Friday, 8 February 2013

Rhodes: the next chapter

The offending article
Peter's still a little miffed:
"This morning I updated the piece to make it clear that I don't think poor suffering Pete is a racist, just an ill-informed reactionary know-nothing. "
No you didn't,. You removed the offensive words and apologised because you got it wrong and were frightened to death  about the consequences, like a little boy caught with his catapult next to a broken window. As you put it in your email to me: "OK, hands up: my satire was too broad in this case and I apologise."
Today, inexplicably, you dig yourself into a deeper hole by posting "comments" suggesting I am lying about my CRE award.
As one who presumes to teach media studies, you really should be more thorough. I am astonished that both you and your emailers are so hopeless at using Google. It really is very simple. You type in "Peter Rhodes" and "Commission for Racial Equality" and there it is.
And if that is beyond you, you can take it from me that I won first prize (Regional and Local Newspaper category) in the 1997 CRE Race in the Media Awards. The award was for a "body of work," a number of features written during the year and it was presented, as I recall, by Meera Syal.
Now, if you are big enough, you will remove the comments from your blog.
Incidentally, wouldn't  this be the ideal time to assure your readers that you have never, ever sought to write anything for the "racist" Express & Star?
1. 'Wrong' is an odd word for subjective opinions.
2. I'm not frightened of any consequences. If Peter wants to sue over satirical comments, he's very welcome. This, let's remind ourselves, is a man who equates supporting equal marriage to shovelling Jews into the gas chambers.
3. I haven't posted comments. Readers have posted comments. I don't censor comments.
4. I spent a good long time searching for Peter's award. It doesn't appear anywhere. I invite you to do the search he recommends. There it… isn't. 
5. A prize! In 1997! Presented by someone famous from an ethnic minority! Well, some of my best friends are black too, as the saying goes. 
6. My history with the Express and Star: 
a) I complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the paper equating Travellers with animals. They got away with it because the code - conveniently written for newspaper editors by newspaper editors - said that you can say what you like about entire ethnic groups: you just can't attach racialised commentary to individuals. That's a hell of a loophole. 
b) The Express and Star approached the university looking for a piece about the American election. It was suggested by the university that I co-write it with my boss. The Express and Star rejected this because it doesn't like me. I certainly didn't approach them. 
7. Is the Express and Star racist? Well, it suggested that Travellers are congenitally criminal, which sounds racist to me. It gave notorious racist Enoch Powell a column for many years. It demonises ethnic minorities and religions. So yes, in my subjective view, it is. 
8. I won't be removing comments. Peter has emailed me again:
You are responsible in law for every item appearing on your website. Shouldn't you know this sort of stuff?
I do know my stuff (and nothing posted by my readers is libellous anyway).

Blogger is hosted in the USA and comments are therefore held to be posted there. Under 47 USC 230, I am only responsible for comments made by employees (I have none), comments which breach criminal codes (which none of mine do) or comments I've edited substantially enough to change the meaning (which I don't do). As I'm sure you're aware, libel is a civil matter. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 stipulates that
“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

Of course, one might dispute jurisdiction: Vole is readable in the UK so its content is actionable here. In which case I would refer you to Google v. Pamiz, in which a British judge decided that blog comments were the responsibility of their authors rather than the platform (in this case, Pamiz's own blog: he objected to libellous comments made about him and sued Google - and lost). UK law isn't completely clear, however. 

(New reader? Start here).

23 comments:

Rob Spence said...

Odd that the recommended search doesn't turn up the award. It does turn up a similar case to yours, however, from a few years ago:
http://gbpeopleslibrary.co.uk/blog/?p=214

ML said...

A Google search for "Commission for Racial Equality" and "Peter Rhodes" brings up this blog as the first hit, which I quite like. Peter Rhodes is a 4th rate Clarkson impersonator, the type with a hopelessly narrow, stymied view of the world but without the wit or elan to channel his impotent outrage into anything informative or, at the very least, entertaining. That's my opinion, of course, so please don't sue me!

The Plashing Vole said...

Nice. All Google shows is that PR has form in bullying people! And that he relies on an award from 16 years ago. He's written an awful lot since then…

The Plashing Vole said...

Nice. All Google shows is that PR has form in bullying people! And that he relies on an award from 16 years ago. He's written an awful lot since then…

ectoman said...

"You are against mass immigration? Then you must be a racist." - well clearly.

"You oppose same-sex weddings? Then you clearly hate gay people" - yes, obviously.

"The very idea that someone may be motivated by love of their country or religious conviction is beyond the understanding of these people" - no, not beyond our understanding, but clearly proof of your offensively bigoted views.

Historian on the Edge said...

I guess I'm puzzled as to why, if it was so obvious, he didn't just pass on the url in question. I've drawn a blank too, apart from the previous brow-beating of a blogger.

Anonymous said...

Ah, so the truth emerges at last. The author of Plashing Vole, Dr Aidan Byrne, wanted to write a political feature for the Express & Star but was rejected. This is hardly surprising. This is an academic, remember, who can take a columnist's suggestion that "some liberals are about as tolerant as a hall full of Blackshirts" and turn it into "This is a man who equates supporting equal marriage to shovelling Jews into the gas chambers." Would anyone let such a fantasist anywhere near a proper news outlet? Anyway, this has all been hugely amusing but I must move on. I have a real blog to write, with real readers and I hope some of you will follow me there. Enjoy this posting because it won't be online for long. Aidan claims not to censor his posts but my last one was removed pretty damn quick.

Best wishes,
Peter Rhodes

Jason D Jawando said...

I once wrote to the Express & Star about a feature written by Peter Rhodes. I don't remember the details, but he was commenting on a survey that found a startlingly high percentage of women had had sex without their consent. Mr Rhodes found it preposterous that anyone would suggest these women were raped. He went on to suggest that 'most women' would agree with him as 40% of the women surveyed didn't consider what had happened was rape.

My letter pointed out that referring to sex against a woman's consent as 'rape' is the dictionary definition of the word, not a something dreamed up by feminists; I also pointed out that 40% is not 'most'.

I don't read the paper regularly, but was told a few days later that they had printed my letter. I suppose I should be grateful for that, but as they still employ Peter Rhodes, I find the suggestion that 'a proper news outlet' wouldn't employ 'a fantasist' slightly ironic.

Historian on the Edge said...

PR's comment above shows that the old saying is becoming truer than ever: scratch a right-wing bigot and you'll find a spoilt bully, bleating 'it isn't fair'. But 'not fair' is the way you like it, isn't it, Pete?

DaysOfEnlightenment said...

Everyone should probably stop goading him now. He's just executed the "I'll rise above it" card, like a PROPER MATURE ADULT might have done. Almost graceful, really. Shame he bookended it with a bit of obligatory childish "cock-swinging", though.

Artog said...

I'm sorry I couldn't resist Peter's invitation to his real blog. And... it's just the literary equivalent of baby mush. It's obvious that he's deluded ("Peter Hitchens made a good point..." ), but the suggestion that your animus arises from some kind of envy of his exalted position at the Express & Fucking Star, it's laughable.

DaysOfEnlightenment said...

Nonsense Artog. I find it quite charming that Peter considers his pithy little blog on the "Express & Fucking Star" a "proper news outlet". Especially when you remember that Channel 5's "Live From Studio Five" was also technically classified as a proper news outlet.

Surely there can be no headier aspiration for a contributor than to know you are in a league alongside heavyweight cultural commentators such as Kate Walsh, Brian Dowling, Melinda Messenger and Ian Wright. Which - however much you lot might like to protest otherwise - Peter Rhodes DEFINITELY IS. Except on a REALLY SMALL REGIONAL LEVEL. In an outlet of ever-decreasing relevance and readership.

Let's see a bit of pride in one of our forefront regional media commentators, eh? Norwich might have Alan Partridge, but we have Peter Rhodes. Slightly more articulate too.

Although miles less funny.

And sadly, less fictional.

Ewarwoowar said...

Whilst I've enjoyed this blog post, the spat with Mr Rhodes, the humorous comments, I can't help thinking that EVERYONE here is missing the point:

Shouldn't it be "on Question Time" and not "in Question Time"?

I think we should be told.

The Plashing Vole said...

Hello all.
Peter accuses me of deleting his comment. I would like to reassure you all that I have not done so. I have, however, deleted a genuinely libellous comment about Peter by an anonymous commenter.

On another of Rhodes of Wolverhampton's points: I didn't approach the E+S with an article. The university suggested me as the appropriate expert and the suggestion was declined. No hard feelings either way.

As for 'proper' news outlets: you can find me in the Guardian Higher Education section, the Times Higher Education supplement and various other places.

More to the point, and I'm sorry to have to say it again. Mr Rhodes referred to liberal supporters of equal marriage as 'fascists' and 'blackshirts'. German fascists and their allies murdered 6 million Jews and others in gas chambers. The British Blackshirts supported them. I therefore don't see how Mr Rhodes can object.

Hope you aren't all too hurt by the way he distinguishes between his 'real' readers and you lot!

The Plashing Vole said...

And yes, Ewarwoowar is absolutely right. Prepositions are important! (And commenting on Question Time isn't journalism: it's what Twitter was invented for!)

Anonymous said...

We've got a live one! Peter Rhodes is so desperate to rise above the irrelevance of the blogosphere that he spends his days feverishly Googling himself so he can excitedly deign to comment on articles like this. What a boss-eyed fool.

And mega-LOL at calling the E&S - essentially an outlet for syndicated AP stories mixed in with TV listings and local pieces about things like cars accidentally clipping garden walls - a proper news outlet. That made my day.

Shackleford Hurtmore said...

Could we not all club together and give him a far more Google-able award to cheer him up?

ML said...

Below is a link to an Editor's pick from the Express and Star's stories today. What a scoop! I hope Peter Rhodes is still reading this because, remember, he works for a proper news outlet.

http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2013/02/11/hungry-osmonds-dish-up-a-treat-for-amazed-coseley-mcdonalds-workers/

Historian on the Edge said...

"The brothers ordered a Big Tasty Meal with bacon, a Big Mac Meal, Quarter Pounder Meal and six chicken nuggets as well as an orange juice, two bottles of water and a blackcurrant and apple flavoured Fruit Shoot."
That's the sort of fearless, potentially Pullitzer-winning eye for detail that only the journalism of a proper news outlet would have.

DaysOfEnlightenment said...

"Whatever happened to small boys on cold mornings with cotton-wool in their ears? What was that all about?" from 'The (ahem) BEST of Peter Rhodes' is my favourite.

Both a scarpel-sharp piece of news commentry, and the primitive roots of a top-quality routine ready to keep legions of observational comedians awake at night.

The Plashing Vole said...

Plus, 'the Devil' is responsible for the Bulger murder because 'some kids are just evil' and 'gay marriage' will lose the Tories' the election. Really…

ML said...

"Peter Hitchens made a good point in Question Time.." *stops reading*

The Plashing Vole said...

And rightly so: it sums up Rhodes's second-rate, derivative journalistic practice and his tawdry politics perfectly!