Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Irfan and modern day witchhunts

Mark Valladares' posts about Irfan on the Lib Dem aggregator scared me somewhat.

Is he seriously suggesting someone be barred from the aggregator based JUST on this post?

Or thrown out out of the Liberal Democrats?

I don't know Irfan. From reading his posts, I suspect he is a teenager (correct me if I'm wrong). Certainly, he isn't that practiced at getting his thoughts down on paper?

Was he homophobic and defending abusive comments? Was he concerned about homophobia and wanted freedom of speech in his comments' box? Or was he just bringing the number of gay cabinet members to everyone's attention? And is the latter homophobic or just random? 

I don't know. I can't understand the point he was trying to make in his blog post or subsequent comments.

When confronted, he seemed confused and defensive. As he grew more confused and defensive, he was attacked for compounding his original mistake. He could be defending homophobia. Alternatively, he could be confused by why his post was misinterpreted so badly.

Throwing Irfan off if he's just expressed himself poorly means LibDemBlogs is a 'talented writers only' area. Writing is hard. It's even harder if your writing must be impossible to misinterpret.

If Irfan has been clearly offensive on numerous occasions, I will change my mind.

Otherwise, Mark might consider unblocking Irfan and offering some writing tips. Irfan obviously wants to write and being clearer will improve the experience.

Irfan - I write for a living, but it took me years to learn and there are still things I can't do. I love teaching other people since writing is hard. If you want to avoid the risk of being misunderstood, leave me a comment and we can exchange tips by email.


  • At 8:12 am , Blogger Irfan Ahmed said...

    You Can email me at irfanahmed91@gmail.com.

  • At 9:07 am , Blogger Julian H said...

    I agree that no kind of censorship (and certainly not banning) is appropriate; the aggregator is very loosely regulated, and so I feel it should remain.

    However, whilst your post is very charitable, we should remember that we are a liberal party, not a community outreach programme.

    Many of Irfan's posts smack of illiberalism and it's therefore entirely reasonable that they're criticised.

  • At 9:26 am , Anonymous Aaron Trevena said...


    There are plenty of illiberal liberals in the party and on lib dem blogs, irfan ahmed is by no means the most illiberal.

    I don't think he was homophobic in that storm in a teacup of a posting, looked to me like just mentioning a curiosity..

    I'm pretty sure many of us can remember when an openly gay cabinet minister would have been a scandal, or more recent scandals such as one of our previous leadership candidates campaign against peter tatchell.

    And it's still relevent - each time you hear the bigots in the Church and Tory party talk about the "Traditional Family".

    Clumsy or immature writing doesn't make for a bigot.

    However like the OP, I haven't seen any other illiberal posts, mostly it's the usual party political sniping.

  • At 12:24 pm , Anonymous Liberal Neil said...

    Mark Valladares did not call for Irfan to be banned.

    He did point out that the original post might be homophobic and/or offensive and raised the general issue of how or whether we should self regulate ourselves.

    He used very moderate language to do this and asked genuine questions.

    My approach was to challnege Irfan on what he actually meant and why he had made the post via comments to his post.

    Personally I prefer the approach of argument and persuasion.

    Irfan has now withdrawn the post and apologised for any offence caused which is, I think, the right thing for him to have done.

  • At 2:53 pm , Blogger The Burbler said...

    To answer your question, Irfan is 16 years old. I have found him to be very flexible and responsive on the couple of occasions I have pointed something out to him in his posts. He is a very keen person and, I'm very sure, welcomes guidance.

  • At 6:39 pm , Blogger Femme de Resistance said...

    > However, whilst your post is very charitable, we
    > should remember that we are a liberal party, not a
    > community outreach programme.

    That's true, but reading the post I was unsure if Irfan was being homophobic, criticising Guido or just pointing out a curiosity. This was because the post wasn't as clear as it could be.

    I am concerned about the amount of noise being made about a rather unclear post written by a 16-year-old.

    I appreciate there are general points to be made here, but I can imagine scenarios where it would be more suitable to raise them.


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