A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post – ‘Write A Blog, Kill Your Career‘, about the possibility of bloggers going into politics and the trouble that their archives might cause them. I linked to a marvellous cartoon by XKCD, Fuck That Shit, which summed up my attitude to the worry of self-censorship.
This week, that piece is looking prescient. On Monday, Ellie Gellard, the activist/tweeter/blogger who launched Labour’s Election Manifesto, was ‘exposed‘ as having called for Gordon Brown’s resignation… two years ago. Then on Wednesday, Chris Mounsey a.k.a. Devil’s Kitchen came a cropper on The Politics Show, flummoxed when some of his more colourful language was thrown back at him by Andrew Neil. Mark Thompson has a good analysis:
I had hoped for a spirited and libertarian defence of his right to have an on-line persona that is close to the knuckle and still be involved in active politics.
Indeed. It is actually quite disconcerting to see Mounsey, who has built a following out of his frustration with the way politicians obfuscate and blather, having to take a similar tone to many of his hate-figures. Had he told Andrew Neil to “fuck off” the YouTube hits would have doubled by a couple of orders of magnitude, and it probably wouldn’t have done the membership figures for the fledgeling Libertarian Party any damage either.
Instead, he has done this:
It is very difficult to delete anything on the internet and I am not going to pretend that I can do so. However, gradually the caches will fade away, and those parts of The Devil’s Kitchen that are most damaging—the incredibly violent (though fantastical) demises of various politicos and their grubby little hangers-on—will fade away eventually. … And so, here we are—with The Devil starting with a clean slate.
Now, I disagree with most of Mounsey’s output. I think his libertarian philosophy is based on some false conceptions at its very heart, and I find his climate-change skepticism very odd. On the other hand, I feel an unlikely kinship – as part of the Edinburgh blogging ‘scene’ back in the ‘6 we had plenty of banter, and I once had a beer with him during the festival. Crucially, his blog contatined denunciations of me and my ridiculous views, driving traffic to my site. For all these reasons, his decision to remove his blog archive from the internet makes me uncomfortable. As I said before, deleting a blog feels like a book-burning. Its an unlikely form of self-censorship, and feels very wrong.