Mathew Lowry

If anyone thinks that the combined forces of the OPP (Online Pyjama People) are going to take over the world anytime soon, please watch this hilarious video (hat tip: nosemonkey) of one of them being utterly destroyed in a television interview. Did I mention that it was hilarious?

Context: the Daily Politics is a TV show about UK politics, and we’re before the 2010 UK election. The presenter, Andrew Neil, is interviewing the head of the Libertarian Party. This guy was also the blogger Devil’s Kitchen, a fantastically offensive spewing of bile that he has now taken offline after this extremely polite mauling:

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Disclaimer: Devils’ Kitchen was one of the sites that published lurid conspiracy theories about Blogactiv when it went live. I submitted a rebuttal comment there, along with other sites like Midnight Sun and EU Referendum. Unlike these other two, Devil’s Kitchen didn’t publish my comment.

Grow up

But that’s not really why I’m blogging this video. Well, maybe a bit! But mainly because I never really ‘got’ the point of being a “swearblogger’.

If you haven’t seen his old blog, it’s difficult to describe how offensive it was. Wishing violent and gruesome deaths on people he’d never met because he was an angry young man. Pyjama people seem to think that foul, gratuitous and violent language makes them somehow more effective or ‘real’.

All it actually does is show how juvenile they are.

Which was demonstrated perfectly by Andrew Neil in the video as he gleefully hoisted the prat by his own petard. Remember, as you watch him try to wriggle out of his own writing, that the guy is trying to launch a political party. Libertarianism is a serious philosophy. It deserves better spokespersons (along with a more nuanced and less kneejerk approach to the EU, which is far from anti-libertarian).

Having said that, I like the way he has squared up to it and relaunched his blog.

Zero signal-to-noise

Watching the video also makes me reflect on just how self-inflated a view some political bloggers have of their own importance. Is it any wonder that some professional journalists can’t take bloggers seriously when the most visible bloggers are like this clown?

But the biggest problem is that people like this destroy intelligent online conversations. If someone turns up at your local pub in their pyjamas, wild-eyed, foaming at the mouth, gibbering about consipracy theories and ranting about how they’d like to chop up everyone who doesn’t agree with them, what do you do? Most people leave.

These guys destroy the signal-to-noise and send rational arguments fleeing to the hills. When what is actually needed is intelligent scepticism and reasoned debate. But that’s for another post.

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  1. It’s hard not to agree to what you say.

    Nobody likes raging people destroying conversations – unless what they say can be used nicely be the “proper” media to construct a scandal that starts drawing real attention to these people, raising the number of viewers/readers of the “proper” media and making those people seem representing anyone else but their own strange worldviews

  2. Of course, that’s one reason why extremists do so well online. There’s a symbiotic relationship between the lazy (or worse) journalist, who gets an easy story and the Pyjama Person, who gets the visibility they seek.

    Liberal Conspiracy provides another example: Media laps up Muslims Against Crusades stunt (hat tip: @sunny_hundal).

    Some Pyjama Person get so much visibility that they actually think they can start a political party! ūüėČ Then they try and get a rude shock as they venture out of their echo chamber into the real world. #senseofperspective #fail

    Thanks for dropping by, btw.

  3. Can’t think what I was going to comment as I’m too haunted by hazy memories of occasions where I may have exhibited bad anger management skills…

  4. “Is it any wonder that some professional journalists can‚Äôt take bloggers seriously when the most visible bloggers are like this clown?”

    My guess is that it’s the other way round. As an old-school print/broadcast journalist, Neil is defending his patch against ‘upstart’ bloggers. The best way to do so is to find and humiliate an obvious clown. I expect the Daily Mail does the same thing.

    Of course they are busy colonising the online space themselves. Neil’s blog is at, while the Mail’s website is achieving considerable success peddling soft porn ‘celebrity news’.

  5. Professional journalists have been blogging for many years, and many bloggers are better journalists than those with a gig in the mainstream media, as I’ve posted before.

    And then there are plenty of clowns, giving the latter bloggers a bad name.

    When Neil blogs, he is (probably) a professional journalist. The Daily Mail probably not – but that’s because they don’t really follow any definition of journalistic standards, no matter what the medium. One shudders to think what DM-TV would look like.

    So the distinction I was making was between methods, not media. I don’t think any other distinction is of much use.

    I don’t think Neil tore Mounsely another one because he was defending his patch. Is he setting up a political party? Is Mounsely any threat to Neil as a journalist? No on both counts.

    I think he tore him another hole because Mounsely doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously as a political party leader.

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