Friday, 4 February 2011

Blacksmith, Polemic and Debate



By Honestbroker.

Properly used, there is a place for polemic in debate, but it is not,
itself, debate; and improperly used, polemic can be a black art of
spreading propaganda or even disinformation. There are few more
prolific practitioners of polemic as a black art than Blacksmith, as
his latest offering on The Blacksmith Bureau indicates.

Polemic is the making of a controversial and provocative undefended statement, intended to stir antagonism or strong contrary reaction. In proper
debate, that is perfectly acceptable, provided that, when a statement
of polemic is challenged, the person who made it then defends it with
properly reasoned argument. In that sense, polemic can be a valuable
tool for prompting debate. Blacksmith seldom does debate, mainly
because he tends not to put himself in a position where he can be
directly challenged.

Worse, Blacksmith makes statements of polemic, then embellishes and
asserts them without supporting evidence as if they were solid and
irrefutable fact. He does it time and time again, and the frightening
thing is that in this way, unsupported statements can assume the status
of ‘fact’. Examples from his ironically titled article The Bigger the Fib are legion. A handful will suffice to make the point.

Sic:

Of course nobody ever attempts to deal with or rebut the facts
mentioned in our last post - the irrefutable police, prosecutor’s and
court evidence (not old newspaper cuttings) that shows what constant
liars the McCanns are and how, therefore, accepting their unsupported
testimony of abduction is akin to accepting milord Taylor’s
parliamentary expenses claims.


Well, let’s see. We have the Almeida interim report. In that, there
is (interestingly) no reference to jemmied or forced shutters
(suggesting that the McCanns never proffered such an explanation to the
police). There are falsehoods such as that Kate’s father told the
press the Mccanns used sedatives with the children, that there is no
independent corroboration of checks on the children by the party
throughout the days leading up to Madeleine’s abduction, or that the
sniffer dogs have a 100% record of accuracy in use in Britain. And
while the McCanns’ plea that the twins be tested for the presence of
drugs after suspicion officially fell on them is dismissed by Almeida
as bogus because (he says) it was by then too late, there is no
reference to the fact that they first enquired of the PJ about possible
drug use in the abduction just 48 hours after it happened.

Prosecutor evidence? That, presumably, is a reference to Menezes’
comment appearing, ostensibly, as a witness in support of Amaral
against the injunction on his book that they were unconvinced of the
truth of claims about checks. Well, it’s true that Almeida was
unconvinced. But Menezes also spectacularly torpedoed Amaral’s case by
expressing the personal view that it was 50-50 whether Madeleine is
alive or dead. Of course, he made that statement in court.

The McCanns had not initiated the media coverage in any way. There
was not a word from Dr McCann about who had contacted any of them or
fed them the tales which had overnight turned the case from a mystery
in a distant corner of Europe to a soap-opera drama of baddies and
goodies. Not a word. The first he knew of the media was when he came
back from giving his (untrue, according to Menezes) police statement on
the afternoon of May 4.


Now Blacksmith has long had a beef about the McCanns courting
publicity. He is fond of quoting the tragic circumstances of a family
in Australia. To my knowledge, he has never stated which family and I
think it’s fair to ask why. But his point is that this family, unlike
the McCanns, eschewed publicity. That (Blacksmith believes) is the
correct way to go. From details Blacksmith has given about this family
in Australia, other sleuths (not me) have tracked down the (indeed)
tragic case of Nick Waterlow and his family as the one Blacksmith,
possibly, refers to:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article6910632.ece

If that’s right, then we have a possible answer to why Blacksmith has
never identified them. Nick Waterlow and his daughter were both
murdered. The murderer was convicted and is a member of the family.
The contrast with Madeleine’s abduction could scarcely be more stark.
Where the family of the late Nick Waterlow wanted (wants) time and
space to grieve and come to terms the double shock of horrific murders
and the knowledge of the murderer being one of their number, the
McCanns have no clue of the fate of their daughter and want her back.
That’s why they court publicity, wholly compatible with resenting (and
striking back against) lies and falsehood.

As to publicity generated by the McCanns, I assume Blacksmith doesn’t
include canards about ‘100% DNA match with Madeleine from the boot of
the car’; or fabricated newspaper headlines such as ‘find Madeleine’s
body and prove we killed her’. Those, and much else written besides,
particularly in the Portuguese press, but also the UK, were not the
responsibility of Kate and Gerry at all. But just like Kerry Needham
two decades before, whose son Ben disappeared on the Greek island of
Kos, the McCanns have sought publicity that might be useful in finding
Madeleine. In the immediate aftermath of Ben’s disappearance, there
were nearly 300 reported sightings, all generated through publicity,
and the Needhams also hired a private detective.

There are many more examples. But one more will do:

The police in Portugal know they [the McCanns] were lying, Leicester
police, as is clear from the traps laid with the assistance of Bob
Small in the rogatory interviews, know that they were lying, the
aforementioned prosecutor knows they were lying, even the poor little
Bureau knows, from the evidence, they were lying: the investigative
task therefore, uncompleted and as yet incapable of completion, is
simply: find out why.


What is ‘clear’ about Bob Small’s part in events in Praia da Luz? Is
Blacksmith privy to information denied the rest of us? No report of
Bob Small’s appears in the official file, and all reference to him is
anecdotal from the statements of other witnesses, particularly Jane
Tanner.

Citing Mark Harrison is certainly no use. He worked to a brief handed
him by the PJ, and much of his work tended to rule out Amaral’s
hypothesis of Gerry’s alleged part in Madeleine’s disappearance. What
else? I’ve literally no clue. I take it Blacksmith has not been
suckered in by Amaral’s farcical description of Prior’s supposed
acquiescence in Amaral’s misinterpretation of the forensic results. I
hope not.

Indeed, what evidence is there of Murat v Tanner, triumphantly
trumpeted with glee by Blacksmith himself just a few months back? That
seems an odd thing to be triumphal about because, in the normal course
of events, statements made in good faith to police are treated in
confidence and are not, themselves, the subject of legal proceedings,
even if they turn out to be wrong or misleading. But then Blacksmith
probably ‘knows’ that JT acted maliciously. There is, apparently, no
end to Blacksmith’s seemingly supernatural powers of perception.

Blacksmith doesn’t get it all wrong. Those shocked at his comments
about Tony Bennett will doubtless be more deeply shocked (and where
have they been if they didn’t already know?) to learn that he has long
had Mr Bennett sized up much the same way as most pros. And in his
scathing and lucid denunciations of anti hype around wikileaks or
supposed Establishment cover-ups for the McCanns, Blacksmith could
almost be a pro. Yet he subscribes to, and even spawns,
ridiculous, vindictive and spiteful canards that even the most naive of
souls could refute, simply with a little basic research.

There’s the paradox of the man.

By Honestbroker.