Friday, June 20, 2003
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Bill Buford, will the poems give pause to war mongers?
I don't think they will give it a second look. I think that you flatter the poems and, alas Harold Pinter by giving it this much attention. I find this narcissistic. I get impatient with it. I don't know why you read this. Are you reading it for its wit, for its use of language, for its imagery? Are you reading the argument because you expect something to come up that you've not heard before? No. When there is a comparison between Nazi Germany, this becomes for me an hysterical rant. The point of the poems seem to me, that they are merely consolidating the views of the listeners who are agreeing with the author. "
"Sadly" they all think the poems are dire, so it's not a good example of balance, I'm afraid.
I've no idea who the speaker is who said it, unfortunately, but it went unchallenged by the host and the other members of the panel. His name's not been given at the end of the show, I'm afraid. Perhaps they'll let us know here.
For those who prefer talk about the books, Paxo's interview with JK Rowling is up in transcript form.
The latest 30 posts appear on the front-page, and it seems possible to go back in the archives. It's a mixture of news stories and links to organisations, and a number look pretty interesting. It's joining my blog-roll and "favourites"...
Whereas on Saturday afternoon (US time), I'll be live-blogging Channel 4's Tony Blair On Trial
"We were told Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but no such weapons have been found. Did the Prime Minister send troops to war under false pretences? Or is it a matter of time before these weapons are found? Tonight, advocates from both sides of the debate will question key witnesses in a courtroom setting as they put Tony Blair on Trial."
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
However, he clearly misses that this proves Pilger right all along - war was wrong, as if sanctions weren't killing Iraqi civilians, they were plainly the right way to deal with the threat: one of the main planks of a moral case for action falls away. Or something like that - give Pilger a week....
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Compare and contrast:
The best - "It started with a kick-about. Seven of us. Two weeks later, it was 20 or 30. Two months later, the youngest had lost his family and we'd lost our opportunities. It's madness. When you put the beginning and the end next to each other and forget everything in-between. It's insanity."
Vs last year's worst (the Bulwer-Lytton winner) - "On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet-paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained. "
Personally, I prefered another of the "best" entries: "Last night I dreamt it was the best and worst of times again. The cannibal was back in Manderley. The cannibal was me."
"I’m not saying that one should choose one’s adult beverages on the basis of their luminescent translucence, but the Smirnoff “Ice” malt beverages - purchased because the store was out of my wife’s favorite, the Stoli Citrona - look quite nice on the top shelf of the fridge. They’re backlit. They glow. It’s the sort of vision you associate with the fridges of venture capitalists in an 80s movie, the sort of thing that suggests Kim Basinger will be over shortly for a night of strewing fruit on the kitchen floor."
Monday, June 16, 2003
Via Andrea Harris
"As for the English pack they are the stuff of nightmares. They're battle-hardened Vikings - all scars, snarls and, in Lawrence Dallaglio's case, snorts. And their captain Martin Johnson has that perpetual sneer on his face - as if he's just found out that every Kiwi has married their sister. His running battle with referee Stuart Dickinson also proved that he hated everybody, not just Kiwis.
The rest of the pack were simply giant gargoyles - raw-boned, cauliflower-eared monoliths that intimidated and unsettled. When they ran on to the field, it was like watching a tribe of white orcs on steroids. Forget their hardness - has there ever been an uglier forward pack? Small children who stayed up late to watch this test will be wetting their beds for weeks. But, boy, I'd love to have them playing for us. "
"In [a recent case where a judge upheld effectively a "media adviser-client privilege"], the client's lawyers hired a PR firm because they feared that "unbalanced and often inaccurate press reports created a clear risk that prosecutors and regulators would feel public pressure to bring some kind of charge". The judge highlights the importance of public opinion in determining who is indicted and for what; prosecutors commonly try to "colour public opinion", he said, "in the most extreme cases to the detriment of [the defendant's] ability to obtain a fair trial". The rest of us should have the tools we need to fight back against the potential abuse of government power, he argued - if necessary in the media.
Somehow, Martha Stewart and her lawyers failed to grasp that simple legal truth: that the best media win. To pretend otherwise ought to be punishable as a form of legal malpractice, argues James Haggerty, author of the perfect handbook for this age of show trials, In the Court of Public Opinion: Winning your Case with Public Relations.* The book argues a case dear to Mr Haggerty's wallet (he is both a lawyer and a public relations consultant) but that does not make it wrong. According to him, in high-profile cases "public relations is not what you do after you create a legal strategy. Public relations is the legal strategy". All cases are public, he argues - and since barely 10 per cent ever make it to a courtroom, most are fought from beginning to end in the court of public opinion.
Mr Haggerty can claim support for his views in high places: not just from the district judge mentioned above (Lewis Kaplan, one of the cleverest in the business) but also from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote in a 1991 case that "an attorney's duties do not begin inside the courtroom door".
Martha Stewart's lawyers would have done better to heed that advice: they should have staged their own show trial, long before the US attorney strode on to the stage. The government made no secret of its intention to try her in the press - to gain maximum deterrent value from her public shaming. She should have replied in kind, with a PR campaign to brand an image of innocence.
[Whilst her post-trial strategy seems to have led the public to see the conviction as unfair,] Ms Stewart ought to have sharpened her PR instruments months ago, while there was still time to separate the prosecutor from his indictment, like the meat from its bone on a shoulder of lamb."
I don't know whether this says good things or bad things about the potential impact of money and politics on justice in America, and it should surely feed into Britain's considerations on reporting restrictions. But it does seem to suggest that the American arrangements, potentially, let people protect themselves from weak prosecutions. If they play their cards right. But that's no substitute for getting rid of bad laws.
* as I understand it, she was convicted for what was said to federal officials investigating the alleged crime, rather than for committing the offense...