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Suffolk CC has questions to answer after demanding removal of lampoon video

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As anyone with a basic understanding of the internet could anticipate, forcing the removal of a lampooning video from a Suffolk blog has resulted in many more people seeing it.

Of course, someone else has put the video on YouTube.

And James Hargrave, who removed it after pressure from Suffolk County Council, has reworked his Downfall meme lampooning himself in the role of Hitler. Here it is:

Downfall of the Downfall video… from James Hargrave on Vimeo.

Since my previous post, which gives some of the background, Hargrave has written about what happened yesterday. He describes it as: “Really quite chilling.”

Hargrave has been a robust critic of plans by the Seckford Foundation to open a Beccles Free School, which has not had a great level of support in the north east Suffolk area. There are only 37 applications for places. Many of his comments have been trenchant and his relationship with the Seckford Foundation, which runs a minor public school in Woodbridge, has not been cordial.

Last week the chairman of the foundation wrote to him demanding, among other things, that he removed the video, a Downfall meme* of which there are hundreds on the internet, lampooning many, many things.

He responded immediately refusing to remove it and explaining that that it was a meme. That was on Friday and yesterday he received a call from a Suffolk County Council official.

He was told the call was being made at the behest of Tim Ryder, the monitoring officer, the senior legal person at the council. Ryder had received a complaint from an unnamed councillor.

Hargrave was told that the matter had already been discussed with the head of Stradbroke primary school which is attended by his children and where he is chairman of the governors.

He declined to attend a meeting with council officials at the school but agreed to remove the video to, “keep my children’s school out of this debacle”.

Perhaps a meeting would have cleared up some of the obvious questions. Among them:

  • When was the complaint made? (it looks as if it was made after the response to the Seckford Foundation but it may have been earlier.)
  • Did Ryder consider the likely response to his action and that it might be seen as a form of censorship? (It was being tweeted all over the UK last night.)
  • Did he understand that it was a meme of a form of which hundreds of examples have been put on the internet in the past four years?
  • Did he consider whether the complaint itself was potentially defamatory?
  • Why was the matter discussed with the school before making a direct call to Hargrave?

* Downfall, also known as “Hitler Finds Out…” or “Hitler Reacts To…” is a series of parody-subtitled videos based on a pinnacle scene from Der Untergang (2004), a German WWII drama revisiting the last ten days of Adolf Hitler’s life and eventual suicide in his Berlin underground bunker. Due to the film’s international success and Bruno Ganz’ haunting portrayal of the Nazi dictator, numerous segments from the movie soon fell fodder to hilarious parodies on YouTube, spawning hundreds of anachronistically subtitled videos of Hitler getting upset over topical events and trivial gossip. (from Know your Meme)

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  1. Have SCC tried to censor the free media? « Ipswich Spy says

    […] For further reporting see Mr Hargrave’s own blog here and Andrew Grant-Adamson’s blog here and here. […]