Thursday, 7 February 2013

Woah… this guy bites

A while back, I criticised Peter Rhodes' column in the local press, which called advocates of equal marriage and supporters of immigration 'Blackshirts' and liberals 'Fascists'. 

The offending article

Apparently that's reasonable commentary while my satirical response is 'defamation' (I can tell you're not legally trained, Pete) and 'character assassination'. 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. 

A man with a public bully pulpit in the form of a column in two newspapers seems curiously thin-skinned judging by this morning's email:

You are quite sure about this?

Peter Rhodes (former winner of the Commission for Racial Equality "Race in the Media" Awards)
and later today

That's an apology? Still looks like defamation to me. Thank the Lord no-one actually reads it.
But it does occur to me that on the one occasion we met, you did not stand up for your principles and harangue me as a frustrated bigot (incidentally, where on earth did you get the idea that I resented never going to Fleet Street?) but shook my hand and smiled sweetly.
How very easy it must be to indulge in character assassination from the safety of an anonymous website.  But it's a bit cowardly, isn't it? Hardly a proper job for a grown-up.
Did no-one read it? Well, I'm up to 154,000 readers cumulatively, and I get about 180 a day. I can't be that 'anonymous': Peter managed to find my personal e-mail address and worked out that Plashing Vole is someone he met before. And by the way Peter, blogging isn't my job. It's a hobby. Whereas you call people with whom you disagree 'Fascists' and 'Blackshirts' for money. The only differences between you and I are that I have a grasp of history and you distort things for cash. Are you suggesting that only newspaper columnists are allowed to bandy around strong words? If I were you, I'd look up the terms 'fair comment' and 'satire'. And I'd really consider how silly it would look for a newspaper columnist to take legal action against a mere reader before you bandy around legal terminology. 

Why didn't I spit upon Peter and his terrible opinions when we met? Well, for a range of reasons. Firstly, I'd never heard of him then: if I'd known you were a frustrated bigot, I'd have called you him on it. I do distinctly remember, however, mourning the fate of your newspaper, founded as a progressive organ and turned into the mouthpiece of Enoch Powell and his racist, reactionary followers. And I'm generally polite. And because we were in a radio station discussing other matters. I suspect that if Peter met one of the liberals he calls 'Blackshirts' and 'Fascists', he wouldn't be rude to them either. 

Why do I think you're a frustrated Fleet Street hack? Because your 'style' is a third-rate version of the ill-informed poison purveyed by characters like Clarkson, Moir, Littlejohn and all the other Little Englanders who infest the pages on the grubbier end of the national trade. 

All clear now?

And a final update:

Actually, I am legally trained (all real journalists are) and I know a clear case of libel when I see it.  I am a long-established columnist working in a racially- mixed area. I have a commendation for the quality and balance of my work from the Commission for Racial Equality. Yet you blog:"Rhodes and his friends spend their time muttering darkly about 'them'. They promote Section 28 and dream of the days of Empire when black people contentedly cut sugar cane for white people's tea and didn't moan about having their countries invaded by the Bwana."
Under the circumstances, it is hard to imagine a more wicked and damaging allegation. If this came to court, the lawyers would wipe the floor with you.
However, I am a proper journalist with a proper disdain for this country's draconian libel laws and would never dream of suing. You have been man enough to apologise, and I accept that. Sleep soundly.
I meant legally-qualified actually. Still, that'll do. Not sure what he means by 'real journalist'. I'm not claiming to be one by profession and he's simply a columnist: offering opinions, such as that people who support gay marriage are the same as Blackshirts who wanted Jews exterminated. I offer opinions, but they're a) free and b) better-informed. But I'm still not a journalist. 

And yes Peter, I sleep very soundly indeed. Despite being 'wicked'. 


Historian on the Edge said...

What brainless bluster on Rhodes' part.

Historian on the Edge said...

You know what's really interesting, though? A web search for 'Commission for Racial Equality Race in the Media Awards Peter Rhodes' only turns up the two references above from this blog. A search for 'Peter Rhodes' on the Commission for Racial Equality page turns up 'no results'. I suspect, therefore, he is 'creative' with the truth, as well as being a bigot. What I suspect this means is that some paper or organisation he was involved in won the award, which he's now arrogating to himself. Nice. Then again, The Express won it once...

The Plashing Vole said...

Hi Historian. Thanks for the tip. I've spent a happy hour searching the web for RIMA awards lists. Nothing. It doesn't help that the CRE was abolished, but you'd think there would be something available. More digging required!

Anonymous said...

"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, Aiden. 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 post
"comments" suggesting I am lying about my CRE award. 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 I had written during the year and it was presented, as I recall, by Meera Syal.

Peter Rhodes

Historian on the Edge said...

A little more research turned up the news that first place in the CRE Race in the Media Award, Regional Newspapers category, for 1997 was won *jointly* by The Western Morning News.
I couldn't find out who or what the joint winner was, but it seems odd that a newspaper would jointly win an award in a newspapers category with an individual. Odd that 'joint' was left out in the comment above and (possibly) 'we' replaced by 'I'.
I do like it, though, when journalists - who spent all their time after Leveson howling about freedom of speech, send notes threatening legal action against people exercising freedom of speech.
In other news, the caption to PR's photo here is quite entertaining:

Anonymous said...

Yes Peter you are correct. As far as I can tell there is no evidence of racism in your work, implying that this author may have arguably made a clumsy assertion. Which is a shame given all the other less-refutable prejudices you have.

Still, it's always a delight to see you being taken to task. You say you not only got your award from SOMEONE OF ASIAN DESCENT, but SOMEONE OF ASIAN DESCENT WHO IS ALSO A WOMAN?? Wow! Perhaps you can use this prove you've never expressed anything remotely mysogynistic in your loathesome columns either.