Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Intimidation in the comments

Over the last week or two, the comments here have taken a decidedly nastier turn.

Personal attacks on me don't bother me in the slightest. However, after consulting with others, I have concluded that some at least of the comments are deliberately trying to intimidate survivors of abuse at St. Benedict's (or elsewhere) and discourage them from coming forward to report the abuse they have suffered.

Since all those comments are anonymous I have no idea who is making them, and I won't speculate because I don't particularly care. As of today, any comment which in my opinion contributes to an atmosphere of intimidation of abuse survivors will not be published.

This is in addition to the other reasons I have previously mentioned for refusing to publish comments, i.e. any comment which might possibly be prejudicial to the trial of Pearce and Maestri, and any comment which seeks to promote paedophilia and its legalisation.

I will give more latitude in marginal cases if the commenter is prepared to identify himself or herself in the comment.

If you make a comment and it is not published, you are welcome to email me to ask why. If you have a complaint to make about an article, again you are welcome to email me about it.

And don't bother wittering on about restrictions on free speech. If you want to attack me or this blog, you are perfectly welcome to set up your own blog and write your own stuff there. You have free speech, but I have no obligation to provide you with a platform.


  1. Glad to hear it. The intention of a troll as standard is to try to provoke an emotional response and take discussions off topic. At best they just lower the tone but at worst, they do fully intend to intimidate. And I suspect the emotional response to the denigrating, supercilious and belittling tones used by the troll that's been infecting your boards is horribly familiar to some of your readership.

  2. Some of the trolls are clearly shills acting on behalf of the bodies and individuals who perceive this website as an attack against them rather than a defence of survivors and victims of the abuse that occurred at St Benedict's and in the environs of Ealing Abbey.

    In some cases, the intention is to intimidate with a view to discouraging victims and survivors from coming forward. It is a continuation of the abuse, whether it is at the express behest of the school and abbey authorities or not. Whatever the case, it provides readers with an insight into the mindset of those seeking to silence us and to cover up what happened.

    There also seems to be a classic troll strategy in progress, namely the flooding of the Comments sections with posts and exchanges of a low intellectual order with a view to deterring people from bothering to trawl them for the serious contributions. It's similar to a Denial of Service attack.

    Perhaps there should be a policy along the following lines: "There is no censorship here although comments posted by anyone who is or seems to be under the age of ten might not be published".

  3. That is a very good proposal.

  4. Is there no way to set up the blog so that people can't post as anonymous but have to sign in, even with pseudonyms? It might cut down the some of the weirdly campy poison that some of the defenders of St B's seem to delight in?

  5. 14:13
    I did consider that possibility. However, I took the view that for an abuse survivor to speak out is extremely difficult at the best of times, and they need and deserve the cloak of anonymity.

    Consider the person who has gone to the police, resulting in the current criminal prosecution. His anonymity is being protected by court order, to name him is an offence under the Contempt of Court Act (not that I would want to name him in any case).

    And yet, he has had the strength not only to tell a trusted friend or relative, but also to make a statement to the police, and be willing to be subjected to cross-examination in court. My admiration for him is unbounded, given what I know of the psychological manipulations abusers inflict on their victims along with the physical abuse, and the guilt and shame that victims often suffer as a consequence.

    I know of cases (I shan't provide any details) where a survivor has initially commented anonymously here, and has subsequently gone on to make a formal statement to the police.

    Anonymous commenting allows an abuse survivor the opportunity to dip his toe in the water, in terms of starting to describe his experiences while knowing that he couldn't be identified.

    If I did turned off anonymous commenting, the trolls would have won a significant victory, in that this opportunity would be denied to abuse survivors.

    The welfare of the victims and survivors of abuse is my first concern.

  6. I have no expectation of impartiality from Tony Nelson's pal Alex Carlile.

    I prefer to put my trust in the impartiality of the jury at Isleworth Crown Court.


  7. I entirely understand the reasons for needing confidentiality, but some of these commentators are so unpleasant that if I were an abuse victim, the vileness of some of their comments could be quite distressing to me. Wouldn't it be possible to have to post under a name here which could still provide confidentiality for the victim but at least make it clearer how many people are posting all this nasty stuff. I know they could get multiple accounts and post under different names, but even so, I'm not convinced that they aren't winning in being allowed to derail the blog with their poison.


  8. I don't think they are derailing anything other than their 'cause'. It is clear that the individuals behind the trolling in question and the quasi-spam condone child abuse and may even be abusers themselves. One can conceal one's identity on the web but it is harder to conceal one's nature, especially in the case of obvious sociopaths and mental defectives of the kind whose posts have prompted this tangential discussion about censorship.

    As a 'survivor' myself, I can understand that some of these posts could traumatise those in a fragile state. They are effectively an extension of the original abuse. Am I traumatised? Yes, perhaps, in the sense that such cruelty - and cowardly cruelty at that - makes it hard for me to continue controlling the extremely violent young man I once was. So yes, they get to me too, even though I am a long way down the road to recovery, now being able to talk about what was done to me without feeling any shame.

    I think we ought to leave the worst ones up there for normal, well-adjusted readers to evaluate for themselves, and perhaps get rid of the truly worthless, spam-like clutter, using the Under-10 Rule. Should we prevent future posts of a similar nature? Not as long as they are written in the Queen's English and show the author(s) and those they are defending or imagine they are defending for what they are: maladjusted sociopathic sexual inadequates, often impotent or with quite small penises, who have to pick on frightened children to feel powerful.

  9. Whoever above posted about the "weirdly campy poison" has it spot on. A lot of the postings that most upset me are not the straight-forward (even if I disagree!) "You're making too much of it, leave it now, just stop."

    It's the ones which think they are genuinely funny and witty, making fun of the idea of child sex assault... And to think that they feel that such a view is *beneficial* to the Abbey and the school? Just how unbalanced must you be to fall into that grouping?

    I've posted a number of times as Anon. And will generally continue to do so, since I feel more comfortable with that, having spent year after miserable year at the school, and having suffered (minor in my case) sexual assault there. I like "Anon" - it lets me be detached and distant from those days. Lets me remind myself how far away they are from me now.

    But if the trolls out there mean that folks like me have to cast off the mantle of "anon" more regularly and step forward, believe me I will... They did succeed in beating me down as a child, making me feel like a piece of shit, and kicking the spirit out of me. But not now. No way.

    In a funny sort of way, their lunacy, their madness, their plain nastiness actually empowers me and others like me I hope.


  10. 19.02. there is nothing remotely funny about child abuse in whatever form it manifests itself. i observed abuse during my time at st.b's and was subject to voyeurism but not touched. but i do think the childish comments in the last paragraph of 17.46's post do not help with a rational discussion.

  11. Ahhhhhhhh.

    Reasoned exchange replaces static.

    Syvret was forced to do this, and it does not surprise me that it was forced on this site. But there are always some who are determined to wildly defend a failing institution no matter what it has done.

    The reason?

    The taliban defenders, mostly employees, could not get a job as a street cleaner if it failed.

    I am going to do a post soon on what it means to be an "alleged" whistleblower in a non-benedictine independent school. It will make for uncomfortable reading for those new to the subject, especially parents.

    Parents need to find the 'on' button regarding this subject. I will explain why in coming days.

  12. 'weirdly campy poison' - a superb description, not only of the more unpleasant comments left on this site, but of St Benedict's in general.