Mar 16, 2009, 10:03AM

Words and memory

The author half-apologizes for clumsily referencing a two-decade-old tragedy at a English football match.

Nuance is everything:

On Feb. 24, I went on Hardball on MSNBC with Chris Matthews to discuss Rupert Murdoch’s apology for the cartoon in the New York Post equating President Obama with a chimpanzee. I said that one of the few times I can remember that a Murdoch paper apologized was in regard to a soccer match in Liverpool in which 96 people were killed in a rampage of fans. Chris Matthews can hardly have a significant audience in Liverpool; nevertheless, I instantly became the target of an organized Liverpool-defense web brigade.

Tracing me to Newser, the Liverpudlians have sent thousands of emails demanding an apology because I characterized the melee as a rampage (now I’ll get it for calling it a “melee”). Their technique is a low-level, but continuing, disruption—our message boards are filled with querulousness and ranting (more than just the usual querulousness and ranting) and our minds filled with this constant background anger and threats. “Just apologize,” say my colleagues. “What does it matter?”


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