Words fail me…

Posted: September 23, 2013 in Trivialities, rants & other ephemera, Uncategorised

I’ve just come back from a glorious three weeks in New Zealand. The Shaky Isles. Aotearoa. EnZed. Land of the Long White Cloud. Godzone. While I was gone, the world didn’t change. Pity.

There are people who thought this blog was interesting, informative, in parts ‘quite funny’ until they found out it was mine. Now it’s foul. (Though my name is right there, on the About page, and on My Books page… )

Someone’s sockpuppet joined A Group on facebook and left provocative comments to get people’s backs up, then joined Another Group and left other provocative comments. Then went back to A Group and mentioned they were a member of Another Group so they could stir people up.

Someone with a tumblr account has  made some pretty nasty comments – borderline defamation – about a very good friend of mine. Why? Because she doesn’t share Ms Tumblr’s love of Ms Tumblr’s favourite reconstructed plastic head.

Someone wrote a book about a little known queen. Because that person doesn’t simply adore and worship said queen’s husband, she’s been subjected to some pretty nasty personal attacks.

Someone wrote a book calling into question (on shaky, patched together, cherry picked factoids) a particular English king’s legitimacy. Those who have publicly criticised the book have said nothing personal against the author. Yet they have been publicly pilloried for saying nasty things about the author.

There’s this dead king they’ve just recently dug up (well, nearly a year ago now), and he’s going to be reburied in a cathedral in England. And he’s going to get some kind of tomb. All the designs but one are ‘insulting’, and they cause people to be so angry and outraged they shake uncontrollably and THEN TYPE IN ALL CAPS!!!!!! WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!! Because the cathedral, the university that dug up the king and the whole entire city are immoral and evil.

On facebook, you get to block people you don’t like. Yet you can get other people to tell you what they’ve posted and make nasty little comments behind their backs. To some, this might seem a little cowardly. Others don’t think so. They snigger and lolololol!

Apparently, on facebook, it’s perfectly acceptable to troll groups. If you’re one of the Chosen Ones*. If you’re not a Chosen One, saying anything is ‘trolling’. If you are one of the Chosen Ones, you get to say anything you like.

There are various funny pages on facebook. Some them are actually funny. Apparently, if you run one of the not funny ones you can go to others (the actual funny ones) en masse and drip your vile toxins all over them.

‘Shrieking Banshee’ is the new language for talking about history. No, sorry… not history but fantasies about shagging the reconstructed plastic head of a dead king.

Having fantasies about shagging the reconstructed head of a long dead king trumps rational discussion about history.

A very good friend of mine is a member of a worldwide organisation. She has no patience with fantasists who dream about shagging the reconstructed plastic head of a long dead king, who aren’t (by the way) members of this organisation. It is, apparently, perfectly acceptable for those reconstructed plastic head fantasy shaggers to drop in on any group or page where they think she might be found and hurl abuse, demanding she be drummed out of said worldwide organisation. Presumably for not wanting to shag the reconstructed plastic head of a long dead king.

The very best way to get the world to think about your favourite king differently (more positively) is to wallow in a pool of toxins, swallow a huge mouthful then spew that out over everyone and everything.

Someone wrote a very good novel about a long dead king. The book has inspired a lot of people to find out more about this king. Some of those people find a different interpretation than the author of the book. Others don’t. Instead of just saying “Hey, that’s the way the world works!” they take the novel as gospel truth and get all outraged and offended by those who don’t. Then, when someone points out that they’ve based their view entirely on fiction, they get even more outraged and offended.

When an argument is lost, it’s perfectly ok to descend into personal attack. That’s how you know you’re One of Us. If you don’t descend into personal attack, or if you insist on using logic and attempting to be objective, or if you lay any kind of claim to intellectual honesty where you’re prepared to challenge writers who are One of Us when they cherrypick facts and write bollocks, then you’re clearly not One of Us.

Anyone who refuses to drink the koolaid, or who takes a mouthful and spits it out, or who questions the flavour, or who says “No, thanks. I’ll buy my own drinks” might as well paint a target on their backs.

And if my questions, my objectivity, my openmindedness, my need to sort truth from myth and my willingness to stand up for my views is any kind of threat, then those who are threatened might need to look at their own position. It might just be built on quicksand.

You can’t reason with the unreasonable. Yet the reasonable keep on trying.

*’Chosen One’, from what I can work out, is code for ‘I fantasise about shagging the reconstructed head of a long dead king’.

UPDATE: I received a single four letter word pm this morning. I’m still puzzled by its precise meaning. Was she advertising she had one available? Not that I’d be interested, but it might have been useful for her to add ‘for sale or rent’ afterwards, just to make it clear.

  1. Susan Higginbotham says:

    Well said!

  2. SueLin Poh says:

    It used to be that one of my favorite aspects of FB was these wonderful historical groups to share my love of history.. I learned so much, and on top of it, was introduced to the wonders of internet access to primary sources! Wow, I wish that was available when I was in college! And then, they found the bones of a long dead king, & it all changed. I was so excited at first. Archeology was cool! Mainstream media was talking about history! There was hope in this world! And then, it all went sour.. And all I can say.. is what is WRONG with people?

  3. Rachel says:

    Agreed, well said. It’s so depressing to watch. Even just observing it while not engaging saps the energy. It’s such a shame that they can’t spend all that time and emotional exertion on a cause such as refugee rights, or abolishing animal testing, or combating homophobic laws in various countries, or … any number of constructive things. That said, their method of engagement would be counter-productive to any cause, so maybe it’s a good thing that their chosen crusade is Reconstructed Head Worship.

    I wish they’d all stay in their little enclave and fetishise the plastic head to their hearts’ content, and let everyone else chat about history like adults.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Agreed, Rachel. I can just see it now, when someone in the long distant future writes about the impact finding Richard III’s remains had on the world. “At at time when new attention was drawn to this 15th century king, when a very real chance presented itself to re-examine his life and short reign in a constructive and objective manner, a small group of social media trolls poisoned the water. The Richard III Society, and self-styled ‘Ricardians’ in general, never recovered from this setback. A golden opportunity was lost, never to be regained.”

  4. Based on the content I’ve just read, I disagree with your headline for this post. Incidentally, none of my fantasies involve shagging the reconstructed head of a dead king.

  5. carolynmcash says:

    Some of the bickering that goes on Facebook and other social media sites is unbelievable. Good on you for speaking up.

    I find those annoying people, the ones who take historical fiction as fact, a real pain in the butt, even when you explain you’ve read many books on the subject, they still don’t want to know. According to them, they’re right and you’re wrong, and they insist they’re right when you know otherwise. Sometimes you’ve got to cut your losses and not give them any more air time.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Thanks, Carolyn. The damage their doing is huge and they haven’t a clue. People see this kind of stuff and say “So, this is a Ricardian, huh? Always thought they were bonkers!” Well, by far, not all of us are. So tired of being judged by the marginalised hysterical fanatics.

  6. First of all let me say I’m a member of Team carpark and a recent member of a certain society to do with King Carpark. I love history especially medieval history and I read books by all authors. However I do not have a desire to shag plastic heads(didnt know Ann Summers had branched out!) and I also dont abuse people who are members of Team Henry Tulip.
    I seriously think there is something missing in people’s lives if they become so obsessed with someone who died hundred of years ago. Where’s the debate and the sharing of facts and the admitting that everyone’s fallible and that we’re never going to know what happened. Hell we dont know all the facts that happened in govt last week let alone 500 years ago.
    Every fandom has its nutters which is very sad when it comes to history as its supposed to be based on facts with a little bit of supposition.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi historynutter! I’m a member of the King Carpark Society as well, and very pleased to be that. I have a good deal of respect and affection for those members I know personally and most of those I’ve met online. The shrieking minority (and I’m not pulling any more punches, not after the trolling of a Certain Page last night!) are just that – both shrieking and a minority. I’m sure they think they’re the True Believers but Richard could do without them. With supporters like that… I have never seen trolling by fans of Henry Tudor (or his descendants) on Ricardian sites like I’ve seen these self-styled ‘Ricardians’ trolling Tudor sites *and* other Ricardian groups. The debate is continually closed down… ‘You’re only allowed to say *nice* things about Richard in this group!”… and that will result only in further marginalisation and further distance between those of us who would like to see his life and reign sensibly re-assessed and the general public. The personal abuse a few of us have been subjected to is appalling.

    • Sorry, but History is an academic subject; not a “fandom”. I don’t see why we have to dumb everything down and take “sides” in “teams”. What’s worse is, we’re being bullied, harassed and hounded to the point of distraction for not viewing this as “fandom”.

      • anevillfeast says:

        I think it’s ok to have preferences, people you ‘like’ more than others. The problem comes when it descends into fandom, as you say. In a recent book review, a friendship between Philippa Langley and Michael Jones was referenced – both of them on very different ‘sides’ of the Richard III debate. I think what the ‘fans’ don’t get is that this is far more the norm than bitter hatred. And a lot of people have little or not experience with academic discussion and mistake disagreement with personal animosity. They need to stop doing that.

  7. sonetka says:

    Somewhere, Anne Boleyn and William Shakespeare are giving Richard III consolatory head-pats, saying “There there, you’ll get used to it after a while. It’s just one of those unfortunate side effects of universal literacy.”

  8. If it is any consolation, bickering takes place in almost any group. There have been several times in jsut over a year that the moderators were about to close a facebook support group for a medical condition due to the exchanges that were going on,
    I am still following the Yahoo RIII forum, but skimming over most of it. There is the occasional useful bit of information or ideas,

  9. I wish I could offer some kind of logical explanation as to why the dig seems to have attracted this crowd of clueless trolls. You never see them talking actually about Richard; or discussing his life and times. You only ever see them hurling personal abuse and venting spleen. They don’t treat History as the academic subject it is, they treat it like their favourite TV show (and we’re all fans of a rival TV show that they hate). Asshats!

  10. Emily says:

    Oh you don’t get it do you Karen Clark? The reason so many people attack you is the tone you take on these historical groups. I see, going by your blog, you have also had ‘troll’ problems on book review websites. Some wires in your brain have clearly malfunctioned, making you unable to see that the fault lies with YOU. This is why so much conflict revolves around you. You’re just known as the giant sasquatch with a huge humour bypass, who enjoys getting all high and mighty on these Facebook groups, then playing the victim when you offend someone else. The majority cannot stand you. You have a reputation as a bully, with a dreadful personality, and so do your little gang of rubbish (but well-connected) ‘historians’/authors.

    These reconstructed head worshippers are joking. If you don’t understand that then something is clearly missing in your brain. Just because you don’t share that humour, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t UNDERSTAND it is a JOKE.

    As for these jokers not understanding history, or knowing what the real Richard III was like, yes they do. Don’t be so arrogant as to presume you know what they are all like. Some people like humour with their history, and choose not to be dry academics online. After all, what is the point in getting serious about it, if there is no qualification at the end. You’re not going to gain a PhD in history from the University of Facebook.

    Don’t play the victim game when you are the cause of this. If you weren’t so thin skinned, easily wound up and aggressive, these problems wouldn’t come to you.

    • anevillfeast says:

      I have approved this comment for three reasons: first, I rarely block comments, no matter how stupid and aggressive they are; second, it’s a perfect example of the sort of crap that’s been going on; third, leaving the comment was a big mistake.

      Emily, sweetie, what’s pretty clear from your little rant is that you know nothing about me. Except maybe that I don’t subscribe to the St Richard “Ooh, I want to fuck his head!” school. You say it’s a joke but, honey, the thing about jokes is that they’re *funny*! They make people laugh. Why don’t you check out my take on TWQ – right here on this very blog. That might give you some kind of idea about what constitutes humour in the non-head-fucking world.
      Did you think that by using my full name (which can be found in several places on this blog) that you were somehow outing me? I guess that’s the level of stupid I’m dealing with.
      I haven’t had ‘troll’ problems on book review websites. But perhaps your level of comprehension hasn’t enabled you to understand that from the relevant post.
      Conflict doesn’t ‘revolve’ around me. It emanates from that small group I talked about (maybe you know them?) and it envelopes anyone unlucky enough to stray into their path. This isn’t to play the victim (which I’m not) but to share with others just how fucked up that little group is.
      I don’t much care whether the head fuckers think they’re funny or not. That’s beside the point because what they are is batshit crazy and virulent. And, when they think they have a point to make, they type in all caps. Just like you did. Oops!
      I’m not the least thinskinned. I haven’t, for instance, wandered into someone’s blog and left a hate filled message that just shrieks ‘out of control!’. Give up now. All of you. Crawl back into your little head fucking fantasy world and give humanity a break. Oh, and give poor Richard a break while you’re at it. He needs you like he needs a hole in his 500 year old skull. (See what I did there?)
      And just one more little thing – what I (and others) do in facebook groups is discuss history. If you (or anyone else) can’t cope with the idea that someone (le gasp!) disagrees with you without making it personal, maybe you should keep away from facebook. It’s full of all kinds of people with all sorts of opinions and I’m pretty sure most of them won’t match yours. That’s a lot of taking it personally for you to do! Are you sure you’re up to it? The trick is to stick to the point under discussion, not make personal remarks or hurl abuse. And as the point of your comment was personal remarks and abuse hurling, I stuck to it. See how it works? And I didn’t once call you a ‘hag’!

      • carolynmcash says:

        Gosh, that is really rude and gives Ricardians a very bad name. When people start making personal attacks, it means they have already lost the argument.

        Poor old Richard would be spinning in his grave – once he is buried a second time!

        People wanting to have sex with Richard’s reconstructed head? Ewww, that is sooo gross. Absolutely sick and disgusting.

      • anevillfeast says:

        That’s what my father always told me, Carolyn. Not the head sex bit (though I’m sure he would have if he’d thought of it) but the personal abuse/lost argument bit.

      • Yes, people discussing History gives Ricardians a bad name. but trolls flaming pages and groups because they don’t like them doesn’t. Twisted logic, right there.

    • Rachel says:

      Wow. You lot can’t help yourselves, can you? Thanks for proving Karen’s point.

    • Nicole says:

      Oh emily, you really are pretty clueless aren’t you??

  11. Kerry says:

    It does seem like the whole business around the reburial has brought out some, er, rather strong emotions – I had no idea what it was like, though! Goodness.

    • anevillfeast says:

      I don’t get it, either, Kerry. I just wish we could all be glad he was found and pleased he’s going to be buried in a place of honour, instead of finding something to be outraged and offended about.

  12. cat says:

    This is all so horrible and unnecessary. I agree totally with what you have said (I too am a member of the King carpark society). I thought it was a society for people interested in medieval history and in Richard III in particular not for a bunch of dead king groupies. Keep up the good work!

  13. Marion Low says:

    What ticks me off is all this stuff “King carpark society”, “clueless trolls”, “chosen one”, etc. Call things what they are. We usually know who/what is under discussion: and I use that term loosely. The reason I don’t visit the various blogs anymore is right here. It’s become a pissing contest at times. Should you not delete the intolerant/disrespectful people from blogging on your site? When honest discussion becomes more of an argument of one up man ship and name calling it’s anarchy. I’m all for a fair argument, but how many times has it become more for personal insults and attacking someone’s views?
    I have been a member of the Richard III Society for almost 30 years, and I have yet to meet anyone who has made a wish to shag said Richard. Richard would indeed be rolling in his grave (if he had one) to listen to all this nonsense. I have strong feelings about where his remains should rest, but I ultimately only wish it to be respectful and solemnly rendered.
    BTW (opps capps!) Karen, thank you for the wonderful photos of your vacation, smashing indeed.

  14. AnitatheHun says:

    “…[A]n unfortunate consequence of universal literacy…” (and now the near-universal access created by the Web)–funny but true. Inability to clearly distinguish between what’s going on inside one’s own head and the reality outdoors is normal in small children, in adults, well, a sign of a brain that didn’t quite make it through all the development pathways right. And now we’ve given them a megaphone.
    But Carpark King’s cranky crazies aren’t the only ones holding fast to their simplistic convictions, the “worst king ever” segment is just as one-sided but far better situated in academia. Really, it seems to me that the surviving evidence is such that multiple scenarios can be constructed to fit it, but human nature and the publishing business can’t stop with “we’ll never know for sure.” We want answers, we want to make sense of mysteries, and RIII is a *Rorshach Blot* in which people have always seen what they want to see.
    I know that, but I’m still a member of Team Carpark King, who wants to see serious, well-researched arguments vs. the traditional view taken seriously, and not marginalized simply because of the topic and the participation by “outsiders.” Which can happen in academia–think of someone trying to write on the Knights Templar, pre-Columbian contacts with the Americas, or the Atlantis legend!

  15. tudorqueen6 says:

    This has been an issue for some time now. I think since history became “mainstream” via “The Tudors”. Was talking to a friend about this. This is the reason that we avoid certain topics/historical figures/pages now. Top page we avoid now — anything to do with “The White Queen”. SO sad! Couldn’t agree more with a lot of these comments.

  16. Trish Wilson says:

    So sorry Karen, that you, Amy Sue, and now Vicki are being so vilely targeted but if it’s any consolation anybody who says anything that doesn’t glorify their hero or upsets the apple cart gets shot at.. I received hate mail just for daring to cast doubt on Walpole’s doubts. And what was my offence? Simply pointing out that it would be impossible to set up a meeting between two people if one was already dead and buried for over five years.

    I’ve also had hate mail for panning John-Ashdown-Hill and Paul Murray Kendall. So sorry but if authors are going to cherry-pick or leave out important information or make misleading statements then I feel I have a right to inform others about it. Emily should be aware that sending hate-mail is also bullying. Oh and have I had some beauties.in my time.

    And talking about time I’ve even had it for knocking Tey and that book. Except I didn’t actually knock it – it was real-life Metropolitan Police Officers. I got my own back though. The troll dumping on me claimed she worked in Hendon (N. London) which unfortunately is just a bus ride away from me (Barnet) – I even quoted the bus number – and didn’t know Hendon Police College is now located further up the road in Colindale . I don’t think they liked me laying the law down either – the recently come into force Defamation Act 2013. And yes the vilified do NOW have a remedy against such people though I prefer to do it with humour. . I haven’t heard from a certain Japanese lady since my suggestion that she drop the ‘I’ and ‘a’ off her name

    • anevillfeast says:

      Thanks, Trish. It’s all getting very silly!

      • Trish Wilson says:

        As somebody once said ‘ Better a fool make than a martyr’ and I do have a rather wicked sense of humour. It may not be to everybody’s taste but it does help to put things in perspective. If you want to go for the put-down try à la Oscar Wilde.

        That being said I’m sorry it’s gone beyond the being just silly and that there they are those so welded to the cause that they have become devoid of reason. All they care about is exonerating Richard and they don’t care how they do it.

        Since returning to history full time 5 years ago it’s been something of a nightmare voyage of discovery which has left me wondering if there was any cause to begin with. Just let’s say another in the firing line is Buck – hardly my idea of a hero either. Talk about biting the hand that feeds one.

  17. Celia Parker says:

    As a lifelong Ricardian (in the sense of being interested in him & his times, not wanting to do perverse things with a plastic head) I was really thrilled when his grave was found. I have since got absolutely sick of the nonsense and obviously worse than nonsense surrounding it and more or less switched off.

    There’s a relatively genteel bunfight going on over at the Catholic Herald website if anyone’s interested: Leandra de Lisle (I think she wrote ‘The Sisters who would be Queen’ about the Greys) has a brief article about medieval attitudes to sainthood and why Richard might have wanted to conceal his nephews’ death.

    Meanwhile,my younger brother, who, although born elsewhere, has lived in Yorkshire for many years and regularly visits York wonders if I might campaign for his burial in York Minster when the time comes.

    I DID enjoy ‘The White Queen’ (your version).

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi, Celia. I keep finding more and more people who feel the way you do. Within a week of the press conference, the bizarre and nasty started. It’s only got worse since then.
      I read Leandra de Lisle’s article and thought it was an interesting idea, though (of course) highly speculative. I haven’t visited the page since I first saw it, must go over and catch up!
      I’m glad you enjoy (my) TWQ. The real thing was pretty dire!

  18. Esther says:

    Pity that your homecoming was spoiled by such nonsense. I am curious, though, if the nonsense has increased since the story hit about his grave being found (if so, it may fade away once he is buried and the story ends) or if it has been relatively consistent.

  19. brilliant – this is SOOOO funny! and shagging the reconstructed plastic head? yes, yes, YES! but you should attach it to a reconstructed plastic body and market a Richard love-doll… you’d make a fortune. I’d buy one, dress him in pukka kit and keep him in the living room (wouldn’t use him for, well, erotic purposes. at all. ever. honest).

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi, Helen! Something of this nature has been discussed, but we just don’t have the capital!

      • carolynmcash says:

        I’m surprised that they haven’t come up with a Richard III doll yet!!! Well, one that could be a collectors’ item, and one that actually looks like him! Mattel produced William and Kate dolls after the Royal Wedding two years ago.

  20. R.R. says:

    “Someone wrote a book about a little known queen. Because that person doesn’t simply adore and worship said queen’s husband, she’s been subjected to some pretty nasty personal attacks.”

    Trust me, Amy Licence is not coming under criticism for her lack of Richard worship. The truth is, she is simply another writer who relies to much on conjecture, and tries to incorporate current affairs into her historical articles just to get attention. Her books are aimed at the less-intellectual masses, the ones who are not going to check out her credentials, or question her authority. Furthermore, she appears to become extremely rattled when she is faced with someone with superior knowledge to herself. A lot of her pieces are laughable. She is yet another writer who has achieved her book deals and publicity via connections as opposed to finding success on merit.

    There is more to her online conduct that meets the eye, and she seems to suffer with some kind of paranoia. Accusing people of having mental health issues, and confronting people for what she perceives as criticism of her books, even though no mention had been made of her name. And surely even if they were criticising, surely she should be able to handle that – after all she is putting her work out there for scrutiny.Though with her connections, I don’t suppose she has had people put their foot down and say ‘Stop! This is crap!’ before. They simply let her carry on playing ‘historian’.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Dear, R. R. Ms Licence came under vitriolic attack before her book on Anne Nevill was even published. Every article she has written has been greeted with personal abuse. Criticising, questioning and challenging her work is not the issue here – personal abuse is.
      Do you not see anything wrong with suggesting that someone has a mental health issue then criticising them for suggesting that someone has a mental health issue? That’s possibly because you, like a lot of the knee-jerk reaction mob, have little or no self-awareness. There are historians (with or without the inverted commas) who have speculated far more wildly than Ms Licence and been lauded and hailed because their speculation is pro-Richard III. Ms Licence’s speculation has been viewed as ‘anti’ and therefore not to be tolerated. It’s this hidebound, defensive, taking-things-personally and launching into personal abuse rather than focussing on the work in question that’s causing the Ricardian community to be seen as… well, hidebound, defensive, taking-things-personally and launching into personal abuse. Instead of our position being strengthened by the Leicester dig, it has been torn down by this kind of thing. But I get the sense that those who want to shriek and holler and hurl abuse don’t give a shit about the Ricardian community.
      Knowing Ms Licence as I do, I can tell you she is more than happy to engaged in sensible debate, takes criticism graciously – when it is graciously offered.
      After the last few days, it’s becoming clear to me that the extremists who want only to insult, bully and shriek hysterically are becoming more and more marginalised. Perhaps there’s hope for the battered and bruised rational Ricardian cause after all!
      And I do wish that commenters like you would stop hiding behind pseudonyms. Do you think if you use your real name that someone will come after you? If so, you’re possibly projecting your own methods and reactions onto others.
      I would urge you, and every other Ricardian extremist, to read the case against him (or, as with Ms Licence, the neutral case) with an open mind. You may find yourself disagreeing with it, but at least you’d understand it better and know where the ‘traditionalists’ were coming from. It’s not personal. They don’t hate Richard or you. And, trust me, it would help you argue *your* case better. If you have actual facts at your fingertips rather than just empty rhetoric, you (and every other Ricardian) would be in a better position. So, pick up a book and read it, focus on what it says rather than getting your outrage on and hurling abuse. Then, as I and others have done with one recent piece of wild Ricardian speculation, set about discussing it, criticising it, challenging it, whatever you want to do, in a calm and rational manner.

  21. cat says:

    Thank you!!!! The voice of rationality is alive and kicking .

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