Who do you nominate for “Cnut of the Week”?

Image of King Cnut, labelled Cnut of the Week

Stilgherrian Live, my live Internet program, returns tomorrow night, and I need nominations for this week’s “Cnut of the Week”.

If you missed the last two episodes, well, the segment “Cnut of the Week” is dedicated to the memory of King Cnut the Great, also known as Canute, a Viking ruler of England and Denmark, and Norway, and of some of Sweden variously from 1016 to 1035 CE.

Cnut is best known for attempting to hold back the tide. As 12th-century chronicler Henry of Huntingdon tells it, Cnut set his throne on the shore and commanded the tide to halt — but of course it didn’t stop. Cnut leapt back and said:

Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.

He then hung his gold crown on a crucifix, and never wore it again.

This story about Cnut may not be true, and it’s really praising the greatness of the Christian God whom I do not worship. But I prefer the other interpretation: that Cnut staged the scene to rebuke the flattery of his courtiers, and to demonstrate that the forces of nature are mightier than any mere human.

In Stilgherrian Live, I nominate as “Cnut of the Week” people who futilely resist the forces of change.

I’m particularly interested in examples of trying to hold back the changes brought by the Internet, with its greater connectivity, transparency and democracy. And you get to vote.

In episode 7, for example, I nominated Senator Stephen Conroy for trying to filter “bad stuff” from the Internet, a sea cucumber (don’t ask!), NSW Premier Morris Iemma for being a Pointless Cnut generally, and the entire government of China for their oppressive censorship — with China as the clear winner.

In episode 8, commentator Greg Barns won with his call for Facebook, MySpace and other social media websites to moderate all of their content, beating consultant Dan Kaminsky who dared tell us that the Internet isn’t secure (fighting the tide of ignorance-is-bliss) and the commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Mick Keelty, for persisting in the persecution of Mohammed Haneef in the face of an overwhelming lack of evidence.

So, who do you nominate this week, and why?

26 Replies to “Who do you nominate for “Cnut of the Week”?”

  1. I would like to nominate, as a group: Glenn Milne, Tony Abbott and all the other moths still doggedly hovering around Peter Costello as the bright light of conservative politics in this country.

  2. Peter’s gone, fellas. He’s not coming back.
    If it helps give you closure, you can name a star to remember him by.

  3. I’ve received a couple nominations via Twitter:

    1. John McCain for insulting women’s intelligence by picking a token broad in hopes of wooing Hillary supporters.
    2. AT&T, for failing to provide decent broadband (though Australians may lack sympathy).
  4. If the requirement for nomination is

    “people who futilely resist the forces of change… particularly… trying to hold back the changes brought by the Internet, with its greater connectivity, transparency and democracy”

    …surely the striking Fairfax journos are in with a chance?

  5. @DizzyStuff: I will certainly have something to say about the Fairfax journalists’ strike. I don’t know that they’re cnuts, though, more just sad…

    @Andrew E: The Republicans certainly are trying to hold back a tide of change — and I don’t just mean the Obamageddon they face.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I simply do not understand why Morris Iemma is still Premier of New South Wales. Actually, I don’t understand how he got the job in the first place. One of my very first posts here was Morris Iemma, you f—wit!, which I still stand by. Except that these days I wouldn’t censor myself.

  6. Australian Telecommunications Companies. All of them. For their utter utter utter failure to effectively and actively grasp the many, varied and sometimes downright scary opportunities thrown up by new media webbiness and etc and so on. I mean really. They are earning money hand over fist and doing A REALLY BAD JOB. I am the kind of consumer who would happily hand over my hard earned if A: the service wasn’t poo and B: they appeared to have even the vaguest notion of what they are doing. e.g. Pricing, Speed, Coverage, Content development and delivery. Morons. Cnuts of the year I say.

  7. Oh here is the bloody suggestion on your bloody blog:

    Telstra in particular & all other telcos in general. Cnutes of the first degree the lot of them, especially in relation to broadband pricing, rollout and plans!

  8. Stilgherrian must have me blocked on Twitter because I nominated Greg Bird, the stupid NRL player who glassed his girlfriend, then tried to get his friend to take the rap.

    I have to call out his girlfriend too who is “standing by her man” even after he maimed her.

    I can’t decide which one is the bigger cnut… they both deserve each other.

  9. @Allison Reynolds: Nah, you’re not blocked. I didn’t know who Greg Bird was, or anything about this incident, and my mental note to look it up before responding got forgotten.

    Cnutful, sure, but “futilely resisting the tide of change”? Not so sure…

  10. I’d vote for the residents of Mullumbimby who are trying to either: (1) stop woolworths opening a shop in town (2) Trying to stop major music festivals taking place on privately owned land and (3) The woman who once said “People hate change in Mullumbimby” when change is the only certainty in this town

  11. I’d put in for the stock market heads for banning short selling, if only temporarily. They refused to do this in the asian financial crisis, take your medicine they said, but it seems they are less keen to take the medicine or advice themselves.

    (this I think is more aimed at the world bank and stock market heads than the federal reserve.)

  12. Nathan Rees for the comments comparing Sydney’s transport system with NYC and Paris.

    Or just for being clueless and wanting to set up a motor race at Homebush.

  13. I nominate the Catholic church, the Jesuits and Xavier College for their efforts to ensure that bullying, hazing and educating the moneyed elite Catholic leaders of tomorrow in the ways of oafishness, cronyism, stand-over tactics and mob behaviour that will serve them so well in their careers as accountants, lawyers and captains of industry.

  14. This week it’s gotta be Conroy again. If he’d answered any of the questions put to him in parliament this week (on notice!), apologised for smearing his opponents as pro-paedophilia, or for claiming that other western countries had mandatory ISP-level net filtering, then he might have escaped. As it is, he’s continuing to glare menacingly at the tide even as the waters rise around him.

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