John, why hast thou forsaken me? ;-)

By | January 21, 2008

One does one’s best. Regulars will know I have exercised my powers of moderation and deleted mean comments about John in the past. I smiled over the last few weeks as I’ve heard his recent diatribes against Bloggers. Well, partly he’s right and partly he’s just playing silly buggers. Blogs are a ripe environment for anonymous invective, but hey, I got this letter last week, in the post:

“Dear Bitch, Why don’t you fuck off permanently to New York? You anti-Irish Bitch, Paddy”

Paddy did not need the internet to provide him with the cloak of anonymity nor to hurl invective at me. The letter really didn’t bother me and my husband and I had a laugh about it (See, he said, this is what you should expect when you deliberately alienate the shop assistant community with time on their hands cos their shops are empty). And John’s remarks that bloggers are stupid (em, Brad de Long?) and incapable of stringing 3 words together (me? 😉 ) are just factually incorrect (perhaps there are many bloggers who are stupid and many who can’t speak fluently, but saying ALL bloggers are so, is setting one’s argument up for pretty quick demolition.

ANYWAY, it looks like he his willfully and wonderfully determined to pursue his line and create another area of speciality for himself (single fathers and God having run their course apparently). In today’s column about Pope Benedict he says

“It was widely reported last week that Pope Benedict cancelled a visit to Rome’s oldest university, La Sapienza, after a number of academics and students accused him of despising science and defending the Inquisition’s condemnation of Galileo.

The Vatican said it was considered opportune to postpone the visit due to a lack of the “prerequisites for a dignified and tranquil welcome” following a sit-in by 50 students and a letter signed by 67 professors, including several allegedly eminent scientists.

The signatories said Benedict’s presence would be “incongruous” because of a speech he made at La Sapienza in 1990, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in which he quoted the judgment of an Austrian philosopher, Paul Feyerabend, that the church’s trial of Galileo was “reasonable and fair”. The letter declared: “These words offend and humiliate us.” This episode is emblematic of our latter-day blogosphere culture in embracing both ideological spite and indifference to truth, manifesting the classic symptoms of a whirlwind created on the internet by neurotics exchanging bites of information by way of stoking each other’s narcissistic obsession with expressing their democratic right to make fools of themselves.

Now em, the talk was cancelled after a sit-in and a letter signed by 67 professors. The blogosphere and the internet had no part whatsoever to play in the cancellation.

At the end of the column his argument addresses the ACTUAL issue at hand

“No effort was made by the media to uncover what Ratzinger actually said in 1990, but the protesters received universal publicity for their obscurantism, not because of the intellectual content of their criticisms, which were specious, but because of the status of their chosen target as an object of ideological spite. The stupidity of the protest was obligingly fudged by journalists with similar agendas, and another lie added to the Ratzinger file.”

So the real villains in the piece are the media/journalists for not doing their job, not the blogs who had no hand act or part, as Albert would say, in any of the events. In fact, if blogs have a “role”, other than social network and relishing in the joys and outrages of free speech, they have done a fantastic job in calling just such lazy journalism to account. The funny thing is, I can bet you anything, that there are blogs out there who did uncover Benedict’s speech and did place his argument (whatever it was) in some kind of context. Just as there are blogs who probably argued he’s a right wing, conservative creep. Either way, how ironic, that John in his column condemns those who make arguments not based on intellectual content but by simply selecting a target of spite. By including bloggers and “the internet” in the piece about Benedict, he’s done precisely that. What a shame.

Of course, John is no fool. This recent campaign is not the result of rage and passion bubbling over – he understands quite well the mechanics of issue creation. There are intellectually rigorous arguments to be made “against” blogging (and many in favour) but he’s not making them. He’s simply creating a new enemy for himself, urging them on (who will oblige him by establishing him as a hate figure of the online community) so he can write columns citing their remarks as proof of his thesis. Radio producers are no doubt relieved – cue up the calls for the many “debates” John will have with bloggers.

This disappoints me greatly. I like him. I’m not in his league. But this is just so..superficial….uuugh.

Category: Uncategorized

27 thoughts on “John, why hast thou forsaken me? ;-)

  1. Twenty Major

    You realise next time you meet him he’ll ask you to leave his presence immediately. Or perhaps you get a pass because you’re a hybrid – half blogger/half columnist!

  2. Daniel K.

    Twenty, is Sarah really a hybrid? These Cylons get everywhere they really do. As for John Waters, well, I’m still waiting for him to follow through on his logic about the internet not being worth reading because of all the porn and for him to stop writing in the print media due to the significant amount of pornography that is printed on paper.

  3. Seven Star Hand

    Greetings class,

    Please be seated and listen up! The lectures will now commence…

    Religion is Philosophy and Spirituality by FlimFlam !!!

    It is beyond amazing that these “snakes in fancy clothing” still have the gall to continue to defend the abomination that was/is the Inquisition. Now we have a Grand Inquisitor Pope (a.k.a., Glory of the Olives…) who personally defends much of the Vatican-Papacy’s most heinous and despicable activities.

    Why does anyone need anymore proof that religious leaders are lying through their teeth to save their own skins? Christianity has been decisively proven to be a Roman deception, and they know the end is nigh!!

    Speaking of more proof…

    Here is comprehensive proof that the symbolism of many ancient texts, canons, and concepts is an advanced and extremely ancient spiritual & philosophical technology that predates all extant religions and mystery schools. Consequently, here is proof, beyond disproof, that all three so-called “Faiths of Abraham” are purposeful deceptions.

    Here is Wisdom…


  4. Tomaltach

    I stopped reading John Waters years ago. Perhaps one in every 20 of his columns may offer some nuanced angle, but to get there you have to wade through the 19 which are illogical or just baffling. Then I heard him speak on a radio show about young male suicide and his comments were both insightful and compassionate. He brought a clarity to the discussion that I could rarely find in his IT articles. But anyway, life’s too short and thankfully there is plenty of great stuff to read – including great blogs :-) and so I’m not going to bother with Waters again.

  5. Electron

    Galileo going public with his views on heliocentrism was similar to the tribunal going public on Bertie’s finances – it shattered belief.

  6. flirty

    John has successfully created a new role for himself as anti-blogger which will keep him busy – am surprised bloggers are giving so much space to what is a blatant wind up.

  7. Georgia

    John Waters fancies himself as a contrarian. Still read him though, he gets it right from time to time. Or at least gets people thinking which can only be good. Unlike so much of the churned out space-filling drivel one has to wade through.

    Can’t believe the Times has dropped Mary Raftery, great columnist. I will miss her incisiveness. That paper is blanding itself into oblivion.

  8. crocodile

    Tomaltach should not give up on reading Waters. He – Waters – is so dependably wrong about every single thing he says that reading his column is a great help in clarifying one’s own thoughts on any topic. It’s simple: whatever Waters thinks, the diametric opposite is the way to go.

  9. dc

    “Regulars will know I have exercised my powers of moderation and deleted mean comments about John in the past.”

    I am one of those who wrote an intemperate comment on J.Waters which you wisely deleted. I totally understood why you did, Sarah, after the fact :)

    However, I have decided that life’s too short to get my knickers in a twist reading his pieces of s…, so I have taken a vow to desist, even if – as crocodile says – he’s dependably wrong.

    Best not to encourage him. Ignore him.

  10. joe

    i agree, ignore him, waters is not even wrong most of the time. that would be something, but his banal rants amount to little more than bar-stool drivel.

    for his sheer humanity, galileo is an all-time hero. read his letters in dava sobel’s “galileo’s daughter”. galileo was patient, diplomatic and probably the first person in history to realise that mathematics applied to real world earthly phenomena not just an abstract platonic world or the heavens. his careful observations of the trajectory of sun-spots and the moons of jupiter, for example, proved his point of view beyond any reasonable doubt (instantly recognised outside of italy). yet he narrowly missed the rack because some jesuits felt that scripture was closer to aristotle’s “common sense” view.

    when waters attacks galileo he attacks human integrity itself.

  11. Rob Hickey

    Sarah – you do realise that you are just proving his point…


    “Regulars will know I have exercised my powers of moderation and deleted mean comments about John in the past.”

    And you police views that don’t match your own / ignore statements of fact / close off threads with childish digs that can’t be responded to.

    On another topic but in the same paper, Fintan O’Toole was very good today by the way – I’m sure you’ve read already.

  12. Pingback: Damien Mulley » Blog Archive » The Fanny Waters show on Newstalk tomorrow

  13. Tom N

    If we only ever read journalists with whom we agreed, we would all be illiterate. I like John (some of the time) and I don’t think he was having a go at the more robust intellectual bloggers. However my argument is negated by the text he used, so what do I know.
    I think he was having a go at people like Seven Star Hand. His contribution, although (probably) factually correct had nothing to do with the context of your post, apart from the fact that religion was being discussed vis a vis science. He just wanted and audience for his post, which he entered. I read it. He wins. This in itself is proof that John Waters is a little bit correct, even if not entirely.
    I would be more concerned with the letter from your friend Paddy. Not because it was so vitriolic, but simply because it was so normal. He is part of a group of the populace who cannot envisage anything outside his own narrow sphere. They have always existed. They always will.

  14. Anthony Sheridan

    Why do you think you’re not in his league Sarah?

  15. Sarah Post author

    1. He’s got tons more experience
    2. He uses much bigger words
    3. He’s got a more prominent spot.
    4. I betcha he’s paid more than me too :-)

    and 5…(the real reason) I suppose I consider myself as the amateur with luck as opposed to important columnist. And he is, even if a bit cracked, important.

  16. Joseph

    Sorry to say that John is way overrated and your “Blog” is actually better than his Column. He sometimes had some interesting stuff when he was in “daddy waters” mode however while these articles about males being oppressed and discriminated against were interesting and often insightful, his recent stuff/rants has become more and more intellectually empty and senseless.

    He is the one who has become more and more of a clown and put himself across as a bit simple [even though he is not] be it the song contest [he was right in many of the things he said but then became a bit of joke as with the ice skating nonsense and worse of all his religious stuff is truly nonsensical. He is a good guy generally but just sometimes he talks rubbish. His comments about the bloggers was very funny .

    I like Sarahs blogs and long may they continue

  17. Niall

    I thought about posting about Water’s latest silly antics, but decided there wasn’t really any point. When a child throws a tantrum in a supermarket because they didn’t get the smarties they wanted, you give them as little attention as possible.

    Still, how a man who claims not to read blogs manages to have such a strong opinion about them is a little confusing.

  18. dc

    “And he is, even if a bit cracked, important.”

    Sadly, you might be right Sarah. Important as in “influential”, but in all the wrong ways. My sense – from an admittedly small sample of his writings – is that his oeuvre comes from an inflexible position of hate & distrust. His vitriol doesn’t offer insight or reflection, it only ensures gross responses (for or against). He writes to inflame. To my mind, that’s a waste of paper.

    Some posts have suggested that he knows what he’s doing and is cynically doing so to keep himself in business. Irritating as that would be, I doubt that’s where he’s coming from. It would require a degree of self awareness I’m not sure he has. Internet veterans can recognize a troll when we come across it. He takes himself way too seriously to be one.

  19. Sarah Post author

    Well I can’t help liking him BUT this is bugging me – he set us up for a row and here we are!! We’re the eejits…

  20. Chirpy

    Can I ask Sarah why you deleted mean comments about John but not about others? Explain the workings of your meanometer please.

  21. Niall

    I imagine Sarah would claim that this is a (benevolent?) dictatorship. She’ll delete what she wants when she wants, especially if a mean comment is made about someone she meets from time to time because that would make things a little awkward. .

  22. Sarah Post author

    They weren’t mean about his opinions but mean and outrageously defamatory about his personal circumstances. So a) I reserve the right to delete unnecessary abuse and cruelty on this blog – its mine so tough if you don’t like it and b) I reserve the right to protect myself from being sued because some people, in the heat of the moment, say silly things.
    I will protect everyone but yes, especially people I like. And John is over the top, but I like him.

  23. donkykemore

    Benedict is proving himself the most polarising force in Christianity; he has alienated Muslims and all Judaeo Abrahamic faiths .
    He has declared Turkey unfit to join the EU.
    Copernicus and Galleleo would have fallen to his axe and inferno in the Inquisition.
    He is as fundamental and intolerant as Bush and the neo cons and like all fundamentalists he will bring wrath rather than any reconciliation .
    He carries considerable baggage coming as he does from the Head of the doctrine of the faith.
    This is the group of erudite scholars who decide how many angles precisely can fit on the top on a pin.
    They have in the past agonized over the suggested curvature of a models limb representing a statue of the virgin Mary – This thinking was later applied by JC MC Quaid in arguing about following a line drawing advertising female undergarments – the suggestion being that to follow the implied line of the figure would lead the viewer to the suggestion of a representation of the mons vernis.

    Faith , science , doctrine must be of their nature each of a divergent value system determination.
    Faith requires no empirical evidence ; science allows no other basis for testing the merit of theory .
    In particle physics the problems become more obscure – Schroedinger’s cat for example suggests that the cat can be both alive and dead at the same time.
    Then we’re back to determinism again.
    But leave the pope out of this .
    He is of the wrong century ; He may yet return us to the Gregorian calender.
    the mortal sinfulness of onanism , which as a Jesuit boy Ive just begun to overcome .And I’m now 58… still , No hairs on my palms – yet ‘

  24. Hugh


    sorry to intrude on your rant, but we actually are using the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar wasn’t even forced on us by the religious authorities. As a change in the civil calendar, Pope Gregory VIII had no legal means to enforce it outside of the Papal States, and countries around the world adopted it piecemeal over the next couple of hundred years after he introduced it in 1582. Some European countries (Russia, Greece) didn’t even adopt it until the 20th Century. In Britain and Ireland, the calendar was adopted by Act of Parliament in 1752, and people rioted thinking that the government had somehow stolen 11 days of their lives!

    Nothing to see here, move along…

  25. donkykemore

    Yes I ; I goofed ; I meant the Julian ca lander.
    I shall do a Gregorian chant in meek supplication.
    It strikes me however that you’d be a dab hand at the Onanism .
    However , I should’nt be too hard-on you

  26. Bock the Robber

    1. He’s got tons more experience

    Has he got forty years’ experience, or one year’s experience forty times?

    2. He uses much bigger words

    Always a bad sign of insecurity. Go back five places, John.

    3. He’s got a more prominent spot.

    That’s because he has thicker neck and he knows Sinead O Connor, so to speak.

    4. I betcha he’s paid more than me too

    So is Bertie Ahern.

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