Sunday, December 07, 2008

The poisoned well

Alex Hilton is one of three left-wing bloggers who are being sued for libel. So far as I can see, the action is vexatious. Reactions are mixed, because Hilton is a shit whose political partisanship extends to bullying young women if they are, or are related to, Tories - and who couldn't "be bothered" to look into his associate Paul Staines' threat to sue Tim Ireland for, er... libel.

Perhaps that shouldn't matter. Hilton hasn't shown any solidarity with bloggers similarly threatened in the past, but perhaps that shouldn't matter. The mere fact that there is a doubt over support for Hilton (and not the others similarly threatened) shows just how badly he has poisoned the well of political discourse. He seems the worst possible cynic, spraying vicious rhetoric about "Tory scum" while podcasting smears and setting up business with the Tory blogger Staines, ignoring the plight of others threatened with libel actions then pleading for money when he is threatened.

Hilton seems to be a natural Hater and in general such people, in different cultural situations, simply choose their hatreds differently. They always always hate, because that's what Haters do. The only things that militate against this characterisation of Hilton are his cynicism and the way he seems to regard the ostentatious display of hatred as a sort of game, switching it on to blog and off when he's on Question Time. Either way, as Mencken pointed out, he's exactly the type of person those who value free speech find themselves defending first. So if he seems in extremis, I'll contribute to his fighting fund. Not otherwise.

I'll do this because I support his right to spew partisan hatred, if that's what he wants to do. The right to free speech is not dependant on reasonableness, or niceness, or inoffensiveness - or even honesty or accuracy. There should be a law of defamation, though it should not be a mechanism for rich scoundrels to suppress criticism, but the post in question (which he published rather than wrote - an important reason to support his case if not his person) seems, from what I have seen, not to have been libellous although, of course, a court will ultimately be the judge of that, your Honour.

No such reservations apply to the others under threat, who I support wholeheartedly. Interestingly, neither has yet asked for money.

In passing, describing the litigant as a Tory is a bit misleading. She moved from the Labour Party into Respect, then to the Conservatives. She's not a Tory. When asking for non-partisan help, why not cut the partisan crap?


Anonymous said...

"When asking for non-partisan help, why not cut the partisan crap?"

Good question. Because he's incapable of it, perhaps?

Peter Risdon said...

It really does seem like it.

Alexander Hilton said...

Crikey! Do I inspire that much antipathy? I never thought of myself as a hater.

I am very partisan, I'll have to concede that - but not tribal. Politics doesn't impact on my personal relationships unless you argue that I don't make friends with racists and other bigots.

You quite obviously detest me though I don't recall ever meeting you.

So your support expressed in you piece (for my predicament if not for me) is even more meaningful.

Thank you,

Alex Hilton

Peter Risdon said...

You're welcome.