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Blogger Humiliates Town Councillors Into Resigning

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the speaking-truth-to-power dept.

The Internet 227

Dr_Barnowl writes "In an occurrence first postulated in sci-fi and later lampooned by stick figures, it seems that a blogger has actually been responsible for the mass resignation of elected officials — a British town council — largely by calling them 'jack***es' and Nazis. What's next? The deposition of a president with 'your mom' smacktalk?"

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XKCD SUCKS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940539)

Hey hey look, it's a comic just for people who read the book Ender's Game! If you didn't read it, fuck off. This comic isn't for you. But you should read it, it's good. As I'm sure you know.

Randall doesn't make these sorts of comics that often, to be fair, but there have been those exceptions. They're like any other reference comic, I suppose, but it's a dangerous trap to fall into. They significantly cut down on the percentage of your audience who will be entertained. And before you all go "Oh come ON everyone has read ender's game" or "well anyone who is an xkcd fan has read it" let me just assure you that that is completely not true. Plenty of total nerds haven't read it. OK? I know nerds who haven't even seen Star Wars. Crazy, I know, but it's true.

Anyway, I have read Ender's Game, so luckily I'm in a good position to complain about this comic.

The joke, as far as I can tell, is that in real life, Peter's plan to get famous would fail and no one would read his blog. Ok. It took me a while though - the way it's set up, it looks like the joke is just that the plan he has is basically the same as blogging, and seeing the wordpress page with all his posts is sort of the visual punchline. But that's not funny; it's just saying "HEY WHAT PETER 'N' VALENTINE ARE DOING IS BASICALLY BLOGGING" which doesn't make Randall funny so much as make Orson Scott Card rather prescient.

OK but the joke is that no one would care. That's fine, I guess, but the whole point of that plot of the book is that they are very very good writers, not just the usual idiots out there spouting off about 9/11 truthism and Obama birthism and all the other completely hilaious conspiracy theories we are seeing these days. Is it still unlikely that Peter and Valentine's plan would work? Sure. But it's unlikely that a young kid would go to a place called Battle School, beat all the other kids in the combat room, and go on to (SPOILER ALERT) do all that stuff he does. It's a book. More specifically, it's a science fiction book. It's not supposed to be what would happen in all of our ordinary lives. Furthermore, I'd like to quote Kirk's very good comment on a related matter:

Anyway, the adding of fivethirtyeight in the corner of the screen sorta defeats the observation Randall is making. Fivethirtyeight is a political blog that was so popular that it pushed its creator into mainstream popularity (he is a constant commenter on MSNBC, along with other media appearances). The point learned from fivethirtyeight is that if you are able to provide a unique product, you will gain notoriety even amongst a sea of competitors.

And the fact that I am quoting Kirk means that he too is gaining fame for pointing out a smart thing.

Anyway, the only other thing I have to say is that in light of the fact that Randall is The God Of Reddit, that Reddit is publishing his book, and the ongoing "ask randall the questions that get the most reddit votes" thread, the alt-text - "Dear Peter Wiggin: This letter is to inform you that you have received enough upvotes on your reddit comments to become president of the world..." - strikes me as a little self-serving and a lot fan-servicey.

Re:XKCD SUCKS! (-1, Troll)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940621)

How cute. An Ender fan is all butt hurt.

Re:XKCD SUCKS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29941105)

Oh look, a post just for people who read the web comic xkcd! If you didnt read it, fuck off. This post isn't for you.

Not many Slashdotposts complain about xkcd I suppose (most of them are about mainstream stuff like old Korean petrified pants pouring hot grits down Natalie Portman in Soviet Russia), but it's a dangerous trap to fall into. It significantly cuts down your audience. And before you all go "Oh come ON everyone has read xkcd" let me assure you that is incompletely true. Plenty of total ners haven't read it, OK? Jon Katz hasn't read it for one. Well, he woudn't understand it anyway.

Anyway, I have read xkcd, so unfortunately I'm in a good position to reply to this post.

But I've got bored now so I won't.

--
"First post" - Hamilton (writing anonymously in the federalist papers)

It finally happened! (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940543)

Bloggers are taking over the world!

Let's just hope xkcd will be the new president.

Re:It finally happened! (2, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940701)

I'm going to kill Cory Doctorow right now. I know his chances of making it as Polemarch (or Archon or whatever, I can't be assed reading Ender's Game because I know the plot twist) are minimal but I can't take that chance.

Re:It finally happened! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940757)

If you strike him down now he will just become more powerful.

You LIE! (1, Funny)

Zarf (5735) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940547)

I'm going to let you finish but...

Re:You LIE! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940557)

I'm going to let you finish but...

... first, Beyonce had the greatest music video of ALL TIME!

Re:You LIE! (3, Interesting)

Zarf (5735) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940631)

In all seriousness... from the scant details in the real article (which barely provides any information) it seems the blog functioned as a newspaper would. Other than the fact that this was a blog I don't see how this is different from ... say "The Colonist's Advocate" used by Benjamin Franklin... or their modern analogs such as Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" or their "Covert Report" ... or (on the right) the "comedians" such as Rush Limbaugh or the comedy players on Fox News. There's a fine tradition of comedians helping to shape politics dating back at least as far as Shakespeare.

Read the blog itself (5, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940833)

Just reading a few of the last entries of the blog:

  • Town Council would have approved the building of a recycling center, itself a business opportunity for one of the council members, except that 100+ residents actually showed up at the Town Council meeting to protest.
  • A post ridiculing a plan to build a new cheap aluminum doorway in a historic building.
  • Critique of the Town Council buying land for some kind of project, the project being canceled, and various interests connected with the Town Council profiting from the sale of the rezoned land, whereas there didn't seem to be much problem with actually managing to get this project finished rather than canceled (and that would have been more transparent and equally beneficial to the community).
  • The blogger's car was torched and his house vandalized.

So no, I don't think it's exactly a newspaper. It's more focused and more dangerous, like being an opposition leader in an only semi-democratic country.

Re:Read the blog itself (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941011)

The blogger's car was torched and his house vandalized.

Another good example of why the net should be as anonymous as possible

A better way (0, Offtopic)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940549)

If you want to get rid of a city council I suggest you look into the manipulation of email headers. I doubt that many of these people have spent much time around sci.space.policy or 4chan. They probably think that "the system" puts those Reply-To: and From: fields in.

FINALLY! PROOF THAT TROLLING WORKS! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940555)

you stupid fuckers! now i rule the wolrd!

If ONLY THAT WORKED HERE !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940587)

The editors here are stupid, ignorant, narcissistic, trolling assholes !!

I'm not naming names kdawson, and your alter-egos.

Re:If ONLY THAT WORKED HERE !! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940941)

kdawson is a Nazi jackass!

Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (5, Interesting)

LatencyKills (1213908) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940603)

TFA is atrociously thin on what I'm certain is a long-ongoing feud between many townspeople and not the inflammatory comments of a single blogger. I think all rational people realize that when someone whips out the Nazi comparison that they're just behaving irrationally and will most likely be ignored, so the argument we're supposed to believe is that 12 counselors resigned over being called jackasses? Seems unlikely. For those of you hoping to start a grass roots revolution so easily, I'd be willing to bet that at least some level of phone calls to their homes at all hours and perhaps a few loud townhall meetings were involved (both of which, incidentally, you can't do at either the US House or Senate).

You speculate incorrectly (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940649)

Phone calls at all hours would result in the attention of PC Plod. It's illegal in this country. And townhall meetings are a US phenomenon with no UK equivalent.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (4, Informative)

gowen (141411) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940651)

To be fair, looking at his blog (see here [blogspot.com] ) he's not exactly clear about his allegations. Having read his droolings, I firmly believe that people would quit working for a council to avoid having to deal with that paranoid mental case.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (4, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940677)

paranoid mental case.

His concerns seem valid. There looks to be manipulation of the planning system for personal profit by a councillor who is also a property developer.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940829)

Doesn't that happen on every council?

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (4, Insightful)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941035)

Just because something is common doesn't mean it's right.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (5, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940931)

I agree entirely. There's this meme going around that holds that if newspapers die, investigative journalism will vanish from the face of the earth. I think this case could well serve as a counter example.

Incidentally, is it me or is there a a strong subtext of "don't try this at home, kids!" to many of the posts on this topic? You'd almost think some people were worried in case this sort of grass roots political activism should catch on....

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (0, Offtopic)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940935)

bah. messed up closing the italics ... teach me not to get sloppy with my previews, I guess.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941131)

Oh seriously, that's what they should expect when they are in government! Something tells me that they made the right move in resigning if they were all so thin-skinned...

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (2, Insightful)

murdocj (543661) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941179)

Having watched small town politics for a while, I think many people get elected filled with idealism and then quickly get disillusioned by how petty and nasty the politics can get. Imagine being put under a microscope where saying hello to a couple fellow board members at the only grocery store in town can become an illegal non-public session?

I'm not saying that local government is pure as driven snow. There's certainly plenty of sweetheart deals and backroom stuff. But from what I've seen, being in local government means taking abuse on a level that's pretty the same thing as that kid in 7th grade who was lucky if he only got beat up once in a day.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940669)

The associated blog itself only hints at the underlying cause - it *appears* that a direct enquiry as to why the said council was not responding to requests under the Freedom of Information Act let to a mass "spontaneous" resignation. It all appeared to be quite an orchestrated circus, the mass walk-out that is, and so was probably foreseen by the said council members. Funny how they all had letters of resignation ready to submit.
Methinks they doth protest too much, and one anticipates exposure of earlier ill-deeds by some of the outgoing council, perhaps even legal actions.
Overall, kudos to the blogger for speaking truth to power - more evidence that the current "blogger's revolution" referenced recently here on slashdot will see our modern media overturned in short shrift.
And from the comments to the blog, it looks like it's riled up the peasants somewhat, and we'll see more citizen action in the near future. It's so heartening to see grass-roots action affecting real change.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941095)

Funny how they all had letters of resignation ready to submit.

Yes, because it takes *weeks* to draft a resignation letter...

That said, if you are a public figure, making decisions on behalf of the public, you should expect criticism.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (4, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940801)

You are correct, they resigned because of sustained pressure not just from this blogger but from local press and constituents (voters). They are just blaming the blogger to elect sympathy (no pun intended).

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940859)

to elect sympathy (no pun intended).

If you'd said 'elicit' there would've been no pun anyway...

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941203)

Oh, but if only the Australian New South Wales State government would do the same thing and resign as one in protest! Currently we have to wait for just under 2 years before they will be voted out.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (1)

thewiz (24994) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940919)

An answer to your title: Of course we can't; they're too hooked on the money they get from lobbyists and "special" interests. The money and congressional aids make it easier to ignore the citizens of the USA.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (3, Interesting)

twostix (1277166) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940983)

Civil servants in the mother country have developed a disturbing sense of over entitlement to their positions and status. So no it wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear that a single blogger has been enough of pain for a couple of them enough to throw a hissy fit. In "nu england" where 1 in 4 workers are employed by the government a new class of individual has arisen: the over entitled, all powerful, low level, vindictive, civil servant.

The movie Brazil would have been better named "UK" because as they say, nobody does bureaucracy like the English - and they used to say that *before* the Nu Labour "revolution".

Off the top of my head from the last few months various councils have:

Sent men in black vans to rummage through individuals bins to make sure that they are sorting their rubbish properly (before sending to mass landfill anyway).

Started placing cameras *in* families homes - 20000 of them over the next few years.

Reduced bin collection to every *two weeks* AND reduced the size of bins.

Placed cameras in alleyways to ensure people are tying off their garbage bags properly.

Seized the pole from a barbers shop - that had been their for 30 years.

Impounded a mothers pram.

Arrested a man for leaving the lid of his bin open four inches greater than regulation allows.

Started using thermal imaging to send residents notices if they are allowing heat to escape from their homes.

Used anti-terror laws to conduct surveillance on people the council suspects of having un-approved structures...like a garden shed in the backyard.

So my dear American, best to not apply your own Occams razor - my own countries governance must be the same everywhere - fallacy on newly emerging post democratic totalitarian states.

What people can stay free, when one of them demands the other three pay him to regulate their lives?

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (1)

Viraptor (898832) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941099)

One response only... "[citation needed]". Some of the stuff you listed are just random delusions that you can find in The Sun every time. Others seem like one-off crazy cases that can happen... but they happen more or less everywhere else too and when you present them stripped out of context, they don't really matter (they're usually connected to long-standing conflicts). I can only confirm the whole bin collection thing - it is just crazy and it is a big problem (although I don't know about any place that does the collection less than once a week).

Also, if only all bureaucracies worked as well as UK's! I don't mind filling loads of forms if they actually solve my problem in time - which was not always the case in other countries I lived in.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (0, Troll)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941165)

Reduced bin collection to every *two weeks*

Sorry, I just don't understand the complaints on this front. The local council here does rubbish collection every week and recycling collection every 2 weeks. I put out one *small* bin bag every 2 weeks. I produce maybe 4 or more times the volume of recycling than I produce landfill rubbish. Now, I admit that I am a single person, but a family of 4 should produce less than 4 times the amount of rubbish than a single person, and yet we have people with the *large* 240 or 360 litre wheelie bins in the news complaining that over 2 weeks they produce far more landfill rubbish than can be accommodated in their bin. What the hell are these people throwing away? I would wholly support the idea of reducing landfill rubbish collections to every 2 weeks; I just wish my council would introduce kerbside plastic and tetra collections so I don't have to take that stuff to the tip myself.

Used anti-terror laws to conduct surveillance on people the council suspects of having un-approved structures...like a garden shed in the backyard.

Citation please. You don't need planning permission for temporary structures, such as garden sheds, so this sounds completely bogus to me.

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29941313)

+1 Troll - classic mix of truth and rampant hyperbole.

Local councils have been given way more power than they need allowing them to spend money on total nonsense - but;

  • I've heard of no councils that have reduced bin collection to every 2 weeks - only certain 'luxury pickups' like garden waste (leaves, hedge trimmings etc.) and certain recycling pickups; so definite citation needed here
  • The cameras in people's homes are a UK Gov plan that the councils have no choice but to follow - blame the cabinet for that cracking idea
  • the barbers pole was removed as it was causing problems with drivers on the road next to it, the council was submitting to complaints that had been made. Say what you will about their decision, but at least admit there was a method to their madness
  • The man wasn't arrested for leaving his bin open - he was fined, for over-filling his bin. It was a bit specific to the letter of the law, but its not outrageous to draw the line where they did
  • the thermal cameras are already being used to detect drug factories being setup in residential homes, its not a stretch to make homeowners aware of ludicrously inefficient insulation in their homes for minimal extra costs - some would even consider it a public service (i know gasp).

I'm sure these were honest slips of the finger and that you of course had no agenda of your own to ply. But please try to remember that not everyone's definition of Freedom involves being left to fend for yourself while amoral corporations and modern day lords and barons in the forms of bankers and CEO's tie up the legal system for their own ends and prey upon those to small or poor to defend themselves. Also please remember that at least 75% of those civil servants (the 1 in 4 apparently :s) are low-level administrators who earn just above the min wage (current A-band salary in local and national Gov goes from approx £14,300 -16,500 - this band also covers cleaners, binmen, street cleaners, so called menial jobs etc.). Don't even pretend these are people you could do without, as the national outcry and massive disruptions caused by industrial action in just a few places pretty much proves their worth. The 1 in 4 also include teachers, nurses, GP's, doctors, police, paramedics, firemen, the civilian forces that help maintain the previous list, the armed forces in all its forms and the various arms of the MOD. These are the people that keep you alive and guard your freedoms, your children and your future. Yet well over 50% take home less than a supervisor at fucking McDonalds.

Keep your freedom to be fucked - I'd rather live in a country that recognises the need to protect certain freedoms by building an infrastructure - even if it does have to pruned once in a while (keeping in mind you prune from the top down :)).

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940993)

I think all rational people realize that when someone whips out the Nazi comparison that they're just behaving irrationally and will most likely be ignored

And I think that people who without exceptions ignore any Nazi comparison, even when it fits (I'm not saying this is the case here), are just as irrational, as those who use irrational comparisons, and with them in the same mindset of one-dimensional black/white thinking as... well... you know who. ^^

Re:Can we get rid of the US Congress so easily? (1)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941243)

...and perhaps a few loud townhall meetings were involved (both of which, incidentally, you can't do at either the US House or Senate).

Ahem..., kept up on recent events in the House much? Let's just say that for certain factions, those feeling a little "challenged", decorum ain't what it used to be.

As for TFA, it is indeed startlingly short on detail and context that might have made the story more meaningful. If the elected officials actually suffered from harassment, as opposed to civil discourse that legitimately challenged their actions, it is a shame that they quit. If that's what happens it means the system is more broken than if they had only been guilty of corruption.

Revealed as feeble... (4, Interesting)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940605)

And what prevented those councillors from telling their side of the story?

Clearly they had no real response to this blogger, and so just folded.

Leaves me wondering whether they were guilty or merely incompetent.

Re:Revealed as feeble... (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940719)

And what prevented those councillors from telling their side of the story?.

Probably the fact that they're not intersted in blogging or using the internet. That doesn't make them web-illiterate, just as not having in interest in racing cars means you're a bad driver: just that they have neither the eloquence, nor ability, time or maybe even the low standards needed to engage in a war of words with someone who obviously has his own personal issues with these guys.

After all, they're only volunteers, standing for a town council, why should that require blogging or P.R. skills?

Re:Revealed as feeble... (2, Insightful)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940855)

They are politicians - part of the required skill set is media-savvy. Also, the Internet is not the only medium.

And they do get paid - this is a town council, not a parish council. Quote from a Mail Online story (yes I know) [dailymail.co.uk] "Local councillors pocketed pay rises of double the level of inflation last year, a study has revealed. Nearly 20,000 picked up an average of £9,300 in 'allowances', the basic pay they get from town halls. In some local authorities, the sum was more than £20,000 a year."

They've had the chance (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941081)

I won't go over CaptainofSpray's ground again except to commend his post. But they have plenty of opportunity to make their case. The local weekly magazine (Fosseway) is now very right wing Conservative and would give them plenty of space to publish rebuttals. The blogger is, basically, alleging that they have made planning decisions which benefit the council leader and not the public. If this is true, how are they going to respond? If not, why hasn't their response been published at length in a magazine which often reports contentious council business at vast length?

Re:They've had the chance (2, Funny)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941151)

how are they going to respond?

Can I suggest sacrificing some virgins to the local dragon? It has often worked in the past!

After all, our beloved government has just demonstrated their opposition to the concept of science, so logical responses are clearly politically unacceptable.

Re:Revealed as feeble... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941075)

There side of the story is already in the public domain through the minutes of public meetings and various stuff available under FOIA requests.

Councillors simply can't respond to random militant bloggers on a level playing field. For one they can't use the language bloggers use (if they like being employed that is). Even if the councillor does use civil language, getting in a public debate with someone that hostile not only will look bad (regardless of if they win it or not) , it will add legitimacy to that blog.

Re:Revealed as feeble... (0)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941133)

And what prevented those councillors from telling their side of the story?

  Clearly they had no real response to this blogger, and so just folded.

Leaves me wondering whether they were guilty or merely incompetent.

The same thing that keeps Glenn Beck from using his extensive media access to refute the story that he raped and murdered a young girl in 1990.

CounCILLors! (4, Informative)

earthloop (449575) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940607)

They're councillors. As in, people on a council.

Counsellors are a different breed of people altogether, like Troi.

Re:CounCILLors! (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940633)

Yeah, Troi was really "a different breed"...

Re:CounCILLors! (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940777)

I dunno, standing up in front of everyone and stating the bleeding obvious like it's some sort of startling revelation sounds like a councillor too.

Re:CounCILLors! (0, Troll)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940819)

---Counsellors are a different breed of people altogether, like Troi.---

I think you misspelled "prostitute."

Re:CounCILLors! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940887)

---Counsellors are a different breed of people altogether, like Troi.---

I think you misspelled "prostitute."

How DARE you insult my lovely large-breasted empath. Just because she is a people person with lots of cleavage and not a geek like you doesn't give you the right to call her and her bosom names. LEAVE TROI ALONE!

Re:CounCILLors! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940959)

Don't feed the Trois!

Re:CounCILLors! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940861)

They're councillors. As in, people on a council. Counsellors are a different breed of people altogether, like Troi.

That's because Slashdot editors are a different breed of people altogether, as well. <ducks>

On the other hand, it's Somerton (5, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940609)

Disclaimer: I live in the Somerton and Frome constituency. The East side (where I live) is part of the 21st century, The politics is mainly Lib Dem (the only mainstream UK progressive party- and no, I am not a member.) The south-west side is deeply conservative and rural, and the local grandees have a huge sense of entitlement. They think that they have a right to run things and nobody should be allowed to criticise them. (They are also the area's Nimbys - they try to block industry or anything that will modernise the area and provide well-paid jobs for non-landowners.)

Now someone thinks they have the right to comment on Council decisions - and the toys get thrown out of the pram.

This is not about bloggers. It's about rural Conservatives finding their views called into question. It would be exactly the same if it was a campaigning newspaper, or if the people in subsidised housing started a resident's group and sent someone to see what happened in Council meetings.

Re:On the other hand, it's Somerton (0)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940625)

Mod parent up, Insightful

Re: Thats so not what its about (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940843)

First of all, I live in Somerton, and its not a backwards place like Kupfernigk is trying to make out.
We are just a normal town, and from the sounds of things Kupfernigk has probably hardly ever been to Somerton and thinks the have the right to criticise what they no NOTHING about!!

This isnt about blogging. A lot of people here think that some members of the council were out to make money, and there are strong rumours that local people were trying to get them kicked off the council, so they ran instead.

Re:On the other hand, it's Somerton (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940851)

That sounds right to me. How anyone (BBC included) can reduce the interests and actions of 100+ locals down to the words of one blogger is an odd bit of misinterpretation. At best M&B is a lightning rod, an articulation of sentiment that is apparently shared by a significant number of others. So any assignment of responsibility is about like blaming the messenger.

Re:On the other hand, it's Somerton (2, Insightful)

twostix (1277166) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941067)

Really...because from what I read (rather than what you postulate) of the story it appears that the council members were trying to push through various commercial and industrial ventures that would benefit themselves privately (wow very "21st century"!) and the blogger was calling them out on it.

So it would be the blogger who was the "rural conservative" (apparently just about the worst person in the world in some areas of the Internet it would seem) and the council members who where in the "21st" century with their impropriety, open corruption, torching his car, etc...

Whats rather funny is how the reality appears to be completely the opposite that you claim it is, yet you're at +5 because you somehow make it sound like those nasty rural conservatives are the councilors and it's a cool twenty something urban dwelling blogger who's doing the good work to bring them down. Certainly in my mind after reading your post I had the Councilors pegged as old white "rural conservative" fat cats. A fantasy which suits the metro demographic of this site far better than the reality it would appear given the current moderation of your completely bullshit made up post.

This blogger was lucky (4, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940629)

In the UK its fairly easy to get sued for making written statements about people unless you are scrupulously accurate, and having looked at the blog in question he's taken a fair few risks..

Probably the traditional British tolerance for ecentricity is the only thing preventing the targets of his jibes from crucifying him in a civil court...

Re:This blogger was lucky (2, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940687)

They are only risks if what he said is materially untrue. Given the orchestrated resignations of most of the council, I suspect they aren't.

Re:This blogger was lucky (4, Insightful)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940813)

I refer you to the case of Simon Singh v. Assorted Lunatics [wikipedia.org] . What he said was materially true, but he will most likely lose the court case.

Mr Justice Eady [wikipedia.org] has a lot to answer for.

There's more details on the Singh case in the current Private Eye, for any Brits out there.

Re:This blogger was lucky (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940967)

It's a difficult case. But I doubt he'll lose.

Re:This blogger was lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29941147)

I'm sick and tired of the bullshit misrepresentation of the case against Mr. Singh. It has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the frankly ridiculous ideas he was attacking.

He used the term 'bogus' which means fraudulent. He essentially called a large group of people liars and frauds without evidence that they were. Some of these idiots may well be frauds but others actually believe in what they are doing and are thus simply morons rather than frauds. I believe he was using the word in the popular American usage for 'bogus' i.e. stupid and incorrect. Unfortunately popular American uses of words don't carry much wait in UK courts. As a journalist he should know to pick his words more carefully.

The right to sue (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940973)

While truth is an absolute defence against the charge of libel, the right of the individual mentioned is to bring a court case (not necessarily to win it - although justice is a tricky thing).

even when in the right it is an unfortunate situation to be the defendant in a civil court case.

Re:This blogger was lucky (1, Flamebait)

hab136 (30884) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941049)

Truth is not an absolute defense in England. You can say something that is 100% true but still defaming and therefore lose a case.

Re:This blogger was lucky (2, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941199)

You're wrong. Truth is an absolute defence against being sued for libel in England and Wales.

Bloated bureaucracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940695)

Why 15 councillors for a small rural town (not even a city). My hometown city has only 4 with the mayor casting the tie breaking vote.

Re:Bloated bureaucracy (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941181)

My hometown city has only 4 with the mayor casting the tie breaking vote.

How on earth do you satisfy the local politicians' lust for pocket-lining?

This really is NOT democracy (1, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940697)

One person's actions manages to unseat several elected officials

If we believe all the media hype - that this guy's blog did actually have any bearing on the resignations of these people, then it's a bad day for democracy. They had been elected in a legal way, by winning the most votes from the people in their wards. Then one person, decides he doesn't like them and starts a personal assault on them: collectively and individually. Now, it could well be said that these unpaid officials shouldn't have put themselves in the public eye if they aren't prepared to take some heat - but they're really just volunteers (and a lot of them aren't exactly in the prime of life). As a consequence of this continual sniping, they decide they've had enough and quit. So much for giving the electors representation, so much for reflecting the wishes of the people. One person's ability to publicise his personal and (I am told) unfounded views about their personal lives and business interests reduces the democratic process to a farce.

If he objects so much, why didn't he stand for election himself?

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940783)

One person's actions manages to unseat several elected officials

You say that like it's a bad thing. If he was able to shame them into resigning, sounds to me like they had something to be ashamed of.

Re:So? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940817)

It is a bad thing - an extremely bad thing. There are processes for removing councilors who are doing a bad job, acting illegally or who lose the trust of the people who voted for them. Just like it's bad to have national newspapers that sway elections when the owner decides he/she "likes" one party over another.
When this item hit the TV news (some days ago) the overwhelming view from the resigning councilors was not that they had any skeletons in their cupboards, or had been corrupt or done anything wrong - simply that they didn't feel the need to give up their time, only to be criticised by some guy, so they quit.

If this guy wants to change the local council he should stand for election himself - not snipe at the volunteer members from the safety of an internet site. However, he's still only entitled to one seat on the council, not to force the removal or resignation of many. The anti-democratic part of this is the blogger NOT using the due process to change the council members.

Re:So? (3, Informative)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940885)

It is a bad thing - an extremely bad thing. There are processes for removing councilors who are doing a bad job, acting illegally or who lose the trust of the people who voted for them.

According to the blog [blogspot.com] they resigned to "rapturous applause" from the citizens. It was one man blogging, apparently leading to lots of face to face discussions. If they could refute the things being said about them I'm sure they could have done so instead of resigning.

So it would seem that they didn't resign because of one man, they resigned because of what many people found out from one man. It was the many that caused them to resign.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940911)

You are wrong on so many levels. Firstly, they are not volunteers. They get paid for every meeting they attend and they get expenses paid for any work they undertake as a council member. Secondly, are you suggesting that democracy means you cannot exercise free speech ? Thirdly, are you suggesting that elected officials, who presumably had to canvas support in order to get elected, are so unsure of their position that a single person can force them to resign without so much as a struggle ? And lastly, if you as a member of the electorate exposed a scandal involving the council and publicised it, are you then guilty of something or are you doing the electorate a favour ?

Seriously, if they resigned over one persons so called ravings, then they didn't have much authority to start with, not to mention cahones. I know that if I found financial irregularities in a councils spending and could reliably document it, it would be my duty to inform the electorate. I have no interest in being a councillor, but that doesn't mean they can get away with it. Why should I invest time and money in making myself electable merely to point out the illegal activities of others ?

I repeat, if the whole council resigns over 1 persons unsubstantiated rant, then either they have got skeletons to hide or they are worthless as politicians. Politicians argue all the time, that's what they do. But one non elected person can force their resignation ? Please .... Are they going to take their toys and go home ?

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29941061)

Cahones? I think you meant "cojones".

Re:So? (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941161)

Actually you're wrong.

What town councillors get varies per county but it's not a wage you can live on. Lots of councils only pay expenses but a typical 'wage' for a regular councillor is £5500 a year. That's only about £1000 more than if they did no work at all and claimed benefits. Council leaders get a proper wage of around £12,000 but that's still only comparable to a McDonalds worker.

These are not jobs done for a living, these are largely volunteers who are getting just enough money to ensure they're not starving. They're not in it to earn money, they're in it to be active in the community.

What can they do to silence this blogger? Take him to court and spend months and insane amounts of money to silence him? All to make the job they're supposed to be doing because they enjoy it tolerable again? Who's to say after a long court case, they win and then this blogger is replaced by another one?

These are not career politicians, they do not expect these kinds of non-stop vicious personal attacks on them when they've done nothing especially wrong.

Re:So? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940937)

There are processes for removing councilors who are doing a bad job, acting illegally or who lose the trust of the people who voted for them.

And criticizing them so they resign in shame doesn't qualify, in your opinion? Isn't this precisely why the citizens have the freedom of speech, to criticize their government?

-jcr

Re:So? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941051)

Exactly. I'm sure they have nothing to hide.

*rolls eyes*

Re:This really is NOT democracy (2, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940825)

If we believe all the media hype - that this guy's blog did actually have any bearing on the resignations of these people, then it's a bad day for democracy.

Much as I appreciate your concern, I think I can set your mind at rest here. Such abuses of the the system are rare and usually confined to the level of local politics. In this day and age, no one at a national level would consider resigning over something so trivial as criticism from the media or public. In fact even such one-time misdemeanors such as being caught outright fiddling expenses, or embarking on a war of aggression that no one on the country wanted are considered cause to resign. Of course, it has occasionally been considered prudent for a minister to step down if the furore should happen at an awkward time, such as shortly before an election. But you may rest assured that in all such cases, the minister in question has been returned to a position of power as soon as the election was safely past.

So as you can see, there really is nothing amiss with the democratic process in the UK.

That said, I do take your point. It really isn't fair of the public to go around making a fuss every time a politicians actions fail to match up with their election promises, seem ill-considered in terms of achieving those objectives, or when they generally fail to comport themselves with the high moral and ethical standards they expect of the general public. If only we as voters would learn to shut our collective gobs, turn a blind eye to such minor matters as dishonesty and hypocrisy and let them get on with the vital business of feathering their nests, I'm sure the world would be a much better place.

Re:This really is NOT democracy (1)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940925)

One person's actions manages to unseat several elected officials

Disagree. The blogger's actions didn't unseat them. Their resignation did. There's a world of difference. If the blogger had been able to unseat them despite their wishes and the wishes of their constituents, that would be a break in democracy. Instead the blogger was able to convince them and/or their constituents that their tenure should end. That's as democratic as can be. If the blog entries were based on lies and nobody discovered that it's an entirely different issue.

My point is there's a vast difference between one person filing letters of resignation for a bunch of people and everyone accepting them because the process "says so" or something equally unlikely and a "journalist" swaying opinion.

Completely wrong (2, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941039)

Only 1 of the 12 had actually been elected. The blogger was drawing attention to what he saw as a democratic deficit in Somerton. Locals started to believe him and started to turn up to Council meetings to see what went on. It looks as if this sudden public attention may have caused the councillors to decide that they didn't want to be councillors any more. On the other hand, on our side of the constituency where just about every council seat is contested and where the local paper is full of arguments about what is going on, hardly anybody bothers to turn up to see what happens at Council meetings = councillors complain that there is not enough public involvement.

BTW who told you his allegations were unfounded? As for why he doesn't stand for election himself, it's because a campaign of intimidation has been aged against him - it's documented on his blog and believe me, anyone who lives in this part of the world knows this kind of thing goes on and can well believe it. I suggest that, just as British posters do tend not to pontificate about US politics, you keep your US=centric views out of this case. Because you do not understand UK local government at all.

A link to the blog please.. (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940699)

A link to the blog please..
that would be as useful or even more useful than a Wikipedia,a BBC and 2 XKCD links

 

Re:A link to the blog please.. (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940711)

from the article [blogspot.com]

Re:A link to the blog please.. (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940867)

What would be good would be if news organisations like the BBC didn't censor URLs from their reports. "A damning government report has been leaked to 'the world wide web'" is not useful information. They might as well say "A street in the city has been cordoned off." Gee, thanks.

Re:A link to the blog please.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29940977)

I don't know about the international edition of BBC News but here in the UK, there is often a link on the righthand side of the page to the external sites referenced in the article. This keeps them all in one neat place. I think it could be to appear like a newspaper article and also make the reading a little bit easier.

Re:A link to the blog please.. (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941121)

thanks 2 the replies below, i got the link, but shouldn't it be in the summary itself rather then having to go to a particular link in the summary, and then looking for the link , not in the article, but rather mixed up with other links in the sidebar..

How is this news for nerds??? (0, Flamebait)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940705)

The dillusion that bloggers have the power to tease elected officials into resigning is laughable. This isn't news. This isn't even fit for idle.

Re:How is this news for nerds??? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940729)

But its just like Watergate, on a slightly smaller scale.

Re:How is this news for nerds??? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940797)

This is just a modern day local newspaper. The idea that the media can bring down corrupt local or national officials is nothing new.

Re:How is this news for nerds??? (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941073)

The dillusion that bloggers have the power to tease elected officials into resigning is laughable.

I think you're wrong. At least on this side of the pond the name-calling, and relentlessly negative smear tactics and outright lies that have become the new norm in politics keeps a lot good people out of public office.

So, yeah, in a small town environment where people are volunteering or have other options about where to spend their time could quite possibly get fed up and quit. If the locals here were mocking our volunteer fire department, I can almost guarantee the place would be empty in a week.

I mean look at our president. A fairly decent, well educated person trying to get health care coverage for poor people. For that crime against humanity he's been compared to Hitler, called a Nazi and portrayed as a socialist even though most of the rock throwers wouldn't know a socialist if one bit them on the butt. They even have their own 24 hour tabloid news channel to air their smear and fear. Overall, I'm afraid we're creating an environment where decent, well-intended people laugh at the idea of being a public servant. Sometimes I think we deserve leaders like Bush.

Re:How is this news for nerds??? (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941127)

Because if we had a leader like Bush, we'd never have to worry about having him compared to Hitler or called a Nazi.

Re:How is this news for nerds??? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941241)

Because if we had a leader like Bush, we'd never have to worry about having him compared to Hitler or called a Nazi.

Better be careful - the nazis will sue you for defamation for comparing them to Bush.

Councillors are not career politicians (1)

chico_the_chihuahua (925601) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940823)

Many town councillors work with a limited renumeration, which is enough to cover their out-of-pocket expenses, and perhaps a bit more, but certainly not enough to live on. They will also be full time professionals in another occupation as their long term career, or perhaps be retired and living off a pension.

Although elected, they will also regard their work as giving something back to the community, so I can understand why harassment might make them decide that it's not worth volunteering their services any more. It costs money to pursue libel cases, and it's unlikely this blogger has any coin to pay damages anyway, so it's easier to leave the situation.

Re:Councillors are not career politicians (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941187)

Haha, so wrong on all fronts.

"The rise in allowances comes at a time of rapidly growing pay for town hall officials, the most senior of whom now earn more than £200,000."

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23394395-councillors-pay-up-by-twice-the-inflation-rate.do [thisislondon.co.uk]

Re:Councillors are not career politicians (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941315)

An article from a Daily Mail group article (which based on the date, that was) isn't the best of sources.

There are around 22,000 councillors in the UK. Based on the figure the Evening Standard gives, that's an average of around £8,000 per councillor. However considering more important council members such as council leaders and members for large cities (which are far more involved positions and involve much more responsiblity), the typical councillor wage is £4-5K. That's 1/3rd of what is classed as living in poverty.

Mobilization of residents rather than humiliation (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940857)

If you also read the blog (assuming he isn't just making it all up), you would see that rather than the council resigning because of being humiliated, the blog seems to have managed to mobilize a large enough segment of the residents to make the usual workings of the council rather difficult since there are many, many more people trying to make sure that the Council is actually protecting their interests. It seems that before this, the Council just would do mostly whatever it wanted, with little external review.

The blog talks about two recent Council meetings where 100+ residents showed up.

Seriously? (1)

user4574 (1645049) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940883)

Criticism from one blogger constitutes "impossible working conditions?" Really? I mean, really? If he calls them all doody heads, maybe he could get them to cry in public.

Gotta love self-censorship (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 3 years ago | (#29940949)

I love how "ass" is bleeped out and Nazi is an OK word.

Also, both bleeps and asterisks just emphasize that there is something to "hide", making it's effect stronger as it forces the brain out of normal cruise into attention.

Strong arming a politician? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941001)

Nah, there was other reasons, no real politician would resign just because he was called names. Name calling is part of the business.

Why the stars? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29941031)

Perhaps you think Jackass is ruder than it was intended. It just means male donkey. Probably because in the US arse is pronounced the same as ass resulting in confusions between donkeys and bottoms. Wars have been caused by less!

Need more information (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941129)

The article was scant on details, unfortunately, but it seems the blogger was pointing out extreme irregularities going on in the council. In the U.S., such reports led to the FBI investigating the council of Dallas, Texas. One important difference in Dallas was that the players were too arrogant to realize that there was potential for felony conviction and jail time for their activities and refused to resign or otherwise remove themselves.

I have to wonder if the situation in Somerton was anything like the one in Dallas and decided to get our while the getting was good or if they simply could not withstand having negative opinions of them published?

Funny thing about the Truth. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941177)

"...largely by calling them 'jack***es' and Nazis. What's next? The deposition of a president with 'your mom' smacktalk?"

Bloggers, news reporters, CNN, Wall Street Journal...Funny thing about when the Truth comes out. Really doesn't matter who reports it. If it's valid and bad enough, people will be affected by it. Chances are they resigned not because the accusations were false and therefore they could have fought it with a valid counterargument.

I know it's pretty sad to realize that we're going to be getting the "news" from sources like blogs and twitter, but where do you think the large news sources are looking for their "scoop"?

Re: Blogger Humiliates Councillors Into Resigning (1)

A1rmanCha1rman (885378) | more than 3 years ago | (#29941271)

On an even sadder note, notable man-of-words, TV presenter, actor and gadget-lover Stephen Fry has been virtually taunted and flamed to (digital death), leading to his apparent resignation from Twitter.

Once upon a time, there was only character assassination, now it's digital as well...

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