Tedious blogwars: fuck yeah!

No, this isn’t about that one. It’s the heavyweight Neil Clark vs Oliver Kamm match…

I’m no fan of Mr Kamm, but he did well in fighting Mr Clark’s libel suit last year. For those who frankly can’t be arsed, Mr Kamm suggested that Mr Clark’s book review was crap and questioned whether Mr Clark had read the book in question. Anyone who sues for libel in such a situation thoroughly deserves horsewhipped, to use some Scottish idiom.

Subsequently, an utterly mad bunch of bastards have accused Mr Kamm of supporting antisemitic genocide and hating Israel. Given that Oliver Kamm is a famously outspoken defender of Israel and the neoconservative agenda, this is weird – and indeed the curator of the accused site, Ted Belman of IsraPundit, is one of the most crazy paranoid lunatics I’ve ever encountered on the Internet in any context [*].

If I were not only Jewish, but also an advocate of the whole “antizionism masks antisemitism” thing and a supporter of neocon adventures in Iraq, then Mr Belman’s assertions would be more or less the most bizarre things I could possibly imagine – but nonetheless incredibly hurtful. So I can sort-of understand Mr Kamm’s logic:

I confess I hadn’t considered at all a circumstance in which I might be depicted as a supporter of Nazism, genocide and ethnic cleansing…. Given the recklessness of IsraPundit’s charges, the repulsiveness of its politics, and the gracelessness of its non-apology, I did consider the possibility of referring this one for legal advice. On grounds of my belief in free speech and of the evident stupidity of the charges, I am very unlikely to take that course even in this case.

However, this would seem to be a prime case of the “don’t send emails in haste that you’ll regret later” rule, since Mr Kamm did actually send Mr Belman an email saying:

I would ask that you now either substantiate your contributors’ allegations against me or publish a proper retraction within 24 hours. I am taking the liberty of forwarding this exchange to Dr Hoare. If I have heard nothing from you by this time tomorrow, I shall in addition forward it to my legal representatives, Charles Russell LLP of London.

Sorry Ollie, but given your stated commitment to defending online free speech from legalistic bullying, the latter sentence loses you points.

[*] if anyone, pretty much irrespective of their ideology, believes you’re one of the most crazy paranoid lunatics they’ve ever encountered on the Internet in any context, you really ought to start reevaluating your writings…

16 thoughts on “Tedious blogwars: fuck yeah!

  1. Oliver Kamm says:

    Thanks for this fair, balanced and generous comment; I take on board your critical conclusion, but I stand by what I said in each case. I believe in free online speech, and for that reason specifically told the editor of the Israpundit website that I wished the accusations that I support Nazi genocide to be left up. I was concerned, though, that the website – which I believe has quite a wide readership among pro-Israel bloggers – didn’t dissociate itself from that judgement when I asked, and even though I had said I wished the comments to be left. I don’t consider that a possible referral for legal advice (something I have only done previously in response to threats, including the case you mention) is necessarily bullying, nor is it a threat of legal action, but I concede that I wouldn’t rule out in principle resort to the law if a charge was serious enough and likely to follow me around. The charge of my supporting Nazi mass murderers wasn’t in that category (unlike, say, the famous case of the small magazine LM which libelled ITN in the Bosnian war – on which I believe ITN was right to sue). I agree that the Israpundit site is beyond conventional measures of the xenophobic lunatic fringe.

  2. Larry Teabag says:

    It’s worth saying that Mr Kamm isn’t above tossing out spurious accusations of Nazism himself.

  3. Oliver Kamm says:

    The assertion in the post you have linked to is total baloney. The absence of any link provided by the blogger might have alerted you to this.

  4. Jim Bliss says:

    Oliver, the accusation came in the comments of a blog called BeatnikSalad which no longer exists. It was in relation to blogger called Paul Dunne whose (generally Irish nationalist) blog also no longer exists. When I pulled you up on this accusation, and asked you to substantiate it (or apologise for it), in the comments on your own blog (back when you had them), you deleted my comments and asked me not to post to your blog again.

    I was blogging under my own name back then rather than my current fanciful ‘bliss’ pseudonym if that helps jog your memory (for google reasons I’m keeping the two separate, so you’ll just have to delve deep into your memory and recall… starts with fitz). Around the same time, I also called Milton Friedman “a kook”. You told me it was for this that you were banning me from your blog comments, though it conveniently meant you didn’t have to endure, or respond to, my requests that you substantiate your allegations that I was a Nazi apologist.

    The fact that these allegations no longer exist; you don’t have comments any more, and the other two blogs are no longer on the web; means I simply find the entire episode quite amusing rather than problematic (after all, being called a Nazi-apologist by a semi-regular Times columnist could conceivably create problems if it showed up when a prospective employer googled me). I refer to it occasionally on my own blog as a humourous aside. You can deny it ever happened if you wish (there is after all no hard evidence), but I certainly remember it… being accused of Nazi-apologism is rather more memorable than accusing others of the same thing it turns out. But you’ll understand that now too, I suspect.

    I also imagine that Ryan of BeatnikSalad and Paul Dunne would also recall it (even if vaguely), should you get all pissy and accuse me of fabricating the whole incident.

  5. Oliver Kamm says:

    Yes, I know who you are, and I have a good memory. The “generally Irish nationalist” Paul Dunne posted on his blog such items as enthusiastic congratulations to the murderers of Earl Mountbatten, a regular slot called “Germany calling” in honour of Lord Haw-Haw, praise for the IRA Chief of Staff Sean Russell who collaborated with Nazi Germany, and insistence that Hitler’s invasion of Poland was fully in accord with international law. Your description of him thus has as much accuracy as the rest of your remarks.

  6. Jim Bliss says:

    Oliver, I’m extremely confused now. My description of Paul Dunne, in its entirety, was… “Paul Dunne whose (generally Irish nationalist) blog also no longer exists”.

    Do you dispute the accuracy of that statement? In any way?

    If not, I can only assume that by stating “the rest of [my] remarks” are as accurate as my description of him, you are acknowledging the truth of what I’ve written.

    Alternatively, you’re calling me a liar. Which pisses me off no end, and will probably send me scurrying off looking for contact details for Ryan and Paul in the hopes that they have an archive of their blogs gathering dust somewhere. Just so we’re clear; if you are indeed alleging that I’ve lied anywhere here, could you please let me know specifically where?

    Are you denying…

    1. that there ever was a blog called BeatnikSalad?
    2. you posted comments there semi-regularly for a period?
    3. that I was also a regular commenter there, and that we disagreed on several occasions?
    4. that you described me as a Nazi-apologist?
    5. that you never substantiated those claims when I asked you to?
    6. that you banned me from commenting on your blog?
    7. that you emailed me and insisted that I would remain banned until I retracted and apologised for my calling Milton Friedman ‘a kook’?
    8. that one of the results of this ban was that I could no longer demand a retraction of your earlier ‘Nazi-apologist’ accusation?

    You’re a busy man, so I’ve conveniently numbered what I believe to be the salient points. Specifically which of those is incorrect? That way if I do decide to start digging through archives for evidence or ‘eye-witnesses’, I’ll be able to focus my efforts appropriately.

  7. Larry Teabag says:

    Oliver, if, being a busy man, you only have time to respond to one of those, I’d be most interested in hearing the answer to 4. I suspect I speak for the crowd here, and also that would reassure me that my first comment here was accurate.

    Though I know nothing at all about Paul Dunne, and little about BeatnikSalad, I have been a regular reader of Jim’s blogs for several years now, and I know perfectly well that “Nazi apologist” is the most ill-fitting description of him imaginable.

    Whether your decription of Paul Dunne’s views is fair or not, the suggestion that those opinions are attributable to Jim (if that’s the claim you’re making) will be seen as preposterous by anyone even remotely acquainted with his writing.

  8. Oliver Kamm says:

    I have already answered that inquiry. The assertion of Jim’s that you linked to is total baloney, which you should have checked before posting.

  9. Larry Teabag says:

    I should have said “…that would reassure me that my first comment here tallies with your account of what happened”.

    I did check it, and was satisfied by the available evidence, namely the repeated public assertions of someone I know neither to be delusional nor a liar.

  10. Oliver Kamm says:

    You didn’t check it, but merely retailed it second-hand. Unfortunately that remark is, as I have now said three times, total baloney.

  11. Jim Bliss says:

    Ah well Oliver, it seems I must accept defeat here. The relevant archives no longer exist apparently (lucky old you) and I can find nobody else who recalls you using the words “Nazi apologist” about me. Aside from myself of course. So it comes down to your word against mine. I — naturally — will continue to maintain that you did indeed describe me as a Nazi-apologist (because you did!) but in future I’ll add a caveat about having no evidence beyond my (rather excellent) memory and that you claim it’s “total baloney”.

    It’s not all that big a deal to me given that the slur doesn’t exist anymore (as I say, fodder for a running-gag on my site and little else). Nonetheless, I’d like to clarify one minor detail.

    Are you claiming that you know and recall, for a fact, that you never called me a Nazi apologist in any context, and that my memory is either faulty or I’m a liar? Or are you claiming that you simply have no recollection of the matter, and — as there is no proof — are giving yourself the benefit of the doubt as we are all wont to do?

    Of course, the fact you failed to respond (or even acknowledge) my last post, means there’s every chance you’ll ignore this one too.

  12. Oliver Kamm says:

    If it’s not all that big a deal to you, then I suggest you desist from making it a deal for everyone else. Your remark was baloney, and your friend’s repetition of it without having checked it did not alter that status.

  13. Jim Bliss says:

    In case you didn’t notice, Oliver, I’m not making it a big deal for anyone else. A friend cited my ‘running gag’ and you then waded in and called me — and him — a liar. I’m simply responding to your allegation. Which is false. The fact that I have no proof or corroboration doesn’t actually alter that fact. And the fact that you seem utterly incapable of responding to a direct question… except by repeating the same mindless “baloney” accusation… kind of lends weight to my position.

    See Oliver, I actually understood that statement first time round. What I’m doing is disagreeing with it. So the constant repetition adds nothing to the discussion. However, as I say, your refusal to answer even the most simple direct question speaks volumes. At least to me. And I suspect to many others.

    I mean, what is it with you? Are you practicing to be a politician? Why not engage with the actual words being directed at you, rather than the carefully filtered set that you’ve pre-selected for the day? You sound like Letwin or somebody. “I’ve got a script and I’m going to stick with it. Even if it does make me look like a pompous prick who learnt all he knows from Bluffers Guides”.

  14. Larry Teabag says:

    You didn’t check it, but merely retailed it second-hand.

    I did check it, and that’ll be ten quid please.

  15. Oliver Kamm says:

    No, you didn’t: you repeated someone else’s assertion on trust. Even if that assertion had been correct, your assuming its truth rather than checking it would have been illegitimate. As it was, the assertion was entirely false.

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