Why I would not publish a reader’s anonymous attack on Keith Hann

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Keith Hann: what one offended reader wrote about his Welsh 'joke'

MY COLLEAGUE KEITH HANN, fired by Iceland Foods as its Director of Communications, wrote a column explaining how being rude to the Welsh had got him the sack. Most of you read it; if you didn’t, CLICKING HERE will take you there.

Strangely, although it drew our biggest-ever single subject readership, for the first week it provoked only one usable reader’s comment which you can read by scrolling down to ‘Comment’ at the end of the original article. No other messages of support, no trolls spitting vitriol, not even one ex-girlfriend eager to link up with her old flame now he has been outed as the UK’s Rudest PR Person.

Why was that?  I ask, as any self-respecting editor should. Is the opportunity to ‘Comment’  too well hidden (even though the reader need only scroll down from the end of any column to find it)? Was Keith’s dismissal over such a non-PC matter so outlandishly bizarre as to require no further comment from his sympathisers? Or so crass an act on Keith’s part (albeit seven years ago) that readers both pro and anti felt disinclined to ‘cut him some slack’?

There was one other comment I might have used: it was critical of Keith, but relatively politely so. It made some decent points along the lines of “you can’t just gloss over generations of institutionalised entitlement and bigotry to the Celtic fringe by calling it humour”. But I made the rare decision not to publish, BECAUSE IT OFFERED NO IDENTIFICATION OTHER THAN AN EMAIL ADDRESS.

Email addresses are ten-a-penny. They can be created and discarded at ease. I have half-a-dozen, the majority of them ‘awarded’ when I signed up with rival internet providers and rarely, if ever, used.

So I replied to Theangeredbadger@nullgmail.com, explaining: “We require a name and, unlike Hann, you chose not to reveal yours. Would you reconsider?” Since then, silence.

Also since then I have reconsidered. Not to attach the anonymous comment submitted by ‘welsh boi’ (his own description) as an addendum to Hann’s column but to quote from it here in an unattached column explaining my decision.

There follows an edited version of what he wrote. Read both sides (you can read Keith’s original explanation BY CLICKING HERE):

“We’re not bumpkins, nor a land needing to be ruled by Britannia and bulldogs, and we’re certainly not England’s personal theme park and the butt of their joke book. If you’re wondering about the growth of Welsh nationalism, look no further than your own blog posts.

You’ve shown yourself to have had a successful career, and this is down to your ability to learn. Saying ‘it’s how I was raised’ isn’t an excuse either. The kind of behaviour, and attitude you show may have been tolerated when you were younger but not in the past 25 years at least, easily double the time you’ve been a parent and setting an example to a new generation.

The world has changed. You didn’t follow and have been left behind”

DON’T FORGET: you can leave me your comments on this and any other issue. Remember, the ‘Comments’ button is found by scrolling further down this page.

1 COMMENT

  1. We always live in revisionist times, and the border between the attitudes to the truth in 1984, and today’s political correctness, and desire to never give offence, is looking thin.
    If you get to a certain age, you find yourself continually challenged by young people. Interestingly, their fascination with stand up comedy will be concealing attitudes and prejudices that a future generation will in their turn find offensive. If only we could see into the future.

    Meanwhile, I commend the editors on Channel 5 who seamlessly edited out the name of Guy Gibson’s labrador in a recent screening of The Dambusters. The attitudes to warfare and the bombing of civilians they were not able to remove.

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