Unbelievable. Apologies to anybody who comes here regularly, but the previous post descended into puerile abuse and I was forced to shut it down temporarily (for the record, unless he/she was also posting anonymously, this had nothing to do with “Stockhausen and Waterman”, none of whose comments I had to remove). This keeps happening. I’m going to continue blogging, but I’m going to have to leave Comment Moderation on, as I’m spending half my time removing anonymous abusive posts at the moment. It’s bloody tiresome, and it’s taking all the fun out of it. As previously stated, I write stuff on here because I enjoy it. Unfortunately, because it’s posted under my own name, and because I operate on the fringes of the public domain, this makes me fair game for abuse. “Collins, you’re a fucking knob,” ran the contribution that broke the camel’s back. How does one respond to that? “No, you are!” I’m sticking with the previous analogy: you’re round my house, talking about stuff, and if you’re round my house, you have a bit of respect for me, and for others. This is not a forum. Bad Science is a forum. The Comedy Forum is a forum. The British Sitcom Guide. Comment Is Free. Any number of BBC forums. But you have to register to join a forum, and you can be thrown out. Anybody can post on here, under any pseudonym they like, with no comeback, no email address. It’s actually more open than a forum. So the only way to stop a decent dialogue descending into abuse or just childish idiocy is to regulate it. I do so with a heavy heart, as it will involve a queueing system, and goes against my instinct for free speech. But I am so close to being worn down into the ground by it, it’s for the best. Those who seek to call me a fucking knob only do so because it’s public. If that luxury is taken away, they soon go away. (Calling someone a fucking knob in private is no fun, as who will be impressed if there’s no one to see or hear it?)
Sorry, I’ve been offline for most of the weekend, and I’ve missed a lot of the fun. I’m glad I had comment moderation on, as the holding pen is now full of anti-homeopathy enthusiasts trying to bring me down, and agreeing with the notion that a man who gave his daughter homeopathic treatment which did not save her life a “cunt”, which is a new low for this lobby. I should have known I’d been targeted again, as anyone who strays from the Bad Science status quo must be. What a lot of energy they spend on attacking. I mean, really, what’s the point of attacking me? I’d said my heart sank when I read the latest Goldacre piece, which it did, but I was careful not to get into an argument with him/them again, as I remember only too well how it played out last time. Stalemate is a nice way of putting it. I only wrote the pied wagtail entry to express the way the sight of a bird lifted my spirits during a bit of seasonal affective disorder, and how even the idea of another anti-homeopathy piece in a national newspaper sank it again. I choose birds.
Unfortunately, I’ve now read the lengthy thread about me on the Bad Science web forum (started by someone who actually posts sensibly on here about other subjects, with a handy link to come and get me – talk about backstabbing). It’s so full of bile and sarcasm (one person calls me a cunt, and says I only have my writing career through good fortune and not talent, which is pretty much what I say in my book), I’m quite exhausted by it all. If these people are so sure they are right, what threat am I?
Anyway, I’ve had to take the previous thread down and re-post it without the dialogue, as it had descended into name-calling and scoundrels misleadingly posting under other people’s names to stir things up, and in a moment of late-night madness I even decided to ban one person after his comments on the parent mentioned above (whatever you think of an issue, calling a man whose daughter had died a “cunt” smacks, if nothing else, of a complete lack of compassion – a quality I believe lies at the heart of all the political ideas I hold dear – also, and I know I’ve used it in the past, but the word does still offend some people). The act of removing the comments from the thread, which meant well, but led down a dark path, will look to the Bad Science regulars as if I have “taken my ball home” or something, or as if they have won. Well, in a very tiny way, they have won, yet again. They are tenacious. They take no prisoners. But I have won too, because by writing about anything but the h-word in the future, hopefully they will find someone else to belittle and patronise and attack. I hereby remove myself from the public debate on this matter.
I had one comment over the weekend from “bengoldacre” but I don’t believe it is from him. As ever, my personal email address appears for all to see on this website, and always has done, so even if I never blogged again, it would remain open to anyone who wished to challenge me or, frankly, call me a cunt, if that gives them a thrill. That’s the nature of these things. Oddly, it seems that the game is calling me a cunt in public, not in private, and no fun otherwise. I don’t mind being a cunt if a cunt is someone who enjoys the natural world and sometimes writes about it, and exhibits inconsistencies and changes his mind, and wonders aloud. I don’t even mind being one if a cunt is someone whose heartfelt views don’t stand up to rigorous scientific scrutiny. The message coming through from Bad Science is that if I dare to even allude to my views on homeopathy, they will be forced to shut me down. Such a sense of righteous purpose! One person on the BS forum was crowing about “marking” my previous God Delusion review a “D-minus” – what a glorious victory for science that was. If I am to write anything, I have to provide evidence and citations, as if writing in the Lancet, and yet, it was just on a blog. As I’ve said on many occasions, as a writer, I enjoy writing on here because it’s not for publication and doesn’t go through the usual filter of editors and sub-editors and fact-checkers, or, in TV, script editors and producers. That’s the fun of doing it. To write what I think, at any length, whenever I fancy it. Nobody is going to commission me to write about a science book or a religion book, so this is my only outlet to stray and experiment and go out of my depth.
Anyway I’m bored with the whole thing, and don’t have the strength for a fight. I wish I’d never mentioned the h-word (I think the BS believers call it “woo”, which I guess is a reference to it being “magic”), even in passing, on here. Please don’t bother visiting the Bad Science forum to counter house policy. It’s really not worth posting unless you’re one of the gang. Maybe there’s a gang here, too. A much nicer one.
Here’s a revolutionary idea: I have actually fixed it so that you can’t leave comments after this particular entry, which I’ll leave with you for a while. It is, as stated, a statement.
I’m getting a bit tired of the little spurts of abuse I’m currently attracting, so I’m giving myself a few days off the blog. I’m on the radio all week anyway (10pm-1am, 6 Music, Mon-Fri; Rockumentary Rollercoaster one-off documentary, Radio 4, Tuesday Nov 13, 11.30am and on Listen Again thereafter for seven days), so feel free to get in touch. It’s amazing how quickly the fun goes out of all this when you are constantly niggled. When I’m feeling a bit less fragile, I’ll be back with more drivel. Your patience is appreciated.