Monthly Archives: December 2010

Finally, proof that Richard Littlejohn cannot use the Internet

From his column today:

This is probably the first occasion a crossbow has been used in a robbery in this country since the Middle Ages. Even Robin Hood and his Merry Men, one of our earliest organised gangs, favoured the more-chivalrous longbow.

I searched the internet for the number of crimes in Britain committed with a crossbow, but apart from the recent ‘Cannibal’ case I drew a blank.

I searched for around 3 minutes and found two stories, one from 2008 when a man in Leeds was shot in the stomach with one (attempted murder) and the other from Northern Ireland in 2006 reporting that sectarian gangs had wielded them. I don’t get paid to research stuff, I am not – like Richard – being paid around £1m a year to write a column. Yet I have found out in a couple of minutes that he must have drawn a blank because a, he never actually did a search and he is just lying or b, he just isn’t very adept at finding things out. Surely being paid such a huge salary he could have at least spent a couple of hours looking into things properly?

Still, this is the man who keeps referring to the government cuts as ‘so called “cuts”‘, so it is not as if he gives a damn about accuracy.

Daily Mail back on the subject of baby names

This time they cover a survey of 423,000 children born in 2010 which claims that ‘Oliver and Olivia become Britain’s most popular names for children in 2010‘. Which is odd, considering that it wasn’t long ago that the Mail was claiming that Mohammed was the most popular boy’s name. Even stranger, Mohammed doesn’t even make it into the top 10 – a top ten which seems to suggest ‘that TV, celebrity and news trends continue to have a major influence on what parents call their children’.

Still, there must be a perfectly rational explanation for why Mohammed does not appear at the top of this list, and thankfully the Daily Mail reassures xenophobic and deeply worried readers that:

The list was compiled by online parenting club Bounty from names given to it by parents who had children this year.

An official Office for National Statistics list of names released earlier this year revealed that Mohammed, encompassing all its different spellings, was the most popular boy’s name. But it does not appear on the Bounty list because of the site’s social demographic.

OK. So, the message is: Muslim children are still taking over the country, but their parents do not use the online parenting club called Bounty. Glad they cleared that up. However, the Daily Mail (shock, horror) is not being entirely honest by saying that Mohammed does not appear on the Bounty list, because it does, way down at number 105, just beneath really bizarre names like Sean, Patrick, Tom and Elliot.

The best thing about 2010

Five Chinese Crackers did a wonderful review of Richard Littlejohn’s ‘novel’ To Hell in a Handcart, and it really was one of the best things I have read all year. It demonstrates that not only is Richard Littlejohn a supremely untalented writer, but that he also has a huge range of really serious issues that he needs to take up with a trained councillor. I suggest that if you have not already read it that you treat yourself to a complete and utter destruction of Littlejohn. You probably have in your mind an idea of how bad a Littlejohn ‘novel’ is, but I assure you, you are nowhere near imagining what a warped, misanthropic, homophobic and racist tome it is.

So, read the following posts:

Winterval myth still alive and kicking

The Daily Telegraph was one of the worst culprits for repeating the Winterval myth and it has repeated it yet again. This time it was the turn of Peter Oborne – the Daily Telegraph’s chief commentator – who writes a very formulaic piece on how wonderful it is that a government is finally standing up for religion. It is something that has been written many times before over the last 12 years whenever a political figure talks about the perceived marginalisation of Christmas.

It is part of the ripple created by Eric Pickles who has mentioned Winterval twice this year as he attacked councils for being afraid of celebrating Christmas. It was a lazy, ignorant thing for Pickles to say, and an even lazier and more ignorant thing for Oborne to repeat. Here is the mention in full:

Meanwhile, Eric Pickles has used his growing authority as Local Government Secretary to declare war on councils who refuse to celebrate the Christmas message. Back in November, he sent out a powerful instruction that they should stop worrying about causing offence, abandon politically correct formulations like “Winterval” and “multi-faith holiday”, and return to the British Christian tradition with carols, mince pies, and all the rest of it. This common sense, it needs to be said, has not only delighted Christians, but has been greeted with relief by those of other faiths, who are fed up with being unreasonably blamed for “banning Christmas”.

When I was finishing my Winterval essay I wondered if it was a relevant topic considering that it seemed to be dying out. However, since the essay was published it has been repeated and is still being used as evidence for a non-existent war on Christmas.

Plugging

From the excellent Football365’s Mediawatch today:

Mediawatch was slightly confused about an interview with Tony Mowbray in The Daily Mirror this morning.

Interviews don’t usually start with a discussion of the subject’s literary habits, but this particular article kicks off thusly:

‘Tony Mowbray patted the book on his desk and said: “I used to have a dog called Shankly for 13 years, beautiful golden lab.” Boro’s manager is seeking inspiration, while warning hard times at Middlesbrough could get worse before they get better.

‘”I’m reading about Bill Shankly and Alex Ferguson,” he says. “Heroes of mine. Working class roots, dug from the same coal pit, those two. Managers for the people.”

‘The title of the tome is: “If You’re Second, You are Nothing,” but Mowbray would probably love to contemplate such a lofty position.’

Odd that a book is given such a prominent plug in a national newspaper.

Not so odd, however, when you learn the author of said book is one Oliver Holt, chief sports writer for The Daily Mirror.

Eco-bulbs a ‘Health hazard’

Claims the Daily Mail, based on a study conducted in Germany by breaking the bulbs and measuring the amounts of mercury released. The article makes it clear that such danger only arises when a bulb is broken, and that you can purchase protected bulbs which are very tough to place in certain rooms if you wish. Furthermore:

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘Guidance from the Health Protection Agency makes it clear that the mercury contained in low energy bulbs does not pose a health risk to anyone immediately exposed, should one be broken.’

The Daily Mail still published the article anyway and opened with this paragraph:

Energy-saving light bulbs were at the centre of a fresh health scare last night after researchers claimed they can release potentially harmful amounts of mercury if broken.

Some more fine journalism from the Mail.

Always someone stupid enough…

Towards the end of my Winterval essay I point out that the reason the myth was still around after 12 years was because there would always be a public figure stupid enough to repeat it. It is disappointing to be proven right as yet another public figure – the newly appointed Lord Michael Dobbs – repeats the myth in a tabloid newspaper [the Express]. He follows the traditional pattern: talk about maintaining ‘British heritage’, vow to fight the PC brigade and talk about how silly Winterval was:

Away with all the ­levellers and their ludicrous festivals like Winterval, let’s embrace Christmas in the way we’ve done for more than a thousand years, celebrating family and showing friendship to strangers. If the flat-earthers find themselves insulted by the fact that we take pride in being British, that’s their problem.

This person is now a Lord. And we think the people we elect are stupid.

If you have not yet read or shared the Winterval essay, please do. I have yet to receive any kind of response from the newspapers I contacted regarding it, but I might forward it again should any of them repeat it again.

Ego

I’ve been spending a little bit of time reading Richard Littlejohn’s website recently. It is a strange experience because the website spends a lot of time building up Richard Littlejohn as a serious social commentator, a brave crusader of free speech who is prepared to say the things that no-one else will. You then head over to the Mail website and see that his latest column is a collection of deeply unfunny – not to mention lazy – rewritten Christmas carols. Littlejohn’s ego is huge – just spend some time on his website and you get a huge sense of disconnect between the person who he thinks he is and the tired old cliched drivel he actually produces year-after-year.

Last week he libeled Julian Assange by stating that he had been ‘hacking into American government computers from a bunker in Sweden’, yet he makes the following claim on his website:

Listen, I’ve said some very unpleasant things about people, but I have never knowingly told a lie about somebody and if I discover something was a lie I always put it right in the column.

So, where is the correction for Julian Assange? According to his website he will be upset that such a glaring mistake was even included:

at nine o’clock at night [on the eve of his column appearing] I get a final proof and I go through it syllable by syllable and get pissed off if I miss something and see it in the paper the next day. That’s called doing the fucking job.

And the final thing that struck me was this:

What most columnists don’t get is that we are part of the entertainment industry as well. You know, there’s no divine right to be read and I like to think that people who turn to my page don’t know if they’re going to get a polemic or a song and dance act or a page of jokes.

You just published a page of carols a school-kid would have been embarrassed to own-up to. I think the vast majority of your readers know full-well right now that they are going to turn to your column and get extremely lazy, tired and unfunny rubbish. The current top-rated comment under his column today is this: ‘About as funny as having haemorrhoids.’ That comments section was far better than the column. Enough said.

Respect

On the second of December John Kercher – father of murdered Meredith Kercher – wrote a piece for the Daily Mail in which he complained about the minor celebrity status acquired by Amanda Knox. In particular he described how ‘Sometimes it seems that there is no escape from her or her jaunty nickname, ‘Foxy Knoxy’ (doubly hurtful, for the way it trivialises the awfulness of her offence)’. A quick search of the Daily Mail website for ‘foxy knoxy’ returns 151 results. Three of these results – referring to Amanda Knox in this way – appear after the Daily Mail published the heartfelt plea of John Kercher for the term not to be used by the media.

richardlittlejohn.com needs updating

From richardlittlejohn.com:

Littlejohn has no party political affiliations and believes journalists should be in a state of permanent opposition and scepticism, opposed to vested interests of all political persuasions and fiercely protective of civil liberties.

His job is to sit at the back and throw bottles.

So, a man fiercely ‘sceptical’, permanently in ‘opposition’ to ‘vested interests’ and ‘protective of civil liberties’ would surely be all over the Wikileaks releases – seeing as they would be prime material for this brave cheerleader of truth and liberty. Except he isn’t.

No, Richard – one of life’s great moral cowards – dismissed the Wikileaks release of some 250,000 classified goverment files in a column titled ‘WikiLeaks latest… the Pope may be Catholic’. He made it clear that ‘While other media outlets have focused on the geopolitical fall-out from the 250,000 leaked documents, this column prefers to trade in tittle-tattle’. OK, so that establishes that Littlejohn has no interest in questioning the real actions of governments (and no Richard, complaining about the amount of wheelie-bins you have or how frequently refuse collectors visit you – or even, before you start, whether they are prepared to walk up to your house to collect them or whether you have to wheel them to the curb yourself – does not count).

Well, surely he would look at the implications of the complicated Assange bail and argue that whatever happens it is paramount that the man was given the same civil liberties as any other individual in his position – that Assange should face his accusers in the same way as anyone else. Err, no, wrong again. In fact Richard Littlejohn seems very uninterested for a man who sells himself as a sceptical crusader:

This may seem like a silly question, but what is ­Julian Assange doing in Britain? He is an Australian who has been hacking into American government computers from a bunker in Sweden, where he is wanted on rape charges. Frankly, he’s none of our business.

If the Guardianistas want to work themselves up into a lather of self-righteous indignation, let them get on with it. Out here in the real world, the fate of the ­WikiLeaks founder is a matter of complete indifference to most of us.

Of course, the very title of his column says it all: ‘Why can’t our own Cybermen zap the WikiLeaks man?’. The way in which this fearless champion of the little man always comes out firmly in favour of the state, the corporation or simply the majority is staggering. Littlejohn only ever attacks the dead, the disenfranchised or the minorities.

It seems his classroom metaphor is appropriate, it is just the wrong way round. Can the webmaster for richardlittlejohn.com therefore please make the following change:

His job is to sit at the front and throw bottles.

However, the webmaster can feel free to leave this gem of a mistake:

Little John

Even his own name, on his own website is wrong. You couldn’t make it up.