Suzanne Moore has a column in The Guardian this week advocating for ‘freedom of speech’
I critiqued her article at Graunwatch
In my piece I wrote:
In an early paragraph Moore writes:
‘If one’s default setting is now to be part of some anonymous but offended mob, somehow the hierarchy of outrage implodes into meaninglessness. ‘
I have had a few conversations with Suzanne, about anonymity and pseudonymity online. Basically she is against both. Or at least she is against both if they are used to criticise her and her writing. She has accused me on more than one occasion, of ‘hiding’ behind my Quiet Riot Girl moniker, and being a ‘coward’ that is afraid to face the world as my ‘real’ self. I suggested that was odd since she is friendly with people (women) such as Girl with a One Track Mind, Fleet Street Fox and Belle de Jour. All of whom have been or are using pseudonyms online. But Suzanne says they are ok because she knows their names. So anonymity is all right, so long as you disclose everything to Suzanne Moore?
Also Moore has joined with other journalists, in the call for an end to anonymous commenting ‘below the line’ at newspaper forums such as cif. I think, though she has since made statements to the contrary, that she largely agrees with this statement on the subject by Julia Hobsbawm:
So, when she says ‘anonymous but offended mob’ Moore is picking out a large group of people online that if she had her way, would not exist at all, let alone be having the freedom to be ‘outraged’. I see a problem there.
The next aspect of Moore’s piece I have a problem with is her insistence that she thinks ‘self censorship’ is a bad idea. In relation to Nick Cohen’s latest book on freedom of speech she says:
‘pre-publication self-censorship “is the most suffocating form there is”. This self-censorship is all around us’
Well yes. And Suzanne Moore positively encourages self-censorship. In me! A few times now she has written to me or tweeted me or left a comment on blogs, basically telling me to stop writing articles about her work. She has commented here at Graunwatch:
‘ I’d hate if you had to engage in any world beyond your ‘oh -so -clever I am a woman who hates feminism doesnt that make me interesting stance’ If you are a woman? I’d hate to be so essentialist? Goodbye . Dont bother to ever speak to or about me again.’
‘Don’t bother to ever speak to or about me again’ is asking me to censor myself.
Thankfully, I am a bit stronger than that. And when I received a rather nasty email last summer from Ms Moore, telling me to ‘watch my back’ I ignored it.
But it’s not just a personal issue I have here. I think the brand of feminism that Suzanne espouses actually actively encourages men to censor themselves on a daily basis. With her kind of feminism it is my way or the highway, and the discourses of ‘pornification’, of ‘rape culture’, of ‘online misogyny’ all inhibit men from speaking out. As Simpson has put it, misandry (that Suzanne Moore often employs) is the acceptable prejudice, and so challenging it is almost impossible.’
Suzanne responded in the comments in a rather nasty and personal way I think.
Also, when I went back to her article at The Guardian I noticed that some of the comments ‘below the line’ had been deleted. I commented on twitter:
I know it is ‘cool’ to claim you are in favour of free speech. But to really actually be in favour of it takes a bit more than a couple of glib Guardian articles.