Friday, March 1, 2013

New Abuse and Censorship Blog Policy

Regular readers will appreciate that I have always struggled to give space to even the maddest, most repulsive ideas. I don't like censorship.

When trolling threatened to get out of hand, I suggested corraling it into a particular thread. Such was the outrage that I reconsidered and the venom was allowed to flow. It amuses some, depresses others, but such is the nature of blogging.

However. Abusing me is one thing,but abusing and slandering those nearest and dearest to me is quite another. As of now, comments which are abusive in that way will be deleted. You are free to abuse me, as ever, although we all appreciate some wit and creativity along the way.

I may lose some readers for this change in policy. I will live with that. Protecting my loved ones is more important.


  1. Lol ........... Can we now take it that you'll cease using insulting and dismissive terms when you mention prison officers and governors on your blog?
    Or is this outbreak of sensitivity a one way process that is confined to your beloved?

    1. You are all Public Servants but if you feel you have a complaint please write in with your issue. We aim to deal with your complaint within 30 years.

    2. Everyone takes the piss out of Prison Officers and Governors, so what exactly is your problem? My ex is a prison officer and he loves the banter! He said you get used to having the piss taken out of you! LOL!

    3. No, I will not reel in my criticism of prison staff.However, you will note that I have never made comments about their wives or families. And that is the line I am drawing here.

      I criticise them, they criticise me. Fine. If not being able to slander my loved ones narks you, I suggest you examine both your mentality and your conscience.

  2. The idea that discussion of some ideas can be prohibited for being offensive is profoundly dangerous. To prohibit questioning is downright insane.
    Your words from a recent post Ben ....
    I take it that this latest version of censorship is because of the recent posts about your relationship?
    The circumstances of it are widely known, why bother trying to defend it from criticism or comment?
    More importantly what will you decide to strike out, to make off limits next?
    I refer you again to your recent comment that I pasted above

    1. "The idea that discussion of some ideas can be prohibited for being offensive is profoundly dangerous. To prohibit questioning is downright insane." Quite right, and I stand by it. How that relates to slandering my partner is a connection your twisted psyche will have to explain for the rest of us.

      My personal life is not widely known outside the HMPS. I do not insult staff families and I don't see why I should entertain it here.

      If you have a concern over what I will strike out next, I suggest you look at my track record over the past 5 years. It speaks for itself.

      If not being allowed to abuse my loved ones riles you, tough. It says way more about you than it does about me.

      Now, do you have anything of substance to say...?

    2. Yeah ..... Ooooohh!!! Hissy fit !!
      Lol... Grow a pair

    3. So thats a big fat NO then, nothing of substance to say...? lol

    4. PS - and "grow a pair from someone who hides behind Anon is particularly delicious irony :)

  3. I am surprised that you bother to respond to some of the ignorant anonymous comments - usually the best way to deal with ignorance and stupid comments is to ignore it! I totally agree with you that it is not appropriate or fair to comment on your personal relationship and loved ones.

    I am curious to know as to why the above Anonymous, and one or two others, do not hope that you make a success of your life outside the prison system - so that you are no longer a burden to society. Offers of help and positive advice would seem more appropriate. I and many others like me wish you well and are really glad that we no longer have to keep you on the taxpayers books!

    Keep writing - but please do not lower your standards and make sure you keep you loved ones safe.

    Best wishes.

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  5. 'I may lose some readers'

    You’ll only lose those that are jealous of the progress you've made ('look' easy) since your release. The utter gall you've shown by knuckling down and getting on with your life (without want of help from the authorities) just doesn't sit too well with how the likes of Anon would like ex cons to be perceived.

  6. I'm so sorry that you are having to do this, Ben. I just blogged about 10 minutes ago about the viciousness of some comments online, as it happens. I never understand what it achieves for the poster for it certainly does nothing for the discussion. You're absolutely right about doing what you have to do, though.

  7. If readers wish to respond with abuse, then don't hide behind anonymity - it's cowardly. There is something odd in a personality that gets satisfaction from abuse. I suppose it is cyber-bullying and all bullies are cowards at heart.

    I don't agree with all Ben says. I have worked in probation and his stance on a role for the private sector is not to my liking. But, if we always agreed, nothing would ever evolve.

    I have also worked in prisons and seen the good, the bad and the ugly that goes on. It's important to be honest about the realities. In the mid-eighties, as a fairly powerless trainee, I recall a prison probation officer feeling free to openly refer to black prisoners as 'monkeys' and sex offenders were referred to as 'beasts' and physical exercise was a regimented walking round in circle (Strangeways)I didn't come away hating probation, I came away clearer about the damage done by prejudiced minds that were untypical of probation values.

    I don't think the words of Churchill, 1910, have been bettered when it comes to right attitude and conduct towards prisoners

    "The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country. A calm and dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused against the state, and even those of convicted criminals against the state, a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment, tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerating processes, and an unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man – these are the symbols which in the treatment of crime and criminals mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation and are the sign and proof of the living virtue in it."

    Let's be grown-up. Let's tell it as it is and not worry about vested interests, or vindictive agendas.

  8. A blog is a dialogue, it's all about feedback and interactivity with your readers. It's not a book that you publish where you only get a tiny portion of feedback and criticism.

    You are absolutely right to screen your responses, there is a massive difference between a troll and someone with an alternate opinion to express, Such as the guy above who made the comment "Can we now take it that you'll cease using insulting and dismissive terms when you mention prison officers and governors on your blog?" -

    I admire that you decided against deleting his/her comment as it shows you value the difference. I am surprised that your making a big deal about screening trolls as it's the internet, name a social media forum that doesn't offer measures to do so.

    I think you need to un-blur the line between freedom of speech(which is a myth anyway), censorship, and managing trolls. They are not the same thing and need to be discerned appropriately.

  9. I don't think freedom of speech is mythical. Which is why I have always struggled with trolling, why I refuse to have pre-moderation on comments. Silencing someione is always anathema and I do it not on my behalf but to protect others' who do not choose to be in the public eye.

    As you intimate, this is complex. I daresay I will always struggle with it.

  10. Hi Ben, are you STILL getting abuse? Just to put things into a bit of context. I've known Ben for quite a while and although I've thought of knocking him out once or twice I've always repected his opinion (except when it came to physics :) ). I've spent 17 years in prison and the majority of staff (prison or probation) only care about the paycheck at the end of the month. A small percentage actually care about doing a decent job but there is always the few who go out of their way to make life a living hell. It's them that create the most impression on an inmate. It's them that create an environment of anger, fear and hatered. And it's ultimately them that makes prison unfit for purpose (supposedly to reduce crime).


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