Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Another Angry Voice Hall of Shame

In the first three years of running the Another Angry Voice Facebook page I only banned two people. Each time I banned someone I informed the group of my action and provided an explanation of my decision. In the summer of 2013 there has been a noticeable surge in the number of extreme-right fanatics dropping by to vent their bile and to demonstrate their vapid debating techniques, their appalling grasp of the English language and their astonishing levels of political and historical ignorance.

It is for this reason that I have decided to create a list of the people that I have banned and my reasons for banning them.

I believe that keeping a list like this will be a great way of showing:

A: That unlike almost all Facebook pages and websites, Another Angry Voice has a completely transparent and accountable moderation policy.
B. Exactly how extreme people's comments must become before they push me into abandoning my  strong anti-censorship stance.
The Hall of Shame

1. Scottish Machine Gun Precher (calls for ethnic genocide) The first individual I ever blocked was an odious ranting racist using a fake profile to call himself "Scottish Machine Gun Preacher" who had been preaching his hatred of Arabs a little too much on my page.

I have no problem with people criticising what I say, in fact I really enjoy a civilised debate (as several right-wing followers of the AAV page would attest). Often things have gone a lot further than civilised debate. I have allowed the use of foul mouthed insults, personal attacks against me, misrepresentations of my views and motivations, and the deployment of countless other deliberately fallacious arguments to stand uncensored. However if you call for ethnic genocide with statements like "wipe out the Arab scum" and then accuse me of being a "fascist", then you can just fuck off!

I was very disappointed to break my longstanding no-censorship policy, but Another Angry Voice is my page and I didn't want it filled with hateful racist bile.

2. Eva Silver (persistent spamming) Eva left a number of thought provoking comments on my page, but she also had an infuriating habit of spam-bombing my wall, sometimes with more than 20 links per day. One of the most annoying things about Eva's spam-bombing activities was her habit of posting extremely contradictory links. One minute she posted a link criticising the extreme-right, the next she was posting an extreme-right anti-immigration rant.

I try to post around half a dozen carefully considered items per day so as to avoid being one of those really annoying pages that floods your Facebook feed with dozens of posts a day until you unfollow them. I asked Eva on several occasions to stop spam-bombing my page with so many links, but she kept ignoring my requests and carrying on regardless until I lost patience and blocked her. Nobody gets to post more than four times as many items on my wall per day as I do myself, no matter what the content.

3 Davey Brown (defamation) This rambling right-wing extremist decided to defend his vile ideology by threatening violence, bigoted ranting about "Islamofascism" and making totally unfounded accusations of paedophilia against me, and several other people (amongst other things).

I have every respect for the freedom of speech of people with differing points of view (as many of my regular critics will no doubt attest), but if people have no better debating tactics than bigoted ranting and the hurling grotesquely slanderous accusations of paedophilia, they are simply not welcome on my page.

These people still have their freedom of speech because there are plenty of BNP, EDL and NF affiliated pages where their brand of ill-informed, slanderous, hate-fueled bile is always more than welcome.

4. Stephen Campbell (hate speech) This guy repeatedly made foul mouthed, abusive and insulting comments at anyone that dared question his extreme-right ranting. The final straw was his decision to describe all Muslims as "rats". I blocked him from posting anything else because I'm not prepared to have my page used as a platform for people to spew their bigoted hate and hurl foul mouthed abuse at anyone that disagrees with it.

5. Staf Coombes (repeated foul mouthed insults at other users) I actually found Staf's regular right-wing brain farts highly amusing. It was almost as if they were written by a satirist doing a parody of a cognitively illiterate reactionary.

Unfortunately Staf decided to launch several abusive and foul mouthed tirades against other people on the Another Angry Voice page. People have every right to disagree with what I post on my Facebook page, but if they have nothing to offer but slinging a load of foul mouthed insults at everyone else, then they too will join Staf on AAV's very short block-list.

6. "Alf Garnett" (foul mouthed abuse) A blatant troll account named after the most famous fictional racist in the history of British television got himself blocked for repeated use of disgusting language, culminating in a foul mouthed tirade in which he/she/it told me to "fuck off" on my own page. This inspired me to devise a new rule. If you use a blatantly fake Facebook account to troll my page and then tell me to "fuck off", you can "fuck off" yourself. 99.99% of users will be entirely unaffected by this rule.

7. Kasablaka Hill (persistent spamming) Whoever is behind this American page kept spamming "copy n' paste" adverts for their cannabis business on my posts. I actually think that cannabis should be legalised (especially for medical conditions), but since it is not currently legal in the UK, and because I repeatedly asked them to stop spamming my page, in the end I decided to ban them from posting any more spam links inciting people to buy drugs.

8. El Smith (ironic self-fulfilling prophecy rule) This guy showed up on one of my threads then went on a prolonged trolling spree, turning up on nearly every thread to pick (ludicrously fallacious) arguments with me and everyone else. His behavour was annoying, but I had no intention of blocking him until he lost his temper and accused me of being a "fascist".

I usually allow people to get away with slinging insults at me becuase I believe that when they resort to insults, it just shows the paucity of their argument, however, as a left-wing libertarian, being called a "fascist" by a persistent right-wing troll is a step too far. If they are going to loose their temper and start slinging the word fascist around as an insult, they shouldn't be at all surprised when the "fascist" that has been letting them troll away for days without deleting a single comment, resorts to irony in order to block them.


9. Ben Hardie (ironic self-fulfilling prophecy rule)  There's something deeply amusing being called a "fascist" by an intellectually stunted Islamophobic UKIP propagandist.

10. Neil Bannister (ironic self-fulfilling prophecy rule) One night this guy angrily tells me
to "fuck off" on my own page (water off a duck's back), so I politely suggested that if my page upsets him so much, maybe he should unfollow my page and/or block notifications from it. Instead of doing either of those simple things, he came back the next night to call me a "fascist", thus triggering my Ironic Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Rule and getting himself banned.

11. Rich Jones (incitement to murder) This guy turned up to hurl puerile abuse at people he concluded were Tories, including one comment which could be construed as incitement to murder. I'm not sure whether this was a left-wing ranter or some right-wing black hat effort to make the left look bad, whatever the case I won't have "let's go and kill the guy who said something I don't like" comments on my page.

12. Simon Young
(ironic self-fulfilling prophecy rule) This defender of extremist ideologies was completely delusional, turning up in my photo album on right-wing extremism to hurl a load of abuse at me, in between bouts of hopelessly fallacious reasoning (such as the binary fallacy, ad hominum attacks and blatant straw-manning). He was awfully upset that I had dared to criticise his beloved Britain First hate chamber and eventually ended up posting this picture, which triggered the ironic self-fulfilling prophecy rule. During his tirade of abuse he also admitted that he only followed my Facebook page to troll and that he had never actually clicked a link, so it's no surprise that he'd never seen this article entitled "Why I want you to question everything - even me" on my blog.

13. Andrea Stevenson
(ironic self-fulfilling prophecy rule) Yet another person who turned up on my page to baselessly call me a fascist, simply because I suggested that people find out which of their friends follow the vile Britain First page, then present them with verifiable information about who Britain First actually are, and the nasty tricks they use to con people into joining their fascist hate group and donate money to them. It is quite remarkable how supporters of fascism love to accuse those who oppose fascism of being fascists for doing stuff like presenting facts and information.

14. "Minxy Cat" (trolling and mental disability based insults) This person hiding behind a fake cat profile stalked me for a very long time, leaving comments littered with personal insults against me and dismissals of my audience as "sheeple". 
This is clearly a very disturbed individual who gets some kind of kick out of stalking people that they don't like in order to hurl a load of insults at them. I tolerated it for so long because juvenile insults are like water off a duck's back to me, but when this cat pretender person resorted to calling me a "moron" and a "fucktard" I had enough. Mental disability based insults are disgusting, no matter who they're aimed at. I don't have to put up with reading such filth, and neither do the rest of my audience. Banned again when she returned using sockpuppet accounts.

15. Stephen Selby (ironic self-fulfilling prophecy rule) This example was particularly ironic because Stephen Selby was trying to defend the work of a fascist organisation by calling me a fascist!

16. Alex Hartley (insults and slurs) 
There is a big difference between allowing people to have freedom of speech on my page, and allowing them to sling abuse around and make slanderous personal attacks against me with impunity, so this guy had to go. Banned again when he returned using sockpuppet accounts.

17. Stuart Court (ethnic slurs): I put up with this guy for a very long time because he neatly illustrated the rotten ignorant mentality of the typical Ukip supporter with his insult laden comments, hopeless debating tactics and casual xenophobia. I gave him plenty of warnings about hurling insults at people and using straw-man arguments befor finally banning him for making ethnic slurs against Roma people. He claimed (without a shred of evidence) that 99% of Roma are thieves, and that "thieving is a way of life to them". I'm perfectly happy for people to express criticism of my views, but my page is not a platform for people to spread ethnic slurs.

18. Bobby Fisher (defamation): This guy showed up to make unsubstantiated accusations that a certain public figure is a paedophile. I deleted the comment and asked him to not post content that could end up getting my page shut down. He immediately came back to hurl abuse at me and repost the same libelous accusations so I banned him.



One of the images included in Ellis' 2nd bombardment.
19. Ellis Baker (spam-bombing): Some people seem to think that they can use my page as their own political platform by bombarding my wall with loads of vile extreme-right memes. Usually they are sensible enough to stop when I warn them that they will be banned if they persist, but Ellis Baker decided to bombard my page with another long stream of extremist images, giving me no choice but to ban him. Remarkably Ellis Baker has his real employer on his Facebook profile, so I have contacted them to see whether they are comfortable with such views being openly propagated by their sales manager. Hopefully they will explain to me and my audience what they plan to do about it, if not I may consider escalating the situation ...


20 Tammy Christian Savage (anti-semitism)

This person liked to spam bomb my comments threads with loads of links, sometimes dozens at a time. Some of them were decent stuff about monetary reform, but others were sick anti-Jewish conspiracy links. I warned them to stop with the anti-semitic gibberish, but they persisted posting links claiming stuff like "The Jewish people as a whole will become its own Messiah. It will attain world dominion by the dissolution of other races ...", so they got themselves banned.


21 Julian Lenard Gilbert (defamation)
This notorious right-wing troll account hung about on the AAV Facebook pages for ages using it as a platform to post links to extreme-right material and to sling insults and smears at anyone who disagreed with him. Eventually he was banned for posting libelous comments about the Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. I'm fine with people offering opposing opinions on my page, but using it as a platform to spread defamatory rumours is unacceptable. The guy then came back with a number of sockpuppet accounts and set up a number of pages designed to smear me and my work by spreading fascistic propaganda using my AAV logo as an avatar.

22. Tony Woodall (abuse)
I let Tony stick around for ages despite his long track record of doing little but sling abouse at anyone and everyone he disagreed with, including me. I've got thick skin so his insults never bothered me that much, but when he slung a load of insults at the veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke after being warned about his abusive behaviour on several previous occasions. I finally had enough. Why should I allow this guy to continually lower the tone of the debate with his foul mouthed and abusive rants? Nobody should have to wade through such abusive drivel on a page that is about politics.


23. Angela Ormerod (disrespect)

This account kept repeatedly posting my own infographics with the Another Angry Voice logo crudely photoshopped off them. I asked her three times to stop because it's disrespectful to rip off my work and then post it onto my page as if it's her own work, but she refused to. In the end I decided to ban her. It's the least serious thing I've banned anyone for, but I politely asked her to stop insulting me by ripping off my work and posting it on my page and she refused. What else could I do?


24. Steve Sadler (bullying)

This guy openly admitted that he was trying to get himself banned as some kind of infantile badge of pride. On numerous occasions he slung insults and abuse at other AAV readers. He was usually particularly bad on Friday and Saturday nights when at the pub getting sloshed. On more than one occasion he threatened to fight people. In the end I banned him. He is the main reason for the introduction of the Another Angry Voice anti-bullying policy.

25. Tim Thorne (abuse)

Yet another Ukipper who decided to use Another Angry Voice as a political platform for his hateful views. I had no problem with him expressing different opinions, I even put up with him posting outright lies (the UKIP leaflet claiming Labour are planning to scrap the NHS and introduce charging - a policy actually favoured by several UKIP politicians), but when it came to his abuse memes using mental health slurs against people with differing views and even images calling for anyone with left-wing views to be removed from the gene pool, it's just too much. Nobody visiting my page needs to be confronted by appalling abuse. If they want to see loads of appalling right-wing abuse memes they can easily visit the Britain First page, the BNP page, or pretty much any of the Ukipper Facebook groups.


26. Will Rowlands (defamation)

This annoying right-wing troll stank out the debate for ages with his appalling misrepresentations of other people's arguments and his sly evasive refusal to answer questions but I didn't ban him because being obnoxious and evasive isn't grounds enough. When he decided to accuse a living politician of helping the paedophile Jimmy Saville he went too far. If you don't have evidence to back up your allegations then what you are saying is defamation. AAV is a page for political debate, not a platform for people to hurl libellous accusations at people they don't like.


27. Trevor Maloney (abuse)
I banned Trevor Maloney after he launched a tide of abuse at other people who dared disagree with him, despite being on a last warning for abusive behaviour already. I will miss him a bit. He did an amazing job of presenting the angry incoherent wittering of someone who rote learns all of their political opinions from sources like the Daily Mail, the Express, The S*n, Tory party propaganda emails and the Britain First Facebook page ... but there's no excuse for repeatedly abusing people.

Conclusion

The Another Angry Voice Facebook page now attracts thousands of comments a week, many of which disagree with my views. I hope that the fact that these are the only people I have blocked illustrates that I am very tolerant of dissenting opinions, and that I'm determined not to turn my page into a closed ideology echo chamber like so many other political pages on Facebook.

In my view everyone is entitled to their say, but sadly, sometimes people take advantage of free public spaces like the AAV Facebook page in order to spew grotesque and unacceptable bile. I dislike having to ban these people from commenting, but even the most committed libertarian must surely agree that "freedom of speech" doesn't actually mean "freedom to hurl gratuitous abuse", "freedom to call for ethnic genocide", "freedom to spread outright lies", "freedom to bully people", "freedom to write slanderous comments about people" or "freedom to make unfounded accusations of fascism". 

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