The Real Martin Bright

12 February 2010

10:49 PM

12 February 2010

10:49 PM

I first became aware of another Martin Bright with an interest in radical Islam a couple of years ago when a neighbour commented on remarks I had supposedly made on Any Answers. "Bit strong", he said. As I hadn’t called the programme, I just thought he was being a bit weird. Then he mentioned another appearance a few weeks later and I twigged I had a doppelganger. 
This was very unsetting for a while, but then the other Martin Bright went away. 
Now he has turned up again, commenting regularly on The Times website. I first found out when I received a call from an old friend and colleague working on the comment desk at the newspaper. He was a little shocked that I had started posting rather aggressive messages on the site.
The latest came in response to David Aaronovitch’s excellent piece on the Gita Sahgal/Amnesty International affair.
This led me to post the following:
"The Martin Bright who has already commented on this post is not me (i.e. the Political Editor of the Jewish Chronicle). This is deeply irritating for me (who is). I do not share the views of this other Martin Bright and don’t quite understand how The Times can allow two people to register to use the same name.
I am asking the people at The Times to sort this out. I had the same problem with someone with these views calling Any Answers on Radio 4. I assume this person is really called Martin Bright, but it is not me. 
I suggest The Times be very careful about this because people are already posting derogatory comments about "Martin Bright" elsewhere."
I understand that this must seem a little self-obsessed. But just imagine how strange it would feel if it started happening to you.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Your view is good.

  • Attila The Hun

    You should worry mate, some of us have more to complain about.

  • A Cloaked Figure

    Would having unique usernames just mean that Martin Bright (the other) would be called Martin_Bright2?
    One solution to this issue could be in the form of verified accounts for people who are better known than the average person, like twitter do with Stephen Fry et al. Or an icon next to a name with info displayed when mouseovered. It must happen all the time where someone sees a familar name and wonders if it’s the person they know/have known. If the comments had a location on it would be helpful too. If it said Bob Smith, Cornwall, I’d know for sure that it’s not Bob Smith who lives down the road.

  • Martin Bright

    Of course the other Martin Bright could be using his real name. And of course I don’t have copyright on the name (there is, for instance, a brilliant mathematician/bell-ringer with the same name). I do, however, think the Times should insist on unique user names to avoid confusion for the readers.

  • Beer Moth

    I used to work with a Gary Gilmour and it had a most unfortunate effect on the women he introduced himself to. Poor lad, worst thing I saw him do was eat a battered haddock between two bars of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

  • Roger

    Martin might find the case of ‘The Other Vladimir Nabokov’ amusing.

    The great emigre Russian writer had to share his name with another Vladimir Nabokov who was in almost every respect his polar opposite.

    At least in his younger European years the writer Nabokov was a left-liberal whose father had served in Kerensky’s cabinet, who married a Jewish woman and who published much of his early work in the journals of the Social Revolutionary and Menshevik emigration in Paris and Berlin.

    The Other Vladimir Nabokov was on the contrary an ultra-right reactionary monarchist antisemite.

    As both wings of the emigration tended to live in the same areas and had no choice but to overlap socially at multiple levels, the two Nabokovs never met but were confused on multiple occasions – giving the writer a not at all welcome insight into the mental world of his nominal doppelganger.

    There is also a certain poignancy to this as the writer’s father had been assassinated at a public meeting in Berlin by another crazed rightist emigre who came from exactly the same circles as The Other Vladimir Nabokov.

    On the positive side this coincidence must have helped inspire the double motif that runs through Despair, Lolita, Pale Fire, Ada etc.

  • Sarah Brown

    There’s some advantage to having a boring name – even if it happens to be the same one as the PM’s wife – i.e. because there are obviously going to be lots of us. I went to a conference on the uncanny recently and there were two Nicholas Royles there, one a novelist and one a critic. Both write about uncanny doubles.

  • denverthen

    You seem to be assuming that this ranter isn’t also called, genuinely, “Martin Bright”. For a jolly jape I just googled your name. A few pages in, I found a Facebook account – with piccies – that I thought might belong to you. Nope. It’s pretty clear it’s another – genuine – Martin Bright, though I’d be surprised if this particular one was interested in anything other than getting largered and pulling (main pic is of him with a pint in one hand and a girl in each arm). I’m reasonably certain it’s not you (too young).

    Point is, I would imagine that the Times recognises that more than one person in Britain, out of 30-plus million males, is likely to be called “Martin Bright”. It’s therefore a bit unfair to demand that that paper’s web managers choose the individual “most worthy” of using the name in their comments section, especially if it’s their own (but I get the distinct impression from this post that you think that means, er, you – and other, less famous and more objectionable “Martin Brights” – to you – can stay anonymous, unworthy of your name as they must be!).

    But your name is not copyright, Martin Bright, and it’s really pretty common, too.

    Hey, know what? Try a pseudonym for your online activities.

    I wonder what you’d choose. “BrightRed”, perhaps? That’s a good one (in my ever so ‘umble). But this is fun! Everyone, seeing as his legally unprotected name-brand has been so contaminated by this irritating person of, er, the same name, why don’t we think of an imaginative online commenter handle for Martin? We could rustle up an avatar, too.

    Get a bloody grip, do.

  • Alexandrovich

    Of course, you do have first call on the name Martin Bright. You do don’t you? If not, you’re so famous the whole world will be able to differentiate so don’t worry.

  • Jon Rosenberg

    “a little self-obsessed”? No not at all. While there seems to be no intention of a deliberate obfuscation by the other “Martin Bright”, let alone an attempt of theft of identity, it would distress anyone to have this sort of confusion reign with regards for their views. The more so as you are a journalist and political commentator. Your work and your professional relationships stands or falls on the stances you take and your ability to express them clearly, cogently and with honest intent.
    I suspect that this episode will be repeated not all that infrequently, it is an inevitable consequence of the ever growing size of the on-line population.

  • A Cloaked Figure

    Martin, look on the Bright side (excuse the pun). The [fake] Martin Bright’s opinion has been rather popular with readers of the Times. It’s been recommended by 194 people at the time of writing. Yours is only recommended by 1. If he keeps posting you’ll become [more] well known and [more] popular without having to do anything more than you do now.

    The Real Martin Bright said: “I suggest The Times be very careful about this because people are already posting derogatory comments about “Martin Bright” elsewhere.”
    Thinking of going down the legal route if they don’t do the right thing? What if the other Martin Bright registered on the Times site before you did? Who has the right to the name in that scenario?
    You can at least be thankful that your name isn’t John Smith.

    “I understand that this must seem a little self-obsessed.” No, of course it isnt.

    “But just imagine how strange it would feel if it started happening to you.”
    It’s never happened to me so far, but i know of someone it has happened to, Some guy called Martin who occasionally has strong views on radical islam, and he wasn’t amused.