Salvage operation (2)

This is the extension to our first home for posts censored elsewhere for no good reason.

Annals of Guardian Censorship: the Evidence (part 4): Idiocy unbound

January 29, 2009

Oh the stupidity, oh the witless, heedless, obtuse boneheads and bird-brained mad cows setting moderation policies at The Guardian. . .

We at accciaccature appear to have started a trend in web publishing, a sub-branch of electronic samizdat that involves airing comments censored by moderators on newspaper sites, an important focus of this blog from its inception. The first of these were published here last November (see Salvage Operation) — and several subsequent posts*** explained why The Guardian‘s policies are a particular affront to free speech.

Yesterday, two other sites followed our lead – as you will see in the collection of guillotined posts below, rescued just before their beheading.

Are the censors more afraid of what was said about The Guardian’s moderators – or quaking about the mentions of this site, along with another launched by an angry blogger storming off that newspaper’s books blog? Watch this space.

Many thanks, @CaptainNed and @arsenelupin, for your kind words. : )

28 Jan 09, 9:38pm

One of the Books Blog’s most consistently entertaining and intelligent posters, artpepper (aka misharialadwani), has become so hacked off with the trigger-happy behaviour of the GU’s moderators that he has gone off to start his own blog; another excellent former poster, worderd7, did the same thing a while ago. Sarah Crown and colleagues: do you have any idea of how much your behaviour is infuriating people – I mean the people who are the most regular posters here, and whose opinions you ought to value? When in doubt, censor: that seems to be your motto, to the very great detriment of a once first-rate website (in addition to all the other deteriorations that have set in). If you have any regard for these people – your readers, for Christ’s sake – then please respond to this post.

I have a question. I posed this question in my first post on mishari’s new site, but I want now to pose it to you, Sarah Crown. How often has a deleted post been reinstalled? Maybe it’s a routine occurrence, but I can’t think of any examples. Has it ever been done? Or are protests simply ignored? Now, I’m a technological ignoramus, so I don’t know, maybe it’s just not possible to have deleted posts reappear. But if it is, I’d like to know what your policy is regarding objections to the moderator’s baleful handiwork. Do you pretend to a degree of authoritarian infallibility? Is the referee’s decision final? I know that sometimes, as here, you do deign to offer something by way of explanation of your actions, but these seldom amount to more than vague, half-hearted references to the Talk Policy. When posters are dissatisfied and ask for more, they are met with silence, and when they have the audacity to express their continued dissatisfaction, their posts are censored. It’s incredible. Measured, even-tempered posts, which ask in entirely reasonable terms for nothing more than your engagement, are disappeared for no greater crime than daring to express a few doubts about the unimpeachable perfection of the blessed moderators and their majestically mysterious ways. This simply won’t do.

Now, I have not used any swear-words. I have not been abusive. There is no reason on Earth why this post this post should be censored. But it is an indication of the frequent, arbitrary unfairness of your working methods that I should, not without cause, fear that deletion is precisely the fate that awaits these words. You just don’t seem to able to tolerate dissent, which in a paper that is supposed to uphold the liberal ideals it so loudly proclaims, is disgraceful. If you do decide to plump for deletion yet again, I can only hope that before you manage to get round to it, enough readers will have seen it for its point to have been made. I know that I am not alone in my frustration.


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28 Jan 09, 9:42pm

I think that’s very well said CaptainNed,

I for one have kept my ears open to it. I hope that others, and ‘the powers that be’, will also.

28 Jan 09, 9:46pm

Hi, Patrick McGoohan here

A few of the comments deleted from this thread can be found here ( though not the sane ones, I’m afraid):

28 Jan 09, 9:53pm

Wave goodbye to your post Cap’n. The exciting new-look Grauniad treats civilized pleas for common decency as heresy. Your post will get the now traditional response to the slightest dissent…an auto de fe.

artpepper’s response is the only meaningful one left to posters. Shun these wretched people, who’ve never appreciated the wisdom of having people like artpepper and wordnerd on the inside pissing out rather than on the outside pissing in.
28 Jan 09, 9:58pm

BTW, after Cap’n Ned’s post has been deleted, mishari informs me it will be available here:

“The internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it.”

28 Jan 09, 10:09pm

I am not Will Self, searching for metaphysical names and poetic oxymorons, such as ‘Will Self’ and ‘Aggressive Moderation’

28 Jan 09, 11:38pm

hi CaptNed
as i just said on the new funpark site i have once had a post deleted and restored after i complained,,this may be due to my method of complaint which was to complain about my own post,,i reported myself for abuse,,and in the subsequent popup textbox pointed out i was the abused one and the mods were the abusers,,i have refered one other time in a post to this mechanism but needless to say the reference has been wiped,,so this one probably has a short scroll life,,

[AFTER THIS SET OF COMMENTS WAS DELETED, @CaptainNed said what needed saying:]

29 Jan 09, 8:20am

That was truly shameful, Sarah Crown. This is not merely a matter of differences over policy; it’s a matter for your conscience. The fact that you feel unable to justify yourself reveals your lack of confidence in your ability to put forward a coherent, convincing case – but it hasn’t stopped you acting according to your whims. It’s downright shabby.

*** in reverse chronological order:

Since when was a newspaper strictly a capitalist tool

Postscript to Censorship at The Guardian, part 2

Censorship at The Guardian, part 2

The Guardian’s books blog: they do prate of freedom, but . . .


Annals of Guardian Censorship: the Evidence (part 3)

January 13, 2009

Here’s a comment deleted less than two hours after I posted it on The Guardian‘s books blog. Unusually interesting about this action by the censors is that most of the post consists of extracts from a book review in The New York Times by Geoff Dyer — who happens to be a regular contributor to . . . amazingly enough, The Guardian. We’ve been discussing this writer’s forthright opinions about the commercialisation of book publishing here.

N.B. Malfunctioning software on The Guardian‘s website removed apostrophes and inverted commas from this post, as from others.


Oct 10 08, 11:51am (3 minutes ago)

“Authors need to recognise that they are just like a market trader or small business person.”

A perfect encapsulation of what were all supposed to think, and just look at where its got us. I’ve been astounded to see perfectly serious suggestions from several people on this site that Haruki Marukami be awarded the gong that – grâce-à-dieu – has gone to Le Clézio.

I havent read HM, and perhaps he’s wonderful, but at least two leading newspaper critics have charged him with the kind of sloppy writing that a translator can hardly be blamed for. Hard not to suspect that his success might simply be the product of a formidable marketing machine when the NYT says about his latest book, on running — okay, non-fiction, but even so:


Jogging alongside him we get ample opportunity to check out his literary style, at least as given to us in this translation from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel.

To characterize it as briefly as possible: easy on ear and mind alike, its the type of prose I would call sort of pretty poor. Running is sort of a vague theme (i.e., not just vague but vaguely vague), and the book is a kind of memoir. Murakami sort of likes this kind of thing, not just as an indistinct modifier but as a form of category-definition. Hes the type of person, kind of person — I lost track of the number of times this came up — who likes sort of laid-back music and is sort of a brazen person who sometimes has a sort of arrogant attitude.

[. . .]

On Page 25 he tells us that the kind of jazz club he used to run was pretty rare and served pretty decent food and that he was pretty naïve. Moving on, we learn that he was pretty surprised when his first novel was fairly well received, that his Cambridge apartment was pretty noisy, that his new running shoes have been pretty well broken in, that he is pretty easygoing and had a pretty good feeling for the pace he would need to maintain in the New York marathon.


This very funny review continued,


In an afterword Murakami explains that part of the motive for writing the book was to sort out what kind of life Ive led. If hed written sort of sort out I would have forgiven him everything, but instead, he goes in for further self-incrimination. Apparently, it took quite some time to carefully polish and rework the book, and he needed to revisit the manuscript many times over a period of time. So its a straight choice: either hes the kind of writer whos a pretty poor editor of his own stuff or this kind of lazy repetition is deliberate. But if it is deliberate, what conceivable purpose is being served?


And finally,


Now, I dont know how representative this book is of Murakamis novelistic style, but I wonder: Is this low-maintenance, attention-deficit prose part of Murakamis attraction, especially among the young? Do people enjoy reading him for the same reason they persist in listening to music as blandly familiar as Claptons? If Martin Amis is engaged in a war against cliché — a phrase in danger of becoming a cliché itself — then Murakami, on the evidence of this book, is a serial appeaser. How much does his thigh hurt? Like crazy. How do we know the weather is nice? Because — as he tells us (twice) — theres not a cloud in the sky.

Its not all bad, of course. There are flashes of quality, as when his muscles feel as hard as week-old cafeteria bread, but most of the time his prose, unlike those muscles, is so laid back that it can barely stand up (to even moderate scrutiny)


Thank you, thank you, thank you, Margaret Drabble, for standing up to the forces behind such obscenely inflated reputations.
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5 responses to “Salvage operation (2)

  1. 3p4

    ahh thank you wordy for the catharsis site,,

    first post on the “holocaust” thread,, deleted in less than 23 mins along with the next two with their own version of the same sentiment,,

    “i wonder which day will be the memorial date for the liberation of gaza

    weapons testing”

    the entirety of the post

  2. wordnerd7

    Quel wheeze. . . . I’ve just been back to the Robert McCrum thread on GU and found that all comments containing links to sites of bloggers opposing the censor-mods are being systematically deleted. . . we are being turned into un-persons! 🙂 . . . I’d say that they are obviously worried sick about declining traffic.

    Just look at the pathetic holes near the end of this thread — or do I mean colander:

    This is another reason for their plummeting click count — a point made by @Alarming on Mishari’s new site:

    I’m not a cynic by nature but I wish they could do something not connected with trying to shift product. Even if I like some of the product.

    For more insight into @Alarming’s lament, please see:

  3. ISA

    My own blog doesn’t let me comment now, for some reason, so if you don’t mind I’ll put my response to you and Misha here in your salvage section:

    The point is Wordy and Misha (and thanks for your support on this),

    I tried to help them and at the cost of my own time and effort and skills.

    I went to the trouble of contacting one of the top, if not the top political commentator in Mexico, one who does not share the PAN outlook at all, Carlos Ramirez.

    He wrote a nuanced piece on the drugs trade and I translated it for free and sent it to the Guardian. The response was that it was too intricate and informative and should nod in the direction of what UK readers know about Mexico.

    Now this is a guy who is just about to make a series of 11 programmes for channel 11 in Mexico and he is dealt with cavalierly. Instead we get everything about Mexico through the eyes of either silly and irrelevant, obstructionist leftists or through the eyes of a pundit from a US think tank. Why not use their own stringer Jo Tuchman who really knows what she is talking about.

    Now we are in deep trouble here. If you pander to what people already know then what do people already know? What do UK people know about Mexico that doesn’t come from a package holiday or an American movie about the drug trade where many people die horribly.

    How can you pander to that? Why should you pander to those stereotypes? It is a form of racism.

    Now, I’ll give you an example. Dilip Hiro (my father used to be his boss at 8 Days) writes complex and nuanced articles about Iran. Now this may not fit in with a CiF “lifestyle” type approach where everyone feels they are up to commenting on what Dilip said, but Dilip has something of substance and nuanced to say.

    They really need a rethink on their editorial policy at CiF and on the Guardian blogs.

    My only small recompense is that if you type Guardian cif Mexico into google this article comes top right alongside their own.

    Of course I could have pitched a piece myself, but I thought Carlos would be the right man.

    I won’t post what I translated because it’s his copyright.

  4. ISA

    As you say Wordy, anything that isn’t a cliche is “specialist”. They have got the balance wrong.

  5. wordnerd7

    @ISA, of course I’m delighted to have your comment here . . . sorry for this slow answer, I was finishing the new post, . . . and have linked your note to your site. A tremendously important subject.

    Yes about specialist . . . and then you consider all the arcane stuff in literary criticism . . . must have something to do with an unusual number of E.Lit specialists on the paper?

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