Friday, February 12, 2010

The Telegraph's Internet Bully-Boy: James Delingpole

The U.K. Guardian's George Monbiot has written an article (1-27-10) about the Libertarian Conservative Telegraph journalist/Internet bully James Delingpole that really strikes a chord with me:

[James Delingpole's] blog posts for the Telegraph consist of the kind of ill-informed viciousness provided for free by trolls on comment threads everywhere, but raised by an order of magnitude. He puts a wrecking ball through any claims the denial lobby might have to being civilised, intelligent or serious. His followers act as an echo-chamber, magnifying his nastiness. Between them they succeed in alienating anyone who might want an informed debate. But this week he surpassed himself.

On Sunday he published a letter sent to a Conservative candidate asking about his position on climate change. Here's what the letter said:

"Dear Edwin Northover

I was concerned to note the results of a survey of 140 Conservative candidates for parliament that suggested that climate change came right at the bottom of their priorities for government action.

I hope you can reassure me that you recognise the importance and success of climate change action by the UK government at home and internationally.

Can you clarify that:

You accept that climate change is caused by human activity?

Do you support the target to achieve 15% renewable energy by 2020?

Do you support the EU imposing tougher regulation to combat climate change?

Kind Regards, *** ***".

It looks to me like a polite enquiry from someone concerned about climate change. Delingpole, however, saw it as a "nauseating email" which must have come from a "disgusting eco-fascist organisation", though he didn't know which organisation this might be. His post was headlined "Conservative candidates stalked by eco bullies". Much worse, he published the man's name and home address.

Delingpole's bootboys took the hint and immediately swung into action. Within a few minutes of the comments opening, they had published the man's telephone number and email address, a photo of his house ("Note all the recycling going on in his front garden"), his age and occupation. Then they sought to tell him just what a low opinion they had of "stalking" and "bullying".

One commenter wrote: "I tried to telephone *** *** on the number helpfully posted in this blog, but he's out until tomorrow. Perhaps he is out 'tackling climate change'? – anyway his missus didn't seem to know where he was."

Paradoxically, their hounding of this poor man demonstrated that he was just what he seemed to be: an ordinary citizen, exercising his democratic right to ask a parliamentary candidate about his position on an important matter.

The comment thread was rich with unintended irony, as Delingpole's readers lambasted the man who had sent the letter:

"This intrusive and abusive lobbying is disgusting"

"I cannot stress enough how dangerous and vindictive the environmentalist movement is."

After some 20 hours of this venom, the Telegraph took the post down, but not before an article purporting to oppose bullying and stalking had been used to launch a campaign of bullying and stalking. [See the full text]

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