Orsam Books

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To JTR Forums

After I published the story behind my termination of my membership of the Censorship Forum in 'From Commissioner to Asterisk', a number of people asked me privately if I was going to be joining JTR Forums.  My answer was that I was thinking about it (even considering a possible username) and might submit a request to join in the future but I wanted to wait a bit.  After my experience of dealing with the Casebook administrator I was wary of putting myself into the hands and under the jurisdiction of a new Admin. 

I did, however, click on the link on the Home page to 'Register' one day, in order to see what the process was, but one receives a very unhelpful message:

'Sorry, registration has been disabled by the administrator.'

So I guess one needs to email the administrator and be properly vetted, as if one is joining MI5.

As it happens, Howard Brown kindly invited me to join his site back in August 2017 as 'a book reviewer or anything else you'd care to do'.  I've never mentioned this to anyone before, even privately, but Howard has revealed the approach on his own site so I regard myself as being free from any issues of confidentiality.   What Howard said to me in a PM he sent to me out of the blue on 1 August 2017 was that, 'You would definitely augment the site' and 'We'd love to have you.'  At the time, I politely declined the offer, feeling that participating on one online forum was time-consuming enough and, believe it or not, I prefer not to become embroiled in online arguments if I can avoid it.

Although I have never commented negatively in public, or, indeed, in any way about JTR Forums, Howard Brown has now taken time out from attacking Hallie Rubenhold in his pleasingly 'warm' manner to calling me a sarcastic name ('Mr Warmth') on his site presumably because my posts on this website are not warm enough for him.  He also seems to be under the impression that I called his Forum 'a Muppet forum', or, rather, I think he is, for what he says about the subject is kind of incomprehensible ('David Orsam Blog' thread, JTR Forums, #40):

'I remember Mr. Warmth giving Gary and others a rough time once and calling them Forums (meaning this site ) Muppets.' 

Well, to the extent I understand what he's saying, he's wrong and Howard's memory has let him down.  I've never called 'them Forums', meaning JTR Forums, 'Muppets'.  I've certainly called a few individuals who post on JTR Forums, 'Muppets' due to the embarrassing muppetry exhibited by their posts which were written in direct response to some of my own posts on Casebook, and I've referred to one particular thread created in direct response to some of my own posts as 'a Muppet thread'. The fact that these few individuals made their posts in a thread on JTR Forums is incidental to anything I said about them. I would have said the same thing whichever website they posted on. So I'm not sure what concern it is of Howard Brown what I say about them but perhaps one is not allowed to say anything negative about any member of JTR forums anywhere on the internet (apart, of course, when it comes to JTR Forums member Hallie Rubenhold!).  It's an interesting new policy of censorship to match that of the actual Censorship Forum.

I also have no idea what Mr Brown means about 'giving Gary' a rough time.  If, as I assume he does, he means Gary Barnett, I've never even mentioned him directly or indirectly on this website before today, other than once when I referred to an unnamed person who had correctly pointed out that the supposed 1882 extract from a volume of the British Bee Journal was actually from 1975 (that person being Gary Barnett).  So that's not giving him a hard time. Quite the opposite. And even if I was giving him a hard time on this website, what business of is it of Howard Brown?  He doesn't moderate this website!  So what if I had given Gary Barnett a hard time? Does he need to be protected by Howard Brown?  Is Barnett a sensitive flower who should be exempt from all criticism?  

But if Howard Brown isn't referring to this site then perhaps he is referring to the Censorship Forum.  Did I give Gary a hard time on that forum?  I really can't say  but, if I did, what business is it of Howard's?  As it happens, Gary Barnett barely impinged on my consciousness during my time as a member of the Casebook Forum but I certainly do remember him calling me'an insulting little twerp' in a Maybrick Diary thread ('Incontrovertible', #4661) in clear breach of the Forum rules, but Admin didn't seem to notice.  Perhaps Howard didn't either. On the other side of the coin, I've never called Gary Barnett any names in response or, indeed, at any time.  In fact, I even defended him against a claim by Tom Wescott that he was 'jealous' in pointing out a serious error in Wescott's book.

As a result of the imagined slights on his mate, Howard has posted about me on his Forum saying, 'I respectfully won't be asking him to join again'.  Well, I'd already decided that I wouldn't be joining his site after he preferred to be one of the lads, in a clique of his own making, with his 'Mr Warmth' nonsense, rather than acting like a professional, impartial, administrator.  But I guess he is just an amateur.  I've had enough trouble with one irrational and biased administrator and I don't want to put myself under the jurisdiction of another one thank you very much.  

I say that Howard preferred to be one of the lads because his 'Mr Warmth' comment followed directly from a grumpy comment by Paul Butler about my 'Commissioner to Asterisk' article (and those about Hawley's book) when he said, 'He goes on a bit.  Grumpy bugger.', which was followed by the delightful Gary Barnett saying, 'If you dared question his opinions he might throw down the gauntlet and challenge you to a 3,000 word duel'.  The next post in the thread is Howard with his unnecessary 'Mr Warmth's blog' comment thus showing his need to be loved by his charming members and keep in with the boys. Howard was then followed by the aggressive 'Mr Poster' (#37) who gratuitously referred to the posts on this site as 'bile drenched' and 'ramblings'  but at least he gave a big shout out to my book 'New Romantics Who Never Were: The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet' (available from all good online booksellers!) which I assume he has read because he claims it to be'as thrilling to read as it is important', which superb publicity should keep me enjoying champagne and caviar for breakfast throughout the rest of the year.

My own posts on this website from May 2019 to which Howard Brown's members were responding were serious posts, about censorship on the Casebook Forum and about an important work regarding a Jack the Ripper suspect, in the same way that the 238 page thread about Rubenhold's book (with a few obvious exceptions within that thread) is undoubtedly a serious and valid discussion about her work.  I wasn't writing comedy you know, but it's typical of certain JTR Forum members that they like to write dismissive little posts without dealing with any of the issues raised.

And I must say that the contrast between the way the members of JTR Forums have gone for Rubenhold's book and they way they failed to analyse Simon's Wood's book ('Deconstructing Jack') is quite remarkable.  Just like Rubenhold, Wood is totally dismissive of Ripperologists - saying that 'the vast majority' of them don't want the mystery to be solved - and believes that the murdered women were not all prostitutes.  Yet Wood gets a free pass.  His book was barely examined in a mere five page thread on JTR Forums.  As one member said in that thread on 5 April 2015, 'Discussion regarding Simon's book seems to have died a death'.  My own article was linked to on 23 March 2016 but there was all but silence in response.  Was it because no-one had read the book?  Or was Simon, a longstanding male member of JTR Forums and friend of many of the members, above the type of intense scrutiny awarded to the female non-insider Hallie Rubenhold? 

Let's look at the response to my article 'From Commissioner to Asterisk' which dealt with a serious issue of censorship on an online Jack the Ripper forum.  It goes without saying that no discussion about this would have been allowed on the Casebook Forum, so one would have hoped for an intelligent and thoughtful response on JTR Forums. Well, one can hope, but it didn't happen.  Mind you, one can't blame those members of JTR Forums who are also members of the Censorship Forum as they might have feared incurring the vengeful wrath of administrator Ally Ryder, while exclusively JTR Forum members might have thought that Howard wouldn't have allowed criticism of her, or her forum, on his site.  One member did post that my articles about Michael Hawley's book, published at the same time, were 'very interesting, as is the article explaining why he left Casebook.org' but no-one else was prepared to stand up for the principle of free speech (or if they disagreed with me to say why they disagreed).  I was saddened to note that one member, Sam Flynn, who really should know better, completely ignored what I had written and came up with a fuddy duddy criticism of the title of an article I had posted some four years earlier. This was 'The Suckered! Quadrilogy', and he claimed, laughably, that there is 'a perfectly good word' to describe the next increment in a trilogy, being a 'tetralogy', despite the fact that 'quadrilogy' is, itself, a perfectly good word, which everyone understands and is familiar with, while virtually no-one would understand such an archaic and horrible word as'tetralogy'.  I wouldn't mind but I'd already had the exact same discussion on the Casebook Forum in September 2015 with someone who claimed that 'quadrilogy' was a modern marketing term: a comment which required me to produce examples from the dictionary showing that the word is a perfectly acceptable and recognized one which goes back the 1860s.  See here.   On that note, I was amused to see Sam Flynn say in JTR Forums: 'Looking into it, the word "quadrilogy" was coined in the 1860s...'  Quite. And usually best to check the dictionary before commenting on the acceptability of English words used by other  writers, I would have thought.

So that was a little silly diversion in the thread.  We then had Mr Poster, prior to his bile drenched ramblings comment, who at least seemed to be starting a discussion on the issues raised although I didn't quite understand what he was saying (#25) before Jonathan Menges popped up (#27) to say: 'I had nothing to do with his thread being locked and I wasn't aware of his departure from Casebook until long after it happened.'  I found that odd because I hadn't suggested in my article that he had had anything to do with 'my' thread being locked, let alone that he would have known about my departure from Casebook at the time it happened.  Mind you, he said that he didn't read the whole article because 'it's very long and just a tad bit obsessive'.  Had he actually bothered to read the article about which he was commenting, he would have known that the suggestion I had made in it was that he was the individual who had reported the thread in question to Admin (and that Admin's response to that report was, as a result, very different to what it would have been had an 'ordinary' member reported it).  But no-one seems to have noticed or taken the opportunity to ask him if this was the case (or perhaps no-one dared, or cared). 

It was then that we had Paul Butler and his 'grumpy bugger' comment leading to Howard Brown's initial gratuitous 'Mr Warmth' insult.  And it then gets worse because, in August 2019, after I'd proved that the Maybrick Diary was definitely not Victorian, the smears against me started, with our old friend, Mr Poster, saying on 6 August 2019 (#39):

'God he is tedious.

But given his penchant for slagging people off to no purpose except massaging his own ego...it's no wonder he,s (sic) banned from certain websites and confined to his own little echo chamber.' 

It is, of course, untrue that I am 'banned from certain websites'.  I certainly recall that the censorship loving Administrator of the Casebook Forum asked me if I wanted to terminate my membership and, on the basis of the arbitrary censorship being carried by her in the Forum, I asked her to please go ahead and do it.  She didn't ever inform me at the time when I was in direct communication with her that I am banned from that site, either for 'slagging people off' or for any other reason, and I'm not aware of being banned from any others.  So that false statement is made against me on JTR Forums, uncorrected, as part of the smear campaign by people who don't like my conclusions about the Maybrick Diary. 

Ironically, by his own account, Mr Poster IS banned from Casebook.  Thus, he posted on 2 September 2012 (JTR Forums Thread, 'Let's discuss the Leeds reports', #92):

'I relaise (sic) that it was Maria Birchwood and her oddness that helped me get banned from that other site all that time ago. Not that it has ever cost me a thought in the interim.'

So the hypocrisy of the guy is astounding!

In response to Mr Poster's false claim about me being banned from 'certain websites', Howard Brown could have stated clearly that I am not banned from JTR Forums but instead he said that he won't again be asking me to join, sending out a clear message, together with his 'Mr Warmth' jibe, that I am not welcome on his site.  

So let's look at what Howard's problem with me is because it clearly seems to be something to do with the Muppets.

Now, I've already written at length about why I call them the Muppets in 'The Genesis of The Muppets' here and see 'Response to the Muppets' here.  I'm not going to repeat it all again but a few facts are germane.

As readers of this website will know, a poster called San Fran started a thread on JTR Forums entitled 'One off' on 19 December 2016, just four days after I had posted the results of my research on the Casebook Forum which concluded that 'one off' was undoubtedly a twentieth century expression.  San Fran's big discovery was that he'd found a man called 'Paddy' being described as a 'one off' in a journal from 1882.  Cue slaps on backs and congratulations all round.  Confirming that the thread was a direct response to my Casebook posts, San Fran informed Howard that '...the bone of contention was that it was never used before circa 1912 and only in the manufacturing business related to a one-time only, custom made item'.   It was me who had discovered the 1912 reference - it had never been mentioned elsewhere - and I had posted about this on the Casebook Forum on 15 December 2016.  So we had the grotesque scenario of posters on JTR Forums celebrating some kind of Diary victory over a poster on a different online forum on a completely false basis.

Gary Barnett eventually spotted that the reference located by San Fran was actually a 1975 reference, although bizarrely, a few years later, on 13 July 2019, at #338 in the same thread, Barnett re-posted the entirety of San Fran's OP, which states that the earliest published record of the use of 'one off' was from the British Bee Journal of 1882, adding, 'Just a reminder of how this thread started', so, presumably, Barnett had completely forgotten that he had discovered this was false in 2016!!  But it caused a puzzled Sam Flynn to try and explain it away before he checked my website and discovered the truth that it was from 1975.  It's a shame that Sam Flynn initially attempted to justify a finding of the phrase'a one off' in 1882 as being consistent with his arguments about anachronisms in the Diary.  He should have put his hands up and accepted that, this being so, Maybrick could have written 'one off instance' in 1888 after all - at least, if he was being fair and open minded. Where he has gone wrong is that he keeps thinking that the key element of 'one off instance' is that it is describing an abstract event.  That's not the case.  The key element of 'one off instance' is that it is a metaphorical usage, for want of a better word.  Calling a person a 'one off' is not, of course, an abstract usage of the expression, yet it bears the same meaning as the expression 'one off instance'.  So the reason why it couldn't have been used in 1888 is not because 'one off instance' is an abstract expression but because it is essentially comparing a unique and unrepeatable manufactured item to a person or thing, which did not occur in the English language until the twentieth century.  Another way of looking at it, to the same effect, is that 'one off' didn't bear the meaning of 'unique' or 'unrepeatable' until towards the middle of the twentieth century so that it wasn't actually possible to describe anything as unique or unrepeatable by using the term 'one off' until it did come to bear that meaning.

Anyway, I digress.  The important thing I'm wanting to mention here is that San Fran's 2016 post totally confused a new member to the forums six months later, in 2017.  This was the Casebook poster Herlock Sholmes (who posts on JTR Forums under the obvious alias of  'Michael Banks'......he he! Just kidding!).   He was someone who was obviously genuinely intellectually curious about the origins of the Diary and engaged me in debate in June 2017.  During that debate he told me (#3334 of the Incontrovertible thread):

'I've just seen a posting on the forum from 2016 where someone has found and pasted a cutting from the British Bee Journal of 1882 where someone says something like "yes I remember Paddy.  He was a one-off"

I suppose the cutting was a forgery.'

It was a perfectly reasonable point - had the cutting actually been from 1882.  In response, however, I had to break the news to him (#3356):

'Not a forgery actually but a mistake.  The "cutting" was, in fact, from the British Bee Journal of 1975.

I know, it's embarrassing.'

Herlock thought I was saying here that his own post was embarrassing whereas I was, in fact, referring to the embarrassing nature of the posts in JTR Forums, and this, unfortunately, caused a little friction between us.

But the point is that we here have someone being completely and utterly misinformed by this dreadful thread which proudly (but falsely) announced, and still announces, the discovery of the written existence of 'a one off' in 1882.   This then corrupted the debate going on in the Casebook Forum.

Until this point, although I had responded to the Bee Journal mistake on the Casebook Forum, I hadn't actually called anyone a Muppet!  But, really, with the confusion that was being caused, I thought that now was the time.  On 8 June 2017 (#3363) I posted by way of explanation for Herlock:

'There was a bunch of muppets who posted some absolute nonsense over on JTR Forums in response to my posts in this forum. I'm not a member of that forum so couldn't reply directly but I did attempt to correct the record in this thread.  Someone, however, did realise it was a 1975 journal before I was able to correct them, and, if you were to read on in that thread over in JTR Forums, you will find the correction.'

Two days later the issue of 'one off standpoint' was raised on Casebook, to which I commented:

'Not only have I written quite a lot about it in this thread but I was the first person to find it, despite those muppets in JTR forums thinking they had made a great discovery'.

What had happened here was that San Fran, after his disappointment with the Bee Journal, continued his searching of Google Books to find a snippet from 1904 in which a pattern maker (Garscadden) had referred to making a pattern from a 'one off standpoint'.  Not having read the entire article (or, in fact, series of articles) and not understanding the context or, in truth, anything of what Garscadden was saying, it was broadcast as yet another triumph to show that Maybrick could have written 'one off instance' in 1888 (although the logic of even that statement eludes me).   Getting even more carried away, San Fran posted (#28):

'According to David, "one off standpoint" cannot exist in 1904.'

The 'David' being referred to is me.  So we have yet another grotesque scenario of a poster on JTR Forums commenting on a post on Casebook and making a false statement about that post.  Because, of course, I never said that 'one off standpoint', an expression I already knew that Garscadden had used, could not exist in 1904.

That statement by San Fran has never been corrected on JTR Forums.  I corrected it on Casebook and later on this site but what would any visitor to JTR Forums who wants to learn about the origins of 'one off' think about what is going on here?   Someone called 'David', they were being told, said that 'one off standpoint' cannot exist in 1904 and yet, San Fran is saying, here it was in existence. This is why this thread needs to be known as the Muppet thread to try and prevent others from being misled by its errors.

And the thread is even more corrupted than this.  For, at one point, Gary Barnett asked (somewhat desperately) if Maybrick's father was an engineer and was told by published author on the Diary, Caroline Morris/Brown, that 'Yes, I believe he was' (#21).  The desperate point being made was that, as an engineer, Maybrick senior might have passed on some engineering lingo to his son.  But the truth is that Maybrick's father, William, wasn't an engineer.  He was, at one time in his life, a copper plate engraver but this was only until 1844 when James was six years old. Then he took over as the Parish Clerk and remained in this position until his death in 1870, some 18 years before the Ripper murders. I posted this information in a Casebook Forum post but no-one ever bothered to correct the misinformation in JTR forums where it remains to this day, waiting to mislead someone new.

By 11 June 2017 I had referred three times in the Incontrovertible thread to the 'muppets' on JTR Forums.  Frankly, I think my language was very restrained, fair and reasonable.  To call someone a muppet is almost a term of endearment.  And the truth is, it's nothing more than lighthearted banter; only objectionable to anyone who is seriously emotionally repressed.  When San Fran wrote to me via this website he certainly never complained about it.  And it was six weeks AFTER this that Howard Brown invited me to join JTR Forums!!

JTR Forum members and their Administrator might like to note that I don't care about their daft insults. I collect them and I post them on this website. Insults without anything to back them up are pointless and self-defeating. It just shows the lack of insight and intelligence of those who use them. Go ahead and insult me all you want but you need to justify and explain those insults, with supporting evidence, otherwise that's all they are.  I have explained ad nauseam why I've referred quite reasonably to those few hapless posters in the 'one off' thread as muppets.  And I'll continue to explain it if I have to.  Frankly, if Howard Brown says he doesn't want me to be a member of his forum because I've used a comedy name to describe a few of his poor sensitive members, while his members lob insults and smears over at me, then that says everything about the Admin of that site.  It's also amusing that while saying that he will not again invite me onto his site, he has attempted to lure Hallie Rubenhold onto JTR Forums, and into the Lion's Den, presumably so that he and his mates can continue to harangue her at close range.

Indeed, let's consider the 238 page thread on JTR Forums entitled 'The Five: The Lives of Jack the Ripper's Women' for a moment.  It got off to a great start on 27 August 2018 with one of the JTR Forum members using the expression 'pampered twat'  about Hallie Rubenhold (#39) with the word 'twat' being so offensive it was, apparently, later replaced with asterisks by Howard Brown.  In case anyone didn't notice the abuse, about half an hour later on the same day (#42), the same person overtly, obviously and directly referred to Ms Rubenhold as a 'pampered middle class twat' (albeit that the last word currently appears as four asterisks, and I don't know if that was how it was written originally or not - the unacknowledged sanitisation policy apparently adopted by Howard making it impossible to tell).  Who was the person using that 'pampered twat' expression? None other than Gary Barnett!  The very same person who appears to need protection from the Administrator of JTR Forums if anyone gives him a 'hard time'!!!!  Poor Gary Barnett being given a hard time in Howard Brown's imagination!  In this case, Barnett's abusive outburst was so bad that no less a person than Paul Begg felt it necessary to distance himself from it by posting heroically on 27 February 2019: 'The 'pampered twat' comment by Gary Barnett was certainly extreme and there is no excuse for it' (#1035).

Shortly after Begg's comment, on 7 March 2019, Howard Brown was actively encouraging Trevor Marriott, of all people, to go forth and confront Hallie Rubenhold on her Twitter page, saying (#1329),  'I saw you on that Twitter feed.....fighting the good fight....like Crockett at the Alamo...for that you get a special tee shirt.'  There then followed a photograph of Rubenhold with 'HALLIE HALLIE HALLIE' superimposed over it, presumably being the tee shirt in question.  Thus encouraged, Trevor inevitably shoved his foot straight into his mouth, posting the very next day, which just happened to be International Women's Day, on Rubenhold's Twitter page, in a way that could hardly be more sexist: 'I think you need to get your facts right young lady.  I have no flawed view of women other than you need us men, because vibrators can't cut the grass.Dismay was naturally expressed at this by a number of Forum members in the thread including Gary Barnett who said of Trevor (#1381) 'What a twat!'  (one can see a pattern emerging) but Howard remained silent, both about Trevor's comments on Twitter and Gary's description of yet another JTR Forums member as'a twat'.  Perhaps his good mate Gary has special dispensation to give other JTR Forum members 'a hard time' while I, obviously, don't. 

Mind you, Howard himself described one of Hallie's online friends as 'a putz' (#1528) and another as 'a clueless sycophant' (#1499).  The latter was also described by Paul Begg as 'a dingbat' (#1510).  As the living embodiment of 'Mr Warmth', Howard Brown called Dr Hallie Rubenhold 'Big Mouth' (#2018).  They might, of course, have had good reason to use this sort of language but probably not as good a reason as I had to describe a few JTR Forum members as 'muppets' 

As I've mentioned, Howard attempted to lure Hallie (who had previously registered and posted as a member of his site) into the thread.  Thus: 'Hallie is a member of the Forums, in good standing, and can, at any time....come here and mansplain what we're reading attributed to her in the Sunday Telegraph'  (#365) and 'remember that HR is a member of this site who can respond any time she wishes' (#1219).  But here's the thing, Hallie was at the time accusing the precious members of Howard's forum of 'trolling' her and was banning them left right and centre from her Twitter page (including Howard himself).  Yet, she was being welcomed back to the forums with open arms by Mr Brown!!!  By contrast, I call a few of the forum members 'muppets', with perfect justification due to the blatant ineptitude of their posts, and my invitation to join is withdrawn and it's made clear that I am not welcome on his site.  Double standards here or what!?

It's interesting to note that, in the same thread, Rubenhold was quoted as saying of Neil Sheldon that he had been 'drummed out of Ripperology'.  This caused Paul Begg to post (#1221): 'Rubenhold seems to think that 'Ripperology' is an entity out of which someone can be 'drummed' rather than a just a bunch of people sharing a common interest.'  But the truth is that the ability to participate in online discussions on the subject of Jack the Ripper is in the gift of just two individuals, both self-appointed, unaccountable, administrators, who may or may not behave rationally and in an unbiased, neutral and professional fashion.  If you get on the wrong side of both of them then you may well find yourself being 'drummed out of Ripperology'.   I'm sure no-one would dream of drumming Paul Begg out of Ripperology (and he expressed bemusement that he had been banned, for the first time ever from something, from Rubenhold's Twitter feed) but others without such a prestigious name in the world of Ripperology may not be so lucky.  The list of the 'disappeared' from online forums strikes me as being quite a long one. 

As I say, there are only two Jack the Ripper forums and it would seem that they are both closed to me due to the unjustified actions of the administrators.  Thankfully, I have a voice on this site and, while the unsettled and agitated members of JTR Forums, who can't stand the fact that I do have a voice, might like to refer to it as 'tedious', the stats of the number of repeat visitors to this site using the links from Casebook and JTR Forums, as well as those now visiting independently, seem to show a different story.  Nevertheless, the amount of power in the online world of Jack the Ripper studies concentrated into the hands of two individuals, who have unlimited power to decide who and who is not allowed to post online about the subject, is troubling.

So that's the funny thing that happened to me on the way to JTR Forums where I will not now be going. 

Lord Orsam
12 August 2019