It’s a fairly well-known fact that if you write a blog-post about Britney Spears, lesbians, hot coed teens, cheerleaders or the like, your hit-count will rocket. The same is also true (albeit to a lesser extent) for posts about terrorism. It’s an easy way to get noticed by the US blogs and make that transatlantic leap (still as hard for British blogs as it is for British bands).
To wit – my liveblog of the 7th July London bombings received 28,500 unique visits on that day, about 28.5 times my previous daily high. As I continued to cover the aftermath (including a liveblog on 21st July and of the Stockwell shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes), my daily unique visitor numbers stayed well up in the thousands. But after a while I got rather fed up with the whole thing, and decided to only really bother when there was something that touched on civil liberties, a long-time vague obsession. Hence, combined with a couple of lengthy holidays, I am now back down to a pre-July level of readership. But as that Guardian article about UK blogging sort of pointed out it’s all about quality of readership, not quantity.
For me, it all comes down to people like Robert Johns (which my or may not be his real name), who provides a prime example of the kind of thing that made me stop covering terrorism so much in the comments to this post on the Guardian’s Newsblog about the lovely Rachel‘s blog.
Despite teh Grauniad explicitly stating that Rachel was “between 7 and 10 feet away from the blast” on the Piccadilly Line train on July 7th (which would surely give her a certain amount of experience of terrorism, as well as a right to a certain amount of sympathetic respect for coping so well), Mr Johns feels he has the right to lecture that “Its people like Rachel who support individuals who encourage such suicide bombing”. He then goes on to (effectively) accuse her of being anti-semitic and calls on her to “take full responsibility for the events that transpired 7/7” – because, erm, he’s an idiot.
Self-righteous cunts like that are sadly endemic throughout the online terrorism debate, be they at the hell-hole that is Little Green Footballs or the comments section of Harry’s Place, often a UK equivalent. They are tedious, judgemental, insensitive arseholes pretty much to a man, and I have no desire to engage them in debate – largely because they refuse to respond reasonably or rationally to any criticism of their stance and tend quickly to resort to invective-laden abuse. I attracted a fair few even on 7th July itself (even while, as far as I knew, a bomb could go off outside my window at any moment), which I thought was a tad off. Yet others tend to take it even further.
But let’s face it, it takes a special kind of twattery to tell a survivor of a suicide bombing that it’s their fault for their past actions – in fact, it’s much the same logic as the terrorists themselves use. (Rabid maniac: “It’s your permissive liberalism that allows these terrorists to get away with it” ; Rabid terrorist: “It’s your permissive liberalism that I want to destroy”)
This is, however, an idea that seems increasingly to be leaking into the mainstream debate – be it Kitty Ussher‘s “blood on their hands” bullshit (rhetoric nicked wholesale from Harry’s Place) or the ongoing scare tactics of Blairledee and Blairledum.
Last night Blairledum called for a debate on the correct response to terrorism. Judging by the sort of thing we’ve seen on this here internet, such debates tend quickly to devolve into name-calling and the putting of fingers into ears. The government and, if Ian Blair is any indication, the police have already made up their minds about the “best” course of action. Any debate will be purely for a combination of show and the disparagement of their opponents. So what the hell’s the point, eh?