Magazine article The Spectator

Stop Being Sanctimonious about the Mcbride Emails. Make Your Own Minds Up

Magazine article The Spectator

Stop Being Sanctimonious about the Mcbride Emails. Make Your Own Minds Up

Article excerpt

Rod Liddle says that the internet is an anarchic expression of democracy, and should be treated as such. The same applies to emails sent between friends. Read them and use your common sense

There's a UK-based internet site called Urban Dictionary and I'm lucky enough to warrant an entry on it. The text reads as follows: 'Rod Liddle - an odious, untalented, bigoted, low-level Sunday Times journalist who engages in buggery with Nazis such as Nick Griffin.' Or at least that's some of it. Incredible, don't you think? - all lies.

Or mostly lies - God knows how they found out about the Nick Griffin stuff. Maybe Nick told them, hoping it would boost the profile of the BNP somehow. There's some more stuff about how I don't like the football team Crystal Palace, which makes me think it was written by a desolate, acne-ridden, suburban cybernerd who is himself a supporter of Surrey's only league side. As a description of my good self it is at least partially correct - I do work for the Sunday Times and I am odious and bigoted and untalented - which puts the Urban Dictionary slightly ahead of Wikipedia for accuracy. My profile on the Wikipedia site, which is lauded for its democracy and commitment to facts, appears to have been written in committee by the Muslim Council of Britain, a former BBC colleague who once, unfortunately for the corporation, edited the Today programme, and a handful of militant atheists.

At first I was shocked by the Wikipedia stuff and set about editing it so some of the more egregious errors - mostly from the BBC person - might be expunged. But within a day or two the BBC person and the jihadis and the atheists had been hard at work and the profile was even more skewed and partisan and inaccurate than before. So I gave up meddling with my own profile and, having learned a lesson, started meddling with the profiles of people I hated as much as the BBC person hated me. I went into the profile of the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and added the words 'cheating Portuguese c***' in every sentence and was delighted to see that my alterations remained in place for a week or so. From that I moved on - to Wikipedia's profile of Harriet Harman which, unaccountably, omitted to mention the crucial point that she habitually performed unnatural sexual acts upon geese. And then I made up ever more fabulous stuff about Bono, Peter Mandelson, Patricia Hewitt, the 'comedian' Marcus Brigstocke, the pompous, midget, Tory-voting, fox-strangling restaurateur Anthony Worrall Thompson and, obviously, Rowan Williams. I think the Worrall Thompson entry is still up there; incredibly childish, I know. But you know the drill; you have a glass of wine, and then another, and then a third, nothing on TV, wife's gone to bed - it's time for Wikipedia.

Ah, the internet. A bunch of Fleet Street columnists were recently whining about the nasty comments they discovered about themselves online, or about the stuff they'd written.

Believe me, there is no more self-important, narcissistic bunch of people than Fleet Street columnists, and I include myself in that description, although the blank-headed liberals are the worst. Apparently they were aghast that people were being quite beastly to them on their computers. Pre-eminent among the whingers was the Evening Standard's Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who, while happy to inflict her self-regarding witless drivel upon the public every week, became unaccountably hurt when the public responded with nastiness. …

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