[imc-uk-moderation] 412643 - No Borders/No2ID protest call-out - mod action taken on problematic wording & No Borders objections
Maria Ng (News From Nowhere Bookshop)
maria at newsfromnowhere.org.uk
Tue Nov 18 14:45:35 PST 2008
I'm a Liverpool Indymedia admin and also involved in the Liverpool Defy ID group.
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/liverpool/2008/11/412643.html?c=on is a call out for a demo in Liverpool next Tuesday at the Borders Agency office here against the rollout of ID cards for non-EU immigrants. Both NO2ID and No Borders have called for demonstrations on this day. The article was posted by Dave Page of Manchester NO2ID in the name of NO2ID, Defy ID and No Borders, and used the No Borders logo.
In comments No Borders activists objected to a sentence contained in the article: "This scheme is not about preventing immigration or terrorism." as unacceptable in an article put up in the name of No Borders. Wider discussion ensued about NO2ID's position (or lack of one) on immigration and that of some of its affiliates.
On Saturday 15th I made a comment on the thread, and proposed (with both "hats", Defy Id & Indymedia, on) to remove the problem sentence if no one objected.
I also posted that comment & proposal to the Liverpool Defy ID email list to ensure that Dave, the article author, saw it.
Yesterday, Mon 17th, having seen no objections, I edited the article to remove the sentence containing "This scheme is not about preventing immigration" & made an addition to the article about what had been done, for transparency and to preserve context for the comment thread.
Via the Liverpool Defy ID email list Dave, the author, told me that he had thought that a subsequent comment by Dave Gould of NO2ID had in fact been an objection to my proposal to edit & that he had not responded himself because he thought Dave Gould had answered sufficiently.
I don't believe that comment was an objection to the proposed edit and I have replied on that list explaining why I think, even though I may not have dealt with the situation or my conflicting roles in relation to this article in the best way, that I do still think that the article required admin action, and that the inadvertent anti-immigration wording was contravening the editorial guidelines against discriminatory language.
I have copied my reply below:
"Apologies - I waited a couple of days and did not see any comment in the following discussion specifically addressing my proposal to amend the article, nor alternative suggestions. I reread Dave Gould's comment several times (thinking on it as part of the ongoing discussion) and understood it as a response to my personal comment and those of others continuing the debate around language and disputed interpretations of NO2ID's position, not an objection to my specific proposal for the article. (I have more to contribute personally to that discussion and will very probably email him directly as invited).
As an Liverpool Defy ID activist, I felt it was very important the article and callout for action on the 25th stay up.
As a Liverpool Indymedia admin, I see two related problems with the article. One is that the article speaks on behalf of No Borders, as well as NO2ID and Defy ID and uses the No Borders logo. In the comment thread, representatives of No Borders objected to the sentence in question as being contradictory to the work and politics of No Borders. I think this did need to be addressed by Indymedia. One way could have been to promote comments by No Borders & NO2ID representatives to be "additions" to the main article.
However, the second problem, and why promoting the comments and leaving the article unchanged would still not have been a solution, is that the more I think about it the more I am sure that if I was not involved in the action the article was promoting and was only thinking and acting as an Indymedia admin, I would have hidden the unamended article, under one of the Indymedia editorial guidelines, because of that problem sentence, "This scheme is not about preventing immigration or terrorism.":
"Discrimination: Posts using language, imagery, or other forms of communication promoting racism, fascism, xenophobia, sexism or any other form of discrimination [may be hidden]."
(Indymedia Liverpool's editorial guidelines are the same as the UK Indymedia guidelines)
Referring to immigration and terrorism together as things that ID cards will be ineffective against does unfortunately reinforce negative connotations that attach to immigration and migrants, and indifference to infringements of migrants' human rights (e.g. detentions and deportations). Firstly, it frames immigration as inherently a problem, as something that requires solving or preventing. Secondly, almost everyone would agree that terrorism is a bad thing, so referring to immigration alongside terrorism heightens the fearmongering around immigration by association. The popular association of terrorism with Muslims in general over the past few years adds to the racist prejudice shown to immigrants from Asia and the Middle East, and British-born Muslims too.
I fully appreciate that this was not at all your intent but it is not the intent but the effect and context of words that matters.
As the article only went out on the Liverpool & Manchester newswires, the more active admins on the overall UK site would either have not seen the article or not looked closely at it and left it for consideration of the Liverpool & Manchester admins. (There is only one other active Liverpool admin, and the lack of activity on the Manchester Indymedia email list and the fact that they haven't put up a new feature article since April suggests they are very few in number too). Had it been on the UK newswire I am sure that it would have been picked up quickly as problematic.
Removing the sentence that was causing the problem seemed the best way to let the article stand. It removed the inconsistency between that sentence and No Borders name being on the article. It removed NO2ID from taking any position whatsoever on immigration within the article. It removed the discriminatory language.
It sounds as if the principle issue around the amendment is that you feel it contributes to misrepresenting the position of NO2ID on immigration. I would be happy to reword my mod note about the amendment if you think it can be improved in this regard. The edit was a clumsy solution but, as I explained, having thought more about it I do feel that the only other course of action as an Indymedia admin would have been to hide the article.
The edit to the article does not of course resolve the incompatibilities that have been thrown up between NO2ID's desire to cater for a more mainstream range of public opinion and No Borders' work in supporting and defending migrants and asylum seekers, but at least the very useful discussion on the article comment thread may help work this out. "
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