I didn't know what to make of the claims being made on The Standard about a Labour MP threatening to "out" or discipline certain bloggers and blog commenters. So I read a number of posts and hundreds of hundreds of blog comments.
The good news is that my eyes finally stopped bleeding about an hour ago.
What did I learn? Could there be truth in these allegations?
Three or four commenters on The Standard claim to have inside knowledge but won't name the MP, and yet it's not hard to join the dots and work out who they are referring to.
It's wise to be sceptical when someone posting pseudonymously makes an allegation about another person, who is also unnamed. But other commenters on The Standard (some whose names we know) appear to back up the claims.
There is a real "hate David Shearer" vibe throughout much of The Standard right now, and it's entirely possible that the visceral dislike for Shearer and his supporters felt by many commenters makes them see things that don't exist.
But it's also entirely possible that on this occasion there may be something going on. I'm not convinced either way.
If a Labour MP really is trying to silence the party's online critics in the way being claimed, then that MP really has lost the plot and should probably think about finding another job, and fast. There is enough crap going on within the party, without some zealot with all the nuance of a suicide bomber trying to destroy everything around them for the greater good.
We should also consider the possibility that the MP in question (assuming there is a factual basis for these allegations) is very much out on his/her own and is in the process of being told by his/her fellow MPs that he/she is really quite a special class of fool, and should just shut his/her mouth, because look at the mess he/she has made. Again!
But this is all rumour and speculation, so some scepticism is warranted, especially since it doesn't really make sense that the party would be trying to silence some critics while accepting a very high profile one back into the party. Why would the party do something that defied all good sense? When has that ever happened?
Update: So it seems pretty clear from various comments on this and other blogposts that a Labour MP wrote a letter that went to Labour's NZ Council, proposing that some form of action be taken to suppress anonymous bloggers. It seems that the MP in question is being accused of naming in that letter a particular person who uses a particular pseudonym on Red Alert and other blogsites. It also seems that the Council took the proposal no further, no doubt because they thought the idea was completely barking mad.
This is all very ugly, but if that's the extent of the bullying then at least it's isolated to one MP.