May 11, 2006

Linda grants permission

Woops sorry. I said "Linda grants permission" when what I meant to say was "Linda Grant's permission," meaning the permission that belongs to Linda Grant. But that too would have been wrong because I'm not sure that permission in this instance belongs to Linda Grant. That is to say that it is not for Linda Grant to grant or deny me permission to publish correspondence from her to me that is threatening to either sue me unjustly or to have my blog pulled.

A couple of posts ago, in a fit of pique, as I said at the time, I posted some correspondence between myself and Linda Grant. It was about me posting that an incident at Linda Grant's mother's stone-setting (a Jewish memorial ceremony) that Linda claimed in the Guardian had happened, hadn't happened. It doesn't matter now whether it happened or not. Well she, it seemed to me, correctly wrote to complain that there was an innocent person mentioned in her correspondence and asked me to remove the reference, which I did. In fact here's her email with notes by me in [brackets]:
Mark

Your one endearing quality is that you don’t mind looking like a total prat, as your latest blog entry indicates. [I quite enjoyed that line, not Orange prize material but funny]

Nonetheless, while [someone that something she says happened to, might not mind] you still do not have permission to describe [something] which I have not written about anywhere, and you are going to have to remove it. If you don’t I’ll have to go to your blog host which actually has rules on this kind of thing, and if you don’t back off, they’ll close your account. So let’s just do it, without dragging out the whole business and wasting everyone’s time.

Feel free to put this up instead http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56868800

Linda Grant
Well as you can see from the post, I removed the offending piece but then she sent me the blogger.com terms of service. I assumed that she hadn't seen the change to the original post so I ignored it. But then I got this masterpiece:
Dear Mark

I would like you to read the following very carefully, and absorb what it does and what it does not say.

Last night I had dinner with someone who was explaining that the libel laws are moving in on the internet, and the ISP’s are aware of this.

If you ever mention my mother’s stone-setting again, or make any statement about me fabricating an anti-semitic attack, if you make any reference to [someone] or any other of my relatives, if you make allegations about me being a liar on the prime facie basis that ‘Zionists are liars’, I will take immediate steps, without consulting you, to a) make an immediate report to your blog host under the terms of service and b) seek legal advice. You should be aware that the blog hosts have little interest in protecting the hundreds of thousands of bloggers they host from legal claims, in which they will be also subject to legal proceedings, are usually pull the account of the blogger, which in your case brings in no advertising revenue to them.

I am not doing this because the all-powerful Zionist lobby is seeking to silence the suffering voices of the Palestinian people. I have no objection to your blog post this morning. I am doing this because I will not have my family and friends dragged into your squalid little vendettas and I will of course defend my reputation as a writer.

I do not want to see any further mention of my mother’s stone setting on your site, is this completely clear? I am free to refer to it because it happened to me, and I am free to say what I wish about it. You are not, because you were not present, and your only interest in the occasion is a form of Holocaust-denial lite.

I advise you to hang on to this email, and refer to it when in doubt about what you can and can’t post about me. Any attempt to post this email on your site will automatically trigger the first complaint to your blog host. To sum up, you are free to say what you wish about my politics as long as you do not fabricate views that I do not hold, as Karma Nabulsi did in the case of Samir el Youssef, which she was forced to withdraw. [no she wasn't - the Guardian ran a minor correction - see here. I'll do a separate post on that.] Any attempt to refer to any aspect whatsoever of my private life will automatically incur the first stage of legal action.

I very much hope that this is the final exchange between us and that we should have no further reason to communicate with each other, on or off-line.

Yours sincerely

Linda Grant
Now let's break this down. First up she claims not to have taken actual professional legal advice. She had dinner with someone. Then she tells me that I can't mention something that she has written about in the Guardian and subsequently, in response to a rabbi calling on Linda Grant et al to have a "sense of proportion" over antisemitism in Britain, denied having written about in the Guardian four months later. She then says that whilst she can use her family and friends to promote her agenda (whether personal or political), I can't even do that if she places her family and friends in the public domain, though I'm not sure what friends she's referring to.

Next, what can this mean?
You should be aware that the blog hosts have little interest in protecting the hundreds of thousands of bloggers they host from legal claims, in which they will be also subject to legal proceedings, are usually pull the account of the blogger, which in your case brings in no advertising revenue to them.
Is she saying that all I have to do is offend her and she can get blogger.com to pull my blog? I keep hearing about zionists and neo-cons trying to censor the internet but could Linda Grant really do that? It's quite chilling that a mere threat without any legal procedure could result in an alternative minority media being closed down. Was it the libel lawyer who told her this over dinner?

Next up there's the "my reputation as a writer." What reputation might that be now? I'm sure Guardian readers are getting wise to her mealy mouthed zionist apologetics. But to continue.

What caused me to post the correspondence in the first place was Linda's boast on the Nick Cohen site that she had forced me to remove a post about her from my blog and that she had forced me to apologise. Owing to a little debacle on my site involving Nick Cohen commenting under a false name to accuse me of self-hatred and George Galloway of antisemitism, Nick Cohen has now removed his comments so I posted the whole thing here. Now Linda is boasting that she forced, former PLO rep, Karma Nabulsi to withdraw something written about Linda Grant and a Palestinian chap. Here's that review again just so you know it wasn't withdrawn; it carried quite a mild correction considering Linda Grant has complained on Engage that the error (which I'm sure couldn't have been deliberate) changed the whole thrust of Nabulsi's portrayal of the book as being in the "colonial narrative tradition." If the book is not in that tradition then she must have made a major departure from her usual fare.

As an aside here, when I wrote to the Guardian to say that Linda Grant was wrong to say that she hadn't said anything about antisemitism in the UK and that therefore her criticism of the rabbi who criticised her was wrong, they didn't correct, clarify or disclaim. That is, she could write about an antisemitic incident that happened to her family in the UK and then, when criticised by a rabbi for writing about antisemitism in the UK she could be published again in the Guardian denying that she had ever said, in any way, shape or form, anything about antisemitism in the UK. That wasn't fair on the rabbi and it suggests that Linda Grant does have some influence with the Guardian. Here's hoping she doesn't have the same influence with blogger.com.

And finally:
I very much hope that this is the final exchange between us and that we should have no further reason to communicate with each other, on or off-line.
Yeah, me too Linda, me too.

Also posted to Lenin's Tomb

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