Imagine that a taxicab rider in the vicinity of the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 had parlayed minor injuries into an interview on "60 Minutes," a blog, a book and an occasional column in The New York Times, taking on the role of poster child and blaring loudspeaker of 9/11 victimhood. Imagine then, that an apparently unbalanced woman challenged her role on her own blog and Ms. Victim managed to have the challenger imprisoned for doing so.
Change the country to Britain and the event to the London bombings of July 7, 2005, and you'd be imaging someone like Rachel North, of whom apparently the Brits must now be so tired that just yesterday she was now bottom-feeding on a lazy Saturday U.S. public radio show that specializes in weird slices of life.
I heard it yesterday, having been apprised of her radio appearance by an alert reader of this blog.
North, which I understand is a pseudonym, was interviewed by an entirely sympathetic English-sounding voice concerning her apparent encounter with British conspiracy theorists who believe she is part of some British coverup concerning the London bombing.
Did she have anything new to say about her experience? No.
Did North have anything to comment concerning her egregious moves to censor another blogger under medieval British laws that allow trial in absentia (!) and jail for the expression of opinion? No.
The show was merely devoted to how teddibly, teddibly difficult life is for poor, forlorn Rachel North who, apparently is pursued by all sorts of British online nutcases, who claim -- obviously irrationally -- that she is part of a government conspiracy to blame Muslims for the attack.
Rachel North is not that important, chaps!
No mention of her publicity-seeking "diary" of her experiences during the bombing on the BBC, her endless blogging on her own tragedy and her continuing nitpicking of the Labour Party government's official investigation. Nor much mention of the money she made off the tragedy with her book and column in ultraconservative news magnate Rupert Murdock's The Times of London.
There was no mention of one Felicity Jane Lowde, against whom North and others campaigned to have jailed for her admittedly questionable opinions concerning North in comment sections on North's blog and posts on Lowde's own. Lowde was imprisoned last summer. So much for Britain's right to free speech.
As I have written here earlier (see here and here) a pox on both their houses. Insofar as I am concerned it's just an online catfight of no significance -- except that it has rattled the cages of the inmates in that asylum called the United Kingdom and she now is trying to bring the circus here. (There's more money to be made in the USA, isn't there?)
Indeed, also not mentioned in the radio show, the behavior displayed by North's own supporters -- see the 250 comments on the first link cited above -- amply demonstrated that they are no lilting, longsuffering wallflowers. Whatever is wrong with Lowde, the "Northsquad" as my cyberfriend Alex Fear calls them, and perhaps anonymously North herself, are as "antisocial" online (this was their charge concerning Lowde) as their bête noir.
Why do I, who am usually more interested in politics, economics, ethics, etc., even care? Because in National Public Radio's one-sided, semi-prurient infotainment about North, I found a saddening blur of lines between blogging and journalism, between right and wrong, between what is important and what should be laughed out of the court of public opinion.
On WAMU, the station I heard her on, they didn't bother to inquire enough to uncover the free speech scandal of a blogger jailed for airing opinion, the travesty of shameless publicity-seeking that surrounds explosive incidents (pun intended) or the silliness of an English-accent-only broadcast segment on a show for American audiences about events and people of no consequence here.