28 Feb 2011

Hitler and Gloucestershire libraries

Updated this blog at 4.30pm.

I was sent a link to a campaign video about our libraries: it is an adaptation of a national campaign video about libraries. Since then the press have picked up the story and quote the Leader of the County Council condemning me. If I have caused offence by linking to this film then sincere apologies. I had the following statement below which has been on my blog since I added the link. It gave a warning and tried to set the film in some context. I am grateful for the initial comments on the Citizen website. Indeed my great grandparents were Jewish and I certainly have no intentions of causing offence.

Please be aware that this contains a 2004 war film of Hitler's last days. There is no intention to diminish or disrespect the horrors of that time. Worth checking out is Godwin's law as he suggested that "in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope— someone inevitably criticizes some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by Hitler and the Nazis." Of course Glos County Council are not anywhere close to the Third Reich!! But the disregard of people's wishes and the expected impact on vulnerable people is shocking to many of us.

See Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries here and click on label 'Libraries' and scroll down for details of the legal action and more. See a great library video here.


Anonymous said...

At least it has created some debate - I was beginning to think Gloucestershire had gone to sleep on the issue of cuts.

Silversprite said...

Yes, there is more than an element of Mark taking a mock-outrage, I-am-moral, platform over this. Opportunist, or what.

I've blogged about this (I'm an independent library campaigner) with respect to the Gloucestershire video, and the national one. The latter has links to the back history of this particular video parody - which the biased local news story, in the usual "Let's stir it up a bit" manner, omitted.

And even with Godwin's law et al, I think there's an unfortunate correlation with book-burning Nazis, and closing libraries. They are both about stopping people from having access to information and knowledge.

That's my opinion, which of course anyone is free to disagree with.

John Kirriemuir
Use Libraries and Learn Stuff

Anonymous said...

I think this is disgraceful and far too late for any apologies, you must have supported its content to up lift it onto your blog. Further more as you make a big thing of being an elected District Councillor you are effectively linking the District Council to your disgraceful actions.

Andy said...

Not sure what the last comment is trying to say - can't someone ever make an apology?! Most people don't seem to think one is necessary going by the comments on the Citizen website which show a much greater understanding of humour. See this one for example:

For goodness sake Cllr Hawthorne, where is your sense of humour?
I have just watched the HitleratGlos video on YouTube and can immediately see that the makers have used humour to have a dig at you and your colleagues in the best traditions of British satire.
Most readers of this newspaper will have the wit to realise that it is you who has cynically played the Holocaust card and the shame for that must rest with you.
Intelligent people - the ones who actually like to read books - know that ridicule is sometimes the best form of attack.
Did you not also realise that, by condemning this video so vehemently, you have ensured that it will now spread like wildfire?
Maybe the Tory group needs a good PR professional to save you from digging yourselves deeper into holes started without proper public consultation.
In any event, I suggest readers made up their own minds by looking at the video themselves - before the thought police manage to get it taken down.
Avid Reader, Cirencester

Bob said...

I think all the "its only a bit of a laugh" comments like the one above, and on the Citizen website, show why the Anti-Defamation League criticised this parody in the first place.

I'm sure you didn't mean it in that way Philip, but for people to be saying things along the lines of "its only Hitler, where is your sense of humour", proves the point. Hitler's reign isn't something to joke about. He is not a handy shorthand for bad government, nor a cartoon of evil. He murdered millions, literally millions of normal people just because they were Jewish, or gay, or disagreed with him.

I don't think its great to justify doing so on the basis of Godwin's law. The fact 14 year old Americans arguing on forums have a casual tendency to be dismissive of the Shoa means that we should all do the same. Certainly elected politicians shouldn't do the same.

For someone who made so much fuss (rightly) when the BNP tried to open an office in Stroud, I would have expected a more informed view. Much as I hate the BNP, I would pause before comparing their leader to Hitler. To do so to a local councillor whose view you dislike is totally wrong, in my view.

No doubt your comments will be full of people saying that it was only a bit of a joke. I wonder if you are really happy in that company.

Anonymous said...

This councillor made quite clear that he did not view the County as anything like Hitler.

Anonymous said...

This film (Downfall/ Der Untergang) has an almost venerable history of being parodied and even acknowledged by the Torygraph as a film to watch:

Joker said...

It's not big and it's not clever, but funny is its own reward. If I had a dollar for every person I've encountered who didn't get that, I'd have several dollars.

Pity you didn't copy all the comments, Andy, including my 'If they can't take a joke...' one, because TiG seems to have removed them all now. Courageous journalism, as ever...

Russ said...

many a true thing is said in jest, so the saying goes...I guess the people who are offended by this maybe a bit worried about truths coming to light.

Anonymous said...

I like this comment from the Citizen:

And they say it's the left that are obsessed with 'political correctness' - looks like the right-wing also get about worked up about it.

I really can't see the problem with this whatsoever. The video is very amusing. However, I found this comment more amusing:

"I am always disgusted when idiots try to use Hitler, Nazism and the Holocaust to score political points."

Isn't that what the councillor is doing with this comment? Otherwise he would surely not comment at all.

The fact of the matter is that this clip has been used for all manner of things in the past. One wonders if Hawthorne condemns all of them? Or whether he is using this video as an opportunity for cheap political point scoring. I wonder...
Ian, Kent

Nick said...

OMG - where have these people been? The only greater SOH failure has been the film's makers originally getting Downfall Parodies removed from Youtube on copyright grounds (they finally realised that the only reason people like myself watched the film was because we had seen the parodies).

It's a great parody & very much in the spirit of humour and debate, and my only disappointment in all this is that Philip Booth has decided to become defensive about it's use.

I'm all for politicians declaring their views without trying to be PC.

Gail Bradbrook said...

I think Philip Booth is an asset to our community. An activist with a good heart putting his energy and time into many projects. I have seen him fighting for the rights of many people.

This feels like a storm in a tea cup.

Anonymous said...

See what the guy says who made the film :

peterk said...

How can people think that the video somehow glorifies Hitler? It was a parody of him. It was OK to parody Hitler during the war so why not now? One example was a song that involved the Albert Hall.
It is a pity that the fuss deflects from the real issue which is our libraries.

Chris Harmer said...

Does Mark Hawthorne laugh at 'Allo 'Allo, or does he see it as a fascist plot by the BBC?
My old managing director was quite content with his nickname of Herr Flick!
I see this as legitimate political satire in the same vein as the Stroud Defector.

Anonymous said...

Parmjit Dhanda – When Councillors lose control MPs need to show leadership

By Parmjit Dhanda. User of local libraries and former MP for Gloucester

Having taken a second look last night at the ‘controversial’ You Tube video which spoofs the Adolf Hitler ‘Downfall’ film, where Hitler resorts to lashing out at his lieutenants in the dying days of his regime in his bunker, I’m left scratching my head.

The subtitles have been adapted to the story of the closure of Gloucestershire libraries and it’s purely satirical. It’s about a man who has lost control, is clearly out of touch and is on the verge of losing it, as his empire crumbles around him.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne’s response to the You Tube video was extraordinary. Believe me, I’ve been the victim of all kind of verbal assaults in the past – not least from Cllr Hawthorne himself – yet for a politician to lash out the way he has (the film incidentally was not made by Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries) and to bring the holocaust and Stroud War Memorial in to the debate is way over the top.

It’s the kind of wild response we used to get from a former leader of Gloucestershire County Council when his back was to the wall. Mark Hawthorne is in the same position and is displaying the same behaviours as former Lib Dem (and once Labour) County Council Leader Peter Clarke during the Schools Review early in my first term as Gloucester’s MP.

It was clear to me then, when members of my own party were coming to me and saying that public confidence had collapsed in the policy and that the leader had lost all control over the issue that something had to be done. It was hard. I never came in to politics to fall out with my own colleagues and a few dear friends haven’t forgiven me to this day and I regret that. But it was the right thing to do.

Richard Graham is now the MP for Gloucester, and this could be his moment. The plan to effectively force ten libraries in to closure and to water down the service of the rest – is soiled. Cllr Hawthorne and Cllr Noble’s own body language, behaviour and rhetoric no longer even tries to defend their policy. They’re more interested in looking for people to kick or creating smoke screens to hide behind.

It’s all too similar to the Schools Review. Some people tell me I won a second term as the local MP because of the alternative document I wrote with my former colleagues David Drew and Diana Organ which told the council to stop going down a path that had lost credibility with the public and had swerved on to the wrong side of legal process. I don’t know.

But what I do know is this. If my successor wants to be Member of Parliament for the long term, then he must seize the moment and stop his council colleagues. He has influence over them, as the MP he is their totem and they dare not cross him. Its hard taking on your own side, but this is his opportunity. If he chooses to hide instead, I can assure him from my own greater experience of elections, you can’t hide in that job.

Stand up and save the libraries, Richard. This is your job now.

Anonymous said...

As a the Chair of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries, whilst I do not condone the video, I was upset about the way the Echo misleadingly reported that it compared library cuts to the holocaust - this caused a lot of distress for our members. I made a complaint to the press complaints commission who found the Editor of the Echo in breach of the code of conduct.
They said

"In regard to the concern that the article under complaint described the video as comparing library closures to the “Holocaust”, the Commission found that this was indeed a breach of Clause 1 of the Code. The video was not comparing library closures to the Holocaust: the scene in the film depicts Hitler’s reaction to news about Germany’s failing war efforts; in the YouTube spoof, it depicted Hitler reacting to news about his failing library closure efforts. There was no Holocaust reference and, as such, the article was incorrect on this point.

Clause 1 (ii) states that a significant inaccuracy, once recognised, must be corrected"

The editor said he would print a correction but the one he offered passed responsibility for the misrepresentation to Cllr Hawthorne.