Asbo threat for village Pope-joker

At the end of a quiet week for the bad boys of British censorship, Mediawatchwatch’s attention is drawn to an altogether more provincial example of repression, as reported in The Guardian today.

Andy Humm, a website owner of Lyneham village, and Allison Bucknell, a local Conservative councillor, have been trying to have a local website shut down. The latest in a series of complaints against Mitch Hawkin’s lively guide to the village concerns his irreverent reporting of the Pope’s death (“Pope snuffs it!!!”), and inclusion of several Pope jokes on his site.

Mr Humm said

What Mr Hawkin has said about the Pope is disgusting and outrageous. Mr Hawkin should be charged.

There are currently proceedings to serve Mitch with an Asbo for this crime.

Mr Humm owns the .com version of the lynehamvillage domain. Unlike Messrs Green, Beyer, and Reid, he is not motivated by a genuine and sincere desire to impose his primitive worldview upon the nation, but rather by his need to be the only webmaster in the village. The fact that he is attempting to deploy the forces of religious outrage to achieve this is what caused a blip on the Mediawatchwatch radar.

Mitch Hawkin’s Lyneham site is incorrectly described in the Guardian as a ‘spoof’. It is actually quite informative, and much funnier than Mr Humm’s terribly twee effort. But it still ranks lower in Google results for a “Lyneham” search.

We think Mitch deserves a bit of google juice. So here you go.

25 Responses to “Asbo threat for village Pope-joker”

  1. Christopher Shell says:

    ‘to impose his primitive worldview on the nation’-

    Have I uncovered an unexamined presupposition: new/fashionable is always best?
    Is this a position it is possible to argue for?

  2. Never poke fun at a pontiff

    MediaWatchWatch today reports on an attempt to silence a village web site for their somewhat irreverent reporting of Pope John Paul II’s recen…

  3. Monitor says:

    Have I uncovered an unexamined presupposition: new/fashionable is always best?

    No, you haven’t. Just in case you don’t know, here’s an explanation of what you actually have done.

    You have highlighted an adjective I used to describe the Christian world view – one of many I could have chosen – and focused on one particular meaning of that adjective (“old”). Then you extrapolated from this to create a straw man argument which no reasonable person would make, or more to the point is actually making, (“new is alwyas best”), but which is of course very easy for you to refute.

    Poor show, that PhD.

  4. Christopher Shell says:

    On this one I disagree. ‘Old’ is not just one meaning of ‘primitive’ – it is the central meaning, which anyone reading the word ‘primitive’ would naturally understand.

    Are there any meanings of ‘primitive’ which don’t imply any one or more of ‘old’, ‘outdated’ and ‘old-fashioned’?

  5. Monitor says:

    Good grief.

    The point was not about the meaning of the word primitive, but the fact that you created a straw man argument out of it.

  6. Christopher Shell says:

    Of course! But you made several other points too, including the subsidiary point that ‘old’ is only one of the meanings of ‘primitive’. This point I was querying.

    As for the straw man, I disagree. You seem to be taking two contradictory stances on the word ‘primitive’: (a) it is a neitral word, and (b) it is a negative word. Which are you actually taking?

  7. Monitor says:

    No, I was making only one point: that you created a straw man.

    You don’t actually know what that means, do you? Here’s a recap: you are putting stupid statement into someone’s mouth (new is always best), and then triumphantly refuting it.

  8. Christopher Shell says:

    On the contrary. Im aware of ‘straw men’, also known as ‘aunt sallies’.

    Look back & you’ll see that you made more than one point.

    The kind of argument I was employing is known (as youre probably aware) as the reductio ad absurdum. What I query is not so much the point you make, more the presupposition it’s based on, which I attempt to show is self-contradictory.

    Some words are self-contradictory in themselves:
    (1) ‘primitive’ in its colloquial sense means ‘bad-because-old’. Many things are both bad and old, but none of them is bad because it is old, or by virtue of being old.
    (2) ‘reactionary’ means ‘bad because oldfashioned’. Many things are both bad and oldfashioned, but none of them is bad because it is oldfashioned, or by virtue of being oldfashioned.

    Thus, the term ‘primitive’ in its colloquial non-technical sense is incoherent. To use it is to be incoherent.

    Hope this makes things clearer, and apologies if I was less clear earlier.

  9. culfy says:

    Surely the key word in Monitor’s argument is not ‘primitive’ but ‘impose’. Presumably Monitor’s objection is not the age of the viewpoint but whether the viewpoint is forced upon other people. In which case, arguing about the word ‘primitive’ is irrelevant

  10. Many things are both bad and old, but none of them is bad because it is old, or by virtue of being old.

    Except of course food and other perishables, which are often bad purely as a consequence of being old.

  11. Christopher Shell says:

    The key word may well be ‘impose’. But there was some particular reason why the word ‘primitive’ (which I have argued is an incoherent word in its colloquial sense) was chosen at all. Merely to use this word at all in the colloquial sense is to be (to some degree) incoherent.

    Good point, Richard! But not bad in the sense of morally bad.

  12. Monitor says:

    How could you possibly reduce my argument to an absurdity when I wasn’t even making an argument? You skipped the reductio and went straight to the straw-man absurdum, your efforts to miraculously transform an adjective into an incoherent “argument” nothwithstanding. The word “primitive” has several connotations (uncivilised, old and bad for eg), but it can never constitute an argument in itself. To claim that an adjective is “incoherent” is simply absurd.

    To repeat for the last time: no, you have not uncovered an unexamined presuppostion that “new/fashionable is always best”. To suggest that is to create a straw man, which is a dishonest way to conduct a discussion.

    But I hesitate to accuse you of dishonesty because, on the evidence of the discussion so far, I strongly suspect that you are not actually aware of what you are doing.

  13. tom p says:

    As well as uncivilised, primitive is also often associated with barbarous or even unsophisticated or unintelligent.
    Certainly unswerving belief in a mythical being could happpily be described as unsophisticated.

  14. Paul Christopher says:

    Primitive can also be used to mean ‘basic’. E.g, a ‘primitive form of life’.

  15. Monitor says:

    Yep, primitive can mean all of those things. But the main point is that it does NOT mean what Shell needs it to mean in order to justify his silly straw-man argument: “old therefore bad”. That meaning can only be found in Shell’s Imaginary Dictionary of English – the same place where reactionary means “bad because old-fashioned”.

  16. Alex says:

    This is stupid. Grow up, a serious matter is at issue – the use of a legal instrument that requires no proof of harm, without the protection of the criminal standard of proof or trial by jury, to exercise censorship. We are the internet. These people are our enemies.

  17. G. Tingey says:

    What is the state of play on this?
    I assume “the authorities” will have told Mr Humm not to be stupid, childish and petty – after all that’s their area!

    Seriously, it is to be hoped there is a LOT of local and national publicity about this religious spite.

  18. Monitor says:

    No news as yet, but Mitch will keep us informed when anything happens.

  19. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Alex-

    Good points, although:
    (1) Why are you reacting as though mediawatch / CV etc were saying something new? They are merely seeking to retain standards that have held for long periods in many countries: standards devised in a less materialistic and individualistic age by people who were not stupid.
    (2) Proof is hard to obtain (since proof is a mathematical thing)- yet any number of studies have already been done, and future ones would only duplicate them.

    Hi Monitor-
    In my experience, ‘bad-because-old’ is the main colloquial meaning of the word ‘primitive’, and ‘bad-because-old-fashioned’ is the main colloquial meaning of ‘reactionary’. Both meanings are incoherent, but those using the words in this way may not have thought the matter through enough to realise that they are incoherent.

  20. tom p says:

    “Dr”, you’ve missed the point (again!) of what Alex was saying. He/She did not mention christian voice or mediawatch at all, simply pointing out that what the rival webmaster was threatening to do was utterly wrong.

    Also, proof is not just a “mathematical thing”, but an important concept that needs to be at the heart of a legal system. For example, one could examine your computer records to prove that you had visited this website. Although there are a lot of “mathematical thing”s in computers, one could hardly call such a proof mathematical.

  21. G. Tingey says:

    Cardinal Josef Ratpoison elected Pope – takes name of Benito II.

    By our religious correspondent N. Gascoine.

    On being elected Pope, the much-feared (shouldn’t that be respected? – ed.)
    Cardinal Josef Ratpoison made a speech to cheering crowds in the Vatican

    “I am zo pleased to be elected your Guide and Leader, and to carry on the
    Great Struggle which has been led by many of my predecessors in ze past.
    Zis struggle is my struggle, also, and building on our great successes, ve
    should be able to complete our conquest of all of Europe. Ve have long
    since conquered Poland, thanks to my predecessor, and now, with the
    re-creation of ze Rome-Berlin Axis we can recommence ze drive to the East,
    spearheded by out loyal followers in Livonia.
    Only ze protestant and unbeliving British stand against us in our drive to
    bring ze whole of Europe under our command, und since ve already have
    Latinamerika, ze vorld is in our grasp.
    In order to speed up out conquest ( Sorry, I meant conversion zere!) I am
    designating the younger and more vigorous members of OSD and Opus Dei as the
    Special Sacramental Brigade ( Sacramenta Staffeln auf Deutsch) who will wear
    special black-leather cassocks to distinguish them as ze stormtroopers of ze
    faith. The great struggle should not be nearly as difficult as ze last
    time, since ve already have sympathisers in ze person of ze British prime
    Minister Bliar und seiner Frau, die heiligine Cherie. With zis fith-column,
    und ze coming prohibition of criticism of religion in Britain, as proposed
    by Herr Bliar, ve can look forward to ze establishment of ze thousand-Year
    reign of ze catholic Reich.
    As Holy Roman Emporer of ze German Nation, I salute you all.”

  22. Christopher Shell says:

    You make a good point on proof. Yes, it exists in many other arenas – e.g., logical and legal. I suppose that my point is that there are various arenas in which it is hard to obtain copper-bottomed proof; sometimes these arenas are important ones with wide implications, and it can be better to be safe than sorry – hence it can sometimes be wise to adopt a policy of accepting strong statistical evidence that does not strictly amount to proof.
    All we ever need to do is go where the stats lead.

  23. Christopher Shell says:

    G. Tingey-

    You are not alone in pointing out the similarities between Nazi and Catholic absolutisms. Goodness knows whether there is anything in this – though of course JR was exposed to Nazism at a formative age. Of course, there are plenty of absolutisms in life: e.g. treating relativism and personal liberty as absolutes. If all that Nazism and Catholicism have in common is absolutism, then this is not a significant link, since the majority of worldviews and ideologies are absolutist about some matters.

  24. tom p says:

    JR was exposed to Nazism at an early age? Perhaps that explains why he was such a bastard in Dallas then

  25. Christopher Shell says:

    Yeah and I bet a lot of people wish they could wake up and find that this JR was all a dream.
    (In fact many probably wish he would suffer the dream-fate of the Dallas JR.)