Firstly, many apologies for my absence over the last couple of days. Real life things like work can get in the way of poring over the FTT decision in minute detail (yes, that is still to come) or the Share Prospectus (and that is still to come too).
Instead, I was transported back to my school days on catching up with the last 400 comments. I take you back to my first year English class. Our teacher is called out of the class, but before leaving, she announces that the room must stay quiet, and we must continue on quietly with our interpretation passage. It was something, I recall, about a hawk dipping its claw into a pool and being confused by seeing its reflection – probably Ted Hughes…
(And when did “interpretation” become known as “close reading”? I digress.)
Our teacher made it clear that anyone who spoke during her absence would be belted on her return (ah, the Lochgelly tawse was still very much in vogue).
As a further aside, I have a clear recollection, although maybe warped with the passage of time, of having a music teacher whose method of inculcating us with the wonder and joy of music was as follows.
- Hand out lyric sheet for song.
- Play song through once on piano, whilst NOT singing it.
- Play song again.
- Stop as playing the song and pick a pupil to tell the class what word in the song lyrics had been reached.
- If answer incorrect, belt child for not paying attention.
The flaw in the plan was that, if you had never heard the song and were not musical enough to pick up the tempo, then you were doomed. On one memorable occasion we were handed the words to “Where Is Love?” from “Oliver”. Whilst, even at that age, I had watched the start of “Oliver” on TV many times, I had never made it very far – musicals being fundamentally silly and not worthy of attention, especially when I had a cricket book to read. I therefore ha never knowingly heard the song.
To readers who have been spared that privilege too, it goes something like this:-
“Wheeeeeeeerrreeeeeeee is loooooooooove; dooooooeeeeesssss it faaaaaaallllllll frooommmmmm skiessssssssss abooooooove….” Etc.
It is a slow piece, as you might gather.
However, not having heard it sung, I thought that the words were sung far faster. Therefore, by the time the teacher stopped to ask what word he was at, I was in the middle of the third verse. When the girl who had been asked told the teacher that the words, correctly, was “above” I panicked. Frantically I hunted for the word. How on earth I thought, could we only be on the second line?
For what seemed like half an hour we made our way through that hateful dirge. I never managed to work out were we were in it at all, and was only picked to answer just as the bell rang, meaning I was, quite literally saved by it.
To give the teacher his credit, I now know that bloody song to the very last note!
Anyway, back to the English class…
As I tell this, I am reminded of a famous raconteur whose picture will be below (if I can find it)…
“As my producer was telling me just the other day…”
Can you guess what happened as soon as the door closed behind the English teacher? All but two people in the class got up, walked round, engaged in lively conversation across the room or generally acted in a manner inconsistent with “getting on with work quietly.”
After a few minutes the teacher returned. She was not pleased.
She therefore asked everyone who had been talking to line up to be belted.
I was quite happy that I had not been talking, so I kept my head down and tried to answer a question about the writer’s clever use of alliteration, or something similar.
I noticed that a couple of the class heavies were queuing up for punishment either side of my desk. They politely suggested that I should go out to be belted too, otherwise they would inflict a more severe, and clearly less civilised punishment on me after class.
What to do?
A quick cost/benefit analysis took place. We had a lady teacher who, by the time she would reach me at the end of the line, would have applied twenty none blows with the belt. Alternatively, I could take my chances with at least two hardy souls who would not be fatigued from inflicting indiscriminate punishment.
The choice was easy. I stood up for the belt.
Anyway, I feel rather like the teacher did on entering the classroom to see her strictures had been ignored. However I am not in position to punish anyone, except maybe by insisting that everyone talks sense for a day! J
But, on going through the comments, it was as if the teacher had returned to the room to find someone had scrawled a comment about them being a tyrant on the blackboard.
One comment which was posted on the blog today reads as follows:-
“Selective moderation and censorship is one step away from the book burners.” It was clearly directed at me. I laughed.
Despite what some people believe, I do not run this blog from a secret lair where, financed by Peter Lawwell, I have minions or Oompa-Loompas to deal with my every command. Instead, I need personally to moderate comments held for that, and to check spam in case a commenter’s pearls of wisdom end up there in error.
Sometimes there is not a chance to check on moderated posts till a break in the day occurs. Today that was as I walked along to buy myself a cup of goulash soup for lunch (which I can highly recommend).
I saw a few posts for moderation, including four from the same poster, one of which was the one quoted above. I laughed.
As I have said before, and as remains my position, I want people to comment. I have a very liberal policy when it comes to posts and commenters. I have still never banned a poster. Three have had posts put automatically into moderation. That has been, in each case, a reaction by me to what was being posted, and a decision that they were going too far.
One of the three did not return; one did, having been taken by surprise, as they said, that I had actually to read all the comments; and the third is still there.
Whilst it might be correct to accuse me of “selective moderation” as indeed I select who is to be moderated, I felt that an accusation of “censorship” was laughable. I know that, as a contrast, Mr McMurdo’s blog makes it clear that:-
“Only supportive comments will be approved. This is not because I cannot take criticism but because those who disagree with me abused the privilege allowed them here of saying so. As a result, only positive comments will be published.“
I have no problem with Mr McMurdo setting those rules for his own blog and please don’t take it as criticism of him from me.
However, I looked at my own stats for this blog.
There have been 26,319 comments posted to my blog (excluding 87,000 pre-emptively caught by the spam filter).
Of that number 25,938 have been posted on the blog.
Therefore in nearly 18 months 381 comments have been rejected. But of them a large number will be because they were spam which slipped through the net.
So, if I am to be accused of censorship for allowing 98.55% of comments through, then I am guilty of censorship!
However, to equate that to book burning…
I think that almost managed to invoke Godwin’s Law!
Book burning, and campaigns to stop books being sold, are a long way from deleting 1.45% of a blog’s comments, I might suggest!
So, I will not be ordering that people be belted, nor will a punishment exercise be imposed. However, if we degenerate into a rabble again, then I will really be angry, and you won’t like me when I’m angry…
Posted by Paul McConville