Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Surprising revelation

This pisses me off. Really, really, really pisses me off.

Shot By Both Sides (SBBS) was one of the interweb's best blogs. By a long way. John B was often criticised for choosing to own, and host his site on, www.stalinism.com. I, on the other hand, would gladly buy him a pint for that very fact (I'm not a Stalinist by the way, and neither is he).

The style of SBBS was deliberately provocative and controversial. Calling for the assassination of anyone who complained about bad language on TV, or for holding particular objectionable views, was bound to annoy those poor sods whose brains are incapable of processing irony or humour. Certainly it's a particular type of humour (dark, dry and deceptively intelligent) but it takes a particular type of person (small-minded, tedious and very ugly) to take genuine offence at it. SBBS was never guilty of racism or sexism, but refused to bow to contrived notions of political correctness. If John was guilty of anything, it was of overestimating the ability of his readership to discern the real target of a particular barb.

Recently he made a remark which was so genuinely outrageous as to make me gasp in astonishment before I burst out laughing. I knew, however, that he was going to get into trouble for it. As my flat-mate pointed out; in our current political and cultural climate it shouldn't have come as a surprise to John that people were going to react explosively to his remark. It's a goddamn dirty shame that he's come under such fire, but hardly a surprise.

Well, between the jigs and the reels, SBBS has been forced to close. I suspect the fact that John was posting under his real name (silly boy! He should have grabbed a name like 'Bliss') was ultimately his downfall. Presumably those who have initiated their pseudo-fatwah against him threatened to take their indignation beyond the blogosphere. In such circumstances, he took the only route available to him and closed down the site.

I am not - incidentally - repeating the remark that (I believe) was the straw that broke the blackmailers back. Those of you proficient enough with google-cache could probably track it down, but if John is being hassled so much that he's decided to remove it from the web, I'm hardly going to cite it here.

Shot By Both Sides will be sorely missed, and although he'll continue to contribute to The Sharpener, the biting humour that helped define SBBS will inevitably have to subside a little, so long as John's petty tyrants keep up their vendetta. Fingers crossed, then, that they all develop serious diseases of the genitalia leaving them in far too much pain to hassle Mr. B any further.


Blogger Miguel said...

"Shot By Both Sides (SBBS) was one of the interweb's best blogs. By a long way."

Seconded. In fact, the whole thing seconded. For the first time in the history of SBBS, John has finally written something that's genuinely shocked me - and I'm (obviously) not talking about the post you're referring to.

(If you're right, I have a pretty good idea which one it was, but that didn't shock me either. Yes, it was juvenile, crass, appallingly tasteless and well beyond anyone's idea of appropriate behaviour, but that's exactly why I was an avid reader.)

13/9/05 19:41  
Anonymous Matt Daws said...

Avoid vote of "ditto what you said". I think I also now realise the post in question. But why anyone would take John's blog that seriously is beyond me. I mean, it's just a weblog, right? Some people really need to get a sense of perspective.

The web just became slightly more boring. I'll be holding John to his word about writing for The Sharpener though, and I hope everyone else will as well!

13/9/05 20:08  
Anonymous MattAG said...

I'm curious, what was the means by which he was shut down? I am assuming legal threats here?

14/9/05 02:55  
Blogger Miguel said...

A few days ago, he posted a somewhat heated attack on people referring to where he worked, which included a suggestion that he'd deleted a fair chunk of comments in connection with this.

So I'd hazard a guess that since John posts under his real name and that in the real world he's often cited in the media as a spokesman for his company, someone (or, as has been hinted, a group of people) took it upon themselves to complain to John's boss - hence John's decision that the "least worst" option (his words) would be to close the site altogether.

I can't stress enough, though, that this is total guesswork on my part.

14/9/05 07:09  
Blogger littlemissprincess_86 said...

Yes, absolutely to all the above - this is going to become a book of condolencve, isn't it? Your speculation as to the involvement of John's employer rings true, and fellow readers might recall a post of his about three months ago - well before the offending post in question - which referred to heat he might be getting from the boss.

None of this, of course, mitigates or justifies the silencing of such a distinctive, thoughtful/less, irreverent blog. Cunts.

(I'm the other JohnB, in case you hadn't realised)

14/9/05 07:46  
Blogger Miguel said...

For what it's worth, my guesswork turned out to be 100% accurate - as far as it went.

What I didn't guess, largely because I was naive enough not to believe that anyone could possibly be that scummy, was the bit where they threatened to go to John's employers' clients and the national press.

And since some people clearly are prepared to be that scummy, bloggers like me who post under our real names and work for (and in my case publicly represent) internationally reputable organisations are going to have to take a long, hard look at whether or not it's worth it.

14/9/05 12:05  
Anonymous Old Peculier said...

Shit - where am I going to go now to get abused?? Harry's Place is just too nice to me these days.

Whoever did that was a wanker, much as I disagreed with just about everything on the site not written by me.

14/9/05 12:16  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

Up until the beginning of this year I used to blog under my real name. But I found myself applying all manner of self-censorship because I was aware that anything I wrote could be called up just by typing my name into google.

And, importantly, what if my parents ever got it into their heads to type my name into a search engine? (They're lovely people and I wouldn't want to gratuitously offend them... they're the sort of people who'd worry about "what would Great Aunt Agnes think if she ever read this?").

Even with my current pseudonym it's not difficult to find out who I am. But that's not the issue for me... I'm far more concerned about what people see when they type my given name into a search engine. I'm happy to claim everything written here as my own; I just want to keep it separate from anything written under my real name (a combination of fiction and dry academic stuff).

(Indeed the only comment I've ever deleted here - excluding comment spam - was from a friend who used my real name... I think I got rid of it before the google spider visited).

MattAG, I very much doubt there were legal threats. He shut down the site himself because (I believe) certain readers threatened to hassle his employers. And as Michael points out, if it becomes a choice between your blog and your job... well, I don't know anyone that attached to their blog.

Being self-employed, of course, that's not a concern for me. Though I did wonder whether any future academic career might be threatened by having the internet awash with half-thought-through sweary rants under my name.

It's a sad state of affairs, though, when people have to seek the cover of a pseudonym not to shield older family members from the word "fuck", but to shield themselves from attacks by their readers.

OP, I'm afraid you're unlikely to get anything like the same amount of abuse on this blog. My readership is far smaller.

14/9/05 12:48  
Blogger Tim Worstall said...

Miserable little bastards who did this. I don’t know who it was (and I’m not sure that JohnB does either)but that’s a few more anonymous little wankers to add to the list of people I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.

If anyone does find out who it was drop me an email and I’ll expose the little runts. I work for myself so bollocks to ’em.

(although proof wouldbe needed of course).

14/9/05 16:32  
Blogger Ryan said...

I often wondered when I had a proper weblog, whether the PR department at the office would ever decide to put my name into Google, to maybe check how far an article I was quoted in would reach.

I always tried to keep myself to "Ryan B" and avoid the full name, but even so, it wasn't hard to figure out who I worked for.

I really hope John resurfaces with a psudonym, a la chicken yogurt. Of course the moment he went "So-and-so is a cunt and must be shot immediately, rah!" his cover would be blown. And it would only take a matter of hours....

14/9/05 16:34  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

I agree. SBBS was genuinely taboo-breaking, intelligent, and funny.

This whole episode is appalling. The loathsome crawling cunts who did this should be rounded up and gassed as a matter of national priority (irrespective of their ethnicity).

15/9/05 11:54  
Blogger Oscar Wildebeest said...

Only heard about this in the last 24 hours. It is an absolute stinking, fucking shame to lose this great contributor to our national debate. I've no idea what the offending post said, but knowing John's style I'm sure it was utterly offensive and utterly brilliant. The interweb thingy is a poorer place without him. Let's hope he makes some form of comeback.

(Anyone who thinks Oscar Wildebeest is my real name needs his head examined.)

15/9/05 15:27  
Blogger Laban said...

"Dark and dry", eh ? sounds like some bottle-conditioned beer.

John's blog was bigoted and offensive (alas also foul-nmouthed), wherein lay all its appeal. Each short post was a chunk of bloody meat thrown into the piranha-infested pool for the commenters to fight over.

Could be worse though. Some people actually do get sacked for their opinions - like Glenn Hoddle for his views in reincarnation, or any BNP candidate who isn't self-employed.

16/9/05 08:48  
Blogger Angie said...

Damn! Never read the site, but now going to have to search google history for it. Sounds like it was a great blog and due to some humorless jackass it's now gone.

It's a real shame if people feel they have to start censoring themselves on here. If someone doesn't like what we have to say, they can simply move along to a knitting blog.

19/9/05 04:28  
Anonymous tina said...

Crap! I clicked on SBBS today after a while and found the goodbye post, I can't believe what happened... So he used his real name to blog but the little vermin who threatened him did so behind the protection of anonymous emails. What disgusting, sad, vile human beings. I liked John's blog precisely because he said what he thought and his rants were always on a precarious balance between foul and clever. That gassing joke was sooo tasteless but it doesn't take a lot of effort to go beyond the form to see it so hit the nail on the head. It makes you really sad to think that the mayor of the biggest European city might be forced out of office simply for responding to an obnoxious reporter from an obnoxious racist tabloid, and choosing a tasteless insult as a response. Isn't John's point proven even more clearly by the blackmails he himself received?

19/9/05 11:24  

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