While every media outlet in the UK is covering the aftermath of the case involving nine men convicted for a range of sex crimes that took place over a number of years in the town of Heywood, at the bear pit that is Telegraph Blogs, they have a problem. While a number of pundits are pontificating in their customarily judgmental manner about race and religion, the debate remains closed.
And debate is what blogs are all about: a blog that does not allow comments is not really a blog at all, but a notice board, a one-way bully pulpit, nothing better than the supposed Dead Tree Press and TV news bulletins. Why this should be is not difficult for those of us who know the Telegraph Blogs comments sewer of old to figure out: this part of the Tel has a problem.
In fact, the whole of the Tel has a problem with race and racism, as I noted at the time of the Kia Abdullah ruckus. Ms Abdullah had made a comment on Twitter that would not normally have attracted any attention, except that she had added her (very occasional) contribution to the Guardian’s Comment is Free on her Twitter Bio. This was then raked over in Telegraph Blogs.
If Ms Abdullah was monumentally stupid in putting the Guardian in her Twitter Bio – there are many in the Twittersphere who spend a disproportionate amount of time looking to kick the paper on the flimsiest of premises – that did not justify the comments, many of which were totally out of order. You can see extracts from those comments in my posts HERE and HERE.
So it has been no surprise at all to see the Telegraph’s normally inclusive attitude to comments – including on the original news part of the site – being ditched, as the site administrators know full well that much of what has been contributed in the past has been racist, Islamophobic and generally threatening. Hence no comments were allowed on Nigel Bunyan’s article from Tuesday.
This then extended to the mainstream comment part of the Telegraph site, so Allison Pearson’s contribution yesterday also has no comments beneath it. But surely the blogs would be exempt? Not this time: there is no opportunity to reply to the likes of Ed “Case” West, who blames it all on the mythical “Liberal Left”, the Guardian, Sunny Hundal, and the BBC.
Even worse, but characteristically so, is Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked (which is what any rational editor would do to his copy), who rambles on about “cowardly” public debate, and of course Muslims. But for both O’Neill and West, readers are told that “Comments are closed”. The Tel reports on what its pundits call a Muslim problem, while showing that it has, er, a Muslim problem.
So the comments sewer isn’t being cleaned out. It’s just not being opened.