Monday, November 19, 2012

Window Warriors

Conflict is endemic within prisons. Throw together umpteen strangers in a confined space, remove their control over any part of their lives and strip them to the barest level of resources and the recipe for conflict is endemic. People will invariably attempt to exert influence and control over some part of their own life or their environment, and struggle to improve their material lot.

The forms which this conflict takes are myriad. Dirty looks, refusals to engage, rumours, all the way up to bloody murder - the forms which conflict take are only limited by the situation and imagination of the protagonists. As are attempts to resolve and reduce conflicts. One of the few aspects of my life of which I am vaguely pleased are my oft successful attempts at conflict resolution. Walking that fine line between being a non-aggressor or a victim is fraught and not always successful - but worth the energy.

Conflict, then, was woven into my daily life.Nowadays I am most often surrounded by people who are not struggling in any particular sense, and so overt conflict is not yet a feature of my life. That is until you include the Web in the definition of daily "life". And I do.

The blog has been running for over three years and during that time has been a haven of relative civility. People disagree with what I say, and I refuse to either moderate comments or ban particular commenters. Censorship sits badly with any man who has suffered perpetual attempts to silence him. Despite this freedom, the amount of abuse which has flowed from the keyboards of the world has been remarkably sparse.

That was, until my release. For some profoundly unfathomable reason, no sooner was I released than the blog became a target for some screws. They pop up now and then, as if unable to grasp the point that the argument is over - I am free of them. Yet they reappear and litter the blog with abuse, either at myself or at other commenters. Still, I refuse to censor them. History - and the blogosphere - can read them and judge them, because I just can't be bothered. The saddest thing is, these trolls hide behind anonymity.

And then there is Twitter. Where people can cheerfully roll in to your conversation and attempt to wind you up, or just resort to the same dull abuse. It is painfully boring to deal with, honestly. And then they run away and block you from responding - it is, to an outsider, like being ambushed by a malevolent, if simple, toddler. It leaves me feeling bemused, and just a little sad.

And all of these web based needlers remind me of one of the most pathetic prisoner sub-species. These are guys who shout out of their windows after lock-up, full of piss and wind, every threat under the sun at their fingertips. We call them Window Warriors. Because as soon as their door is unlocked and they are within reach of their previous targets then they have a funny habit of running away, sometimes as far as the Seg Unit on protection.

Window Warriors. I thought I had left that pathetic species behind but in truth they just exist just as sadly out here. Only they let their keyboard do the work. Sad.

31 comments:

  1. I wish you would remove the crackpot posts. I don't like reading them and it makes me sad that you have to. Your writing is consistently honest and never devoid of self reflection. You haven't shirked any difficult questions but there is no reason for you to dignify the rants of unbalanced idiots who cower in their anonymousness. I know that after decades of living in a repressive environment that you aren't crazy about acting as a censor but the quality of the writing that comes from your rigorous self examination should not be sullied by inane, mean spirited comments. Perhaps a policy of not posting any anonymous comments might spare your readers, if not you I'm afraid, from this ugliness.

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    1. I agree - ban comments from anonymous contributors and those without a traceable identity. That would satisfy your qualms about censorship while deterring those whose motive is simply to provoke and irritate.

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    2. I go out of my way to avoid easily traceable identity in most of my dealings on the internet, which includes this blog. This is not because I am trolling, but because there are subjects about which I can be more honest online than with some of the people I know in real-life, and I'm sure I am not alone in that. Obviously if you wanted to ID me you probably could, but I would prefer that a casual acquaintance who might stumble across this blog not be able to identify me just by clicking on my comment header. I do not have any of the accounts available for login-controlled commenting in this system, not do I intend to get them just to participate on one blog. Of course I'm not trying to claim my comments are so valuable that they alone are sufficient reason not to ban untraceable commenting, but I do want to point out to TTRogers that not using a traceable commenting system does not make one a troll - some of us comment anonymously (or relatively anonymously) out of simple concern for privacy.

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    3. To a certain extent, I agree with Jess about identity.

      I am Fenrir here, and on my own blog. Fenrir exists nowhere else in the world, nor does Lisa. But Ben has met us both and we have shared time and hospitality together.

      What is being discussed here are the petty, sniping comments from the "anonymous" nay-sayers who do not have the courage to stand up and say "He has done his time and more" no matter how severe the crime that put Ben inside.

      But then, it's always been the case that Lifers, especially C and D cat, are some of the nicest people in the system. The hardest problem most Lifers face are the attitudes of their jailers.

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    4. Some of the nicest people in the system..... Yeah, and as well as being nice they also share the common ground of all having killed someone somewhere in their past...
      Can we also take it from your inane comment that until these lifers are granted cat C or D that they're not nice people???
      Methinks that Fenrir has mistaken an acid tab for his vitamin tab today.........

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    5. Did I say vitamin tab??? Meant oestrogen tab.... Isn't that still the therapy for wrong 'uns

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    6. It would be ironic if Ben banned those without traceable ID, given the difficulties he has had himself with obtaining ID.

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    7. @anonymous 3:06

      Yes, very brave. Why not come out with at least a collar number? After all, then friends still behind the wall could be told how brave you are.

      BTW, Lisa doesn't think I'm a "wrong'un" and she should know, being my both victim and future wife...

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    8. Will you wait until after she's finished her GCSEs for the wedding, or will she be a bit old for you by then?

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    9. @Anonymous 9.36 Bored now.

      Give us a collar number, and then we can ask your governor whether your presence here during shift hours is authorised. IP addresses can be tracked on blogs, you know.

      As to your immature and thoughtless comments, I'll let Lisa deal with them, through her employment. I'm sure there is at least one firm in Northampton that will happily sue the MOJ's ass off.

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  2. The equivalent terms I have heard are "internet tough guy" and less commonly "keyboard warrior"(which has a nice symmetry to your terminology.) Given how universal the contempt for it seems to be, I find it a little baffling that it persists, since people ought to *know* it's going to get them dismissed by most of their supposed audience. Granted, sometimes it's easier to make threats, however hollow - I do it myself. But at least I have the common sense to restrict my empty threats to the local rabbit population.

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  3. I would probably stop reading if you started to moderate/censor comments. In terms of a blog, keyboard warriors are most annoying for the author and second-most annoying for the regulars. But a) it can't be right to silence anyone and b) if you don't have the naysayers, the blog becomes one-dimensional both for the casual reader and as a resource. Besides, you'll find the keyboard warrior opinion hereabouts more closely matches public opinion than your views, Ben, or the views of your regulars. And if you don't face up to the challenge of engaging with it, then what on earth is the point? So a vote for non-censorship from this (been on the internet so long that keyboard warriors just seem like background noise these days) reader.

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  4. Ben, you're doing a grand job, your blogs are interesting and whilst not everyone may agree with your views, the vast majority do discuss with a degree of civility. Healthy debate and discussion is good. Mr/ms anonymous doesn't seem to realise that all s/he is doing is evidencing their own prejudices and lack of intelligence. Let them carry on, and rise above it, for you are far better than them.

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    1. How is he "better than them"? On what level is he better than them?? Intellectually? Morally?? Ethically?? Physically??
      Or is Ben merely better than them because he puts his name to his opinions? I think that you probably think so, but I think that you're wrong.

      Ben chooses to put his name to this blog and its pretty one sided view of the world because ben craves attention and Ben believes that everything he says is right..... Whether or not he is right is a matter for debate, and given that this conversation that Ben wants to have with the public in a public domain is open to all to view and to contribute to then participation in that conversation should not be dependant on one supplying identity or other credentials, and the absence of such identity does not make any view any more or less worthy of consideration.

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    2. Interesting.....I put my name to what I say because I stand by every word. Its called integrity. Anons who slither in and out leaving sad jibes clearly don't want to be associated with their own words - which says an awful lot.

      Have the stones to be identified with your jibes, or forever be thought of as rather pathetic and cowardly.

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    3. Thought of in that way by whom? Next time you're in London take the time to visit speakers corner in Hyde Park; you will see that identifying oneself is not a prerequisite to stating ones opinion...

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  5. For a murderer you sure have a victim complex.

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    1. For a man whose sister was killed, yep, I can wear the mantle of victim if I choose. Welcome to a complicated world, Pele.

      I find it fascinating that you seem to believe that a perpetrator is not allowed to also be a victim by the way. Care to elaborate on that?

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  6. o dear when will these silly t***s go away I think another has just joined ha ha. I suppose while their on here their saving everyone else from their dribble!!!!!!!!!! Most of prisoners are mouthy if they have done a violent crime as they think the others will be afraid of them, but 'the others' usually have done a worse crime. 'Anonymous', you are so thick and really seem to know nothing about how some people find theirselves in prison, isn't it time you jogged on!!!!!!!

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  7. Lord of the Flies?

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  8. Bit like shouting abuse when driving your car - few of us would actually behave like that to the other driver's face, so why is it okay for trolls to be so abusive?

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  9. The trolling from prison officers has opened my eyes to what must go on behind the walls so he/she has not done his profession any favours. Shame is that the good guys are not on here to show their profession in a good light.

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    1. How do you know that the "trolling" as you put it comes from prison officers??
      It could be from any source - coppers, victims of crime, other ex prisoners, a whole world of possibilities of people who think that the author of the blog is a no-mark ex con and many of his followers - mainly female- are frustrated, deluded or both..... Which one are you???

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    2. An ex con with a platform which puts you in the frustrated camp I'd say going by the evidence of you spitting your dummy out on each and every occasion. or is it more like falling out everytime you open your mouth? Metaphorically speaking of course, wouldn't want you writing a couple of paragraphs explaining how you're not actually speaking.

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    3. A no mark ex con with a blog.....if you please :)

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  10. What a response to a piece on trolling! And excellent examples freely offered.....It is a mentality that I honestly cannot fathom. When I get annoyed etc on various sites I leave my counter-argument; if I had to resort to abuse would feel rather pathetic. Others' obviously don't have that inhibition!

    I detest censorship. The best way to defeat the stupid or the dangerous is to allow their views to be heard loudly - and then judged and discarded.

    At the same time, I have always said that I would not allow the blog to be jeopardised by trolls. Comment Moderation is plain wrong (and inefficient) but deleting comments which are not on topic may be a sensible middle path.

    Whether people chose an Avatar identity is not something I worry about, although it makes it complicated to follow a conversation if Anons are all piling in. It is a matter of seconds to select a (fake) identity and I hope regular Anons do so for the sake of readers.

    I could install IP tracking software that allocates an Avatar to repeat offenders, but I hate the idea that I could track anyone in that way. I wont do it.

    This issue has become more prevalent since my release; I wonder why? And it is one that we will struggle with always.

    Meanwhile, cogent and coherent comments are always welcomed, even if they are to disagree with whatever I am saying.

    Sad jibes are to be ignored or jeered, depending on mood :)

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  11. I suspect the increased traffic may be be partly due to the rather entertaining 'trolling' going on. I used to just read the posts. Now I read the comments too and visit more often. The personal abuse is just childish but the arguments often illuminate. More trolling please - it's much more interesting!!

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    1. RH I do agree with you it does make interesting and often amusing reading. In response to Annon I am neither frustrated or deluded. In fact I was deluded believing that people in "authority" were reasonable, human beings and I was probably naive. I am in fact married to a policeman so am used to the cynical ramblings! but am not used to nastiness and vindictiveness (is there such a word?) So, you, Anon have opened my eyes to what people have to put up with!! I am not so naive as to believe that all prisoners are nice people who have made a mistake either! However, I have read Ben's blog from the start and have sympathy for him and the family of his victim.

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  12. The window warriors in Feltham was particuly bad due to the design of the prison, the induction wing looked on to Nightingale wing so no one could ever get at each other, but the thing was you get moved off the induction wing eventually and if you've been mouthing it to lads on nightingale and you could be unlucky and end up on that wing ha ha ha.

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  13. You're brave not to sensor. And wonderful you're on the streets. Keep up the realness struggles! Peace. Spoon

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