OK, up front: we’ve got three children and the second and third we brought up using Gina Ford’s methods, which essentially mean working to a schedule built around the baby’s natural sleep and waking rhythms (once summed up by Jenny Colgan as “7.00am: you wake baby. 7.02am: baby poos. 7.12am: you poo.” Jenny doesn’t follow la Ford’s methods..). For us, it made life eversomuch easier.
Which is why the Gina Ford-versus-Mumsnet thing is so wrong. You can read the Mumsnet discussion of it, and find yourself shaking your head. It would be so easy to fix, especially because Ford has – as the Mumsnet people say – supporters among the posters there.
All it takes is for Ford to do one or both of the following: (1) ignore all the negative postings: they’re done by people who aren’t going to be her supporters or customers at any time; (2) wait for it all to subside a bit and then post.
I know, that would all be a bit late-20th century – even early 21st – as a marketing strategy.
But I bet it’s cheaper than the lawyers. Good speech tends to drive out bad speech. That’s the lesson I keep drawing from things like this.
As the Mumsnet folks write,
Quite apart from the fact that Ms Ford’s legal moves now threaten our very existence, we think this case raises broader issues which anyone who cares about freedom of speech should worry about. Some of these relate to British libel law and how it applies to bulletin boards.
Yes; basically it’s the reality that people in forums talk like they’re in a pub but lawyers treat it as though it’s printed in a newspaper.
Oh, and this bit piles Pelion upon Ossa:
Mumsnet has sought to meet and resolve the concerns expressed by Ms Ford. Mumsnet has offered to mediate any dispute she has – both offers have been declined. We sincerely wish to avoid a personal battle with Ms Ford, a figure who, as we have made clear, is widely respected both by us and many of our members. (Quite apart from the fact that we can think of much better things to spend our very limited resources on, Ms Ford’s first legal complaint arrived just days after both Mumsnet founders gave birth and the dispute has already devoured any hope of maternity leave.)
Yeees, I would think that might be troubling. (Bright thought) Hey! Get Gina to look after the kids while you work on the legal response.
You can read the Gina Ford response on Mumsnet:
As I have repeatedly made clear to Mumsnet, I have no objection whatsoever to people discussing or disagreeing with my advice and methods concerning childcare. What has caused me so much upset has been the defamatory campaign waged against me as a person in which I have been described in the most vile and disgusting terms.
Mm, got to say, Gina – it comes with the territory. People
get stuff wrong all over the place, and then don’t bother to update it (well, look at the comments – he updated it). Anyhow, people do get stuff wrong online then don’t bother to update it.
And the original poster even put an apology, which contains what must be one of the most ironic but must not be read as ironic passage:
She said: “I apologise profusely to any childcare guru that I may have offended by suggesting that they are involved in military action in Lebanon and her followers for suggesting that she/they strap their babies to weapons of mass destruction. I have read her book many times and I can confirm that this IS NOT suggested as part of any childcare guru’s recommended routine.
(Well, Ford’s done more than one book, but anyway.)
And you can read another version by the Mumsnet people (wow, those are some effective mothers) at the Guardian commentisfree site:
Ms Ford has used a pneumatic drill to crack a sesame seed. Instead of requesting the removal of offending posts, she has demanded the deletion of whole threads containing hundreds of voices; her lawyers have been consistently bullying and patronising; and even when we acceded to their every request (including introducing a new monitoring regime specially for posts relating to Ms Ford), they insisted they would go to court to seek damages and costs against us.
I guess the really interesting thing is that Gina Ford’s methods generate such strong feelings. Unsurprising in one way, because babies create such strong feelings. But why do people think that Ford’s method is about bending the baby to your will: it’s rather the opposite – you get bent around the baby, because one thing that’s sure is that babies all work pretty much the same..