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The reply in Arkell v. Pressdram, and the mendacity of the person formerly known as AJ Hall. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
The reply in Arkell v. Pressdram, and the mendacity of the person formerly known as AJ Hall.
I find myself, very much to my own surprise, encountering the user ‘legionseagle’ on an all too regular basis, and she is forever calling me a fascist, a eugenicist, a BNP supporter, a Jew-hater (which would make things rather tense when the family as a whole gather ’round, were it true, which of course it is not), and so interminably on.  This must cease.


Astoundingly, the user ‘legionseagle’ is, apparently, the writer formerly known as AJ Hall, whom we so many of us enjoyed reading, and had admired as a writer, and with whom, before 11 December 2006, I had never had an unpleasant encounter (such that she had no reason to assume the worst possible interpretation of any remarks I might make).  Reputable people, whom I trust absolutely, confirm that she is a real person, not a troll, and is who she says she is, namely, a solicitor of some twenty years’s standing and possessed of a First in Law (Oxon).  This makes the situation still more incomprehensible.  The charitable explanation is some derangement; the less charitable is that she is a quite reckless liar.  I admit the two states are not mutually exclusive.  In any event, I have become, apparently, the ‘necessary enemy’ in her mind, the Great Satan, the Emmanuel Goldstein of her Two Minutes Hate.


It is one thing to nurse a grievance, even when both clarification and apology have been offered; it is another to refuse to wean the grievance even when it’s now a strapping lad looking forward to the sixth form.


Because her lies and defamatory, deliberate misrepresentations have occurred in the journals of my friends and in open communities as well as in my journal and in her own, I had until the last round of this vileness chosen to exercise forbearance (not, as a rule, one of my virtues), simply in order to leave my friends out of this.  Her most recent spate of venom has finally tipped the balance.  I cannot continue to refrain from defending myself, lest her malice outstrip the truth.


What were my options?  It were ridiculous to resort to litigation: the idea of two pseudonymous internet personæ joining legal battle over statements that might arguably be actionable if only the parties weren’t two pseudonymous internet personæ, is silly.  I rejected that notion upon its first suggestion.  So also did I reject the idea of filing an LJ Abuse Report: although the material being posted is abusive and defamatory, I am opposed as a matter of principle to the LJ Abuse System, as well as doubtful of its practical effectiveness. 


Upon the sage advice of wiser and cooler heads, I have therefore resorted to setting forth the facts in this post, for the benefit of the community; and shall simply post a link to this entry whenever her viciousness recurs where I can see it.  In effect, it is a lengthier form of what ‘legionseagle’ will, surely, recognize as the reply in Arkell v. Pressdram.


The mendacity of the person formerly known as AJ Hall.


On the 11th December, 2006 – yes, 2006 – I wrote an essay.  It was not altogether felicitously expressed: it erred in attempting to combine a popular tone with certain academic usages that could, perhaps, reasonably be misconstrued.  It also, fatally, included a certain amount of indirect quotation, which allowed those who wished to do, to take the statements I was condemning as being my views, which I was purportedly advancing.


Very well.  These things happen.  In the comments to that essay, I annotated, I explained, I clarified, and I apologised rather more than I was strictly required to do.  Most people accepted that, and understood or professed to understand the corrections, the clarifications, and my motives.  You may see the original post, with comments, here: http://wemyss.livejournal.com/60592.html.  An annotated version, incorporating the clarifications, has now been posted, here:  http://wemyss.livejournal.com/128915.html.  Any fair-minded person is more than welcome to try to find cause for offence in this, and alert me to it; I don’t believe that any fair-minded person will find cause for offence.


But this was not enough for the person formerly known as AJ Hall.  TPFKAAJH chose then to refuse all apology and all clarification; for, as of this writing, one year, six months, and four days (or 552 days, if you like), she has not only refused all apology and all clarification, but has it seems made it a personal duty to defame me on a regular basis.


This is contemptible (and hardly the sort of behaviour required of her under Rules 1.02 and 1.06 of the Solicitor’s Code of Conduct).


Let us look at her actions and statements.  And, yes, I have screen captures of all of these statements, should they disappear; I shall not post links, as many of these comments were made in the communities and journals of persons who are strangers to this dispute and who should not be dragged into this.


Friday, 13 June 2008:


At her journal:


‘I am currently wrestling with an lj user who seems to want to threaten me with a libel action for pointing out that he’s included all the Jews in Manchester in a group he considers eugenically inferior to his group (all members of the C of E) and objecting is clearly the act of a blood traitor.’


The facts:


I never indicated that I was contemplating a libel action, and, to the extent I considered it, it was to reject the idea within fifteen seconds, for the reasons set out above.  So that is a falsehood.  I never ‘included all the Jews in Manchester in a group [I consider] eugenically inferior to [my] group’: I never made nor could I have made such a statement, I don’t believe in eugenics, and I am not an anti-Semite.  That, then, is also a falsehood.  Nor did I ever think, imagine, express, or indeed conceive of the notion that objecting to such a (nonexistent) statement was ‘the act of a blood traitor’: another lie, then.  Three in one sentence: TPFKAAJH has achieved a hat trick.


I may add that, although I’ve no family in Manchester that I know of, I’ve first (and for that matter, second) cousins who are Jews both by observance and by ethnicity.


The presumed grounds for these false representations will be seen below.


Thursday, 12 June 2008 and Friday, 13 June 2008:


At a friend’s journal, where I had commented approvingly on a post condemning the Counterterrorism Bill 2008:


‘My God! What with the anti-Semites and the Islamophobes dropping by to comment here [on a post regarding the iniquitous 42 days detention measure], if you happened to be playing Bigot Bingo now might be the ideal time for you to shout “House!”’




‘… for formal purposes one could very well justify an allegation of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia against someone who publicly stated that Group A was eugenically inferior to Group B, if i) Group A happened to include a substantial majority of the Jewish populations of Manchester, Leeds and Bradford; ii) also included practically all the Gujerati [sic] and Bangledeshi [sic] populations of Lancashire; and iii) one of the determining characteristics of Group B was its adherence to the tenets of the Church of England.

‘Of course, YMMV and evidently does.’




‘I see (snaps fingers). When you talked about the “better-bred” classes, as opposed to the “superficially educated, aspiring urban mill-worker classes” you weren’t after all suggesting that the “better-bred” classes were eugenically superior to the urban mill-worker classes?

‘Of course, as I am “superficially educated” you can see how I might somehow confuse “better-bred” with “eugenically superior”. I really am so, so sorry that I made that mistake, though. I really am incredibly sorry I got caught up in such confusion and happened of make such an appalling gaffe.’


The facts:


I never said that TPFKAAJH was ‘superficially educated’, nor did I intentionally include her in any class of persons who could be thus described; if her words and actions in this squalid dispute suggest such a conclusion, well….  I also of course, as you will see if you have read the essay of 11 December 2006, never myself said that anyone was or wasn’t ‘better-bred’: I was in fact mocking that notion, as it applied to those who, disdaining the practise of religion, regard themselves as superior accordingly.  That may have been obscure in the original post; the imputing of those views and that term to me could not be tenably maintained after the clarifications of 11 – 12 December 2006 in the comments.  In any event, to take the terms ‘ill-bred’ and ‘better-bred’, even had I advanced them as representing my views, as anything other than their common meaning of ‘ill-mannered’ and ‘mannerly’, is rum; to then twist, indeed torture, them into an advocacy of eugenics is so breathtakingly malicious and intellectually dishonest as to exceed the worst caricatures of a pettifogging solicitor.  TPFKAAJH is, again, a remarkably bold and gobsmackingly appalling liar.


21 February 2008:


In a community that had linked to an essay I wrote – and not, you will note, the 11 December 2006 essay:


‘Why are you - by posting a link - allowing a platform here to someone who has a firm belief in eugenics as only basis on which one may be allowed to take part in Government?’


The facts:


I have never made such a statement, as I hold no such belief and cannot imagine so doing.  Nor is there any reasonable means of twisting my words into such a statement or attributing such a silly (as well as offensive) belief to me.  TPFKAAJH is, simply, an obsessive liar when it comes to me.


16 October 2007:


In a friend’s journal, commenting upon a post I made condemning anti-Semitism:


‘Given that wemyss has publicly stated in the past that there is a genetic component in whether one is, or is not fit to take part in Government and that this can be assessed by the occupation of one’s father or grandfather I’m delighted but very surprised to learn that he is not, actually, anti-Semitic.’


The facts:


I have never said that or anything remotely like that.  No one could possibly find and cite any such remark of mine, either as to the idiotic notion that ‘there is a genetic component in whether one is, or is not fit to take part in Government’ nor as to the further inanity that ‘this can be assessed by the occupation of one’s father or grandfather’: no one could do so because the idea never occurred to me, much less led me to make so pitiably foolish and wicked a statement. 


Nor could any remarks of mine on 11 December 2006, even if then legitimately misapprehended, be reasonably and honestly considered to support such a notion in light of the clarifications made on 11 December 2006 and the days immediately thereafter.  TPFKAAJH had, by 16 October 2007, had the benefit of those clarifications for nearly a year, and could not have reasonably and honestly believed that this was my unspoken belief, much less that I had ‘publicly stated’ such a thing.  The inevitable conclusion is that, in the grip of what was by then almost a year-long obsession, TPFKAAJH had ceased to be reasonable or honest.


12 December 2006:


In her own journal, immediately following the 11 December 2006 essay and its clarifications in the comments, which she chose to disregard, reject, and not to accept:


TPFKAAJH repeatedly called me a ‘Mosleyite’, saying:


‘I’d originally assumed [he was taking the piss] but when I made a snarky comment in his lj he came back with a lot of stuff about how he hadn’t intended to offend etc, repeated the “deracinated” comment and generally gave the impression he’d meant every Mosleyite word of it and couldn’t understand why anyone would make a fuss.’




‘“Deracinated” is basically saying I and my family should bugger off - where, precisely? It isn't “immigrants go home” because we aren’t (leaving aside the Irish and Scots chunk and the probable-but-illegitimate-and-therefore-unacknowledged Jewish bit) immigrants, but by saying we are “deracine” it means that we can be deported, starved, gassed or otherwise eliminated, or in any event ignored, because we aren’t his problem and we made ourselves not his problem by ceasing to be rural and forelock-tugging.’




‘I think he’s a neo-Mosleyite. I’d not say that sort of thing lightly - originally I thought he was just your basic boring public-school right-wing wind-up merchant with a nice turn of phrase occasionally - but I now actually think he believes the tosh he’s spouting about why the views of the “better-bred” outweigh the views of the “superficially educated”.’




‘As I’ve told him at his own lj, whereas previously I’ve taken his gratuitously offensive statements as simply being deliberate wind-ups, which one can respond to or not as the spirit takes one, I believe with this (in particular, his apparently sincere air of bafflement regarding his comment about “better bred” versus “superficially educated” being offensive) he has actually come out as an ultra right-winger of the Mosleyite type and that he actually believes the stuff about what various classes deserve that he’s spouting.’


The facts:


As I’ve already noted, even had I been the one putting forward the false dichotomy of ‘better bred’ versus ‘superficially educated’, the terms ‘ill-bred’ and ‘better-bred’ in their common meanings refer, of course, to manners, a subject in which TPFKAAJH could perhaps benefit by instruction in light of all this.  As for her – by this point manufactured – grievance over the word ‘deracinated’ in the 11 December 2006 essay and its comments, I can do no better than to quote those comments as incorporated and expanded upon in the annotated version of that essay posted on 14 June 2008:


The term ‘deracination’ has a very specific meaning in anthropology, sociology, economic history, and analyses of capitalism, having been used in this context by, on the one hand, Herder, Marx, Engels, and Adorno, and on the other by Namier, Barzun, and Isaiah Berlin.  It is indispensable and inevitable in discussions of the impact of urbanisation and industrialisation upon a formerly ‘rooted’ population (see, inter alia, Sorokin, Pakulski, Cahill, Nairn, Dymond, and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and All).  It is often seen in conjunction with an equally well-recognised term (well-recognised at least by academics), ‘atomisation’, and with the terms and concepts of displacement and diaspora (here explicitly not to be confused with the Diaspora); these are terms in rather common usage to detail part of the process of what happens to the villagers of Ridgebarton when the somnolent nearby market-town-cum-rotten-borough of Wilbringham suddenly industrialises, urbanises, and metastasises, the villagers are sucked into the new conurbation and cut off from their land and ways, and there comes the succession of upheavals attendant upon urbanisation and industrialisation: in stages: the initial urbanisation; the creation, in response, of a new, quite possibly hybridised urban-rural culture; the destruction or compromising of that new culture by further changes, be it a further wave of industrialisation, or the decay or destruction of the old Gladstone Clubs, WMCs, and the unions themselves; the creation of a new culture in response to that; and so on.  I should also caution readers that this was originally a Burkean and High Tory critique of the process that removed populations from a ‘spiritual communion with the land and rural folkways’, before Engels and others took the concept  over, and it can and often is overdone.  For further reading on that point, see Capitalism and the Historians, by Hayek, de Jouvenel, Ashton, Hacker, and Hutt.


I suppose that those determined to misunderstand and find a grievance here to nurse, will conclude that when I say, ‘atomisation’, I am advocating using tactical nuclear weapons upon anyone not a member of the local hunt or Conservative Association.  Sigh.


Yet even after these clarifications had been made, TPFKAAJH chose to continue asserting that I in some way favoured gassing her and her family.  This is not an honest response on her part.  It is a manufactured grievance that has since become obsessive and has led her into a course of malice, mendacity, defamatory abuse, and an apparent need to find my comments and interject her obsession into any thread in which they appear. 


11 December 2006:


And here we come to the first burgeoning of this whole sordid mess, in my journal on 11 December and shortly thereafter:








‘Just as a matter of interest, would you ask for directions to the shower block from someone who saw you as “deracinated”? Just, like, you know, asking.’




‘I’m glad to realise that nothing between either real or presumed inverted commas can possibly be anything other than harmless fun. Otherwise I might have hesitated before telling you (in quotes) exactly what I thought of your recent farrago of offensive tosh (and, before you reach for your dictionary and your kicked-beagle expression your use of the term “deracinated” came as merely the Mosleyite cherry atop an already iffy pile of bigotry).

‘Anyway, here goes, in the spirit of post-modernism and mockery:

‘“Actually, you can pretend that there’s no connotations here at all, but frankly, sunshine, you know and I know and you know that I know that what I meant is that I strongly suspect that you come back from sung Eucharist of a Sunday and polish up your grandfather’s BUF badge along with your Boy Scout woggle, and put them cosily next to each other on the mantelpiece, and thank God (or whoever’s in charge) that you’re such a howling snob because otherwise you’d be one of the leading lights of the BNP rather than a rather dim bulb in your local Tory party (if, contrary to my assumptions, you are in fact a leading light of your local BNP chapter I apologise for presuming to the contrary) and might therefore do some active damage.”’


The facts:


As I said at the time, ‘neither of my grandfathers, one of whom was after all a clergyman, was anything but disdainful of fascists and fascism wherever encountered, the more so as my maternal grandfather was quite fond of his Jewish son-in-law, my uncle Will. Obviously, that is relatively meaningless in the context of your remarks, but it is in fairness to the memory of those gentlemen that I mention it’; not that that did a blind bit of good.  As you will see if you read the comments to the original essay, I did everything I could reasonably be expected to do in educating TPFKAAJH in the meaning of the term ‘deracination’ in the Soc. & Anth. context, and it is clamantly evident that she chose not to listen.  That is her right.  What she does not have the right to do is to spend eighteen months, in the teeth of clarifications that would have satisfied any intellectually honest and morally decent person, barging into any community or comments thread I happen to appear in to accuse me of being a fascist, a BNP member or sympathiser, a believer in eugenics, an advocate of genocide, and an anti-Semite (a charge none of my Jewish family members or colleagues, here or elsewhere, would accept for a moment; and, yes, I know that TPFKAAJH will doubtless respond with the old chestnut that I’m claiming ‘but some of my best friends are Jews’: there’s nothing I can do about that level of malicious derangement).


TPFKAAJH is, I think it now clear, a sadly obsessed and deeply dishonest person, at least on this subject, and as regards me personally: a liar of astounding scope and malice.  I shan’t tolerate it in silence any longer.  Rather, in light of the foregoing, I leave the matter to the judgement of the community.

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37 comments or Leave a comment
fpb From: fpb Date: June 14th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)


AJ Hall is, as you say, a very good writer indeed. But if you never had a bad word with her before 2006, you were singularly lucky. Now everything slots into place for me.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 15th, 2008 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, well.

I generally strive for the quiet life.
shezan From: shezan Date: June 14th, 2008 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would also refer you to Maurice Barrès's Les Déracinés (1897), a scan of which is available at the Bibliothèque Nationale's website. At the time Barrès was still very close to the Action Française.
fpb From: fpb Date: June 15th, 2008 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)
And your point is? Deracinated, or uprooted if you will, is a sociological term, necessary to describe certain phenomena, and so useful that the language would be seriously impoverished if it were forbidden. We would be reduced to describing certain conditions of social and cultural impoverishment as "dickensian", which means very little in terms of how they come to be and what they mean. You may observe them in the favelas of great Brazilian ciies, where a culture of gang belonging and semi-heroic crime develops because of the complete absence of more traditional sources of culture from the state to the church to the mass media. You may observe its long-term results in the never wholly civilized areas of certain British cities, where living has become better, but manners have not, than it was in the days of "the ragged-trousered philanthropists" and Mayhew's investigations. Indeed, those groups remain deracinated just because, generation after generation, the more far-sighted, self-disciplined and self-educated move away and join the middle classes. This is a fact, and to refuse to see it is to refuse to cope with reality. To make it a bone of political contention would be as much as to make Karl Marx an enemy of the working-class because he spoke of a "lumpenproletariat" and of the deliberately fostered "industrial replacement army".

Edited at 2008-06-15 04:46 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 15th, 2008 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, we can all make mistakes.

It's the grappling those mistakes to one's bosom for eighteen months that gets a trifle dodgy (I ran across some dodgy trifle once and was ill for days).
fpb From: fpb Date: June 15th, 2008 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)
If I were to comment on AJ Hall's comments, I would say that her entire enormous edifice of denunciation and condemnation rests on a single piece of misreading, namely of the past participle "bred". It is astonishing that an Italian should find himself needing to educate a born and bred Englishwoman (with ambitions, yet, to be an English-language writer) in the language she has been bred in, but the most common use of the past participle "bred" is "educated"; as in, born and bred Englishwoman = a woman who was born in England and brought up as an Englishwoman. It is, indeed, an ambiguous verb, of which it could well be said that it can, according to context, refer to nature rather than nurture; but to any reader with the least ear for (exactly) context, that is clearly not what wemyss was doing here.

I could go on, but there is no point; because clearly AJ Hall is not to be convinced by mere reason. There is something sad and diseased in the way she clings to her need to hate, where a sensible person would long since have said, "well, you could have stated that better, but I see what you mean". And while it is clear that something is eating at her, there is absolutely no point asking her what it is. Her nearest and dearest, perhaps, will know, not because she has ever admitted it to them, but by long experience; as for the rest of us, someone with such a desperate need to transfer her fears and hatred on to imagined hate objects would rather see us all in Hell than ever admit the kind of things she does, let alone the kind of thing she is.

Edited at 2008-06-15 06:29 am (UTC)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 15th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)


I did say that some disturbance was the charitable explanation. If that is in fact the case, I am sure that you and all who read this will join in hoping that her true friends are able to get through to her and that she have, and is induced to accept, help.
velvet_tipping From: velvet_tipping Date: June 15th, 2008 08:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I mean, yes, what you said initially was racist and classist, and I can go through it to point out where at a time that isn't 4 AM, and no I didn't like reading it especially given a bunch of anti-racist work I've been roped into doing recently on LJ and elsewhere. It jars and I know that some of what I say is not going to make sense and you may even resent it because we begin from fundamentally different premises on these issues.

Despite this, I like you personally and I think you are a good, kindhearted individual. And now I really do need to go to bed.
shezan From: shezan Date: June 15th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Classist, I suppose you could argue. On a stormy day, assuming enough Talisker had been drunk, in front of a fire. But racist? No.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 15th, 2008 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, was it really.

Were I in fact a racist, no superficial joviality of tone or mode, no amount of charm or the appearance of kindheartedness, would excuse that, justify it, or warrant personal liking.

Therefore, as a matter of intellectal honesty, if you on reflection find that I am in yr view a racist, you really oughtn't to expose yourself to that baneful influence or excuse it because I am charming (ha. If only I were); if you find the piece racist, then either I am a racist, wittingly, or I have inadvertently committed that grave sin, in wh case denunciations of the piece are proper.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 16th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aargh. I'm sorry that this has come to a head as a result of a post on my journal (and of all the weird things to kick it off!). I must admit that your original essay seemed to me at the time to have an unfortunate tone which was liable to misinterpretation, but I didn't take it as racist - snobbish, yes, but that's a lesser crime, and anyway we've been over all that.

I don't blame you in the least for being angry at the mud being slung at you (I didn't know that it had been thrown so widely or so frequently, either - I thought it was more or less settled after the initial essay), and I hope you are all right.

Incidentally, what have the Scouts got to do with it, and why is association with the poor old C of E tantamount to proof of fascism? As a Guardian reading Anglican and Scout leader, I'd be interested to know (and as far as the C of E goes, I'm sure people like George Bell, David Sheppard Trevor Huddlestone would be, too, except that I hope and trust that they've better things to concern themselves with).

Edited at 2008-06-16 04:15 pm (UTC)
From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 16th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and excuse the bad typing in that. I think it's over kill to try to correct it for a second time. I blame the remarkably bad Latin I should have been reading, rather than trying to work out what's been going on on LJ while I was away for the weekend.
froganon From: froganon Date: June 22nd, 2008 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)

hello again

Well I think it is wise of you to have this particular post to point to in order to set the record straight when this stuff rears its' head.

Sorry to hear you have gone through all of this for all of this time and I not suspecting once.

fpb From: fpb Date: June 23rd, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)


You might be interested in this little comment about AJHall which I posted a while back. I had forgotten about it. http://fpb.livejournal.com/148206.html
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