Thursday, September 15, 2011

Johann #Hari:It will be racism, not plagiarism or libel, that finally topples Johann Hari

It will be racism, not plagiarism or libel, that finally topples Johann Hari
Johann Hari, the Independent’s disgraced star columnist, issued an apology yesterday for his rampant plagiarism, and for the appalling behaviour he has indulged in on Wikipedia under the pseudonym David Rose: “In a few instances,” he writes, “I edited the entries of people I had clashed with in ways that were juvenile or malicious: I called one of them anti-Semitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk.”

Such an admission makes the paper’s decision not to sack Hari an outrage and a scandal. His victims, who include Nick Cohen and Cristina Odone, will doubtless be consulting their lawyers tonight, if they haven’t already. (My sources tell me that at least one of those two is gearing up to bring an action against Hari for libel – a crime he has now admitted in print.)

One of the more amusing aspects of last night’s revelations were the celebrities who came out in support of Hari: Piers Morgan and Sally Bercow. (I can think of no greater condemnation.) More significant, however, are the number of early supporters who have now gone quiet, anxious that their own reputations should not be tainted by association.

The Independent’s spineless response to this crisis is the worst thing that could possibly have happened to Hari, because the remaining evidence of his antics – some of it really quite astonishing – will now begin to seep out, as I warned it would in the event the Independent’s enquiry proved to be a whitewash.

Hari needed to be cut loose for his career to have any hope of recovery, but, as it stands, both his and the Independent’s reputations lie in tatters. Being forced to pay libel damages, by no means an inevitability until yesterday, will seal the deal, scuppering his chances of ever writing for another newspaper or securing a book deal. He will become untouchable. Damaged goods. Toxic.

One thing Hari’s apology fails to mention – by no means the only thing, but an aspect of the grubby saga that has not received nearly the attention I think it merits – is the gay incest porn that was authored under the same pseudonym of David Rose, using an email address identified with Rose – an email address Rose admitted had been associated with pornographic material.

Because this pornography isn’t just incest porn. It’s also racist in content.

The story, titled “How my little brother learned to be a whore,” describes a black man who comes to be sexually involved with his younger brother. It contains multiple references to stereotypical black behaviours, with descriptions that no black person would ever write himself. To give but one example: “I sucked my teeth and muttered,” writes the protagonist (who is imaginatively named Leroy Jones) more