Difficulties in remaining objective – Part II

Originally posted on the Objectiviser blog and reposted here.

A while ago I made a post which was part in jest but with a serious point about the quality of information on the Twitter #assange tag.

Since then, I have followed @SomersetBean and @wikileaks_forum.  I have enjoyed their feed, commentary, and polite, witty banter.  By the way: the @wikileaks_forum twitter account has several people who post on it, not just one individual – which can be confusing (for example when one asks how they enjoyed Berlin the other day).

Somebody posted one of my blogs to the actual forum, for discussion: check it out.

Of the forum post itself, I would only suggest that the reader compares the other blog’s contents at “Aug 21” to what Mr Hurtig said at the Magistrate Court, (starting bottom of page 7) – I had seen the other site during my researches, but discounted it as unreliable.  That’s my most common quick test for a site: does it use Mr Hurtig’s evidence before or after the first UK hearing (where he made his full retraction)?

But one comment from “Riney” made me think (hap-tip to @benjaminfgray for pointing the comment out):

When I read through the tweets from what I consider the true anti-Assange crowd- David Allen Green, Alan Taylor,  Sock Puppet,  Objectiviser,  James Ball ‏, Benjamin Gray and others- I find the real anti-assange comments- ones of raw searing adolescent hatred. Remarks I find absolutely degrading and insinuating ignorance and every other horrible thing they can think of.

@Revmagdelen, by the way, noted (tongue in cheek, I’m sure):

I note that Rev didn’t mention @braingarbage… so much for the “anti-Brigade” unity! Do better please Rev.  We’re on the same CIA payroll; just look down the list.

 

But I think that Riney has a point. Click on my profile and read just what I have tweeted of late, without the context.  I think it can indeed be argued to look degrading and insinuating ignorance.

I have collected some of Suzy’s other sayings over at my other blog.  That was written in frustration after she insinuated that I support paedophiles:

 

If anyone is interested, try a little experiment.  Set up a new twitter account under a neutral name (ie “JohnDoe” rather than “BollocksToAssange”).  Or ask a friend to do it, whose account hasn’t obviously been set up recently and who hasn’t commented on #Assange before.  That will make it a more reasonable test.

Start posting on the #assange hashtag with reasonable posts questioning discrepancies in the story told by Wikileaks or Assange himself.  Feel free to use my misconceptions blog, or links from it, if you want material for asking questions.

Be sure to keep your tweets civil and reasonable: this is how most critics start out.  Do it for a couple of weeks, and have a read of the responses you get.

It would also be interesting to do the same for a “pro-Assange” account, and see what responses come back.

Here are a few samples of the things that crop up in the feeds of critics:

Rixstep appears to be unfamiliar with the concept of “irony” when responding to a tweet that mentions “manic cult-y attacks”. Shame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(note that @Somersetbean then checked his facts against the sources I gave, and amended his poster with a correction – which I  admire.)

 

 

 

 

 

There are plenty more: that’s what I found in ten minutes or so, from recent history only.  I can’t find the tweet that @AssangeC sent me personally, as it has been deleted.  You can see my replies, though, here and here and here.

I have also seen many posts by people claiming that Assange’s lawyers admitted all the allegations (ignoring the fact that the quote is cherry-picked out of context from a legal argument in which the allegations were read by his lawyer).  I probably don’t see the vast majority of posts such as that, and I’d further guess that  a “pro-Assange” tweeter will encounter (inaccurate) hostility along these lines regularly.

Hostility, insults, and nastiness of all kinds leads to defensiveness and the building of barriers.

So Riney did make me think.  And there has been talk of “sides”, and of “pro” and “anti”.  As if one takes a position for or against and then must push that agenda, discounting all others.

For some people, this may well be true.  But this does not serve to help debate, or to get at the facts of the matter.  I consider my position to be “pro facts”, and “pro accurate information” rather than “anti” anything.  But I guess that could just be a semantic argument.  In fact, I was a supporter of both Assange and Wikileaks (or on the same “side” if you like) until they started consistently making serious errors of fact.  You can read my detailed thoughts on how I came to start trying to correct these errors here.

I have been thinking more on this of late; @VoxVictoria is quoted above: “don’t conflate”.  Wise (if succinct) words. I even made an effort and tweeted about it.  My effort did not go well, and shows that I am just as guilty as anyone of seeing those “sides” in place:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So: thank you, Riney. I shall try to keep your comments in mind and remain civil on Twitter. It’s much easier to be nice on a blog which one has time to draft, edit, redraft, edit again, and so forth. Twitter, by its nature, leads to more spontaneous responses – which can be angry.

That is counter-productive.  There are insulting people everywhere on this issue.  There is no need to add to the nastiness.  As Riney showed: doing so actually discourages people from taking ones views seriously.

Some of my tweets and RTs are jokes or satire.  I am not going to stop making those :)  But I shall try to be nicer, even when insulted or faced with an argument that compares the actual evidence or law to an opinion piece on an official Wikileaks site.  I may have to start blocking those types of people if I am to control my temper more.  I am but human.

I shall leave the last word to @wikileaks_forum.

 

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