface, the more uncivil it will get. That said, I rather doubt that yellow and red cards will work the healing.

  • Rory Carr

    When I browse through the comments section of other political blogs I see that, compared with the comments on a leading UK blog, Slugger followers are the very model of decorum. While it might be nice to think that this is because we Irish are so much more civilised than our English counterparts I suspect that the real reason is that the blogmaster on that site finds no problem whatsoever in giving space to any comment however distasteful just so long as it is directed against Labour; and also against labour; the unemployed; immigrants, Pakistani immigrants in particular; Arabs in general, Palestinians in particular; teachers; academics; railway workers; Scots, Irish, Scots and Irish Republicans in particular, indeed republicans in general and Welsh nationalists; outspoken women (with one notable exception), women in general; the young (unless the young of the most priveleged); penal reform, social reform; sexual sanity…indeed we begin to think sanity in general after reading through the first 100 comments or so. But you get the picture.

    So there is much to be admired on this site and while I am of the opinion that this is largely because of the civilised example set by the blogmaster and those who contribute the thread leaders I am also aware that the penalty system encourages us to think again before we might post something offensive in the heat of debate and, more importantly, nudges us into framing our response in a more elegant, and as a consequence, more telling manner.

    It requires quite a grievous infraction for a commenter to be given a red card out-of-hand and a yellow card can serve to permit the commenter to reflect on a better way to advance their case. I have over the years observed (presumably) young (though not always), brash hotheads come on here anew determined to insult all and sundry who don’t bow down to the wisdom of their world view. With a little patience and coaxing and the odd reprimand some stay and learn how to engage in discourse without insult and they (and we) are the better for it. Those who can’t disappear back to those other sites where their passions can be accomodated, sometimes because of frustration at not getting their way and sometimes, thank God!, because they have won for themselves a red card.

    If we think of Slugger as the saloon bar where it is much more civilsed to drink but where poor behaviour results in us being barred. If this restraint no longer suits we can always go back to the public bar to mix it up with the hoi-poloi.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes Mr Carr, ……the bar staff seem to be given more latitude than the customers.
    “Slappymacgroundnut” might well be right in his analysis. I have no way of knowing.
    But on a general point about obsession…..people generally give a wide berth and dont really listen to them.

  • fordprefect

    I agree with you 100%

  • Marcus McSpartacus

    This is the Bottom-Half of The Internet, not Oprah. Any system of rules has to be interpreted, and that interpretation will always derive from some cultural framework. Just make sure that sub-culture doesn’t have it’s head up it’s own woo-hoo.

  • Marcus McSpartacus

    PS – what would really make sure you of the inner Slugger-Sect were kept proctologist-free, is if, you know, we could hit the “objectionable material”/”flag” button on, say, umpteen really, really dumb threads on “the constitutional requirements since time immemorial of even elected Republicans to sign on as a knight-guardian of the Royal bike-shed har-de-har-har.”

  • Marcus McS

    Couldn’t agree with you more –I mean lately how many different ways can Gerry Adams name spelt, one blogg on Gerry A, another on Adams Gerry, another on Aerry Gdems –and all on about the same thing….

  • Mick Fealty

    Christy, Turgon, DC and others who don’t like the civility rule.

    It’s very simple. If we were all in the same room as your political opponents arguing over some point of political principle in front of four or five hundred interested listeners, my guess is that you would feel some peer pressure to conform to a number of social conventions.

    Further, if there were a chair in the room keeping things lively and relevant you might feel that same pressure even more. On the disembodied net there is no such real human pressure. So it has to be artificially manufactured. That’s the real purpose of the play the man, not the ball rule.

    I’m not afraid of the offense (some people are just too easily offended). My greater fear (apart from the law) is the tedium of people sliding seamlessly off the point in precisely the same way for the forty third time in a week.

    To be frank, I am interested in what people think about each others ideas, not what they feel about their political opponents. If you cannot hack that, then you should lift your skirts and head over to Guido’s or the wilder margins of Comment is Free.


    You cannot report, I think, a blogger through the report button. But you can if they make an offensive comment. They have no especial privileges on that score. And I am always open to a direct appeal. There’s no convention on moderating your own thread.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Fealty, thank you.
    “theres no convention on moderating your own thread”. I dont understand. Do people moderate their own threads, even on occasion.
    Presumably theres some kind of rota system as no-one can do it 24/7.

  • Munsterview

    Greenflag : ‘It might be an idea to flag the actual post that led to the card’

    I agree with this !

    1 ) It should be relatively simple when displaying the card to extend it a bit and overprint it with the time and date of the actual offending post.

    2) It is all very well to take down the offending post, but most readers are then none of the wiser as to why this was done. Again it should not be all that difficult for the Admin. to provide a page where the offending post may be viewer even if taken down from the main site slugger threads concerned. That may have more of the intended ‘blame and shame’ effect

    There is a well know courtroom trick where a council will say something that the trial judge will remove from the record and rap the counsel over the knuckles for making the statement. However the jury will not forget, indeed the surrounding drama will just make sure that they remember it all the more.

    The same seem to apply here in slugger, there are a few ‘usual suspects’ that are quite happy to have a go and pay the price as venting spleen and ‘putting down the other guy’ is apparently more important than communicating or the cut and thrust of argument or the exchanges of viewpoints.

    Having been censored and banned myself from radio and TV for almost a quarter of a century, I do not advocate ‘running any one off the site’ as a solution. I also made the point that as with Moochins 12 th of July face-painting photos, it is far better to have this sectarianism out there for all to see where it can be death with, rather than pretend that if do not exist. The same applies to polemic political viewpoints.

    There are a few poster here in slugger, one in particular, where any detailed criticism of Israel usually results in the all embracing anti semitic tag. Since much of this arise from the inappropriate use of Israeli force, fortunately the counter arguments and condemnations are covered by sites such as Henrymakow.com or Israeli Defense Force ‘refusing’ officers and other ranks sites.

    If I and people like me do not first resort to these Jewish source sites such as those referred to for quotes and cover to cite for an argument that should be made in full Academic Freedom in the first instance, then the accusations of anti-semitism are leveled by those bankrupt of political argument plus the usual suspects who are always loitering with intent ready to put in the objection boot, if the opening is provided, irrespective of the subject matter per se.

    As the exchange between Pete and some one from a different political viewpoint on the subject of reporting Republican Militants to the authorities, has shown there is still a fundamental polizarition of perspectives and I doubt that these can be fully appreciated if the rules restrict a robust exchange of viewpoints.

  • pippakin

    If a comment is genuinely and personally offensive to someone then hilighting it for all to see is clearly wrong. Its also not too much to ask people to be aware of racial sensitivities, not to do so is to ignore the genuine suffering of generations of victims.

    It should not for eg be possible to make anti black comments and use ‘I got it from a black site’ as an excuse. It would still be racist and inflammatory. No white person would or should use the word ‘nigger’ but some black people do and obviously have that right.

    Personally I favour the quiet word approach because it deals with the problem, spares people their dignity, and leaves no questions or jokes behind.

  • USA

    I have found the protection offered to the repetitive posts of Peter Baker to be a nonsense.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Surely the opposite is the case. When Mr Baker rfers to Mr Adams as “Gerard Adams, International Representauve for West Belfast or Crown Steward an Bailiff of Wherever….” this is clearly accurate if not intended to be complimentar but has passed the Moderators test of “not playing the man”
    and we have an assurance that no special privelege is given to Bloggers. These little descriptions we may assume are not meant to show Mr Adams in a good light.

    It therefore sets a precedent whereby Bloggers and Commenters can refer to other leading politicians and journalists and “players” by adding little descriptions which may or may not be inclined to show someon in a good light. It is not man -playing. At worst….Just a little tedious..

    For example if I referred to Mr Chris Donnelly as “Chris Donnelly, who has used the term Adams hater……..” this is clearly accurate and I doubt that Mr Donnelly or the Moderators would be offended. Even if I used it in every post.

    If I referred to Mr Rory Carr as “Rory Carr, a man with an excellent taste in movies”……clearly this is accurate and Mr Carr and the Moderators unlikely to be offended. Even if I used it in every post. As the precedent has been upset and no privelege given to Mr Baker which the rest of us dont have.
    Personally Id think many would find it tedious. Nor would I encourage it as a means of showing up the sheer silliness of it all.
    What would be the point of saying “Joe Bloggs who has made 1,922 posts, 493 in the last month says…….”It would clearly be accurate and not offensive. Just silly. But exactly the same as Mr Baker is doing. And obviously acceptable.

  • Mick Fealty

    Obviously. Have you ever gone into one of the offices where they tape up “no this”, “no that”, “no the other”. Well, this isn’t one of those places.

    In the meantime, have a look at the original glossary post: http://sluggerotoole.com/?p=1650


    Pete gets protected the least of all our bloggers. Yet, your ‘love’ for his work’s the reason you’ve been banned three times. Try restricting yourself to commenting on someone else’s work if it so consistently gets you into trouble.

  • Cynic2

    I miss my little yellow card. Can I have it back please?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Tuesday (lunchtime……ie when I get home from Belfast) my own Blog issues its annual awards. Several Sluggerites/Sluggerettes are nominated. But there can only be ten winners. Admittedly nobody here has actually sought an award and they obviously cant refuse.
    All the awards are serious awards eg Politician of the Year (actually there is only one nominee in that), Blogger Contributing Most to Unionism etc.
    And surely it would be right and proper that when referring to Bloggers and Commenters to point out that they are the holders of an award.
    Perhaps one award might be deemed by some to be ironic.
    But clearly (and Ive consulted the glossary) pointing out that an elected politician holds a very ironic title is NOT meant to damage his reputation. Therefore pointing out that a Blogger holds an award of say “Sportswriter of the Year” cannot be regarded as a breach of the fair gaming rule….even if the Award holder has never written an article on Sport in his life.
    A reasonable alternative might be not to mention these things (Bloggers and Commenters alike) as neither can have an advantage over the other in moderation.

  • Munsterview

    Slappy/ Greenflaf et al.

    Can we part the Jewish thing for the moment and delve into the area of ‘political correctness’ and of how the narrow application of this practice is restricting historical and contemporary debate.

    Take three Irish seaport cities, Waterford, Limerick and Galway who have all experienced rapid growth, unemployed youth, limited opportunity and high unemployment in the youth class. All have drug problems and large contingents of full time professional criminals.

    Waterford has occasional crime related death during the year as do Galway but nothing that normal policing cannot deal with. Limerick on the other hand has more undercover and special police units attached to it than Waterford, Galway and Cork combined. yet the situation there is out of control and have been for many a long year.

    Despite the Limerick killings are on par with the aggregate of all other Irish cities outside of Dublin. Why ? Again park that for the moment.

    Ever so often during we get a few incidents of exceptional violence breaking out here and there throughout the country and the parties are arrested with dozens before the courts. The implements taken fro the protagonists consists of hatchets, slashers, pitchforks, spades nail-bars, iron bars and other such weapons.

    Where such implements have been used as attack weapons, the injuries have been horrific since slashers are the preferred weapon. For the benefit of non rural readers a slasher is a shoulder high implement, most of it is a handle but it has a sharpened blade over a 40cms with a part curve in top and is used for clearing briars and saplings around the farm. A good swing can easily slice through a wrist sized bush sapling.

    It can do the same with a human arm and it is the preferred weapon of choice when Travelers ‘tool up’ for a confrontation. There is also a cultural acceptance for these intense confrontations and an acceptance of the injuries arising from such engagements.

    If two laboring villages were to arm and engage in a similar pitched battle such an incident would dominate not alone National but also International news headlines. However because Travelers are involved, either out of a lack of society concern as this group ‘are doing it to themselves’ or bequest those that do care will not risk the political correct culture by asking the obvious question ‘just how can this extreme violence be culturally acceptable to this society sector” ?

    Limerick has a large population of settled Traveller families and the gang culture while by no means entirely from this sector, is controlled from it and criminals drawn from this background dominate. Naturally the same acceptance of extreme violence is culturally engrained, it is just that it is shotguns instead of slashers and rather than inter clan confrontations, it is these people against all comers.

    Exceptional violence has been a factor of limerick for two decades now but there has been no contrast drawn with Waterford or Galway nor have the hard questions been asked. This is where political correctness and associated posturing have brought political analysis and reportage of facts to. It just cannot be done in the current climate. I am very wary of political correctness and the sterility of reportage that follow from a strict application of the rules.

    Limerick is but one example where this political correctness have paralyzed the debate and without identifying the problem, how can there be a solution ?

  • Rory Carr

    Have you been reading Viz again, Munsterview ?


  • Munsterview

    No Rory !

    However there are very serious issues here. The late Mick McCarthy of “Embankment ‘ fame started up a Sunday Morning Market, it went from success to success with over a hundred stands and everybody enjoying the experience. About a third were Travelers.

    A traveller criminal gang brought in close to three hundred of their clan from the North East one morning and they embarked on behavior that frightened off the parents and children. They then demanded protection money from every stand there or they would repeat the exercise of intimidation. The travelers paid up and they began to muscle in on the others.

    Mick closed the market and cut his losses : no garda investigation naturally and that was over twenty years ago and is but one incident of organized large scale criminality.

    I was in an area of the East Coast last year caring out some work on a yacht. Some weeks before a convoy of Irish Travelers had hit the locality. Before they were moved on there was more theft and break-ins in the area over three weeks than had occurred on aggregate over the previous five years. There was nothing funny or – Viz.- about the stories that I heard and as I was Irish I had a constant stream of people asking if I could help.

    It would take a brave newspaper indeed that would investigate that incident and trace back these holidaying ‘Irish Gypsy’ to home base. The politically correct brigade would dominate the airways about stereotyping etc.

    For the record in the rural community where I grew up, we had regular traveling families visiting the townland, I hunted and fished with their children and they shared meals at our family table. I have also been involved in Traveller housing and halting sites issue and know a hell of a lot more about their culture than the ‘do gooders’ that dominate all these debates.

  • vanhelsing


    I called Lord Ardoyne [Gerry Adams] ‘an idiot’ with regard to his excellent knowledge of the ROI economy . ‘Play the ball not the man’ – refers to ones personal comments / attacks on previous posters or thread starters. Besides which – the truth hurts… 🙂


  • Comrade Stalin

    Can we get a yellow or red card for people who submit long, rambling missives interspersed by self-aggrandizing and somewhat questionable anecdotes ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I called Lord Ardoyne [Gerry Adams]

    No, that’s Gerry Kelly. He doesn’t know much about economics either.

  • Munsterview

    Comrad S : ” Can we get a yellow or red card for people who submit long, rambling missives interspersed by self-aggrandizing and somewhat questionable anecdotes ? …..”

    I think that this is a most unfair categorization of the recent Alliance Party Conference and even if most readers agree that it was all you claimed, never the less some readers may still have found the slugger coverage interesting and minorities should be catered for !

  • pippakin


    Congratulations! that is one of the best, most blatant, example of ‘whataboutery’ I have seen on a thread.

    I too have known members of the travelling community and know of cases of discrimination against them. I note however that you have not claimed relatives in their community, since you appear to related to everyone else, I wonder why that is.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Crashed and burned there, MV. Besides, who said I was talking about you ?

  • Emmetgrogan

    ‘No white person would or should use the word ‘nigger’ but some black people do and obviously have that right’
    Yup, its a racist remark, but then again so is ‘Redneck’, both racist and ‘classist’ to use a term I might also say Urbancentric. Its a thing about equality legislation, its largely symmetrical, and the intent is to protect all, not just a particularly favoured group. Can we look forward to seeing ‘redneck’ consigned to the bin of unacceptable remarks soon?

  • Munsterview

    Comrade S : Where are your proofs or indications that I assumed you were referring to me ?

  • Munsterview

    Pip “…Congratulations that is one of the best, most blatant, example of ‘whataboutery’ I have seen on a thread…..”

    This is just another ill considered instinctive emotional reaction.

    I pointed out that there was a tolerance of extreme violence in travelled culture. This extends among males from bare are knuckle fighting where the fight is only over when the opponent is down and stays down right to the armed fracas incidents where Travelers armed with slashers and other such implements have encounters that are straight out of a medieval battlefield.

    For Christ’s sake there have been enough RTE news stories over the years where Gardai road blocks attempting to prevent such confrontations have collected dozens of the implements referred to, intended for use as weapons. These have been shown in the evening and nighttime news and have been in all the newspapers, so what is you problem ?

    You may or may not be aware that Rathkeal town in Limerick and areas of Limerick City have a disproportionate number of travelers relative to the settled community where a ‘Horse Outside’ culture prevails and where members of the settled community who do not accept this culture and all it entails like tolerating a stray horse in the front garden, may as well move out.

    There are houses for sale in limerick at 30 to 40 K in these areas and no takers, by decent people forced out of their family homes, houses of a similar standard that elsewhere in other areas of Limerick, are selling for €150 K plus. But what the heck it seems that your expertise on traveller culture is insightful as it is of Nationalist communities under siege in areas of the North.

    Have you ever walked through one of these Traveller dominated urban areas or spend any time in any of them? Have you ever had a cup of tea around a campfire or been welcomed for a night of craic ? Have you worker in Traveller resettlement and pleaded their case for a house with Corporation officials? Have you represented and accompanied traveller parents to a teacher meeting when there have been school problems with their children? Have you helped smooth out problems with a residential association when problems arose from a culture clash?

    Well Lady I have!

    There are many positive aspects to Traveller culture and values but there are also vindictive feuding and violent aspects as well. Reality is recognizing both. This is yet another case of shooting the messenger!

    However that will not stop your rant and indeed I welcome it as your attitude is illustrative of irrationality of the politically correct brigade and their disregard for the rights of other people who are victimized by parties who are exempt from criticism.

  • Mick Fealty

    So to whom and for why should I apply yellow cards to participants on this thread?

  • pippakin


    It might be a good idea to do a thread on the travellor problem, this was not the one. Read the heading of this thread and be thankful I’m neither as illconsidered or over emotional as you say.

  • MV, not all minorities get the same sort of treatment when it comes to representation on quangos. In the early days AP folks were probably more likely to get bums on seats than other parties here, let alone Travellers.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    “So to whom and for why should I apply yellow cards to participants on this thread?”

    I got a “politicians” answer in respect of whether people can moderate their own threads
    “theres no convention on moderating your own thread” is worthy of David Cameron at PMQ but its the best I will get.

    Moderators… who are they? I dont expect a “moderated by A, B & C” but should we not at least have a list of the say 8 or 10 people deemed qualified to moderate?
    Its not the fact that Slugger O’Toole is not transparent.
    Its the fact that it expects transparency elsewhere.

  • MV, perhaps you ought to qualify the ‘Unionist domination’ statement. Unionist, Nationalist and Socialist politicians indulged in house-letting and job appointment patronage when they got an opportunity and Unionists had a lot more opportunities than the others; discrimination wasn’t a one way street. When Nationalist councils affiliated to the Dáil (and Socialists were gaining seats) Unionists gerrymandered boundaries in response and later on dropped the PR system.

    The Irish political establishment has indulged in hypocrisy with regard to the Army Council managed and electorally endorsed SF. It supported parapoliticians in government in the North whilst turning up its nose at a similar arrangement in the South.

    TUV has failed to recognise that London and Dublin will support the parapoliticians/paramilitary godfathers, even when it damages what passes for democracy here in the North.

  • Munsterview

    Mick : “So to whom and for why should I apply yellow cards to participants on this thread?

    Good question ! I for one, would be very interested of reading the other views expressed was to the ‘where and why’

    There are two levels of criticism operative here, the first is genuine constructive dispute regarding issues raised per se.

    The second arise not so much with the issues as those involved taking advantage and instigate a dispute with the intent of taking down and off siding perceived opponents.

    I had quite a robust exchange here some months back with a poster whom I believed to be a securicat asset rather than a genuine poster. This same persona I have been informed is carrying out the same disruptive and Republican insulting tactics on other sites. I doubt that the unmasking of this source could have been done inside the ‘civil’ parameters now advocated.

  • Munsterview

    Nevin : In general agreed !

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, if you look at the comments policy both yourself and Turgon are prime candidates. http://sluggerotoole.com/re/comments-policy/

    You for going off topic and discussing ‘in group’ relations rather than the topic in hand and Turgon for playing the man and not the ball.

    I notice people are still not using the ‘flag as offensive’ button in a way that let’s us get to the source of the problem early.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Maybe that’s because a lot of people don’t find the principle or practice of playing the man any any real sense ‘offensive’ a good deal of the time. It’s a badly misused word nowadays as you know so maybe that’s an issue.

    I would only resort to ‘touting’ if something horrible and/or actionable was said about me (or someone else) on the simple basis that I could take banter and reasonable man-tackling aplenty in real life (it’s a contact sport a lot of the time) but being called a racist, an anti-semite or a sectarian bigot for example wouldn’t be among the things said about me that I would tolerate face to face from anyone so see no need to online either. I would find that ‘offensive’ by virture of being unpleasant, malcilicously intended and, importantly, untrue.

    People have varying thicknesses of skins of course but I do hate having to legislate for the idiots in life, the kind of whining, self-righteous, serial complainers, attention-seekers and who go out of their way to cry before they’re hurt and claiming to be offended by those that they simply disagree with. The religious are particularly guilty of this but…you knew that already.

  • Mick Fealty


    That’s a good point. Can we have some suggestions for alternative wording?

  • “part of some pub banter network”

    Mick, you could argue that that’s what it says on the tin, even if banter is somewhat of an understatement. Slugger O’Toole was drunk as a rule and slugger conveys the image of a bar room brawl.

    “Murphy’s [SO’T] “character” was invariably drunk on Bushmills and usually espoused strong loyalist politics”

    Poor characterisation. O’Toole is a Leinster/Mayo name and an NI loyalist in Bushmills is probably more likely to drink Tennant’s Lager than Black Bush.

    Moderation is to be welcomed. Mind you, I like my moderates with a little bit of (controlled) attitude. There’s not enough casual interaction between politicians and politicos of opposing views and what there is is often hidden from public view.

    I sometimes get called for deviation but deviation is par for conversation and stray insights. Stray insights can sometimes be a useful antidote when I and others may be barking up the wrong tree; they can provide additional pieces of the jig-saw. In the conspiratorial world of politics where evidence can be scarce it’s also worthwhile looking for patterns of behaviour.

    I’m sometimes a victim of the ankle-biters but I leave it to the Slugger guardians as to whether or not to put them on a leash. But who guards the guardians? 😉

    Perhaps Not Slugger O’Toole would be a more apt label. Or, with a gesture to Pete, hows about BBC – Boiled Bacon and Cabbage? 🙂

  • Munsterview

    Nun : ” but being called a racist, an anti-semite or a sectarian bigot for example wouldn’t be among the things said about me that I would tolerate face to face from anyone so see no need to online either. I would find that ‘offensive’ by virtue of being unpleasant, malcilicously intended and, importantly, untrue…..”

    Nun. agreed on that.

    Mick : Take proposition of Traveller issues as ‘off thread’ in this debate, was it really ?

    This thread is examining the the rules regarding debate and since certain issues once raised attract the usual sententious political correctness, I thought that it would make a useful contribution to framing agreed debate parameters, to examine one particular grouping and how ‘political correctness’ in this area is stymying a much need discussion.

    I deliberately choose Traveller issues for this examination as while the attitudes that I hoped would be explored could apply to the Jewish/Gentile, Catholic/Protestant, Nationalist/Unionist ect issues, any examination of these interfaces/relations tend to stay within the respective subject boxes and there is little departure from entrenched attitudes.

    Consideration of discussing Travelers problems was in an arena where all parties contributing here should know something of the issues involved and I had hoped that if examined in context, it would also throw some light in other areas of debate.

    It is interesting that the main objections came from sanctimonious sentimentality of one poster and another ‘whataboutery’ indulgence from a second, with castigation rather than examination the object of the exercise.

    Last year, I posted details in the discussion regarding The Irish rounded up and sold into slavery of where an Irish American lass signed up for a university college course specializing in slavery issues and she provoked outrage and was literally run out of her studies. This was a black victimization issue only and they were not going to look at the slavery culture per se that also involved white slaves.

    Any mention of violence and one particular poster is in like a shot with the same attitude as those Afro/Americans and their ownership of slave victimization, in this posters attitude they have sole ownership of violence victimhood and all feet must be cut to fit their shoes !

    It is in this context and in the context of defining debate parameters that I raised the Traveller issue. Placed in this context and in view of the matters I hoped to have examined, how ‘off thread’ was my introduction of traveller issues ?

  • “playing the man and not the ball”

    Mick, is ‘diving’ an offence?

    Diving as in Nun’s “the idiots in life, the kind of whining, self-righteous, serial complainers, attention-seekers and who go out of their way to cry before they’re hurt and claiming to be offended by those that they simply disagree with.”

  • Nunoftheabove


    LOL, yes fair shout – I’m all for boisterous (no ball) contact with the divers – studs down the back of the calf well in alignment with the spirit of the game for me. Seriously though, could a possible replacement for “Flag as offensive” be something as simple as “House Rules Breached” ?

    As I say I’ll admit entirely openly that I have a personal prejudice of sorts against ‘the kind of people’ (sorry…) who are professional offendees in life so when I see that “Flag as offensive” option my mind tells me it really says something else, like for example:

    – “I am feeling insufficiently validated by your remarks for my liking” ; or

    – “I Demand More ‘Respect’ Than You’re Giving Me Because I’m Unusually Thin-Skinned” ;

    – or “I don’t know you but by virtue of a highly suspect and parochial process of phoney induction I believe you to be a taig/TUV Executive member/cleric/homosexual and therefore wish to register my utter disdain for you” .

    There’s perhaps also a wider role here for the facility as if something which is legally dodgy or spam-like arises it too can be ID’d early (whether the posters find it personally unacceptable or not, a more democratic form of quality control if you will) if something should slip through the moderator’s net. A wider definition of house rules might help cover this and enable a bit of ‘community policing’ might help keep standards up and give posters a little more responsibility and ownership over the content. As a ‘guest’, I’d be happy to support that.