Thursday, November 17, 2005

The terrorism debate

It's a fairly well-known fact that if you write a blog-post about Britney Spears, lesbians, hot coed teens, cheerleaders or the like, your hit-count will rocket. The same is also true (albeit to a lesser extent) for posts about terrorism. It's an easy way to get noticed by the US blogs and make that transatlantic leap (still as hard for British blogs as it is for British bands).

To wit - my liveblog of the 7th July London bombings received 28,500 unique visits on that day, about 28.5 times my previous daily high. As I continued to cover the aftermath (including a liveblog on 21st July and of the Stockwell shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes), my daily unique visitor numbers stayed well up in the thousands. But after a while I got rather fed up with the whole thing, and decided to only really bother when there was something that touched on civil liberties, a long-time vague obsession. Hence, combined with a couple of lengthy holidays, I am now back down to a pre-July level of readership. But as that Guardian article about UK blogging sort of pointed out it's all about quality of readership, not quantity.

For me, it all comes down to people like Robert Johns (which my or may not be his real name), who provides a prime example of the kind of thing that made me stop covering terrorism so much in the comments to this post on the Guardian's Newsblog about the lovely Rachel's blog.

Despite teh Grauniad explicitly stating that Rachel was "between 7 and 10 feet away from the blast" on the Piccadilly Line train on July 7th (which would surely give her a certain amount of experience of terrorism, as well as a right to a certain amount of sympathetic respect for coping so well), Mr Johns feels he has the right to lecture that "Its people like Rachel who support individuals who encourage such suicide bombing". He then goes on to (effectively) accuse her of being anti-semitic and calls on her to "take full responsibility for the events that transpired 7/7" - because, erm, he's an idiot.

Self-righteous cunts like that are sadly endemic throughout the online terrorism debate, be they at the hell-hole that is Little Green Footballs or the comments section of Harry's Place, often a UK equivalent. They are tedious, judgemental, insensitive arseholes pretty much to a man, and I have no desire to engage them in debate - largely because they refuse to respond reasonably or rationally to any criticism of their stance and tend quickly to resort to invective-laden abuse. I attracted a fair few even on 7th July itself (even while, as far as I knew, a bomb could go off outside my window at any moment), which I thought was a tad off. Yet others tend to take it even further.

But let's face it, it takes a special kind of twattery to tell a survivor of a suicide bombing that it's their fault for their past actions - in fact, it's much the same logic as the terrorists themselves use. (Rabid maniac: "It's your permissive liberalism that allows these terrorists to get away with it" ; Rabid terrorist: "It's your permissive liberalism that I want to destroy")

This is, however, an idea that seems increasingly to be leaking into the mainstream debate - be it Kitty Ussher's "blood on their hands" bullshit (rhetoric nicked wholesale from Harry's Place) or the ongoing scare tactics of Blairledee and Blairledum.

Last night Blairledum called for a debate on the correct response to terrorism. Judging by the sort of thing we've seen on this here internet, such debates tend quickly to devolve into name-calling and the putting of fingers into ears. The government and, if Ian Blair is any indication, the police have already made up their minds about the "best" course of action. Any debate will be purely for a combination of show and the disparagement of their opponents. So what the hell's the point, eh?

12 Comments:

Anonymous Dan said...

Is your reader-count really the same as pre-July levels? I'd have thought many would have stayed on (such as myself..)

I enjoy your blog, very informative and opinionated - even if at times rambly like the one I am commenting on :)

I've noticed they've stopped searching bags at stations now. Are suicide bombers taking the Christmas period off? Or maybe the police FOUND THEM ALL! Who knows.

11/17/2005 12:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Paul Davies said...

"Blair le dum" - trying to win the French crowd to bolster numbers now Nosemonkey? :)

11/17/2005 01:15:00 pm  
Blogger Cedalion said...

Shouldn't that be Blairledum-dum?

Good to see you back Nosemonkey. Congratulations on getting hitched, and on coming out, so to speak!

11/17/2005 01:25:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Dan - very sweet, ta - but the figures speak for themselves.

Admittedly, I was off for two weeks in August, one in October and two in November, which may have skewed results slightly, but still. Terrorism sells.

To be fair, though, since July I have found myself being linked to by a lot more blogs. Hasn't done much for the reader numbers, though.

11/17/2005 02:44:00 pm  
Anonymous md said...

Well, yes & no. Those figures seem to show a post-live-blogging bump but, as you yourself mentioned, you were gone for half of October. Increase the bars from that month by 1/3 to 1/2 and it's still at around the same level as the previous couple of months.

Personally, I have Europhobia on my RSS feeds, so I didn't load the site until you posted something new. I'm not sure how effectively that sort of thing is reflected in those stats.

11/17/2005 04:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Jez said...

Or should it even be Blaireledumb?

As for the Guardian blog, I never read the comments there any more. They're full of yanks following the LGF train of thought (if you can call it thought). Even completely unrelated posts, such as dreary articles about housing developments in the UK get full of idiot comments about how Europeans are awful and Americans are great. I tried arguing with one of them once, but it all got too depressing for words.

11/17/2005 04:20:00 pm  
Anonymous Sunny said...

Self-righteous cunts like that are sadly endemic throughout the online terrorism debate, be they at the hell-hole that is Little Green Footballs or the comments section of Harry's Place, often a UK equivalent.

Amen brother! I smiled when I read that.... so true...

11/18/2005 02:02:00 am  
Blogger Alex said...

I'd love to debate Sir Ian Blair, but my bulletproof vest hasn't arrived yet

11/18/2005 09:45:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Not vest - helmet. They shot him in the head, remember...

11/18/2005 09:54:00 am  
Blogger London Denizen said...

I think part of the reason that one can find blogs that are so exteme in their opinions, and comments on blogs that are equally extreme, is that people are far more willing to say things on the internet than they are in person. It's easier, and you don't have to say it to someone's face.

I'm not justifying it, just trying to explain the reason I think it happens.

11/18/2005 09:58:00 am  
Anonymous David said...

Robert Johns appears to be a talented troll, though slightly formulaic. Either he's winding people up, or he spends too much time indoors.

11/18/2005 11:08:00 am  
Blogger MatGB said...

NM, as MD says, the breaks hit the counts substantially. I looked at your stats on one of the hitcounter sites while looking into setting my own up (still not got around to it), and they really tailed off in the week after you went to get hitched.

Every fresh post gives you viewers from RSS feeds, websearches, etc. It brings others back to check the comments, etc. No fresh posts, less reason to visit, no RSS updates, etc.

Dan isn't the only one who started reading regularly in July after all; sure, I'd popped in on occasion before then, but since then I've been a regular. Your numbers'll go up again as you post more, and you'll get some weird hits from search engines more and more often.

Some of the recent referalls I've had have been really random, but every new post gets hits fairly quickly.

Besides, this post is just visit count whoring with a title like that, and you know it ;-)

11/20/2005 02:27:00 am  

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