Longtime readers of the ol’ raincoaster blog will know that we rarely (make that never) comply with demands for retractions when we’re sure of our facts. And we’re usually sure of our facts, even when they are wrong.
Like they were in this case.
This is what I get for relying on The Sun for anything but tits, really.
So it turns out the facts in this case were not quite as reported. Which case? The one we blogged about, titling it
UK news: how to get away with blowing up three cars in a huge fireball without being suspected of terrorism
which was really rather pointed of us, wasn’t it? Too bad those don’t appear to be the facts.
So, what are the facts?
It happened in the UK. That is not disputed, particularly by the nice lawyer who contacted us therefrom; well, technically the Head of Complaints at the Press Complaints Commission (does this make me a Real Journalist now? Dad would be so proud). UK libel laws, you and Graydon Carter may recall, are pretty heavily weighted in favour of the person being discussed (usually known around these parts as “the material” and around Vanity Fair as “Roman Fucking Polanski Goddammit”) regardless of what was said and their pre-existing reputation, but that is neither here nor there. Tho it had to be said, because why? Because it’s a blog, that’s why. If you don’t read the text and only come for the saucy pictures of anarchists, you’re skipping this part anyway and I can insult you freely, you puce-faced pantyliner.
By the way, WordPress.com stood by me and thanked me for bringing it to their attention, reiterating what I already knew; that in the absence of a court order, they would not remove the post without my permission.
As for The Incident Itself…
It involved a woman called Sarah Dean, a young British woman, a woman who worked in the travel industry, a woman with a really good lawyer. No, really good. Go ahead, google her; the archive is wiped except for some irritable bowel symptom reference. Yes, even Yahoo; that is some god-like omnipotence shit right there, that is. I’ve never seen Yahoo wipe something before.
What the Sun reported was that, a couple of days before several car-based explosiony terrorist attacks in the UK, her car “exploded in a fireball”, taking out the neighboring cars as well. And that was, apparently that. Except that I went on to say:
To be serious for a moment, either people with connections to the travel industry who happen to be blowing cars up in the UK are a risk or they are not. Either all such people should be investigated for connections to terrorism, or none should be. I have not the slightest idea of Sarah Dean is a hapless clerk or a terrorist mastermind, but then neither do you. Let this very weird, very peculiarily timed incident be fully investigated. Cars rarely blow up, especially German ones.
Regardless of what happened to her car, I stand by that statement. Now, as to what happened to her car, this is the statement released by the lawyer and printed in the Sun (which I can’t even find on Google; told you the lawyer was good!):
Further to your article “I blew up my boss’s Porsche”, I would like to make clear that after seeing smoke from the engine I pulled my car over and pushed it into the staff car park. It later caught fire causing minor damage to two other cars. There was no explosion nor were any other cars written off.
So, now that we’ve gotten our facts straight we can move on, thinking: a) that all suspicious travel-related incidents in a time of domestic terrorism deserve an equal chance of investigation, b) Sarah Dean seems to fall into the category of “hapless clerk” and not “terrorist mastermind” unless she truly, truly sucks at it, and c) the Sun‘s standards for “Fireball” would not be accepted by any Dungeon Master in the entire constellation of parallel universes of RPG’s.