Adventures of Tim Worstall and the Backward Paddies

9 01 2013

Tim Worstall of the Adam Smith Institute, Forbes, Telegraph et al, recently posted a piece on the NNI links licensing debacle here in Ireland, under the charming headline “It Would Have To Be The Irish NewsPapers Trying Something Insanely Stupid Like Charging For Links To Websites“.

There’s a clue to the content in the headline, suffice it to say that it involved a rehashing of tired old ethnic stereotypes and, yes, Paddy jokes.

Needless to say, some of us thought that this was somewhat offensive. Tim thought otherwise, and responded in the comments. A further piece was published on thejournal.ie bemoaning the “old Irish chip” towards our neighbours, or words to that effect, with Tim again weighing in on the comments, seemingly blind to how his little piece of knockabout fun on Forbes could possibly offend anyone. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get any joy out of that particular site this evening, so I’m posting my response here:

Tim, it’s quite simple. You gratuitously introduced a spurious ethnic/national/racial element to a story where none belonged. It’s a story about old media failing to adapt to the online era. Nothing more.

Wouldn’t your word count have been better spent getting into the meat of the issue? You know, email Simon McGarr or others who have been served with NNI’s ridiculous licensing notices for comment, a few post around here if you’re interested? Contact the grand old lady formerly of D’Olier Street or NNI for the other side? Look at the legal framework, which clearly doesn’t support the claimed right?

You know, journalism.

Maybe even have a look at the comparative legal position – funnily enough, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales have explicitly recognised copyright vesting in web links, in the case of Newspaper Licensing Agency & Ors. v. Meltwater Holding BV & Ors, a 2011 decision, which was the main authority relied upon by NNI for their utterly ludicrous position …. at least, it’s ludicrous in Irish law … a quick google search would have found it for you.

Instead, your article amounted to “I know it’s not PC to guffaw at backward Paddies, but … har har har, backward Paddies”.

Comedy gold.

I did err in the football hooligans analogy, I’ll admit that much, it would be more like referring to the Sinclair C5 by saying “well that was a flop, typical Brit … that’s what caning and rounders at boarding school, followed by years of sexual repression will do”. Simply gratuitous, incongruous, irrelevant and frankly embarrassing.

To be fair to you, as we backward Paddies are prone to say, it could well be a generational thing – for my peers and I, people are people first and foremost, reducing an individual, or an institution for that matter, to its national origin as primary defining characteristic is simply not acceptable. You see, even behind closed doors, “typical Irish/black/Brit/Yank (etc. ad nauseum)” simply does not wash any more, not as humour, not as anything. But I have met men of the colonial generation who are simply incapable of adapting to this reality, which is probably why they run in increasingly small and frightened numbers around the clubs outside Nairobi. Maybe you just can’t see.

In summary, either lazy journalism or an expression of more deep rooted xenophobia. In either case, unacceptable. Hopefully in future you’ll stick to wibbling on about the actual issues rather than touting to be picked up by the Bernard Manning school of comedy.

I hope to revive this blog in the not too distant – I note that Tim also has some enlightened views on the recent lead and crime controversy, which may be a good place to start.

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