Online Discourse – Can It Be Diversified?

Since the rise of the blogs as a forum for discussion of Bermudian politics, it has been obvious that the discourse has been largely lopsided – anti-PLP. This is the case be it on overtly anti-PLP sites, officially neutral forums and overtly pro-PLP sites (such as this one and what was Progressive Minds). In the minds of many the active posters are overwhelmingly thought of as middle-aged White males. There are of course exceptions, and the number of pro-PLP voices and racial/gender diversity has increased as the blogs increased in popularity. And it is not possible for me to tell how much the active posters correlate with those that read the blogs but do not post.

This question – about diversifying the blogs – is not a new one, and was asked way back in the Limey In Bermuda era.

It can be hard being a pro-PLP site, as what’s the point in just reposting Party statements? To be pro-PLP but also have a discussion going requires one to be a critical and independent pro-PLPer, and not everyone is comfortable with that, especially with the historic tactics of divide and conquer plus manipulation that have haunted the progressive labour movement.

Also, the dominant anti-PLP discourse could I guess be rather intimidating for new bloggers, and this may especially be the case when the discussion inevitably gets to race and emotions get heated. And then there is the possibility that people just don’t know about the blogs – however they have had increasing mention in the printed media, especially with the launch of Bermuda JEWEL, and this may help encourage new voices to join the discussion. Will this happen and can it be sustained? I don’t know.

Anyone care to offer some ideas on this recurring topic?

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53 thoughts on “Online Discourse – Can It Be Diversified?

  1. I think the problem is when we start believing the SmearSquad’s labelling of different sites as “Anti-PLP” or “Pro-UBP” (Occasionally using the two interchangably, all evidence to the contrary…).

    I think if we take their attempts to spin out of the equation, we’ll find that there are actually, as far as I can see – and I stand to be corrected, NO pro-UBP or even anti-PLP blogs or forums online. Only ones that certain vocal apologis…er… defenders of the PLP have decided to defame as such.

    I’ve been thinking about this lately, having taken a little hiatus from posting, still shaken that nothing official has been said to denounce Mr. Christopher’s “genetic predisposition” comment.
    I understand that the PLP doesn’t have a recruitment ideology (a long, drawn out conversation with Guilden many years ago made me realize this), i.e. they don’t go out and try to court members to join.
    But can’t they see that there is a large number of people so fed up with Dr. Brown’s mismanagement (perhaps perceived, perhaps not) of the country. This group is also completely fed up with the UBP’s complete inability to do… well… anything. Their lack of focus and control, constant infighting… they just plain aren’t a viable option.
    If the PLP would just make steps to get rid of Dr. Brown, for the good of the country, this group would jump at the chance to vote PLP.
    Or, can they see that and just don’t want to… I don’t know… “dilute” the Party? Are they that attached to having this… again, I don’t know, but it seems like some enjoy having this “moral highground” of being the “historically dispossessed”.

    This is just what I’ve been thinking. I’m in no way saying that it IS what’s going on, just trying to figure out why they’re not leaping at the chance of a win of 60-70% of the population that I think getting rid of Dr. Brown… and running the country properly, of course… would bring.

  2. Online Discourse – Can it be diversified?

    In time! As more and more people realize that they can write or say what they feel without fear of attempts at intimidation, diversification will grow accordingly.

    At the moment, it is difficult to diversify because the blogs seem to be dedicated to a particular point of view. This is ironic because the only way to correct this situation is to jump in and express your point of view even if it is contrary to what seems to be the typical viewpoint.
    Calvin.

  3. If we were able to have an online election where bloggers and posters chose the government we woke up with tomorrow, I’m pretty sure that we can figure out which blogs would elect which party. There are a lot of people who call out for a 3rd party, but when it comes down to voting for one of the two available options, we know how it’s going to end up. How many of those who claim to want a 3rd party would actually abstain from voting for the UBP or PLP in an election? Let’s be honest – not many. There are pro/anti PLP/UBP sites out there. None of them are neutral.

    One thing I think you are also missing is that all the blogs seem to have their own “culture”. Whether you are white or black, I am sure that there are many moderates who read some of the wild conspiracies and propaganda that are commonplace online and simply choose not to engage in what frequently appears to be an irrational, zealous discussion. Those who post don’t merely seem to be of a specific race, but also of a certain mentality. Even the PLP blog doesn’t seem to attract black moderates. And when you have such an impervious group-mentality going on, it appears painfully obvious that it makes no sense saying a word.

    Then of course there is the trust/danger factor. Moderates and PLP supporters will likely fear that their point of view could be held against them if their opinions are rejected or despised. I make no defense of Roban’s email last week, but threats on BIAW to complain to his employer are extremely clear warnings to prospective posters who might be interested in posting opposing points of view. Calls for civil disobedience are also quite scary!

    I don’t think that you will see greater diversity in race or mentality until the blogging community actually demonstrates that it can be open-minded and would be willing to agree to disagree instead of dishing out retribution when they have the opportunity.

  4. All I want to know is “If the PLP would just make steps to get rid of Dr. Brown, for the good of the country would “online discourse be more diversified”.

    “Uncle Elvis”, maybe you need to take a longer hiatus from posting because your statement has nothing to do with Jonathan’s topic.

    What’s Dr. Brown got to do with diversification of online disccourse?

  5. I want to believe that the lack of pro-PLP participants just boils down to the fact that they are the government right now, and have been since the blog scene really got started. The blog scene as I see it consists of a bunch of people who call BS when they see it. I want to believe that they would do the same if the UBP were in right now, and only didn’t back then because they were either too young to care (like me) or because there just wasn’t the means to do it as easily as we can now.

    I think you should also look at the support base of the PLP as well. I don’t think many would disagree that there are much more blue collar folks supporting the PLP than the UBP and they may just not have the time (or regular access to the internet) to devote to the lengthy, sometimes exhausting debates that take place on these forums. It could be that they are just not interested in engaging what they believe to be die hard UBP fans and racists. Why they may believe that and whether or not it’s true is a different thread.

    I find reading these forums to be a number of things for me. A source of entertainment, information, other opinions on what is going on around me, maybe your average PLP supporter gets these things elsewhere? Can it be as simple as that? That the average PLP supporter just isn’t interested in coming on these sites and taking part – that they have better or more important things to do?

    I suppose that was just a longwinded way of saying that I have absolutely no idea why there seems to be a lopsided representation on these boards. Of course – there’s always the possibility that nobody really feels like wasting their time defending the indefensible….

  6. Just a question,

    Regarding your online election you suggest “when it comes down to voting for one of the two available options, we know how it’s going to end up”.

    The question I ask is why would it end up that way? Would people be voting to support the other party or simply to induce change?

    Many people voting in 1998 for the PLP had long been UBP supporters, even white people were among that crowd. Is there much doubt that many of them ticked PLP not so much to support the party specifically but more so because they were fed up with the status quo? What if they had instead abstained as you suggest?

    My belief is that people today are largely fed up with the status quo. You will not get much of a disagreement from most of the online community that the UBP is utterly useless and very few are keen to see them govern again. However a great many of those same people will tell you that the PLP has lost its path and have become just as undesireable as the UBP was in 1998.

    If we’re frustrated with the status quo and only have two options to choose from does it make sense to give the other guys a chance?

  7. Again, Facebook has proved to be a ground where Bermudians have declared to be pro UBP or pro PLP (or the inverse, or politically undecided. It’s just on the actual blogs, which are more immediately visible, that most opinion appears to levy criticism of the PLP and their policies while criticism of the UBP and their policies is lessened.

    Regarding PLP supporters fearing their opinion would get smashed – there are several fairly well-known individuals who identified as PLP supporters who have taken some heat for their opinions. I don’t think any of them have retreated into obscurity. However, the fact remains that anybody can create a blog or discussion forum with their own rules; can post absolutely anything, and can declare themselves as PLP or UBP or neither.

    I surely don’t have a demographic chart of who owns the blogs and could only estimate the percentages of black vs white or ‘old’ vs ‘young’ or male vs female. And I definitely couldn’t guess the readership of said online ventures. Surprised that nobody’s yet done an on-street poll, to be honest.

    Would have to disagree with Calvin’s statement that the blogs are dedicated to a particular point of view – blog owners of course are human and their own preferences/biases will usually be expressed. However many blogs are just in the process of evolving; views change and grow and you can’t label a blog just because a posting or two is of the “Politican X made a bad decision” variety…

    We don’t know if the PLP blog does attract black moderates anyway, since comments are not posted there. It’s more of a newsletter than a discussion avenue, and that’s okay. Prog Minds perhaps was intended to be more of a discussion venture and it’s unfortunate that more PLP supporters did not post or comment in a place that would have seemed to be more friendly to their points of view.

  8. To follow up on what The D has said, what about the population of those who call in to the radio talk programs? One may assume that you’d see a slightly older demographic, but apart from that, what’s the general proportions? More PLP supporters? More UBP supporters? Is the number of on-the-fencers greater or less?

    And no, The D, Denis and myself aren’t the same person despite the three nearly simultaneous posts 🙂

  9. Pitcher,

    What percentage of the white population would you guess voted PLP in 1998? I have no idea, but you would need to look at the trends from pre and post 1998 to give that any weight. I don’t know exactly what to make of it, but the UBP has actually won the same number of seats since 1998. You would also need to look at trends pre and post Brown to back up your suggestion. Personally, I don’t recall the PLP ever receiving a significant portion of the white vote in a poll, but I could be wrong. Partly this is their fault (certainly more so now), but I don’t think they had it even at their most benign state of play either.

    Overall I think you are suggesting that the blogging community is not biased one way or another and that they are just frustrated with the status quo. Don’t you think that PLP supporters continue to support the PLP because they continue to be frustrated with the other status quo? I think both groups qualify the same in that regard. The question of whether or not the various blogs are open to other points of view is what the real issue is. I see the blogs like the digital reverse image of The Workers’ Voice (Neither group sees themselves as irrational of course!). And note that the WV doesn’t attract moderate blacks any more than the blogs. You had workers who engaged in civil unrest in the 70s’. Here in 2009, there are posters on BIAW suggesting that civil unrest is a viable option. Isn’t that ironic?

    I think the zealous mentality displayed on the blogs (PLP included), combined with actual threats of retribution, are the primary reasons why you will not see contributions diversify across racial and intellectual boundaries. You aren’t going to have anything other than a nasty fight with anti-Brown/PLP contributors. What moderate black or white person would even remotely want to be identified as being sympathetic to the PLP in any way? Who would want complaints coming to their employer about their political point of view? What about business associates and clients who openly show contempt for the PLP.

    Only the zealous participate for the most part.

  10. IMO blogs are in their infancy. At this point users are only just past being early adopters of the medium. Radio talk shows are a much much older venue for discussion which huge numbers of Bermudians listen to, and some participate in. I think that’s where a lot of people plug in to get a feel for the issues of the day.

    Talk shows have advantages – for one thing you can listen in while you’re (theoretically, at least) getting on with your work. For another, they’re more immediate and more intimate because it happens in real time. My guess it that it will be a while before blogs, forums or whatever displace EDC et al.

  11. Pitcher, What percentage of the white population would you guess voted PLP in 1998? I have no idea, but you would need to look at the trends from pre and post 1998 to give that any weight. I don’t know exactly what to make of it, but the UBP has actually won the same number of seats since 1998. You would also need to look at trends pre and post Brown to back up your suggestion. Personally, I don’t recall the PLP ever receiving a significant portion of the white vote in a poll, but I could be wrong. Partly this is their fault (certainly more so now), but I don’t think they had it even at their most benign state of play either. Overall I think you are suggesting that the blogging community is not biased one way or another and that they are just frustrated with the status quo. Don’t you think that PLP supporters continue to support the PLP because they continue to be frustrated with the other status quo? I think both groups qualify the same in that regard. The question of whether or not the various blogs are open to other points of view is what the real issue is. I see the blogs like the digital reverse image of The Workers’ Voice (Neither group sees themselves as irrational of course!). And note that the WV doesn’t attract moderate blacks any more than the blogs. You had workers who engaged in civil unrest in the 70s’. Here in 2009, there are posters on BIAW suggesting that civil unrest is a viable option. Isn’t that ironic? I think the zealous mentality displayed on the blogs (PLP included), combined with actual threats of retribution, are the primary reasons why you will not see contributions diversify across racial and intellectual boundaries. You aren’t going to have anything other than a nasty fight with anti-Brown/PLP contributors. What moderate black or white person would even remotely want to be identified as being sympathetic to the PLP in any way? Who would want complaints coming to their employer about their political point of view? What about business associates and clients who openly show contempt for the PLP. Only the zealous participate for the most part.

  12. For Mr. Smith and anyone else unfamiliar with web terminology, a blog is a ‘weblog”, and online diary so to speak. Usually written by one person. So it should come as no surprise that it may actually reflect that person’s views, philosophies, beliefs, etc. Now some blogs like this one allow comments on articles, for better or for worse. You cannot judge or condemn a blog if it has active participants in the commentary who may or may not agree with your point of view. It is a free world and people do not always have to agree.

    A forum, is a collection of topics set out for discussion and generally attract like-minded individuals to discuss common interests. These forums generate communities, who look to discuss topics they are interested in. You could state that specific forums lean one way or another, if that is applicable, but that is to be expected. If I start a Harley Davidson forum where I start a thread about how Hondas are for old retirees and wannabes, I may get people piping in agreement or disagreement. Most moderators try to discourage ‘flaming’ or irrational hazing of individuals because of their views, but there is nothing to say they have to. The web is a bit like the wild west in this aspect, anonymity frees people to speak their mind, again, for better or worse.

    This is where the Internet runs at odds with the PLP machine, who always likes to present a consistent story, their story, with no wavering from the party line. You can’t control the web, there are detractors who try to discredit bloggers who they don’t agree with or posters in forums they feel run contrary to the party stance. It is a similar method used for the daily, but the daily is supposed to be unbiased, the Internet, well the Internet is for bias. The more you try to quash it, the more it spreads. It is the last bastion it would seem for critics of the PLP or their leader.

    While the online dialogue seems to have no effect on the current leadership, it does puzzle me as to why certain posters seem to continue to try very hard to move the discourse to where they want it. But again, this is their prerogative, and the beauty of it is they are entirely welcome to do so.

    This brings me back to Mr. Smith, and finally my point, that contributors with differing opinions are most welcome online, that is what makes it interesting, as it starts a dialogue like this one. Why more are not posting or blogging who share your same opinion, well, I cannot answer that, it is a free world and there is nothing to stop them. But I would not expect to post your opinion once with little or no persuasive argument and have everyone silenced or mollified into agreeing with you. That rarely happens, but it does happen if you are clear and back up your statements in a concise and civil manner.

    My question to the self proclaimed Brown supporters is, if you feel there are no other Brown supporters online reading this, and it is the same anti-Brown detractors all the time, then, wouldn’t these kind of blogs and forums be pretty benign in the general scheme of things? So why bother with them? It would seem these blogs and forums only preach to the converted. It is clear your antagonistic and incite-full responses generate a slew of energy about a topic, and I would suspect if such blogs or topics were otherwise ignored they would fade into oblivion and barely be a blip on the radar.

    So I do thank you all for participating and making things interesting and I hope the online community continues to grow. Having said that, you will get colorful characters of a different sort online, who establish their own style and personality in their online persona. If it does not jibe with you, I suggest just ignoring the post and moving along, unless you want to get into a spirited to and fro.

    These sites give us the opportunity to communicate and converse with those we would otherwise never meet. I think it is a good step to understanding each other. I encourage all those ‘lurkers’ to chime in!

  13. Actually, Ms. Furbert, I believe it DOES speak to Jonathan’s point and question.

    You and others push this “anti-PLP=pro-UBP” agenda. My point was to attempt to illustrate that this isn’t true.

    There are many people out there that are dissatisfied with Dr. Brown’s leadership. I know you’d like to dismiss them because of the colour of their skin (or at least how you percieved it), but these people ARE Bermudian and DO count.

    Many, if not most (and, of course, this is only my opinion, based on my experience, and I think even you can admit that I do try to be as objective as possible), of the “anti-PLP” posters have actually grown in the past few years and have come to the realization that the UBP are not a viable option nor the best choice to lead the country. Again (sad as it is that I have to reiterate this), this is based solely on my experiences blogging, but many, if not most, contrary to “Just A Question”‘s claim, WOULD, in fact, vote PLP, were they to start showing good governance. By good governance, I mean NOT lying to the House and to the people of Bermuda, NOT relying on racial, racist attacks in defense of ANY critique, NOT hypocritically telling ministers to cut spending, then racking up an enormous bill, NOT misleading the public, NOT avoiding questions.

    If the PLP showed that they DO have the interest of ALL of Bermuda at heart, I think your head would spin with not only the number of votes at the polls, but at the paradigm change in attitudes in the local blogosphere.

    Look at Dale (Again, and I apologize for the tangent, I do have to thank you for setting me straight with regard to showing respect for our public figures. I hope you’ve noticed that, unless I know the person, I refer to them by their title and not by their first name or a familiar. I do thank you for that.). His denunciation of Dr. Browns actions regarding the Uighurs and consequent resignation showed everyone a mettle, a backbone and level of statesmanship, as well as a love for this country that I have known for years. I was and am proud of him for standing up for what he knows is right… and so are many, many others our here in the “blogosphere”.
    This is what I’m talking about and what I was trying to say in my post. My apologies if this wasn’t clear.

  14. Just a question,

    You say “Then of course there is the trust/danger factor. Moderates and PLP supporters will likely fear that their point of view could be held against them if their opinions are rejected or despised. I make no defense of Roban’s email last week, but threats on BIAW to complain to his employer are extremely clear warnings to prospective posters who might be interested in posting opposing points of view.”

    There have been similar… and worse… threats from the other side. This has been going on for years. Email harassment, threats against employment and residency, libelous statements and claims.

    There have also been similar treatment of PLP supporters who have criticized the administration.

    Now, if we want to talk about the fear threats being a reason for “opposing points of view” not being posted, maybe you should take a look at the actions of certain very vocal PLP supporters.

  15. Yes, there are “many” people who are dissatisfied with Dr. Brown’s leadership, however, as I continue to state, there are many people who are satisfied with his leadership. To state that I would like to dismiss them because of the colour of their skin is ridiculous. Statistics prove over and over again that the majority of whites in Bermuda vote for the UBP, no matter who the leader of the PLP is.

    All policies put in place by the PLP Government are for all people in Bermuda, not just black people. So to state that the PLP doesn’t care about white people is just plain ridiculous.

    Dale Butler has the right to do what his conscience tells him to do. However, I do not believe that he cares any more for Bermuda than Dr. Brown does. That’s my opinion.

  16. Ms. Furbert,

    You suggest “Statistics prove over and over again that the majority of whites in Bermuda vote for the UBP, no matter who the leader of the PLP is.”

    Contrary to what some may believe but many people do not vote for a party based solely on who the leader is.

    I would like to be pointed towards these ‘statistics’ you regularly quote of who voted for what. I would highly suspect that in 1998 a great many more white voters supported the PLP than in 2003 or 2007. Why do you think I suspect that?

    Now, I was still too young to vote in 1998 however my understanding is that in 1998 the PLP were champions of change, transparency and an evolution of our democracy. They did not play the race card to win and people were fed up with the Useless Bermuda Party’s antics, even white people.

    In 2003 you had individuals like our present leader coming out and playing the race card, heavily. Was he the leader then? No. But the race card was played and not condemned by the then leadership and thus was condoned through silence and lack of discipline. This when compounded to the fact that the PLP were not living up to their promises of change, transparency and good governance.

    In 2007 you again had the race card played in rather offensive accusation and movements designed to divide rather than unite the black and white populations of Bermuda for political gain. Even worse, change, transparency and good governance had become icons of the past as the PLP quickly began looking alot like the UBP once did.

    These 3 elections provide the exact example that Uncle Elvis is making. If the PLP dropped the race card and started acting like the leadership they were supposed to be you would see a completely different voting dynamic.

    Yet, people continually quote these ‘statistics’ that whites overwhelmingly support the UBP without getting to the root of why.

  17. Wow. Ms. Furbert, you have successfully avoided pretty much every one of my points, completely ignoring almost anything I said.

    Weren’t you decrying the lack of discussion over on the other thread?

    I was hoping that you would at least show me the respect of reading and addressing the things I write. It’s an absolute shame that you seem to outright refuse to.

    And we wonder why more folks don’t join in the discussion, when there’s THIS level of respect…

  18. The bottom line is running the island is no different than running a business, save the shareholders cannot boot you out when you triple the national debt in 4 years. That alone speaks to the piss-poor job Dr. Brown is doing. Sure he puts on a good show for the people while he squanders the taxpayers money. Those who are switched on enough to see where the island is headed in terms of budgetary deficit and spending are the ones who are up in arms.

    simple math: tripling the debt = crap leadership

  19. Uncle Elvis,

    I don’t know what more you want me to say. You wrote that many people weren’t satisfied with Dr. Brown’s leadership, I responded saying that I know a lot of people who are satisfied with his leadership.

    You wrote “if the PLP showed that they DO have the interest of all Bermudians at heart…” I wrote that the PLP’s polices and programmes do not discriminate.

    I gave you my opinion of Dale Butler.

    Maybe it’s not that I didn’t respond to your questions, it may be that you don’t agree with my answers.

    Please don’t talk to me about “level of respect”.

  20. Dennis,

    Can you explain to me what it means to “play the race card”? I keep hearing that statement being made, but people never give any examples.

  21. I beg your pardon?

    I have shown you NOTHING but respect, Ms. Furbert, for a long, long time.

    However, YOU have shown me nothing but disrespect by asking me a question and then completely disregarding my points. You claim you want discourse, but you disregarded most of my posts. You didn’t give “answers”, you skimmed and plucked the most shallow, superficial parts and talked about that.

    You asked me “What’s Dr. Brown got to do with diversification of online disccourse?”
    I answered to the best of my ability, trying to explain my point.

    You didn’t respond to that. At all.

    I spoke about Dale Butler and his specific actions and what those showed to me and to others and tried to tie it in to the topic.
    You just gave your opinion on the man, ignoring any relevance to the topic.

    You want discourse, Ms. Furbert? Prove it. Actually engage me in a discussion.

    You haven’t so far (and I’ve shown examples of this).

  22. “Can you explain to me what it means to “play the race card”?”

    Dr. Brown’s quote that the demonstrations were nothing but a bunch of “angry whites who are angered over losing tehir priviliges.”

    Your comparison that the demonstrations reminded you of a “lynch mob” like those of the 50s within the US.

    They want to take us “back to the plantation” quote

    They are “neo fascists that want to lock us all up” quote

    The constant claim that all complaints are based on race and not on issues.

    “Plantation questions” quote

    Comparing black UBP members to Nazi collaborators of WWII

    “Confused negroes” quote – oh wait a minute that was never said – my bad

  23. When Col. Burch asked a caller what color she was during a independence debate on Hott 107.5. When she responded that she was white he immediately hung up on the individual.

    “Minister of White People” – enough said

    Your quote that “white people and their votes are not needed for the PLP to win an election”

    Glenn Blakeney asking when Pat Gordon Pamplin would stop representing the interests of white people

    Tehse are the ones of the top of my head. i will provide further examples if needed Ms. Furbert.

    For it is in my “genetic pre disposition” to do so:)

  24. 2003 election

    http://www.royalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/Article/article.jsp?sectionId=60&articleId=7d3b6923003001c

    http://www.royalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/Article/article.jsp?sectionId=60&articleId=7d3b51230030012

    Not too soon after these incidents the Opposition tabled a bill to prohibit Parties from using rachial rhetoric during an election period. It was shot down by the PLP with disdain. Why would that be?

    I would bring you more and included the link to the above bill mentioned but the RG’s site is acting up again.

  25. Ms. Furbert,

    Seeing as 9ps has already given a number of examples I’ll just stick to describing what it means to ‘play the race card’, of which there are commonly accepted definitions that cover well enough.

    Wikipedia defines it as:
    “Playing the race card is an idiomatic phrase that refers to the act of bringing the issue of race or racism into a debate, perhaps to obfuscate the matter. It is a metaphorical reference to card games in which a trump card may be used to gain an advantage.”

    Wiktionary defines it as:
    “(idiomatic) To assert that race or racism is responsible for a course of events, especially when race is not of particular significance to the issue in question; to attempt to inspire a particular reaction by raising the issue of race.”

    Urban dictionary defines it as:
    “Calling someone racist, even if they aren’t, just to get away with something.”

  26. Most of the commentary online is critical of the PLP because the PLP are currently the Government.

    When the UBP are next in Government, I am confident that you will see most of the commentary being critical of them. I am also confident that the identity of most of the critics will be the same.

  27. Can you explain to me what it means to “play the race card”? I keep hearing that statement being made, but people never give any examples.

    Examples below:

    – The PLP’s puppet show ad during the 2007 election.

    – The PLP’s Emancipation, Affirmation and Consolidation themes in the 1998, 2003 and 2007 elections.

    – Calling someone a confused negro.

    – Calling a constituent a racist and a bigot for sending an email with content which is identical to views held extensively by PLP MPs, including former Cabinet Ministers Dale Butler, El James, Terry Lister, Ashfield DeVent, Alex Scott, Renee Webb, all of whom are the same race as the Premier.

    – Calling a protest which was no different in energy levels, in fact less raucus than most PLP election rallies, a ‘lynch mob’ when it was obviously no such thing and is an offence to those who were victims of genuine lynch mobs as ably pointed out by Aideen Ratteray Prce.

    – Dismissing questions asked of any politician in any modern democracy as ‘plantation questions’ simply because they’re asked of Ewart Brown.

    – Derrick Burgess calling the auditor a racist for publishing an audit opinion on the Berkeley project which turned out to be 100% correct

    – Saying that a UBP government would return black Bermudians to slavery with shackles (Lovitta Foggo)

    – Staging a mic in front of the statue of Sally Bassett during the recent protests to invoke the image of Dr. Brown being burned at the stake a la Sally Bassett.

    – Dragging the Premier’s wife out into the protests (she is not an elected politician right? Does she normally attend the Premier’s appointments?) so that Tailhole Dill can then say that a majority white crowd shouting at a black man and his wife invokes painful images of racism after it was all stage managed to look that way.

    – Rolfe Commissiong dismissing critics of the Bermuda Independence Commission as a ‘white cabal’ when polls show that all races, all Bermudians, all ages are overwhelmingly opposed to it (and growing I might add).

    Shall I go on, because I can?

    Oh, and one last one:

    – continuing to act confused about what the race card might be.

  28. let’s hope that the UBP are never “next in Government”. Even if they make it to the next election…that would truly be a tragedy.

    As for the wonderful wide web, my old man used to say… opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one and they all stink! We shouldn’t be worried about opinions. Blogs are a dime a dozen. I know… I have a few.

  29. Hello there, Jonny,

    I’m not sure that you are a pro-PLP site. Is that your intended aim? At the top of your page, on the left (natch) you have For Workers Power. It should have an apostrophe, I’m guessing … so For Workers’ Power.

    Has this PLP government done a good deal for the workers of Bermuda? Has the UBP “Opposition” done anything to damage or limit the power of the workers during these PLP years?

    Has a “Labour” government anywhere truly served the needs of the worker? Well, you could write a thesis on that. I’d simply say: “I think not …”

    Has your Catch a Fire blog become a forum for complaining UBP-ites, another Royal Gazette Online “Opinion Page”? Yes. If you carefully removed all those UBP postings every morning before eating your porridge, leaving only your own comments and those of Laverne Furbert … Would anybody visit your site? Probably not.

    I think it’s splendid that you host this forum. If it happens that your readers are mostly from the UBP camp (at least the readers who feel this is an exercise worth taking part in) …

    Except for Ms Furbert who is at least honest enough to say she supports (I almost said worships) the Great Leader, and will stand up for him no matter what evidence contradicts his Greatness and Leadership, the silence in the PLP camp is extraordinary.

    Was it Solzhenitsyn who described the speeches of that other Great Leader, Comrade Stalin, and the uncomfortable applause that followed? No man or woman wanted to be the first to stop clapping. None dared.

    At Catch a Fire, Jonny, I think your applause is less deafening. Ms Furbert isn’t letting up. A good many people have stopped and are now pointing.

    You know, and I know, Jonny, that most of the workers of this world are Asian (in India, Indonesia and China) and their masters are “people like them” … Except that, as Orwell pointed out, some people are more equal than others.

    Seems the critics of Bermuda’s Great Leader are all “less equal” than he is. Does Dr Brown refer to the Bermudians as “my people”? If so, what does he mean by that? Would he like his people to be quiet? Stay away from the blogs? What do you think?

  30. I think you would find that most of the posters are also none too fond of the UBP as well. Honestly, there is nothing to be fond about. They are a shambles.

    If you are discounting the views of these posters as pro-ubp because many of their posts are anti-plp, or more precisely anti-brown(brown=plp these days), again you would be mistaken. If I dislike orange juice, that does not mean I like pomegranate juice, there is not necessarily a correlation.

    We are in dire need of new blood, new politicians, new parties. Both parties are old and bogged down with more baggage than a cruise ship. We need a party that will push for transparency, integrity and all round good governance. We need a party that is inclusive of all Bermudians, for Bermuda. We need a leader who puts the island before oneself.

    We have a fairly limited selection really, our small numbers restrict the amount of likely candidates, not to mention the dirty politics that go on, deterring anyone new getting involved.

  31. Barking mad said:

    Has your Catch a Fire blog become a forum for complaining UBP-ites, another Royal Gazette Online “Opinion Page”? Yes. If you carefully removed all those UBP postings every morning before eating your porridge, leaving only your own comments and those of Laverne Furbert … Would anybody visit your site? Probably not.

    Sara says:

    This is why people get mad at posts like this. To say that someone is anti-Brown or anti-PLP is one thing, but then to say that means they are pro-UBP is ignorant. Why are you and Laverne always assuming you know what other people think. It is a weak form of argument and makes it seem you both think you can both read minds.

  32. Letariatpro I totally disagree with your last paragraph. Small numbers have nothing to do with restrictions on candidates, nada.

    “Dirty politics”? Thats the price one pays when solicitcing and being appointed too office.

    Your parents may have told you it was going to be a rough road or they may have said ..don’t worry, be happy you have the money.

    I have been accused of opening my mouth before engaging brain. Do I care? Hell no. I have been there, done it and participated in good works, and I continue to this day.

    History proves me right. In such a small time frame of 400 years we have overcome many obsticles as a counrty in comparison too others. Yes it’s been a hard road but reflect on other nations that have been around for thousands of years. Same stuff….differant day.

    Power and greed play a major role as we can see when confronted with daily news whether local or global.

    You want peace? Take a walk through your neighborhood. Take a walk along the tree lined streets. Take a walk along the public accessable routes and beaches. Come back and tell me how it was.

    People want to bring race and class into everything. If your white, check out Parsons road, Glebe Road, Happy Valley. They, the blacks that live there are not gonna shoot you or rob you. You’s be surprised at the area, the nature, the hidden gardens, the children that play and are overseen by neighbors and old folks that have lived there for their entire lives.

    Nelson Bascombe was a leading light in areas like this and so were many other caucasion friends.

    Get off your asses and do what your/our parents did. It’s amazing how a handshake and a few bannana’s or a passion flower can bring solice to a hard day and hope that things will get better.

    Been there done that. Dudley Hill 1940’/50’s. We were all hard working people but times were tough. The gang of 7…three whites and four blacks running through Paget Marsh and Fritholme Gardens and White Sands having fun and playing games and never strayed from the principles of our parents. If it ain’t yours……ask and they’ll give it…..

    Times change but the principles never do. Just depends on who the teacher is, and we all know how that works.

    Gotta run……………….

  33. Uncle Elvis,

    You’ll have to excuse me but I don’t think it’s fair to regularly complain about people not answering your specific questions while wholly dismissing someone’s remarks as ‘completely incorrect’ without addressing any specific points.

    It would be helpful if you pointed out specific instances where you feel the writer is incorrect so we can appreciate where you have disagreements with what they had to say.

  34. Example:

    “[Your site] should have an apostrophe, I’m guessing … so For Workers’ Power.”

    I don’t see anything incorrect about this statement.

    “Has this PLP government done a good deal for the workers of Bermuda? Has the UBP “Opposition” done anything to damage or limit the power of the workers during these PLP years?”

    These are more of questions, but sure, the PLP wrote off $7 million in debt that near would have bankrupted the Union. It’s questionable in the eyes of those concerned about fiscal responsibility and moral hazard (I’ll note that I’m the only person I know of who expressed concern about the Butterfield guarantee so no using the argument of, well they got it, so why not the union), but I’m not in power, so hey. As for the UBP, what have they done as the opposition? I’m at a loss to recall much.

    “Has a “Labour” government anywhere truly served the needs of the worker? Well, you could write a thesis on that. I’d simply say: “I think not …””

    It is certainly debateable, but I’m leaning towards Barking Mad’s argument here.

    “Has your Catch a Fire blog become a forum for complaining UBP-ites, another Royal Gazette Online “Opinion Page”? Yes. If you carefully removed all those UBP postings every morning before eating your porridge, leaving only your own comments and those of Laverne Furbert … Would anybody visit your site? Probably not.”

    I respectfully disagree here as I abhor the online forums and rarely read nor get involved in the comments here. I for one would continue to read Jonathan’s writings without comments. Hell, I’d prefer it. I can’t stand when comments spiral into non constructive drivel and is largely why I do everything I can to prevent it on my own site.

    “I think it’s splendid that you host this forum. If it happens that your readers are mostly from the UBP camp (at least the readers who feel this is an exercise worth taking part in) … ”

    I disagree here, I’d suggest most readers are not pro-PLP, but definately not pro-UBP.

    “Ms Furbert who is at least honest enough to say she supports (I almost said worships) the Great Leader, and will stand up for him no matter what evidence contradicts his Greatness and Leadership, the silence in the PLP camp is extraordinary.”

    Can’t say I disagree here. Can’t say that Except for her everyone else is in the UBP camp as unless Barking Mad is as well, he is contracting himself.

    “Was it Solzhenitsyn who described the speeches of that other Great Leader, Comrade Stalin, and the uncomfortable applause that followed? No man or woman wanted to be the first to stop clapping. None dared. ”

    Not here either. Quite like the reference actually

    “At Catch a Fire, Jonny, I think your applause is less deafening. Ms Furbert isn’t letting up. A good many people have stopped and are now pointing.”

    Not really sure what is meant here. Could use more explanation.

    “You know, and I know, Jonny, that most of the workers of this world are Asian (in India, Indonesia and China) and their masters are “people like them” … Except that, as Orwell pointed out, some people are more equal than others. ”

    No sure what he means by masters. The Orwell suggestion seems rather accurate, though it has been some time since I’ve read his works.

    “Seems the critics of Bermuda’s Great Leader are all “less equal” than he is.”

    Hmm, can’t say he’s off the mark here, though I’m assuming ‘Great leader’ is sarcasm, as the recent opinion polls would suggest the majority of people would disagree with prefixing ‘Great’

    “Does Dr Brown refer to the Bermudians as “my people”? If so, what does he mean by that? Would he like his people to be quiet? Stay away from the blogs? What do you think?”

    Not sure who Dr. Brown is rooting for really. I often wonder what it would be like if Bermudians were Lemmings. I have no doubt I’d be pushed off the cliff if I got in the way of others who thought it was a good idea to jump off it, regardless my attempts to convince them otherwise.

  35. Awesome! Someone asking me to “pull a UE”! *grin*
    Sorry, Denis. For the past couple of years people have been telling me to not do that.

    Here goes:

    “I’m not sure that you are a pro-PLP site. Is that your intended aim? At the top of your page, on the left (natch) you have For Workers Power. It should have an apostrophe, I’m guessing … so For Workers’ Power.”

    Ok, so this bit is right… -ish. Jonny is certainly a PLP supporter, so this site, as it reflects Jonny, is pro-PLP. Sometimes critical of the administration, certainly, but, as far as I can see, with the only intent of making the party he supports as strong as it can be and as good as it can be and as true to what he sees as the true roots of the party as it can be.

    “Has this PLP government done a good deal for the workers of Bermuda? Has the UBP “Opposition” done anything to damage or limit the power of the workers during these PLP years?”

    Very good question.

    “Has a “Labour” government anywhere truly served the needs of the worker? Well, you could write a thesis on that. I’d simply say: “I think not …””

    I’m not a historian, so I wouldn’t know.

    You know, Denis, you might be right. I may have been too quick off the mark…

    “Has your Catch a Fire blog become a forum for complaining UBP-ites, another Royal Gazette Online “Opinion Page”? Yes.”

    Ah… here we go. This part is untrue. There’s NO evidence that the posters here are “UBP-ites” and it’s misleading to label them as such.

    “If you carefully removed all those UBP postings every morning before eating your porridge, leaving only your own comments and those of Laverne Furbert … Would anybody visit your site? Probably not.”

    “all those UBP postings”? Where? This is just more “Anti-PLP=Pro-UBP” nonsense. He indicates that ALL postings other than Jonny’s own and those of Ms. Furbert are “UBP postings”. This is just plain incorrect.

    “I think it’s splendid that you host this forum. If it happens that your readers are mostly from the UBP camp (at least the readers who feel this is an exercise worth taking part in) …”

    Again, this is demonstrably incorrect. I, for one, am not “from the UBP camp”. Neither are MANY, if not most, of the other posters.

    “Except for Ms Furbert who is at least honest enough to say she supports (I almost said worships) the Great Leader, and will stand up for him no matter what evidence contradicts his Greatness and Leadership, the silence in the PLP camp is extraordinary.”

    And this self-admitted blind allegience to one man and NOT the party is a good thing?

    “Was it Solzhenitsyn who described the speeches of that other Great Leader, Comrade Stalin, and the uncomfortable applause that followed? No man or woman wanted to be the first to stop clapping. None dared.”

    I have no idea about this. Haven’t studied Stalin or Solzhenitsyn.

    “At Catch a Fire, Jonny, I think your applause is less deafening. Ms Furbert isn’t letting up. A good many people have stopped and are now pointing.”

    Not sure what this bit means.

    “You know, and I know, Jonny, that most of the workers of this world are Asian (in India, Indonesia and China) and their masters are “people like them” … Except that, as Orwell pointed out, some people are more equal than others.”

    Kinda like here. I’m not sure if he’s just redundantly pointing it out or showing support for it…

    “Seems the critics of Bermuda’s Great Leader are all “less equal” than he is.”

    In some people’s eyes they are…

    “Does Dr Brown refer to the Bermudians as “my people”? If so, what does he mean by that? Would he like his people to be quiet? Stay away from the blogs? What do you think?”

    My guess would be… YES! “Shut up and let me do my thing!” seems to be the order of the day, doesn’t it?

    Ok, so it wasn’t COMPLETELY wrong, but many, if not most of the salient points were, no?

  36. Stupid apostrophe’s. They are my achilles heel of punctuation. Yes, it should read “Catch-A-Fire – For Workers’ Power”. I will fix it now.

    For what its worth I don’t see what’s so confusing about the passage:

    “At Catch a Fire, Jonny, I think your applause is less deafening. Ms Furbert isn’t letting up. A good many people have stopped and are now pointing.”

    Just re-read the passage immediately preceding it. All he’s saying is that this blog is like the little kid from the story of ‘the emperor’s new clothes’ less applauding of the emperor’s finery and more pointing out that the reality (from my perspective) of the situation. Others are clapping on the emperor, others, too, are pointing, but from different perspectives. At least that’s what I got from it.

    I think it’s important to point out that there are a number of major influences on my own political thinking. Some of the more obvious one’s would be Karl Marx and Rosa Luxembourg. Other particular influences are Anton Pannekoek, Paul Mattick, Antonio Gramsci, CLR James, Erich Fromm, Julius Nywerwe and Paulo Freire. The name of this blog stems from a fusion of the influential album by Bob Marley and the Wailers which combined some hard-hitting social critique with good music and Maurice Brinton’s group “Solidarity for workers’ power”.

    I say all that so that I can quote one of the founding documents of Brinton’s group, ‘As We See It’ (see http://libcom.org/library/as-we-see-it-solidarity-group):

    “Throughout the world the vast majority of people have no control whatsoever over the decisions that most deeply and directly affect their lives. They sell their labour power while others who own or control the means of production accumulate wealth, make the laws and use the whole machinery of the State to perpetuate and reinforce their privileged positions.”

    Clarified by their later document ‘As We Don’t See It’ (see http://libcom.org/library/as-we-dont-see-it):

    “Throughout the world’ means exactly what it says. It does not mean everywhere except Social-Democratic Sweden, Castro’s Cuba., Tito’s Yugoslavia, Israel’s kibbutzim or Sekou Toure’s Guinea. ‘Throughout the world’ includes pre-Stalinist, Stalinist and post-Stalinist Russia, Ben Bella’s and Boumedienne’s Algeria and the Peoples Republics of Uzbekistan and North Vietnam. Everywhere also includes Albania (and China).

    Our comments about contemporary society apply to all these countries just as much as to the USA or to Britain (under either Labour or Conservative governments). When we talk of privileged minorities who ‘control the means of production! and who use the whole machinery of the state to maintain themselves in power we are making a universal critique to which, at the moment, we can see no exceptions.

    IT FOLLOWS that we don’t regard any of these countries as socialist and that we don’t act as if we had lurking suspicions that they might be something other than what they are: hierarchically structured class societies based on wage slavery and exploitation. Their identification with socialism – even as deformed variants – is a slander against the very concept of socialism (abortions, after all, share some of the attributes of their parents). It is moreover a source of endless mysti- fication and confusion, It also follows from this basic assessment that we do not support China against Russia, or Russia against China (or alternatively the one and then the other), that we do not carry NLF flags on demonstrations (the enemies of our enemies are not necessarily our friends), and that we refrain from joining sundry choruses demanding more East-West trade, more Summit Conferences or more ping-pong diplomacy.

    In every country of the world the rulers oppress the :ruled and persecute genuine revolutionaries. In every country the main enemy of the people is their own ruling class, This alone can provide the basis of a genuine internationalism of the oppressed.”

    Which is my answer to Barking Mad’s question ‘Has a “Labour” government anywhere truly served the needs of the worker?’

  37. Hello there, Jonny, Denis & Uncle Elvis,

    I’m understanding what I wrote above a great deal better having read your comments on it. I dare say that any man or woman would be better for examining the effect of his words and deeds on others. Words and deeds do not sit out in Space somewhere, twinkling only a little, enough to be seen but not necessarily to illuminate some patch of ground or human soul. Words and deeds affect people.

    Someone might see my name and read the first line or so that I’ve written and might then think: “Well he IS Barking Mad … The hell with reading this, I’m off to Horseshoe Bay.” What I said, however, did affect that reader, his or her life changed.

    Words themselves are just words, of course. Midgets want to be Little People … It is the intent of the words and deeds that matters, and this can be created quite easily. Little People don’t want to be Midgets.

    I form my lines, of simple words, by drawing on years of experience (which includes, I trust, a little learning). Knowledge rains on us like a hurricane raging over Bermuda: a great deal can turn up in a very short time. And there are many rainstorms in a lifetime. But wisdom grows like the stalactite in Crystal Caves, a slow drip that deposits perhaps an inch in a thousand years. I can quote from my lifetime of education and reading and experience, but my accumulated wisdom is very likely to be impoverished.

    What to do? Ask others for their opinions, their help. Bring in one’s comrades, do not make decisions on one’s own. “No man is an island …” wrote John Donne an awfully long time ago. Bermuda, little island out at sea, should have that on its coat of arms and get rid of that defeatist “Whither the fates carry …”

    When Doctor Brown and his chums were listening to James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” and reading Eldridge Cleaver’s “Soul on Ice”, I was listening to Jefferson Airplane’s “Fly Trans-Love Airways … Gets You There on Time” and reading Aldous Huxley’s “Island”, and quoting William Blake on religious matters. I think there’s a good chance that Doctor Brown is still hearing the great anthem of the 1960s that moved him. And on a quiet evening I chant “All You Need is Love”.

    Young Ewart may have listened to his music on a corner of the world … I may have listened to mine while sipping a Bacardi and Coke at a party on the tennis court at Palomera. In 2009, we still sing our own songs, but we’ve switched locations in a way.

    Jonny, have you ever read Aldous Huxley’s “Island”? How about you, Uncle Elvis?

    It’s all words. (But what are our intentions?)

    No (one) man is an island.

  38. LOL – for what it’s worth, yes, I have read Huxley’s ‘Island’. A couple of years back I was reading alot of his works, I think I read Island right after ‘Eyeless in Gaza’. It’s one of the books I’ve got with me in Edinburgh for a rereading once I finish my dissertation funnily enough.

    Quite a good book for our own island mind you.

  39. Ok… that was jarring. *grin*

    Especially regarding the party where you listened to the music. Was there a tow-headed child toddling around?

    I’m not sure what that lovely rant had to do with what you said before, nor about the responses to it, but you go do what you do… it seems like you’re having fun!

    Still not sure what constitutes a “UBP post”, but maybe I’m not supposed to know…

  40. Right, so, just got back from surveying a community woodland and narrowly avoiding being trampled to death by a herd of cows with calves, chased by five girt big clydesdale horses (I’m tall at 1.85m, and these horses legs were taller than me!) and nipped at by a schizophrenic border collie (I love you – no wait, die trespasser – no, I love you – no, let me disembowel you evil human – you get the idea). Great fun!

    Anyway, Steve, I’ve deleted your comment as I cannot see how it DOES NOT contravene the moderation policy. As such I do not see the point in posting the replies (from Rummy and UE) to that comment.

    As stated in my moderation policy, I sometimes make mistakes or do not see something as a personal attack (attacking the argument = fine; attacking the individual = not fine), and my contact information is there should anyone feel I have acted unfairly or missed a personal attack.

  41. I think you have made a big mistake Mr. Starling with regards to my comments.

    I gave Elvis credit and also tried to show how to move on without confrontation.

    Moderation is what it is but sometimes an opposing view without being crude or rude is woth publish.

    Anyway, your site. Elvis, move on. You’ve done much good work.

    Terry.

  42. Thanks, Jonny.

    Rummy, I’ll thank you, yet again, to keep your advice to yourself. I have no interest in hearing it.
    Lies about who I am and what I do, which is what “steve” posted, is NOT an “opposing view”. It is just defamatory dishonesty.

    Back on topic, I have a feeling that this exact sort of thing is what keeps many people away from posting on sites. These blatant, dishonest, cowardly attacks on anyone that points out the lies of the demagogues that stoop to ANY low to defame opposition of any sort, as well as the creepy, stalker-y tactics that some people use, as well as threats against people, baseless accusations, harrassment, derailment, distraction, misdirection…

    All of these can be very frightening to the uninitiated, no?
    Or at least upsetting and definitely make it not worth even getting started.

    Could it be that this might be a reason that many people only lurk?

  43. You did indeed make some good comments, but without the original comments in place they would have come across as rather odd.

  44. Then I will hold you too that. At least your honest about it and show favour too reality.

    Regards

    El Rummo…….

  45. Elvis, I never condoned the dishonest remarks made by others.

    As for advise, it was meant for all and not only for you.

    But here’ some that I will share with you once again. Get over it and stop useing me as your avenue of non escape.

    The horse is dead. Move on.

    Online Discorse? Always will be. Comprimise? Always open.

  46. Rummy, as always, I have to point out to you that I am NOT using you… for anything.

    You’re talking rubbish, yet again.

    Enjoy yourself. I’ll be ignoring you, yet again. Please don’t bring me into your delusional rantings.

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