Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: How much speech does it take?

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  • Chris Bowden,

    In my experience sitting the Life in the UK test, all it really is is an English comprehension test. Before the test you are encouraged to purchase a book which talks about life in the UK. All of the answers to the test (mainly statistics, dates and geography) are somewhere in the book. So if you can read English (myself and the Canadian doing the test) you can finish it in ten minutes. If you don't speak English (in my test there were quite a few, and IMHO looked like the people most desparate to stay in the UK), you struggled. Therefore, the test was merely a way of weeding out non-English speaking immigrants.

    The thing I did like was completing mine in Brick Lane, historically a home for so many UK immigrants. It had a certain symbolism to it.

    There was a proposal while I was there for potential new immigrants to undertake community work, but it doesn't look like it gained traction. Although it looks like they are about to crack down on the method of immigration I used: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2011/june/12government-migration-proposals

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Whenever the issue of pseudonymity comes up, I remind myself that I am privileged to be able to use my real name online.

    You know something, that's all very nice - but I think it's also time to cash a reality check. I have no problems with people using (consistent) pseudonyms when they have legitimate safety concerns. I'd also suggest, with no respect whatsoever, that when Prentice and Farrar use rape complainants as troll bait I don't give a buggery fuck about the delicate sensibilities of their precious commentators. A little old-fashioned naming and shaming wouldn't go amiss.

    I use my real name because I think there's something in the old saw that if you won't spit in someone's face you shouldn't piss on their back. I can be nasty - and God, have I ever gotten the wrong end of the stick and worked it like a stripper pole more often than I care to admit. But I'll own what I say on-line, just as I don't shove anonymous letters through letterboxes in the middle of the night. Always.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    have no problems with people using (consistent) pseudonyms when they have legitimate safety concerns.

    I dont exactly have the kind of safety concerns Emma has mentioned, but I have had tiresome people emailing me or ringing me up. So much of the latter, that I've had a permanatly-on answer machine for them over the past 2 decades...

    And I've used Islander as my web-name for over 14 years.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    I thought long and hard about what username to choose when I first joined PA, because of Russell's request that we use our real names on here.

    The reason I stuck with webweaver is because historically that's who I am all over the internet and I decided I'd like to retain that naming consistency. Anyone who wants to know my real name only has to click the link to my website or my blog or my Twitter stream to see what it is.

    I'm in agreement with Craig in that I would never post something online that I wouldn't say to someone's face. But I do identify very closely with my username (and I really like it and professionally speaking it's also my brand), which is why I use it pretty much everywhere, including here.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 332 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I use my real name because I think there’s something in the old saw that if you won’t spit in someone’s face you shouldn’t piss on their back. I can be nasty – and God, have I ever gotten the wrong end of the stick and worked it like a stripper pole more often than I care to admit. But I’ll own what I say on-line, just as I don’t shove anonymous letters through letterboxes in the middle of the night. Always.

    Good for you. But you know, we are not all built the same way. And for every two verbose egomaniacs (that would be you and I) there are five people for whom being identifiable in RL is a little more fraught, for a variety of reasons – not all of them to do with personal safety – or for whom pseudonymity can be empowering, again, for a variety of reasons.

    Also: the fact that the Internet is so thoroughly archived and searchable is not necessary for online discussion forums to function, and I get that people may want to speak their mind and yet not have the internet keep a thorough running tally of their opinions, with all that that implies.

    But more generally, our online identities and our real life identities are two quite separate things, and are constructed in quite different ways. Some people choose to acknowledge that by using a handle. To me, that’s absolutely fine, so long as that handle is consistent – like Emma says. Because if it is, over time people are going to worry about the reputation of their handle (and the consistency of the behaviour and the ideas associated with it) as much as they do about the their real name. As Islander and webweaver have just nicely pointed out.

    Either way, we’re not getting rid of trolls. The same thing that makes some people feel that they can speak more freely online is the one that makes others feel that they can liberate their inner arsehole. We just have to live with that, and build online communities that can cope with the arseholes.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to webweaver,

    I thought long and hard about what username to choose when I first joined PA, because of Russell’s request that we use our real names on here.

    And my PAS handle dates back to the days of Counter-Strike and local area networking lessons on the Otago University computer networks. IBM's Deep Blue had beaten Garry Kasparov in a chess match not too long before, and so I thought, if there can be a Deep Blue, why not a Deep Red as well?

    That I post with my handle and still refuse to engage in sewer posts is a testament to reasonability.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to webweaver,

    I'm in agreement with Craig in that I would never post something online that I wouldn't say to someone's face.

    See, I do, absolutely, all the time. Case in point: yesterday a nurse taking bloods asked me what my new tattoo meant. And while I've been completely up front about my sexual identity on-line, there was no way in hell I was going to tell her I was a BDSM sub, because I didn't know whether, after that, I would receive competent health care or basic courtesy. She might have been absolutely fine, but it wasn't a risk I was prepared to take.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    I took my handle here because I - rather self-deprecatingly perhaps - identify with the protagonist of that name in the Peter Greenaway film, The Belly of an Architect. I've another name elsewhere, "Rhinocrates" almost by accident due to registering using a different email address and having a fondness for Vivian Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. I try to be consistent, but I think Rhinocrates is increasingly representing my sillier side and Kracklite my more serious side.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kracklite,

    I think Rhinocrates is increasingly representing my sillier side

    And those damn fine tangles with young neolib twat James. Thanks for those.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    My use of my real name began on Kiwiblog, so I was hardly going to change it for here. Initially I think I did it because of something Craig said there that made sense about people simply respecting the courage of a real name more. But the thing I most like about it, something I guess was in the back of my mind all along, was that it makes me behave better. It makes me take more care. That is also a cost, of sorts, because things said for the sake of argument can make for good arguments. But I opted to simply signpost things like that. Make it clear that you're arguing a line that you don't necessarily believe and it works just the same.

    In the back of my mind have been some fears that real life could turn up and bite me. But over time, noticing the transformative (and good) effect that this site and the characters residing on it have had on me, I have come to think that if real life tries to bite me, I'll bite back. I stand by words said here, and if, for example, an employer opted to hold that against me, then that's almost certainly a good thing because I doubt I'd be able to see eye to eye with anyone who simply could not work with someone holding my beliefs. I'd just as soon know straight up if that's a problem. And if someone wants to attempt to victimize me for my beliefs I'll fight them, hard.

    Also, I live for the day I meet someone randomly who says "Hey are you the Ben Wilson from PAS? Love your work". Not holding much hope out, but you never know.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Sacha,

    Purely for my own entertainment. James, like most trolls, is absolutely covered in big shiny flashy buttons that I just can't resist pushing.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Weeell... is it unreasonable to suggest that anonymity/pseudonymity are enablers of aggressive and transgressive words for the rudely inclined, though it's by no means inevitable? I think a real names policy does filter out a lot of crap; the problem is it also filters out genuine and even necessary contributions. Which is why I rather like PAS' apparent "real names encouraged but not required" policy.

    I have another identity on another site which is easily tied back to me. I probably am a bit freer in what I disclose of my inner workings there. But on the whole, I try hard not to say things on the Internet that I wouldn't want attributed to me publicly. I'm not entirely sure why. I think having a pre-internet childhood and adolescence might be part of a general reticence. Dunno.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    "Hey are you the Ben Wilson from PAS? Love your work"

    There's always the Blend..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Windschuttle, beloved as he is by the Summer Symposium crowd, realises very little. He's just another bigoted hack getting by on bad scholarship courtesy of people who want to believe

    people such as john howard. windschuttle is the intellectual powerhouse behind the phrase "black armband view of history", and actively denies the holocaust of aboriginal people - particularly in tasmania.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to BenWilson,

    In the back of my mind have been some fears that real life could turn up and bite me.

    it did me. i had someone contact my employer and complain about internet useage. would love to know who it was.

    i was working with data at the time, and was mostly running long SQL queries. time spent waiting for results was filled with internet.

    whomever you were who tried to have me sacked, fcuk you.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    There's always the Blend..

    That's cheating. I meant from some truly random connection, like someone chancing to see my name on my credit card, or a work meeting, or such. Like I say, unlikely.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Che Tibby,

    whomever you were who tried to have me sacked, fcuk you.

    How did it go down with the employer? Did they hass you about anything you actually said, or was it just on some kind of estimation of the time you were spending when you "should" be working?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to BenWilson,

    Did they hass you about anything you actually said

    i'll admit that calling hide a complete arsehole might not have sat so well...

    but. bored at work + desperate to leave public service = silly thinking.

    all the same, threatening employment was a bit off.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kracklite,

    Purely for my own entertainment. James, like most trolls, is absolutely covered in big shiny flashy buttons that I just can’t resist pushing.

    He's a pokie machine, then?

    I bloody hope the profits are going somewhere good. Those things are a menace.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to BenWilson,

    How come I suddenly can't select text on my phone?

    Anyway...Ben, that has actually happened to me, at a wedding. I mentioned something in a discussion about the Internet, about PAS, and a woman said 'wait, you're not Megan Wegan are you?'. Freaked. Me. Out.

    And yes, I post here pseudonymously, largely because of work issues. And I'm fairly certain you all know who I am by now.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Che Tibby,

    i'll admit that calling hide a complete arsehole might not have sat so well...

    Did that actually come up? Does rather point in the direction of your unknown malefactor.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    “Hey are you the Ben Wilson from PAS? Love your work”

    There’s always the Blend..

    Now because it's 2 wines after dinner and I'm inherently evil, how about everyone says that to Ben at the blend.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    And I’m fairly certain you all know who I am by now.

    Nope no clue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Ask Emma, she'll tell you.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Ask Emma, she’ll tell you.

    Sure, but for some weird reason I feel that is cheating. You use a pseudonym for a reason, whatever it may be. I kinda feel that trying to discover your secret identity is violating some kind of trust.

    Yeah and that doesn't make sense to me either but hey it's just the way it feels to me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

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