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John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A COLUMN BY KATHERINE VINER IN THE GUARDIAN

 

“Online abuse pollutes the water in which we all swim. As the Guardian’s first female editor, it is important to me that we tackle it”

 

Well, apart from the egregious mixed metaphors, that’s a very questionable statement at all levels.

“…abuse pollutes the water in which we all swim” does sound like something from an official announcement in North Korea, the kind of language which would immediately have raised the antennae of a George Orwell.

Is that what you are aiming for?  Who decides what’s pollution and what’s not?

With so many tough and controversial issues in the world’s news – upon some of which, mind you, The Guardian already does not permit readers to comment – I see further restrictions as a dangerous course. It is easy for a newspaper to be a propaganda sheet, and indeed, all newspapers, including The Guardian, do work this way a good deal of the time. Fairly open comments are one of the only ameliorating practices for this natural tendency.

Stimulating conversation, great comedy, and good literature always contain things which bother some. Are you proposing to reduce things to pap and political correctness just because some are bothered?

This does sound rather like an unwelcome warning, albeit in soft language, announcing a dark new course.

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