Thursday, 18 April 2013
A 'spiteful, nasty, mean son of a bitch' writes…
I was accused yesterday, not for the first time, of misogyny and bullying. Both are pretty unpleasant things and so I thought I would take the time to look at the idea that I am a ‘vile, insecure bully', as another anonymous person put it, and see if the evidence supports this thesis.
The first thing to bear in mind is that all of us who are, or have been, home educators are adults. This means that we must expect to encounter a little rough and tumble, with other people challenging our views and failing to agree with us. This is the same whether we are supporters of home education or Manchester United; not everybody will share our opinions. As long as disagreement is expressed politely and the person disputing with me does so openly, I can see no reason to object to anything anybody says about me. If I say or write something publicly, then of course I can expect others to tell me if they think that I am wrong or that I am behaving badly. This has frequently happened on this blog and elsewhere. I have never felt bullied when others tell me that I am mistaken, to give one example, in my opinion that compulsory registration and monitoring would be a good thing for home education in this country. If I say this, or write about it in the newspapers, then of course it is OK for people to argue with me. This leads to another point. It was suggested yesterday that because some of the views that I was writing about had been expressed four years ago, then it was not fair to mention them now. This seems to me absurd. I wrote newspaper articles four years ago and people are still quoting them and asking if I stand by what I said. I could say that I have changed my mind or that I still hold the same view. This hardly means that I am being bullied!
Another point to bear in mind when considering whether I am bullying people, is that I do not pursue anybody or try to press my views upon others. I am expressing here a purely personal opinion and if people do not like what I say, then surely the remedy is to stop coming here to read it? It is ridiculous to go out of your way to come and read views with which you disagree and then say that you are being bullied by what is being said. I might mention that when some people went to the police and tried to claim that I was bullying and harassing them, the police took this very stance. They advised those complaining, that if they did not like what I was saying, then to give me and my blog a wide berth. I spoke to the unfortunate officer in Lincolnshire who had been handling the case and he was utterly perplexed at the idea of somebody visiting a site on the internet regularly and then claiming to the police that she was being harassed by the person running the site! Interesting to note, by the by, that when the subject of yesterday's post began to blog last year, the very first people to comment were those who were involved in trying to have me arrested! There seems to be a small group who are determined to portray themselves as victims of my bullying. They all know each other and egg each other on to see who can feel the most victimised. These remarks are meant generally and are not specifically directed against Nikki Harper, Maire Stafford or anybody else.
The charge of misogyny is a more tricky one to tackle. It is true that the majority of those whose views I examine and criticise on this blog are women. That is because women are very greatly over-represented among home educators. Most of the groups are run by women; as are the forums and blogs. Home Education UK, run by Mike Fortune-Wood is an exception and I have never been shy of stating what I think about the fool who runs it! I think that the fact that women are the subject of remark more often than men on this blog is simply a statistical thing; there are more of them involved in the enterprise with which this blog deals. If I were blogging about, say, football or motor racing, then I suspect that the proportions would be reversed and most of those about whom I commented would be men. Of course, it might be that some of these women feel that I should adopt a gentler tone when talking of women than I would if I were writing about a man. I am not likely to be doing that. I do not subscribe to the Victorian view of women as the gentler sex, needing to be handled with greater sensitivity and delicacy than men.
Incidentally, has anybody noticed two interesting things about those who are accusing me of being a misogynistic bully? The first is that there is a preference for gendered insults such as 'son of a bitch', 'knob' and reference being made to my balls. The second is that the person saying these things will not sign his or her name. Anonymous attacks of this sort really are the mark of the bully.
Tragically, I shall be withdrawing for a few days; due to urgent commitments. Normal service will be resumed next week and in the meantime, please feel free to talk among yourselves.