Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Or not, as the case may be.

It seems like all upstanding commentators are wading in against the collective fuckwittism of Mark Townsend and Nick Denning. Their article that intiated this clusterfuck, essentially a gossip-column detailing the paranoid neuroses of the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit, is archived by UK Indymedia here (see also IM's excellent analysis of it). The Media Lens posse have dealt with it summarily in a scathing assault on Guardian Media Group's outright hypocrisy. SchNEWS, a site I am unfamiliar with, did an extensive piece rubbishing it (although they also try to associate the treatment of the environmental movement with that of the animal rights movement, which is absolute shit because if you don't want the benefits of modern medicine you just have to stop going to see doctors- don't try to prevent the rest of us leading long and healthy lives. Climate change and peak oil, on the other hand, affect us all). The ex-Principal Speaker of the Green Party, Derek Wall, has covered it scathingly, drawing heavily on the SchNEWS article. Five academics, including two professors, penned a letter of objection to the Observer, protesting that
"Research on environmental direct action taken in the name of Earth First! in the past 16 years shows that activists are overwhelmingly committed to nonviolence, and are not using terrorism, violence, or any other direct action to seek to reduce the Earth's human population."
Rossinsibird laid it down too (word!). As he points out, the offending article was quickly removed from the Guardian website.

Media Lens had a conversation with Kevin Smith, one of the organisers of the Climate Camps, which are slandered in the article as hotbeds of violence and malign intent. He had this to say:

“I appreciate the efforts of Stephen Pritchard in going through the process of holding the journalists in question accountable and making the decision to retract the piece, but I don't want to get into the mentality of being grateful when it’s just horrendous that the article got printed in the first place. These 'green backlash' pieces were common at the height of the anti-roads protests in the Daily Mail and such papers, but I didn't expect that sort of thing from the Observer.

“I'm also incredulous that such odious, shoddy journalism was able to make its way through all the various layers, people who should have checked it out and spotted it for what it was.

“It's difficult when we spend so much time having to talk about the heavy-handedness of the police and repudiate these sorts of insidious aspersions, when what we are trying to do is have a serious conversation with the mainstream media about the real issues - the unsustainability of the model of constant economic growth in the face of the enormous ecological catastrophe we are facing.” (Email to Media Lens, November 25, 2008)
It has been observed by the Media Lens chaps that this deliberate culturing of fears relating to so-called "eco-terrorism" is a deliberate tactic by the media. This "manufacturing of consent" is fully intended to generate a backlash against legitimate and progressive policy for the good of the corporate sponsors and ideological masters of the media houses, who will benefit from the continuation of "business-as-usual". That last paragraph about violent policing is particularly poignant when you consider this other paragraph from the letter to The Observer mentioned above:
"When, in the late 1990s, some American politicians and media started to call activists 'eco-terrorists', it was the start of a concerted campaign which prepared the way for repressive policing and new laws curtailing fundamental civil liberties. Is the same thing about to happen here?"
Similar concerns were voiced in the SchNEWS article:
"Another possible explanation is that the growing movement against climate change has got the state more worried than we realise, and the idea is to spread fear amongst activists that they are being heavily watched. At the moment campaigners are generally regarded in a positive light and public support is absolutely crucial for successful defiance of the state. Just look at how lightly anti-GM activists and peace protestors are treated by the authorities compared to their animal rights counterparts. Perhaps the time has come to drive a wedge between environmental activists and the general public, and of course the best way to do this is with the emotive issue of ‘violence’. Are we observing the beginning of a smear campaign?"

In light of the fact that this scandalously fear-mongering tripe made it into a national paper it is an understatement to point out that editorial oversight was slightly lacking here. The other conclusion is that someone wanted that story out there. If you read this you will surely see that such material is subjected to multiple levels of editorial review before being released. That this happened suggests either incompetence or collusion between them, neither of which bode well. Even though its been retracted it was still up there long enough for it to be picked up by all the usual frothing suspects around the globe so despite the retraction the impact of this crap remains.

Bizarrely, Nick Denning appears to be an officer in the Royal Anglian Regiment! Just what his role in this debacle is remains to be elucidated. Credit to Ian Bone, who has been trying to work it out. At this point, the Observer's response to his enquiries as to Denning's employment status with Guardian News Media comprises the sole phrase "god, Bone, you're a cunt!", via its Propaganda Dispersal Expert David Rose. I should add that Bone's assertion that Denning is an "Intelligence Officer" seems doubtful. I tried googling the man's name and found a few mentions of a Lieutenant or 2nd Lieutenant "from Colchester" with that name in action in Afghanistan and he is clearly a mechanised infantry officer.

Clearly, Mark Townsend himself is a lying little cunt and Nick Denning is a pig-ignorant fuckstick. As for David Rose, he is obviously a cockweasel.

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