I noticed a couple of months back that I'd fallen off Clive Davis's Speccie blogroll.
Serves you damn well right, Laban, I thought. He's been posting there for months and you're still linking to his old site. And have you considered the possibility that what you're posting just isn't good enough ?
I did leave a comment at the site, but alas I never found out why I'd gone. Pity. I'd been flattered to have such a fine writer reading my stuff.
But when I lost the link from Harry's Place I was more concerned. Along with Norman Geras and Jackie Danicki, Harry was one of the first bloggers to link to me back in 2003. And on a purely selfish-stats note, I must have had 20,000+ visitors via HP. After Google image search (mostly people looking for Helen Mirren's spectacular staircase entrance in 'Savage Messiah') it's my top referrer.
So I wrote to one of the HP crew asking why I'd fallen off the list, and was told that it was 'probably' to do with having links to some far-right sites - perhaps Majority Rights or Nationalist News - both of which I link to because they link to me (although MR has a history - I originally linked because John Jay Ray wrote there - he was then removed by the MR crew because of his pro-Israel views and because he didn't see the hand of the Zionist Menace in everything - so it's a bit of a hangover). I'm on record as saying that I'd link to Satan himself for a link back, although I think I'd draw the line at, say, a blogger who was a convicted and unrepentant killer.
That explanation made sense - but I asked why now, when I'd linked for ages to such sites. Was there a battle going on I was unaware of (apart from the usual Stopper/Euston mullarkey)? Were the boys at Lenin's Tomb or Socialist Unity writing nasty stuff about the company HP kept, and doing the degrees of separation ? Were the advertisers twitched ?
I asked - but answer came there none. Cast into the dustbin of blogging history with nary an explanation. OK, it's not exactly a neck-shot in the corridors of the Lubiyanka - but a man still likes to know the evidence against him. I wrote a couple of weeks ago, so a reply seems unlikely. It is I suppose possible that they're as lazy as I am and as poor correspondents - but all of them ?
So I thought I'd try and work it out. And while I'm not sure if it has any bearing at all, I did find this blog post by a Charlie Pottins.
Another hate attack reported by Searchlight also has an internet connection, apparently. In the early hours of June 9 a fire gutted the offices of Positive East, a charity helping people affected by HIV and Aids. It is being treated as arson.
Searchlight notes that the charity was based in a private house, with no outward sign of its purpose. It also notes that Mark Santos, who runs the charity, was a Labour candidate in Hainault ward, in the London Borough of Redbridge, in May. Julian Leppert of the BNP was elected in Hainault.
As Searchlight points out, the local charity and Mark Santos were the subject of an attack on the blog site run by a mysterious person calling himself "Laban Tall", after a character in Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd.
He objected to the aids charity receiving funding from local taxpayers.
Mr Pottins first drags a few implications across the trail :
"... for someone who claims to be engaged in agriculture in Puddletown, Dorset, "Laban Tall" obviously keeps a close watch on people and politics in suburban Essex. At least on those who may have upset the BNP. But whoever his eyes and ears are, we can't accuse him of having a hand in anything someone does there, nor of himself having BNP sympathies ..."
then calls on Norman Geras to "out" this mysterious person. Charming.
Apart from that, he seems quite a sensible chap - his blog's actually not a bad read.
He's referring to this post, a slightly tongue-in-cheek response (if Mr Pottins or Searchlight call it an 'attack' they need to get out more) to claims here and there that the ordinary people of Essex had reacted with revulsion to BNP gains at local elections. My "close watch on people and politics in suburban Essex" consisted of typing "BNP -paribas" into Google News - and the point of the post - if any - was to show that the only evidence for said wave was a few letters by the usual suspects - Labour candidates and anti-fascist activists.
However, the timescales were uncomfortable. I wrote about Mr Santos' patriotic fervour in May 2006 - the following month the building where he worked was set on fire. Could one of Laban's readers have been roused to such an act by my incendiary prose ? A worrying thought. And how many more of you twisted firestarters are out there ? Just looking at my posts since I returned from Scotland I realised that Canterbury Cathedral, the Boat and Bridge of Orchy Hotels and the Clachaig Inn may all need to check their fire insurance.
If you're reading this, Keir Whittaker, you're a very naughty reader !
21 Dec 2006
AN HIV sufferer who torched an Aids charity centre was told by a judge he should be commended by the court for owning up to his crime. On Friday Judge Inigo Bing told Keir Whittaker, 33, he deserved the "thanks of the public" for giving himself up to police.
Whittaker broke into the Positive East building in Mildmay Road, Ilford - where he had previously had counselling - and set fire to the curtains. The property was gutted in the arson attack which caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage - but fortunately no one was killed or injured. Mark Santos, director of Positive East, said: "This was a tragedy on all levels and clearly not the actions of a well man. The building is under repair and we are thinking about reopening it, but the people of Redbridge have not lost out on our services, we are just providing them in a different way."
Snaresbrook Crown Court heard Whittaker had already been locked up twice for arson attacks and he was given three years for his latest offence. Whittaker had been drinking alcohol and taking drugs on June 9 when he felt "impulsive" and broke into Positive East, starting the fire with a cigarette lighter. He handed himself into Ilford police on July 29 and also admitted stealing petty cash from an ex-lover to spend on booze and drugs.
Martin McCarthy, defending, said: "He went to the HIV centre. They were counselling him. After a consumption of drugs or alcohol, there he was, early in the morning. He says, in desperation, acting impulsively and walking around the area, he broke into the property and set light to it."
Judge Bing told Whittaker: "What is remarkable and unusual in this case, for which you receive the commendation of the court and thanks of the public, is that you gave yourself up to the police and confessed to the crime - because without your confession this crime would not have been solved."
Whittaker, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to arson with intent to endanger life. He will have 138 days already spent in custody knocked off his term.
Quite frankly, a homeless HIV-positive serial arsonist and petty thief - who had already been to the centre - doesn't feel like the profile of a typical reader - and it may be that "serial arsonist" is the key factor here. But you never can tell - so I'd like to make it plain to all of you, as well as Mr Pottins and Searchlight, that I disapprove of setting fire to buildings - or people. If Messrs Searchlight and Pottins would like to campaign with me for much tougher sentences for arsonists no one would be happier than I. And in the meantime, perhaps they'd like to add a wee correction to their posts ?
(One other point - one of the other anti-BNP correspondents I quoted was a Diana Neslen, whose son had previously, according to Mr Pottins, been attacked by a BNP activist. I can see why that kind of thing might make you want to write letters to the paper, but I'm really not sure how I'm meant to have known that - or what I should have done if I had. But I'd also like to make it plain that I utterly reject the political tactic of 'duffing people up in the streets' - and would like to see perpetrators jailed for a very long time. If Mr Pottins wants to look for a Dorset-based political activist who keeps a "close watch on people and politics in suburban Essex" and does believe in that tactic, tell the Searchlight boys to get down to to Burton Bradstock at once.
And a second, slightly worrying point. Defending counsel Martin McCarthy missed a trick by not googling Mr Santos and his centre. With the Searchlight article he could have presented his client as a poor deluded man, led astray by his visits to a "hate site".
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the REAL motivation for this crime must be sought elsewhere. I request an adjournment while we subpoena the relevant Blogger and ISP information to enable us to bring the joint author of this conspiracy - might I say the prime mover - before you"
I might have cause to thank Steve Taylor for his 'Internet for Prisoners' campaign yet.)