Down On Grub Street

Posted: April 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is a brief record of an altercation I had today with a journalist from the New Statesman. I am putting it up here in case anyone deletes any comments/tweets etc as I would like to keep the evidence. The hoo-ha began with this article by Steven Baxter on his NS Blog (aka @stebax on twitter, fka @antonvowl of still-going Enemies of Reason blog).

Baxter’s article celebrated the demise of the Sport and Sunday Sport newspapers, and told its journalists: ‘welcome to the clean world’.

My comment under his blogpost on the NS website went as follows:

”welcome to the clean world’

says it all doesn’t it? The ‘liberal press’ sees itself as ‘clean’ and sees ‘grub street’ as, well, dirty.

Sex is not dirty. Pictures of naked women or men or anyone of any gender are not dirty.

And I find the ‘clean world’ horribly boring and hypocritical.’

And when my comment seemed to be misunderstood I clarified:

‘My point was about how he distinguishes between the Sport being ‘dirty’ and the rest of the media/world being ‘clean’ which does place a moral value system on how we show representations of sex/nudity/rape in our papers.

I think these values are hypocritical.

If you want to see ‘rape porn’ you only need to read The Guardian which fetishises rape, or any number of liberal/feminist blogs which go on and on about e.g. The Mail’s portrayal of rape in a very detailed manner. With a kind of morbid fascination’.

Baxter did not respond on the blog but left a message on twitter, not addressed to me personally, but obviously aimed at me (I can’t reproduce his exact tweet as he blocks me on twitter):

But someone has provided a screengrab here:

Baxter’s comment was backed-up by his fellow NS blogger, and Orwell Prize judge (that Baxter has just been longlisted for) David Allen Green

There followed some ‘discussion’ in which Baxter never once addressed  me directly. But others got involved in a general slag-athon of the well-known ‘troll’ that I have become. Of all the comments these  stood out for me:

It is ironic that an article that set out to demonstrate the ‘dirty’ immoral nature of a newspaper with regards to its representation of women, sexuality and power (via stories about rape), should lead to comments by a group of men, some of whom have ‘power’ in the national media, about an individual woman’s sexuality. A woman who happened to criticise one of their ‘boys’. I don’t know what else to say really. I may write more on this when I have calmed down. But at the moment, I want to get as far away from Grub Street as I possibly can.

and here is Cath Elliott’s response to Baxter’s comment. Cath is also nominated for the Orwell Prize.

  1. Alex says:

    If your objection to rape porn is that it’s “dirty” rather than, say, rapey, then you need to sit down and have a long, long think about why you object to the stuff.

    Now sploshing porn. Sploshing porn is dirty.

  2. John Hayes says:

    No one should have to put up with that for any reason, let alone for the comment you made. Some people do appreciate folks who form their own opinions.

  3. Andy B says:

    I’ve never understood why some people think posting on the internet gives them a right to be so rude.

    As was once said in a very different context ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’

    Am I the only one who thinks the left has lost it’s way?

    Best regards


    • dennis mccann says:

      are you calling the new statesmen, left, if it is then heaven help us all, the NS is just grub street with a clean shirt oh and recycled stalinists

  4. Dear Ellie

    Just to make it clear that my comments were my personal comments. I share Steve’s view of your trolling. However, I think it would be helpful for readers of this post to note that I was not stating any NS position, but only my own.

    David Allen Green

    • It is nice to know that the New Statesman does not have an editorial line that I am a ‘dozy little shit’ Dave. But not nice to know that is your own personal view.

      I understand the legal aspect of your statement. I am not all that dozy.

      • btw Dave. Steve has now apologised to me via email for his inappropriate comments. So I don’t know now if you endorse his original comments or his apology. Maybe you could clarify.

  5. Clem the Gem says:

    I think your a bit wrong on this one, as the Sport earned most of its revenues from gambling and prostitution adds(how many of those parlours had trafficked girls?).

    And I doubt that an accusation of “recycled stalinists” hurled at a magazine that employed Christopher Hitchens,Darkus Howe, Nick Cohen, and many other free-thinking lefties would really stand up…
    In the end, The Sport was not part of any brave attempt at sexual honesty or liberation, it was a puerile nasty joke that went on far too long. Sullivan took one look at Viz, took out any long words and added nipples.

    • dennis mccann says:

      yes it “used” to employ free thinkers when it “used” to be a good magazine. it no longer employs free thinkers and it is now a watered down version of marxism today for the islington glitteratti

  6. ah it’s a funny day when you miss Darcus Howe.

  7. Mark says:

    Baxter and Allen Green aren’t just vile, contemptible bullies – who are now afraid of losing their jobs. They’re vile, contemptible hypocrites who gang-banged QRG online because they’re male feminists who know best what’s best, so hate being bested in an argument. Especially by a GIRL.

    Angryyoungalex: If your response to this is to ignore the monstrousness of what these New Statesman Journalists did and instead just to wag your finger at QRG for not being feminist enough then you need to sit down and have a long think about what the fuck the point of your feminism is. About what the fuck the point of YOU is.

  8. Mark,

    Saying that I agree with Baxter’s stated view is neither a bullying nor a contemptible act. It is not really an act at all. It is an expression of opinion.

    Elly may not welcome – or even recognise – that opinion, but it is sincerely held by me on the basis of her blogging/commenting/tweeting over time. I am not the only one to hold it. She is widely seen as a troll, relying on anger and confrontation so as to elicit responses.

    I was certainly not part of any “gang bang” and am not responsible for the comments which followed my expression of support for Steven. They are grouped together here as if all were said together by the tweeters, but the two tweets quoted after mine do not tar my expression of support for Steven.

    I have never described myself as a male feminist, so I am not sure what you are getting at with that point.

    I am not aware of being “bested” in any argument, but if so it is surely irrelvant whether they are male or female.


    I am glad you understand the legal aspect of my statement above, as I am not sure there actually is one. It is simply a clarification.

    I cannot know what Steven said to you by email, but I stand by my expression of opinion as to your approach to commenting/blogging/tweeting. I am not a sweary blogger, and so would not have used the same terms. But, yes, I concur with the sentiment expressed.

    You invariably give the impression of being one who can “give it” but not “take it”. You can be as disruptive and abusive as you wish; but if someone reverts to you in kind you complain to anyone who will listen.

    You are persistent in your comments until the person you are addressing given in or give up.

    You really do need to reflect on how you come across. I realise that you are not affected by any self-doubt – or indeed self-awareness – but perhaps you should think about why Steven expressed those sentiments, and why others concurred. Is it some conspiracy against just you? Or could there be something there for you to think about?

    • Matt Volatile says:

      “You really do need to reflect on how you come across.”


      When in a deep hole of your own construction, perhaps you need to stop digging? An entirely reasonable critique was offered, and in response the blogger in question and his allies and confidantes piled on with nasty, vicious and petty attacks, with which you explicitly associated yourself, in a public forum.

      With reference to what Mark said, if your response to this is to ignore the monstrousness of what Steven and you did and instead just to wag your finger at QRG, you need to sit down and have a long think.

      You picked the side of the petty, nasty, insecure bully who doesn’t like to have his ideas critiqued. Ask yourself why, and reflect.

      • Matt Volatile says:

        Also: “You invariably give the impression of being one who can “give it” but not “take it””.

        Do you not think that calling someone a “dozy shit” when they point out a gap in someone’s reasoning gives that impression, and rather strongly? Everything you say here (and everything SB said in the previous NS article on trolling) is certainly, clearly and now laughably applicable to both his behaviour and your own. Honestly, look at yourself.

      • Matt,

        What was “monstrous” in what I did? I expressed concurrance with Steven’s views. I still concur with them. But I “did” nothing but express an opinion, which Elly does not like or recognise.

        Unless you can substantiate the “monstrous” point, the rest of your comment falls away.

        • Matt Volatile says:

          Steven called her a “dozy shit” in response to nothing more than a sensible concern presented to his article. You agreed (indeed, “concurred”) with him and thus must be held accountable for them too.

          It is monstrous to abuse a critic in public, in those terms. In fact, it might be seen as even more monstrous to not have the courage to repeat them yourself, but simply to stand behind the bigger boy in the manner of the smallest in a gang of schoolyard bullies. It is monstrous to use the status conferred upon you by your position to slag off and publicly abuse someone who disagrees with you from a position of educated authority and sincere concern. You really don’t get that? I’m astonished.

          Imagine the boot were on the other foot. One can quite imagine a JoK article scathingly condemning, say, the BCA for calling Simon Singh a “dozy shit” if he had commented on one of their blog posts. You know that. I know you know that.

  9. Matt Volatile says:

    Because Steven responded aggressively and disgracefully to what was a perfectly calmly-delivered and rather incisive point. If you do not see any monstrosity in publicly slagging off someone in very strong terms when they dare to criticise your views in a forum explicitly provided for them to do so, I’m afraid I don’t know what more I can say.

    Have an opinion on her views, or even her style – but have it in a reasonable way. Elly’s point was quite calmly delivered, in specific response to a particular issue presenting itslef in the article on which she was commenting. Calling her a “dozy shit” is, indeed, monstrous, and I can’t believe you would assert otherwise.

    • Matt Volatile says:

      Will you condemn those commenting on her sexuality in a petty, nasty and rather pathetic way? Will you at least recognise the monstrosity in that?

      • Matt,

        I would not have made those susbequent comments. And I am rather unhappy that they are now being used to tar my comment. They are expressions of the authors’ opinions and not mine. If they are petty and nasty (which I am not sure they are) then, yes, such sentiments should be condemned.

        But I continue not to be sure how my limited contribution of stating my concurrence with Steven’s views warrants the adverse comments I have had from you and others. Do you not think you are all adopting a mob mentailty?

        • Matt Volatile says:

          But you would have made the first? You do think that not only is she a “dozy shit”, but that such a comment is the correct way for a blogger to answer carefully-presented criticism?

          I’m not a mob. I’m just someone who’s really, really angry at seeing a clever, interesting writer shut down by arrogant, boorish bullies.

          • I have no wish to see Elly shut down. I do not block her, and I read her posts. I even used to be a fan.

            But hermore recent blogging/tweeting/commenting is such that I think the sentiment expressed was valid.

  10. this was Dave’s response to the comment about my sexuality:

    • That meant I spotted the irony, not that I agreed with the tweet.

    • Matt Volatile says:

      I hadn’t seen that. David Allan Green, you’re a disgrace. How dare you pile in on a very public abuse of someone’s particular sexuality and then claim to be doing nothing more than offering “an opinion”. How care you call yourself a rationalist or call others trolls when you have joined in with cheap, playground taunts resultung from a sensible and considered critique of an article by one of your mates.

      That comment is evidence of a particularly nasty, bullying and cruel attitude. I think you need to hang your head in shame.

      • Elly,

        “your ‘wink’ showed you endorsed the tweet as humourous”

        No, I was not endorsing the tweet. i had spotted the irony.


        I do not accept your points. I was not piling in. Someone said they had spotted an irony. I tweeted that i saw it too. If anything, I took the tweet to be critical rather than supportive of the original statement.

        I am sorry, but I think your flaming against me to be misdirected.

        • Matt Volatile says:

          Flaming? Sorry, David. This is not flaming. This is me trying to explain to you that you were out of order. Really out of order.

          What’s the irony?

  11. Matt Volatile says:

    Also, sorry. You don’t think mocking comments on an author’s sexuality are petty and nasty? How *would* you describe them?

    You need to stop digging.

    • There is nothing more for me to add to the above.

      • Matt Volatile says:

        I’d like to know what you found “ironic”, please. Do share.

        • Make your mind up. You tell me to “stop digging” – but now you want me to expand.

          Which would you like me to do?

          • Matt Volatile says:

            I’d like you to explain the “irony” in BorisWatch’s tweet, which you so astutely spotted? If you can do that without digging, please do.

          • I think it’s the ‘irony’ issue Dave. You have said you ‘spotted’ or rather you acknowledged an ‘irony’ spotted by someone else about my sexuality in comparison to how I was treated by people online. And that’s the thing. Boris’ tweet was about my apparent ‘submissive’ enjoyment sexually of being abused. That’s what masochism is! Sadism on the other hand is an enjoyment of doling out abuse. I am not a sadist.

            I think Matt was asking what irony it was that you were acknowledging?

  12. Matt Volatile says:

    If, Mr Lawyer, you’d like a direct question: What, exactly, is “the irony in @stebax, @AlexJThomas and @DavidAllenGreen telling a sexual submissive that she’s a dozy piece of shit”?

    • It seemed clear and uncontroversial. I am actually surprised this is an issue.

      If [x] who is said to have [y] preferences, is actually treated per [y], then there is an irony. It is an irony in that the proposition is unexpectedly self-affirming; that two seemingly seperate states are in fact one state.

      So if person said to be wanting [y] is said to be treated as [y], then I did think something clever had been said. Hence my reply.

      I certianly did not intend my reply to affirm any insult. It was just me saying that I had spotted a cleverthing being said and appreciating it.

      • it is not an ‘insult’ it is an inappropriate reference to my sexuality which is being used in relation to something that has nothing to do with my sexuality.

        This is something e.g. gay /queer/trans people/sex workers campaign about.

        It is not appropriate in relation to a discussion of a comment on a blog on the national publication you write for.

      • Matt Volatile says:

        You think sexual masochists – [x] – enjoy [y], being belittled and abused in public because of their comments on newspaper blogs? Moreover, you find that “clever” and “uncontroversial”? I’d say “astonishing”, though I am really beyond astonishment.

        What is ironic is just how far this little fallout has gone to rather emphasise Elly’s point (and points, repeated) about the complacency society (and the media in particular) have towards sex, sexuality and sexual power.

        • Matt Volatile says:

          An addendum (I must be less hasty with the “Submit” button):

          This is the same category of error (though of course not magnitude) as finding it “ironic” that a promiscuous or ‘immodestly dressed’ woman was raped. Your wry wink and subsequent explanation belie an extremely basic and rather offensive view of human sexual appetites, emanating from the very same prurient model of sexual discourse which Elly was criticising in her original comment. You’re so embedded in a particular notion of acceptable human sexual expression, you fail to understand that you’re standing on a moralistic and entirely socially-constructed platform.

          • That is entirely incorrect.

            I cannot see how you can logically or factually devive that from the original tweets or my explanations.

          • Matt Volatile says:

            “That is entirely incorrect.”

            What is incorrect? I have applied your X/Y formulation as you yourself as written it. I must therefore conclude that you think, as explained, that not only that sexual masochists enjoy public belittling on Twitter, but also that pointing this “uncontroversial” observation out is “clever”. These are your own words and formulations.

            The wider point is thus: Elly was pointing out that even the “clean” press – the category in which Steven Baxter explicitly puts the New Statesman – seem content to mock, belittle, humiliate, ridicule and abuse people for their sexual preferences. It’s quite clear that this is what BorisWatch and AlexJThomas were doing, and what you found “ironic”. You could not have found it ironic if, as you have readily demonstrated – you do not understand or even empathise with non-normative sexual behaviours.

            I don’t know what there is to “refute”, logically or factually. It’s all there on this very page.

      • Charley says:

        It wasn’t clever it was puerile. There wasn’t even any irony in it it was simply a pathetic off the cuff remark by some idiot out for a cheap laugh- so I guess we’ve found your level then.

        Being a sexual submissive (as I am as well) does not mean you enjoy being insulted or sworn at. Particularly by people you may not know and definitely not outside the confines of sex itself (although anyone trying to refer to me in such terms in any forum or location would rapidly find themselves with my boot up their ass, figuratively speaking.)

        That said Elly is utterly correct that it was indeed inappropriate (particularly in light of the recent court ruling stating that twitter and FB are in fact public forums and therefore have no expectation of privacy)

        If you wouldn’t endorse the statement on a billboard don’t endorse it on facebook or twitter, it’s that simple.

        • good point about the ruling on twitter and FB being public! It’s what I have always argued with people when they have claimed their comments about me are on ‘my twitter’ so I shouldn’t respond/care about them.

  13. Matt Volatile says:

    I must say, actually, that an interesting point made in response to the article has been derailed and shut down by the abusive messages and subsequent reactions (including my own).

    Someone has been trolled. I think it was me. Someone has been trolling. I don’t think it was QRG.

  14. AJT says:

    Hello fans! Just a quick word to say that I never called QRG a “dozy piece of shit”. I did make the tweet attributed to me though.

    Stay cool, kids

    • Matt Volatile says:

      And shame on you for that, basically.

      What has someone’s sexuality (even through the distorted, hegemonic filter you applied to it) got to do with someone’s arguments, and why do you consider using someone’s sexuality an appropriate tool for mockery and cruel, schoolyard bullying?

      What did you hope to gain from making that tweet?

  15. AJT says:

    Money and boners!

  16. Mark says:

    The problem with lawyerly evasion and disingenuousness, even when the facts aren’t as stacked against you as highly as they are here Mr Allen Green, legal correspondent at the New Statesman and Orwell Prize judge, is that it only serves to remind people that you not only should have known better but DID know better.

    You had your chance to dissociate yourself from this filth yesterday but you didn’t. Instead you pitched in to the gang bang, with a matey wink to your gang-banging chums. What’s more, despite your frantic attempts now to distinguish between your personal ‘opinion’ and the New Statesman, it was YOU who invoked the New Statesman in your tweet concurring with your colleague’s description of QRG as ‘a trolling fuckwit’ and ‘dozy piece of shit’.

    This was a deliberately dehumanising response – which you endorsed – and which ended up with you and your gang-banging mates sniggering at the idea that the ‘dozy piece of shit’ likes being abused and degraded.

    These are the facts, Mr Allen Green, and none of the many words you’ve used today, or the algebra, have changed any of them.

    It’s up to QRG to decide whether she accepts your quarter-hearted apology or not, but it’s unlikely to change many minds.

    • Mark,

      Oh dear: “lawyerly evasion and disingenuousness…frantic attempts..matey wink….sniggering”. That comment seems to have been written on auto-pilot.

      My position is clear, not evasive or disinenuous. I concur with Steven’s response to Elly’s approach to blogging/comments/trweeting generally and on that post. I would not have used the same vocabulary, as I am not a sweary writer. I was asked what I thought was ironic in the follow-on tweet, and I did so patiently. I did not “endorse” any dehumanising response.

      However, it is also clear that any explanation by me that does not match your pre-conceived views is to be discounted. I agree that my response is unlikely to change your mind, as your mind seems rather fixed on this.

      The apology I offer is not quarter-hearted, but it is limited and precise.

      And my surname isn’t Allen Green either.

      Happy to patiently explain my position as long as it takes to sink in.

      • Matt Volatile says:

        More lawerly evasion? It’s all here in black and white, David.

        Let’s go through point by point, shall we?

        Did you “pitched in to the gang bang, with a matey wink to your gang-banging chums”? Yes, quite clearly.

        Did you “[attempt] now to distinguish between your personal ‘opinion’ and the New Statesman”? Yes you did.

        Was it you who “who invoked the New Statesman in your tweet concurring with your colleague’s description of QRG as ‘a trolling fuckwit’ and ‘dozy piece of shit’”. Errr… yes it was.

        Was this a “This was a deliberately dehumanising response”? Yes. Calling someone a “piece of shit” is, clearly, dehumanising.

        Did you endorse it? Yes.

        Did this end with “you and your gang-banging mates sniggering at the idea that the ‘dozy piece of shit’ likes being abused and degraded”? Again, yes. As Mark says, these are the facts.

        Which of the facts do you disagree with, and on what grounds?

        On the question of “what you found ironic”, your response there was indicative of the very point being made regarding your support of this egregious act of public villification. That you seem to find abusing someone in public comparable to sexual masochism, that sexual masochists should enjoy being abused in public and that pointing this out in the context of an unprovoked public slanging match “clever” or “uncontroversial” speaks volumes about your attitude and your character.

        I find it pathetically amusing to see the lengths you’ll go to to disassociate yourself from the act whilst trying to remain in with the in crowd. Lawyerly avoiding calling comments on sexual violence “petty” and “nasty” whilst seeming to offer an apology on that very matter; associating yourself with Steven’s opinion of Elly as a “dozy piece of shit” without ever being brave enough to explicitly repeat the accusation; even offering a “precise” apology. You’re like the smallest of the bullies in the schoolyard, standing sneering behind the bigger boys.

      • you want to make some critique of the writing talents/style of Mark Simpson Mr Green or whatever your name is, please go ahead. You will fall into a pit of inarticulate babbling though. When it comes to using language, Mr Simpson could outwrite you even if he was on autopilot and blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back and a herd of milking cows distracting him.

        Eat my shorts.

  17. Clem the Gem says:

    Excellent! So in effect, our time is now much better spent fussing over a tweet, rather than dealing with any of the issues raised? Thats the impression I get from reading all of the above posts. We have a Government in which sections of the senior party are already in hoc to the nascent religious right, a media that is in general obsessed with voyuerism of the most puerile kind, a burgeoning Arab revolt, and massive cuts that could very well lead to a second recession.
    That the least creditable red-top of an already bad bunch has gone still seems a small crumb of comfort.
    Elly, I have to say that I still do not understand your origonal message – are you defending Sullivan? Do you really think that The Sport was in anyway an advance towards sexual freedom?

  18. rubacasa says:

    I made a complaint to the New Statesman yesterday morning about the behaviour of Stephen Baxter and David Allen Green. Later on in the day I became aware of the tweet regarding Quiet Riot Girls sexual preferences.

    It’s unfortunate that an already unpleasant situation became something altogether more ugly.

    Elly, I have to wonder how much of what was directed at you was the result of the specific comment you left on the New Statesman article and how much of it was the result of the opportunistic behavior of those who had a pre-existing issue with you.

  19. I can’t really engage anymore with the detail of this argument. David was given the opportunity to retract his statements, apologise or condemn what Baxter and others did or said. He didn’t. That’s case closed as far as I am concerned.

  20. My apology is at April 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm above.

    • It was a shit apology. But I don’t want to squeeze another shit apology out of you or anyone else. I am happy not to hear from you again on this matter. Or any other matter. Bye.

  21. Bob Jackson says:

    Female beauty is power. Female beauty is the future. These guys can’t handle it. They want to cram women into a narrow career straitjacket like their own. They’ve been taught that sex is a lower-class activity which the serious should shun. They vacated the field, then complain Murdoch made it his own. How the hell did such Grundys get onto a formerly left-wing periodical? Alan Brien would have had a fit. Even Queen Victoria loved the nude. You really lanced a boil here. Well done.

  22. I have to say, I’m normally a fan of Steve Baxter but he went completely over the line here.

    I personally disagree with you when it comes to your original comment on the New Statesman article – personally I make a moral distinction between sexual fantasy (which can be perfectly healthy) and a newspaper that reports in detail court cases regarding rape with pictures so that their readers can titillate themselves.

    I think that the comment about the “clean world” was just a throwaway phrase and that your probably read much into it.

    That said, I absolutely agree with you on:

    “It is ironic that an article that set out to demonstrate the ‘dirty’ immoral nature of a newspaper with regards to its representation of women, sexuality and power (via stories about rape), should lead to comments by a group of men, some of whom have ‘power’ in the national media, about an individual woman’s sexuality.”

    Their behaviour in this case was very much bullying and disgusting – more so than that of the stereotypical Daily Sport reader as these journalists like to claim moral superiority.

    All in all, I think that the description “sordid” is, on many levels, the best way to describe these events.

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