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Thursday, 5 November 2009

Despised and ejected – censorship wins out again

Despised and rejected of men . . .* Well, by the GALHA committee, anyway.

GALHA is the UK’s Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, an organisation that began 30 years ago with noble intent, and has seen some notable individuals at its helm (including two admirable members of this blog’s team) and working tirelessly for its ends. However, it is now largely in the hands of spinmeisters and those who would rather only their own view of things be exposed to the eyes of others.

And yours truly plus fellow blogger Dean Braithwaite have been summarily dismissed from its discussion forum. Just like that.

I outlined the problems in a previous post, in which we revealed how one of the GALHA censors, Adam Knowles, would not allow what had become a regular post onto the forum – one that said that the latest issue of kindred magazine Gay & Lesbian Humanist was now available, and listing its contents, with a short paragraph detailing each one. The usual thing.

Mr Knowles did not like this, because the one that talked of the new-ish Gaytheist discussion group (see sidebar) urged people to leave the GALHA forum, he said.

But of course it didn’t, and the evidence is there.

It’s understandable that Mr Knowles should feel a bit put out by this, especially since it was pointed out to him that he was plain wrong. No one likes being proven wrong.

His action now is to cease our membership of the forum – a forum both of us have been members of for several years.

To top it all, there was no prior friendlier email explaining the decision, just an automated one saying we had actually put forward a request to leave the forum, which of course neither of us had.

Mr Knowles’s excuse for doing this was that our previous post (linked to above) contained a quote from his email to Braithwaite – which was part of an email exchange it is entirely within either party’s gift to quote from, and was written on behalf of a membership organisation, not an individual. It wasn’t as if Mr Knowles’s “private comments” concerned embarrassing personal problems or the colour of his underpants.

“It is the view of myself and the Committee”, he wrote to me after I had queried the automated email, “that it is unacceptable to have private comments from a moderator to a list member posted publicly without permission.”

He continued:

Further, this post includes a sustained personal attack upon myself as moderator, despite my acting on behalf of GALHA, under GALHA-agreed rules and with that authority.

For that reason I have today removed you as subscriber to the GALHA email discussion list. This is not because I have taken offense [sic] or otherwise been moved by your comments, but because it is in the best interests of the list for you to no longer be a member.

With this explanation provided, I consider this matter closed.

Again, no room for debate. Which speaks for itself.

Interestingly, if you care to read the GALHA list guidelines, as provided on its own website, you’ll see that we haven’t actually broken any of them. Simply put, it seems that we’ve been despised and ejected because we dared to challenge the committee’s authoritarian attitude against the very thing GALHA claims to support – freethought!

Under its legal disclaimers in those guidelines, GALHA has this to say:

GALHA is not responsible for the opinions and information posted on GALHA email lists; posts represent the viewpoint of the writer and are not endorsed by GALHA. Anonymous postings are prohibited.

This is actually untrue. GALHA is responsible, as its committee is fully aware, the legal responsibility having been pointed out to it only recently. But what’s really funny (we could weep, but not tears of joy!) is that, while preferring to take no responsibility for posts to its own list, GALHA thinks it has jurisdiction over others’.

We’ll have to take Mr Knowles’s word for it that he didn’t take it personally. Readers will make up their own minds. As to what “attack” there was upon Mr Knowles (and quite how it was “sustained”), well that’s open to conjecture. My pointing out that what he said was demonstrably untrue?
* Isaiah 53: 3; Mr Handel made use of the words, too – and nobody objected to that!

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1 comment:

Diesel B said...

I find it very sad, though not at all surprising, that Adam Knowles has decided to not only censor fellow Humanists, but expel them from GALHA's discussion forum in a soviet-style purge. This speaks volumes about the sorry state GALHA is in under its current leadership of control-freak New Labour (and far-Left) spinmeisters.
However, rather than censor further posts - which will be a cause of intense embarrassment to GALHA members, the NSS, and other freethinkers alike - I think Adam Knowles should appoint himself the new Lord Harlech with a system of classification for posts sent to the GALHA discussion list.
Posts that meet with his personal approval could be granted a U certificate, those which display a worrying independence of mind could have a GG certificate (i.e. "GALHA Guidance" required before you read this post), while more challenging posts could be rated 75 (i.e. the age at which GALHA might deem you mature enough to handle posts sent in with ideas that conflict with GALHA's soft-left multiculturalist orthodoxy).
Even better, this system has the added advantage of feeding Adam Knowles's self-importance!