It seems that your humble correspondent has inadvertantly found themselves drawn into a dispute between Oliver Kamm and Neil Clark which his gone far enough to result in a minor bout of legal ‘fisticuffs’ courtesy of a one-time visitor to MoT (or possible its predecessor, TalkPolitics) who styles himself as George Courtenay.
For those seeking to understand the backstory to all this, these are the relevant posts.
Oliver Kamm – Neil Clark (21 November 2006)
As far as the genesis of this matter is concerned my understanding is that Mr Kamm and Mr Clark harbour rather divergent interpretations of certain events that took place during the course of the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s and have, on occasion, debated their difference of opinion in an open and rather robust manner.
As a great believer in free expression this is, I consider, an entirely healthy manner in which to address matters of dispute and take no issue with either party.
The actions of the pseudonymous “Mr Courtenay” are, however, a rather different matter entirely – as some may recall I had the rather dubious ‘pleasure’ of his company on a small number of occasions, having made critical remarks regarding articles written by Kamm, and found him to be an insufferably arrogant and ill-mannered troll.
Whether Courtenay has any direct association with Oliver Kamm I cannot say with any certainty, in part for the simple reason that I have never felt the need to query the matter with Kamm, but mainly because Oliver has never once struck me as the kind of man to rely on others to fight his battles for him and, as such, I am confident that were he to have anything to say on the subject of my own comments, he would make use of either the comments facility here, or his own blog, to post a response.
I should also note that despite the rather creative suggest made at Neil’s blog as to the possibile origins of the name ‘George Courtenay’, I do not for one second accept the suggestion (made in comments and not by Neil) that Mr Courtenay may be David T of Harry’s Place, or indeed any of the other regular contributors at HP. Again, it is simply not their ‘style’.
If Kamm and Clark wish to debate their differences online, or even in a court of law, that is a matter for them, and them alone, and not not in which a third party has any real business in interfering, a principle that is seeming lost on Mr Courtenay, who appears to have taken it upon himself to contact the editor of a newspaper for which Mr Clark writes (he is a professional journalist) by email, as follows:
From: George Courtenay [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Monday, February 20, 2006 1:33 PM
To: [email omitted]
Cc: Neil Clark; Oliver Kamm
Subject: Neil Clark sources
I see you have published an opinion article by Neil Clark today. That’s all good to print a range of views but you may be interested that Oliver Kamm of the London Times has been investigating Mr. Clark’s use of sources.
Mr.Clark doesn’t say the same thing in his new article but as he’s lied to other editors I’m bringing it to your attention.
(Gawab.com, Courtenay’s email provider, is an Egyptian-based free webmail service and, therefore unlikely to be of relevance to efforts to ascertain his identity).
Neil also notes in the same post:
UPDATE: Within hours of Kamm’s allegations being posted on his blog yesterday, the editor of the Australian newspaper received another such email, linking to Kamm’s piece. I’ll leave readers to draw their own conclusions as to such a remarkable coincidence.
If there is a sensible conclusion to be drawn here it is only that Courtenay is, first and foremost, a troll and, second, that his general mental state must be considered potentially dubious. I doubt very much that Kamm appreciates his attentions any more than Clark, and all the more so if he’s even seen ‘Play Misty for Me’.
In all, there is a dynamic here that I do not like. Courtenay has, in his actions, exceeded the bounds of acceptable behaviour, not least the long-standing convention amongst ‘netheads’ that disputes that start online should stay online and not cross over into the real world.
Having crossed that line, I have no qualms if offering what little assistance I can to Neil should he wish to pursue further action against Courtenay, being in possession of both the times of Courtenay’s comments on this blog and, more importantly, the IP address from which the comments were posted, one of which is clearly his home address and another almost certainly his place of employment. If Neil would care to leave an e-mail address at which I can forward the information to him, I will be only too happy to do so and I would suggest that he then either raises the matter with the Police as a issue of harassment or makes an application to a relevant court for an order instructing the ISP’s in question to disclose Courtenay’s real identity, or at least the identity of his employer, as a necessary precursor to a civil action.