One point of view or free debate?

The central issue in this Breitbart article is not the substance of it, as many a commenter in the thread pointed out.

The central issue is how far does a publication refuse opinion contrary to its main thrust and how far does it allow free debate? As a political blogger, I confess it’s one I’ve not yet worked out and that goes for OoL too.

There is this point of view from the comments thread:

Every news outlet has editorial direction. The BBC may pretend it doesn’t, but we know it does. If people want a different perspective they can read the Guardian, Order-Order, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, or whatever, and indeed most people do read multiple sources and make up their minds. However, as an example the Telegraph messed up by bringing in people such as Geoffrey Lean and Tom Chivers. As a result people didn’t just decide which articles to read, they just deserted the DT itself.

… and:

Spot on, but then why does BB allow him to publish his hit pieces on their website, surely they must know they are damaging their brand? People will end up leaving in the end if bloggers like him keep polluting these pages. I guess the best thing is not to click on his articles.

… but against that is this:

As Tim Aker said yesterday – having party internal debates is something which seems to be foreign to the establishment parties

… and:

Isn’t that called free speech? It does not matter if you dislike his blogs or his opinions, surely, you are mature enough to make up your own mind about them. Or, do you want a news outlet that exclusively prints opinions that are in conjunction with your own narrative?

Phew.  I confess I see all of those points of view.

There’s very much a case for making, say, my own blog only represent the centre-right/libertarian view but there’s also a case for how it used to be – any opinion tolerated and argued against.  And yes, it was so in earlier days.

The issue is  trolling, which kills any debate.  The Breitbart post linked to at the top of this post is just that – it’s a piece of trolling ahead of Rochester and Strood.

Such people are not interested in free debate, genuine debate – they are only interested in scoring points for their opposed cause, in confounding and confusing readers.  We bloggers open our doors to them in a spirit of open debate, to show we entertain all points of view, and they spit on the house and do their darndest to stir things up, forcing the admins to close their doings down and thus leave the admins open to charges of highhandedness and not being ‘able to handle debate’.

The admins would say it has nothing whatever to do with genuine debate – it is psy-ops, an attempt to bring down, it’s ad hominem and lack of substantiation.  It’s a gross misuse of the word ‘debate’.  It’s dross.  And factually wrong dross at that.

And of course, they would shout that the admins are restricting the free speech they trumpet.

Increasingly, I’m tending to the first quote above, not to shut down debate but because it is not debate these opposed views come in and engage in.  It’s simple trolling.

6 comments for “One point of view or free debate?

  1. David
    November 19, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I stopped reading the DT because they started using the made up word Islamophobia. There is nothing irrational about not liking Islam.

  2. The Nameless Libertarian
    November 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I think you often mistake difference of opinion with trolling…

    • November 20, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      First, lovely to see you again.

      About the trolling/difference. While in some cases you might be right, there are also clear cases of trolling and they’re marked by the person coming in specifically to badmouth the person, not attack the issue.

      Give you two examples. One was some time back when a couple of the anti-anti-smoking boys – Longrider was one – were hit by a troll we all knew the online name of. LR had to deal with him. I’ve recently had one myself – comes in, not to speak on the issue but to get me tied up in refuting personal accusations. That’s trolling.

      With you, TNL, it was never that, it was a strong difference of opinion and you left in disgust and to me, that’s fair enough. You made your point but you always stuck to the issue.

      This post was brought on by the Breitbart issue and I notice that post has now gone over there.

      • The Nameless Libertarian
        November 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm

        Good to talk to you again as well Mr Higham.

        Would definitely agree that you never accused me of being a troll – we argued a lot, often passionately, but it was reduced by either party to the level of trolling. The background to my point, though, is twofold – firstly, the comments of OoL have increasingly come to resemble a bit of an echo chamber, whereas once they were the centre of fascinating, frustrating, and consequently quite brilliant debate. The second point is that, for a substantial amount of time, I was unable to comment on this website as my e-mail address / login appeared to be banned.

        Don’t get me wrong, I know there has to be a balance on any political website between those who want to debate passionately and those who just want to be odious for the sake of being odious. I am just questioning whether the difference on here between debate and trolling is always in favour of the former rather than prevention of the latter.

        But then you would know best on this one James, as you are one of the admins here 😉

        • November 22, 2014 at 12:28 am

          Glad you raised these points, TNL.

          Firstly, it was more a case of people taking their bat and ball and going home, leaving a skeleton staff here. 🙂 Those remaining tended to agree on many things.

          As for banned, very few are, certainly not you but would you believe it also used to cut me out. Think Julia had issues too. Even now I can’t comment from inside – tells me my comment has been rejected. That’s a tech issue. It’s been better of late but we had issues for some time.

          This is the thing and I wrote a post on it at my place some time back. Sometimes we can legitimately assume something is happening but in fact, the bloody tech side is doing it to us.

          The test is that if it just does it to you, then it’s tech. If Julia or I specifically said someone was banned, that’s another thing. She and I haven’t done that yet on OoL commenters, though I have a few in the blacklist from my own site.

          Bringing in another point, I’m aware that Julia is the main writer here now and I’m not far behind – swings and roundabouts but the way to get more diverse opinion is, of course, to write something. 🙂 It would be most welcome.

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