Monday, 11 May 2009

Meeting up with a Racist

I did something very foolish indeed on Friday 8th May 2009, something that I shouldn't have done for many, many reasons...but I did and for that I am sorry.

I have been arguing online with a white supremacist called The Sentinel (WARNING: only visit if you are looking for vile, BNP style blame the foreigners type nonsense and anti-semitism; dressed up in grand pseudo-intellectual language), hereafter referred to as the racist.

The 'debates' were taking place at the blog of Renegade Eye, a fine left-wing blog frequented by a raft of right-wing idiots who, I believe, are dragging the blog down with them but I digress...

I had presumed that the racist was based in the US but during one exchange, where he had been pouring over the text to see if he got mentioned, a warning of his self-obsessive, delusional behaviour, he threatened me and suggested that we meet up face-to-face to 'carry on the discussion'.

So I contacted the racist via his blog comments, as he refuses to do email and said that I'd meet him to discuss his racism and daft ideas face-to-face. Call the fuckers bluff I thought to myself and after a bit of his bluster, to my mild surprise, he named a place: The Penderel's Oak, a pub on High Holborn, he said he'd be there on the 8th and 15th May, from 6pm until closing.

I told him that I'd be there on the 8th (the 15th is Eva-Jane's birthday meal, so no can do) but could only stay until about 10 past, as I had to meet my beautiful lady but enough to show I'm not scared of the daft racist and to arrange a second meeting (what I was hoping to achieve I've no idea, this was a move of epic, idiotic proportions).

The racist banged on about doubting I'd come and I kept banging on about looking forward to meeting him, as I was certain that if I went, he would be there, he seemed a determined character and a man of principle, I may not agree with him but the last thing I thought he was was a coward and a liar.

How wrong was I?

Like a twat I actually went and rightly so, Eva and people that care about me were absolutely furious; not only was I perhaps putting myself in jeopardy (who knows what mentalists frequent the Internet, especially if they are thick enough to be racist? I read the story today of the German Internet loon that hacked that man to death over his girlfriend...who he'd never met...) but I didn't tell Eva for fear of her letting her justified feelings talk me out of going.

Anyway, I got there at 17:45 and had a lime & soda and waited...and waited... and waited. 6pm came and went and I eventually left at 18:14 as I said I had to, the racist hadn't turned up. I was genuinely surprised and then it struck me that I had no way of proving I was there or that he wasn't, aside from the details I observed at the pub such as what was on the TV and the description of the person/persons playing the fruit machine directly opposite the bar or the look of the door staff.

And then it struck me what a stupid thing I'd just done to prove a point, what value is that if something had gone wrong? What would that be worth? Never mind all the time wasted 'debating' with these morons, it's alright for them, they have no life but I've got a home and a lovely girl, a great career and so many things to do. What the fuck was I thinking?

Going to meet up with the racist was one of the most stupid things I've ever done but it was a wake-up call, to gain perspective about what a pointless waste of time it is arguing with people on the Internet. Minds will not be changed, nothing will be gained, only precious time lost. I've got better things to do.

On a side note, as expected and rather amusingly, the racist claimed he was there all along and that I didn't show, if only, I was there staring oddly at every lone man that walked in that looked like a racist. Some may have thought I was cruising but Wetherspoon's are not famous for being great places to pick up hot gay men.

I'm going to leave the delusional and mentally deranged to their part of the Internet and get back to writing stuff that Jessica can share with her students in California.

Peace.

22 comments:

  1. Yip - I am not at all interested in playing this silly little game with you and trust me, I want nothing further to do with you at all. You are a dangerous character; I notice that you collect enemies through this medium at pretty rapid rate and that, judging by that last deleted comment, at least one is very unstable.

    I will part company with you with one bit of sincere and serious advice though:

    I am IT security professional and contract out to corporations and government agencies; one of the services we offer is Pen (etration) testing and one of the optional sub-services is employee data mining. Essentially we use various tools to identify employess online footprint i.e Facebook, Bebo, Blogs, newsgroups etc and use the information harvested to either technically compromise their user accounts or for social engineering attacks. It is enormously successful. (The massive rise in identity theft is facilitated in this fashion too.)

    People reveal all sorts of details on the internet that they wouldn't do in personal situations and would never have dreamed about revealing years ago at all and as a consequence, not only do we deal with employees comprising company security but we deal with employees comprising their own.

    A very abridged example involves a person in a sensitive position who thought they were being targeted by organised criminals. Upon investigation we found that this individual - over the course of several years, one small disconnected detail at a time - had painted a complete picture of their life and activities online, even down to which buses and tubes they took to and from work and what time - through to which bars they patronised and on what days . Luckily for this person, even though they were attacked it was not serious; but it was subsequently discovered was that it was not organised criminals after money, but just a disgruntled individual with whom the victim had an online dispute with.

    This is very common now and increasingly so. Just today for instance, a German man, David Heiss, was sentenced to life for murdering a British man, Matthew Pyke, outside his home after a protracted internet dispute, involving Pyke's girlfriend - the crime was carried out in a very organised fashion using intimate details revealed online by the victim and his girlfriend.

    And so I would say to you that contrary to your belief that signing your posts with your name and picture is an act of bravery, it is an act of extreme stupidity.

    And even worse, by extension, you associate your girl Eva-Jane and your family and friends at large with your online activities too. Given your abrasive, abusive and aggravative style of online interaction it is deeply idiotic, immensely selfish and potentially very dangerous.

    So my honest advice to you is either to anonymise your online activities - at least the more inflammatory aspects of it - or learn to treat people online the same way as you would treat them in person, and I can tell you from professional experience, the first option is most certainly the best, combined with the second.

    That is my parting word and advice to you and you can take it or leave it - or most likely pour venomous scorn all over it.

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  2. And in fact, one of your disgruntled online contacts has now gone to the trouble of posting the link to your bizarre exchange on why.i.hate.dc by way of a comment.

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  3. I thought you might comment Sentinel and fair enough, you are mentioned so you have full right to do so.

    We find, at last, something to agree on!

    Not only do I get attention from unstable characters and for once, this is not a dig at you but you're right regards the information one puts online and how this can be pieced together by those who may want to hurt you.

    I have been aware of this for some time, I used to hide behind a false name and identity but blogging for me is always about the personal and so, if I'm going to say it, I put my name to it as a matter of honour and decency.

    I think the main differecne is that I work in a very public business. Googling my name does highlight 'fansites' that collect contact info of 'famous' people, the details, if I recall, are out of date and are of an office of Spotlight but my work is public work.

    I am aware that having this blog could jepodise my career or come back to haunt me. So be it, as i said, I don't retract a thing I've put my name too, unless of course I've apologised for it already or my position has changed due to being educated on the matter.

    As for selfish acts, well, this blog post was all about that wasn't it, an apology for and a serious regret of my selfish act.

    I have really thought long and hard about the level of involvement in silly debates online and the desire to get my blog back to more creative and enjoyable pursuits; rather than pointless arguements that serve no purpose at all.

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  4. I wouldn't have gone to any bar to meet with someone I was arguing with online. I think you've gotten wisdom on that. However, I don't think vigorous online discussion can affect the opinions of those with an open mind. I, much possibly to your dougt, do have an open mind. It's just that on the issue of enhanced interrogation I've got a well formed background and knowledge of the issue so my position is hard. But I assure you I've had fellow bloggers change my mind on issues. Being closed minded is a disease I agree. While I may have other problems being closed minded is not one of them.

    And your comment: "...what a pointless waste of time it is arguing with people on the Internet. Minds will not be changed, nothing will be gained, only precious time lost. I've got better things to do."

    I guess I was included in that thought. If so, sorry you feel that way Dan.

    Anyway, good luck Dan with your blog, teaching and writing. I must say in parting that Sentinel does have a point about your identity. I understand how you feel, your just a straight forward guy who feels he has nothing to hide. But you do. Your safety.

    Take care and do stop by some time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice to have you stop by Jeff, our discussion was a long way off the kind of nonsense that has occured elsewhere, thank goodness.

    I'm also glad to hear that you're not closed minded, all I would say is that it is rare person that holds up their hand and says that they are, that woukld make them quite open minded so the chances of a genuinely close minded person doing so is impossible?

    And I am not referring to you at all, including in that comment I made, our discussion was civil and not pointless.

    Thanks for coming and for commenting here in a peaceful manner, take care and all the best.

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  6. Identity theft is something I have no yet experienced. But I had my problem with what Sentinel described. Seemingly mundane information that I would have never cared for otherwise, was used to harm me in the worst possible way. I learned my lesson and I'm not hiding for that the powers that be can track me down trivially. But I'm hiding from those who do not have the powers of the powers that be, if I can put it this way.

    Ultimately, the choice of how you conduct your behavior online is a personal choice, many public figures have their full lives revealed online. By virtue of doing public work nothing is a secret, so it is not odd to find somebody like yourself sharing everything online. I just wouldn't do it myself, but that is just me.

    As for meeting people from the online world, well I obviously do it, for that we have both met. But that was after years of following your blog and having formed an online "friendship". What you attempted to do was foolish, and I'm glad you did not need anybody to convince you of it.

    Lastly, I think you are a good person!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Mohamed!

    Of course, I do think about whether I give too much here, whether I put things in jeopardy but, although I must show a greater caution, the content of the blog I stand by.

    Also, my readership runs between only some 50-100 unique visitors per day, that is a tear in the ocean.

    And people may go out of their way to misuse information and perhaps to smear you but that just makes them look like idiots and generates feelings of support for yourself.

    And meeting up with you was one of the highlights of the blogging experience, it's so good to find a like mind from such a long way away...well Germany but you know what I mean.

    And glad to know you think I'm a good person!

    ReplyDelete
  8. And you never took me up on my offer of a free pint when we lived in Loughton...I am hurt.

    But seriously, there are nutters out there. My experience of an internet stalker happened way back in 1997. The net was a relatively new thing and I became fascinated with the then fairly cult chat-room culture. I struck up a friendship with this American lady and it went from something that was fairly light and flirty, to something a lot heavier and darker.

    From my side of the screen I was just harmlessly flirting with this woman, but to her I was some sort of British knight in shining armour. Yes, I probably didn't help the situation, but this was before webcams and cybersex and the sordid, clammy naked sessions in front of the PC you get today. This was just text and the next thing I know this woman, through our conversations, discoveres EXACTLY where I worked (and I didn't tell her the name of the company), sent over packages via FedEx and then one day phoned me.

    The phonecall culminated with this woman threatening to kill herself. That was my signal to stop. I told her calmly that was no solution and she wouldn't do it and put the phone down. I never heard anything from her. However, later on a mutual contact emailed me to say that she hooked up with another fellow and left her husband for this guy. Phew what a lucky escape!

    But yes, the net is a dangerous place and use my real name purely because at the beginning I used my website a promotional tool to promote my freelance writing and the music I do. However, it is pretty easy to find people these days. We have just by knowing your age (you might have revealed your exact birthday), I can zip off and find your birth certificate, your mothers maiden name etc. It is frightening.

    So we can all hide like cowards and throw virtual bombs and take absolutely no responsibility for your words and actions on the net (like cowards such as The Sentinel) or we can stand and say, "Here we are - take your best shot".

    I like you, Dan. I admire you a lot because you are everything I want to be in a person, but I am far too fallible and hung up. You fronted this cretin out and you won. It's not stupid, you arranged a public meeting place, everyone knew where you were. But all along this scrote was probably walking behind you, all along. It's an uneven playing field, so its not worth playing that game. Not with cowards, anyway.

    In my mind, if the loonies are going to come and get you, they are going to come and get you. It's like that car that hit us. It was always coming and I knew it was coming. You just have to brace yourself and do the best you can.

    Don't be a coward. It's not in your nature to be a coward, friend. You are big brave HG. That's why I admire you.

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  9. Darren:

    Thank you for your kind words, I don't quite know what to say, apart from that I am grateful for them and feel touched.

    I appreciate you sharing your story and all that you have said to me a great deal.

    Tahnk you.

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  10. For once The Sentinel's advice is sound advice (can't believe I said that!).

    Looking at your photies I'm sure I've seen you somewhere before but can't quite place you ... Been on telly much?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes, in the late 90s I did quite a few series (Heartbeat etc) as small parts, few episodes and the in the last few years done quite a few adverts around the globe.

    And if you're a fan of theatre you may have seen me, as this is what I mainly do.

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  12. Must have been an ad - I never watched Heartbeat, and alas if I did I wouldn't admit to it!!!

    Got more telly work lined up in the future or does the stage hold you in its tender grasp?

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  13. You also meet weird people off t'interwebs after shows in northern towns ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I've just looked at his blog. Steer well clear of this tool. I would consider his first comment above to be a veiled threat (not that he'll actually do anything, but a threat is nasty enough anyway).

    But yeah, steer clear of nutters. Nothing good ever came out of an Internet argument.

    (http://xkcd.com/386/)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Phil:

    Fair play, I'm not a fan but it's a nice show to work on. My first feature film is doing the rounds at the mo, hopefully be on the big screen real soon and got my fingers crossed for an amazing theatre job.

    Flaneur:

    Yes I do but you turned out to be very cool indeed! And yes, the comment he left was a veiled threat but more fool him for such silliness. Thanks for the picture link, spot on.

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  16. Why didn't "Sentinel" show up? Besides being a coward, I think he is not in the UK.

    Does he not have all the characteristics of the long gone and unlamented "col dr"? The sock puppeting, the claims of technical prowess, the veiled threats, the overt threats, the smear posts on his own blog, the meetings that he never shows up at which he then claims you didn't show up at.

    It's all there. Q.E.D.

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  17. Bud:

    Ah! The Col.Dr! I thought you'd remember those heady days, there was actually a very sad story there and although there are similarities I know that it is not the Col.Dr; that and the political views just don't match.

    Col.Dr's sister contacted me many moons back, he had a long history of mental health issues, which I knew but it seems his mental health went right down the pan and he was sectioned.

    To my knowledge he is still being cared for in a mental institute.

    A real shame, he was a good man at times.

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  18. As long as you're ok Daniel!! Don't you be meeting up with no stangers in the future, you hear me young man???
    LOL hope all is well in HoffmannGill Land!

    Nicola (O'B from NOTTS ;)

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  19. I'm glad to see you've realised your time is worth more for creative avenues as I will be looking to prise some of it once you return.

    Plus showing how ignorant and stupid racist people are is best through the arts and that's how I hope to tackle the issue in the future.

    TK

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  20. Nicola and Tom, thanks so much for your kind words and support.

    True friends!

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  21. Daniel,

    Ré our friend in the Conspiracy. Thanks for the heads up.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Douglas:

    The Sentinel is a fucking asshat, seriously, so any efforts you take to make him look the twat he is has all my support, trust me.

    ReplyDelete

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