Tag Archives: overpaid and clueless

Here lies Winterval: 1998-2011?

So, after a lot of resistance – distorted, truth-bending resistance – the Daily Mail have published a correction after Melanie Phillips claimed that:

Christmas has been renamed in various places ‘Winterval’.

Tabloid Watch has charted the great effort the complainant – regular Tabloid Watch reader James – went to in order for the Daily Mail to admit to the simple truth that Winterval was simply a tabloid fiction. As usual the Mail took a month to respond to the complaint – remember the PCC’s slogan is ‘Free, fast, fair’ and that Daily mail editor Paul Dacre keeps defending the PCC as effective – and when they did they argued that:

The nit-picking suggestion that the term “Christmas” refers only to Christmas Day cannot be supported by anyone with a modicum of common sense. And Phillips did not say the term was intended to replace Christmas Day.

Much wrangling later they finally issued in print and online the following apology:

We stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval. Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998. We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas.

Amazingly – in what appears to be a first – the Daily Mail website has also added the same clarification to the bottom of the original article as well. The Daily Mail is to be commended for this – they have done the right thing.

There are a few remaining questions:

  1. Will Melanie Phillips acknowledge the correction in her next column with any sort of apology?
  2. Will Melanie Phillips apologise to me for responding to my polite email pointing her in the direction of my essay on the Winterval myth by claiming that my message was ‘as arrogant and ignorant as it is offensive’?
  3. Will she also admit that her claim that my blog post about her was ‘highly defamatory and contains false allegations for which you would stand to pay me significant damages in a libel action’ was complete rubbish – given that her own newspaper has now had to issue a correction on her behalf?
  4. Will Winterval still be repeated by politicians / journalists and so forth in the same way that it always has done following various previous debunkings?

I will always be tempted to refer back to my initial point on the Winterval myth: the most depressing thing about it isn’t neccesarily its longevity, but the fact that the original story was so clearly completely untrue and contained clear statements from the council that demonstrated this. It should never have been born, let alone be fed until it was big enough for politicians and far right groups alike to befriend.

Anyway, if you’re in the spirit for more on this please feel free to read my piece on Comment is Free. Or, you could settle down and read my lengthy essay on the matter.

Melanie Phillips and libel

Melanie Phillips’ second email to me is really quite interesting for such a short piece of writing.

She claims that my blog post is:

highly defamatory and contains false allegations for which you would stand to pay me significant damages in a libel action.

OK, fair enough, so immediately it leads you to think: she is going to sue. However, she doesn’t because:

you have shown gross abuse of trust in publishing on your blog private correspondence from me without my permission.

How is that a good reason not to sue me? Surely this is a further offence that she is clearly annoyed by and would make her more likely to sue me, not less? Anyway, the real crux of the matter is that she felt my blog post concerning her article on Rory Weal contained:

gross misrepresentations, selective reporting and twisted distortions

Because my blog post most certainly does not misrepresent what she said, it certainly isn’t selective in a misleading way (i.e. I only selected her words regarding Rory Weal, but they were most definitely not taken out of context and were quoted in full) and there are no twisted distortions. The reason why I am not guilty of these things is because you just don’t have to do any of these things to make Melanie Phillips look a fool, in fact most of the time you can get that reaction by just quoting her entire column in full or simply linking to it.

My post on Rory Weal was simple, Melanie decided to attack Rory Weal on the premise that Rory Weal’s family had lived off the state – which even she acknowledged was based on an unfounded assumption – she uses an ‘(if true)’ interjection immediately before starting her attack:

what that means (if true) is that his entire life has been spent as a kind of state serf, that he and his family are wholly lacking in independence, that their entire subsistence has been funded by the state. [emphasis is mine]

You do not need ‘gross misrepresentations, selective reporting and twisted distortions’ to demonstrate that Melanie Phillips was guilty of attacking a 16-year-old boy on an assumption that was completely wrong. Rory Weal actually had a very priviledged up-bringing, which Melanie Phillips would have known if instead of writing ‘(if true)’ before starting her rant she actually did even the most basic research.

So, given that Melanie refused to inform me (even though she says she could: ‘There are many things I could say to point out…’) of quite how I was guilty of ‘gross misrepresentations, selective reporting and twisted distortions’ am I now entitled to sue her for libel, given that she would have to then prove that her accusations about my writing were correct?

The trouble with libel law in the UK is that it is requires the person who is accused of libel to prove that they did not in fact write anything libellious. The burden of proof lies with the person being sued and you can never be certain which way the judge will turn in often complex matters where truth itself can be a matter of controversy. Many people have therefore argued that the libel laws in the UK hamper free speech, because people are afraid to challenge powerful organisations for fear of being sued – even if the truth is fundamentally on their side, it doesn’t mean expensive lawyers can’t alter that when it comes to court, or that the truth can’t be deleted or censored by the very threat of legal action.

Indeed I am reminded of some sage words on a famous, fairly recent libel case:

Simon Singh, a science writer, is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association for describing some of its treatments as ‘bogus’.

And Peter Wilmshurst, a consultant cardiologist, is being sued by a U.S. company, NMT Medical, after he questioned the effectiveness of a new heart implant device…

after raising such matters, serious scientists are being hounded to retract their claims.

Yet science depends upon scientists making such critical observations. Trying to gag them surely amounts to an abuse of the libel law and threatens the very integrity of science itself.

The idea that libel can be used like this to stifle discussion of the possible dangers of medical treatments will strike many as utterly intolerable.

The reason it is happening is that, unlike equivalent laws in other countries against defamation, English libel law is the most draconian in the world.

It doesn’t just hurt the open discussion of scientists either, but anyone who wishes to engage in free debate or exchange of new ideas:

The law of libel has long been the bane of journalists’ lives. But now it has become something altogether more sinister and frightening.

Rather than a form of legal redress for unjustly sullying someone’s reputation, it is increasingly being used by wealthy individuals or organisations as a weapon to stifle politically or commercially unwelcome views.

It is easy for a powerful organisation – the Daily Mail for example – to crush dissent by sending out letters threatening libel action, knowing full well that they will get an immediate retraction most of the time from people who could not afford to fight, let alone lose a libel case. In particular – as I found out – in the UK websites are very vulnerable given that the host is deemed to be the publisher of content so they can therefore be easily threatened and have no interest in defending customers against powerful organisations and will just simply take down a website to be on the safe side.

As the sage person writes:

Because of the difficulty of proving what may be unprovable, those who express such views are intimidated by the prospect of losing such a case – and then having to pay astronomical legal costs to multinationals or wealthy individuals who can afford to keep racking up the final bill.

So scientists, academics, authors, journalists and others are effectively censoring themselves for fear of becoming trapped in a ruinous libel suit – or are being forced to back down and apologise for statements they still believe to be true.

Quite. You’ve probably already guessed the punchline: this sage writer was, of course, Melanie Phillips writing back in 2009 – ‘Death of free speech: Is Britain becoming the censorship capital of the world?‘.

I do live with a certain fear of being sued, not because I set out to libel or defame people, but because people can threaten to sue me to get me to remove / censor my content and even though I endeavour to always write truthfully and to be as accurate as any part-time, tired, limited-time evening writer can be: anyone can make mistakes. However, in this country you don’t even need to be mistaken, you can write what you and many others might consider to be an absolute truth, but truth is a fluid notion that changes from person to person, and perhaps judge to judge so you can still be threatened with libel and have to remove the content to be on the safe side. Would anyone in my position risk everything to fight for a few words that they hold to be true?

As before, I put my words on here to be challenged, argued over, corrected or dismissed. I stand by what I hold to be true, I amend – openly – anything that happens to be wrong. I link to my sources and I quote fairly from the columnists I write about. I do not know if Melanie Phillips will ever read this, but if she does I would really appreciate her pointing out exactly where I was guilty of being ‘defamatory’, what ‘false allegations’ I had made and what parts of my writing were ‘gross misrepresentations, selective reporting and twisted distortions’.

I will happily strike them through and I will issue a grovelling apology if she can demonstrate my guilt.

If, however, Melanie simply threw down the libel card because she couldn’t actually point out anything of the sort then she is indeed a far worse person than I had ever imagined – and a far bigger hypocrite.

And that really is saying something, given my extremely low opinion of her in the first place.

‘Infantile’

Richard Littlejohn has dedicated most of today’s column to the Human Rights Act and why it should be scrapped by David Cameron. Of course, being a Richard Littlejohn he constantly refers to the Human Rights Act as ‘yuman rites act’ and David Cameron as ‘Call Me Dave’. Before then having the cheek to declare that Nick Clegg defended the Human Rights Act in front of ‘infantile conference delegates’.

Richard further demonstrates his superior maturity by following up his hilarious phonetic spellings and invented names by publishing the contact details of a council worker who he encourages people to contact about something in his column last week. No doubt the Daily Mail will want to cover the obvious waste of taxpayers’ money that will result in this individual being swamped by untold amounts of emails, phone calls and letters because Richard thinks this kind of thing is amusing and appropriate.

Richard Littlejohn, champion of the little man against the big powerful institutions throws his considerable weight around by publishing the details of one individual working for Cornwall Council.

Slow clap time.

Dacre’s Little Helper

Stephen Glover has been a busy boy lately. It seems almost every day he manages to write something about the phone hacking scandal. Brilliantly, he has such amazing insight and journalistic integrity that he manages to see past those accused by mere mortals of being responsible for the hacking and blagging of information – you know, the editors running the newspapers at the time, the blaggers and hackers and the journalists writing up the stories – and has rightly identified that this isn’t the responsibility of News International but it’s actually a political and lefty conspiracy masterminded by the BBC to gag the freedom of the press.

You see, although it appears to most commentators that an awful lot of leading politicians and PMs were actually pretty cosy with Rupert Murdoch and News International, Glover rightly rubbishes this simplistic interpretation and rightly points out that politicians were really just playing a very long, very elaborate game in which the final move is to regulate the press. Stephen Glover has been giving us a masterclass of ‘following the editorial line in spite of all the facts’ which has culminated today with this stunning headline:

The BBC’s bias has been one of the most shaming aspects of this entire sorry saga

Yes. You might want to read that again. It is the kind of headline that just gets worse every time you read it. You don’t even need to read the rest of the column to know exactly what the content will be (although you can here, courtesy of istyosty.com).

Here are the rest of his latest scribblings:

  • Police chiefs thrown to the lions and the hysterical politics of the lynch mob
  • Revenge of the political class
  • Cameron can’t be allowed to shackle the Press

Here are some highlights:

David Cameron was visibly uncomfortable during his press conference yesterday. He knew that the News of the World scandal has put him in a deep political hole. I am hoping and praying that he is not going to sacrifice a free press in order to dig himself out.

His sweeping aside of the Press Complaints Commission, his appointment of a panel investigating press ethics on which it seems there will be no journalists, and the implication of much tougher regulations could all lead to a cowed and timid media being prevented from investigating and reporting wrongdoing by public figures.

The travails of the Italian economy threaten Europe’s, and our, prosperity. Our war in Libya is unwinnable, according to a senior French minister. The British economy splutters along with little sign of recovery.

But none of this is of the remotest importance. All that matters is the phone-hacking scandal. I can’t recall a story that has so obsessed politicians and the media. Being a journalist, I am naturally agog, though I wonder whether the wider nation is as convulsed with shock and rage as David Cameron appears to believe.

The general turbulence among the political class is reminiscent of Revolutionary France before Robespierre got it in the neck. Would it be out of place to ask whether all this hysteria is not a touch overdone?

Reading history, it can be difficult to understand over the passage of centuries how rational men and women became so worked up by what seem to us unimportant issues that they were prepared to kill and be killed.

But until now I have seldom had the same sense of dislocation about contemporary events. Though I can perfectly well see that the phone hacking scandal is extremely serious, I find myself increasingly out of sympathy with people — mostly politicians and journalists — who are reacting much as might be expected if an enormous meteorite had landed on Hemel Hempstead.

The story is careering so much out of control that one would scarcely be surprised if the Archbishop of Canterbury were led away in handcuffs, or if some hysterical Labour politician, dutifully reported by the BBC, were to demand the immediate closure of all newspapers.

I admit it is with no very great hope of being listened to that I beg some of the wilder players in this ever-deepening drama to take a couple of deep breaths and ask themselves what they are doing.

I think Stephen Glover badly wants to win a ‘Tabloid bullshit of the month award‘ which Paul Dacre walked away with last month. Either that or he is not ashamed to whore himself out for the Daily Mail as it desperately tries to avoid a wider investigation into the behaviour of the press.

You come back in a few months Mr Glover when the behaviour of the Daily Mail starts to get a bit more attention, then we’ll be fit to judge what the ‘most shaming aspects of this entire sorry saga’ are.

Stewart Lee responds to Jan Moir article

Worth a read:

Moir’s column about ‘foul-mouthed left-wing’ comics who hate Michael McIntyre is only to able to suggest two examples of this ‘cabal’, me and, bizarrely, Frankie Boyle, the paper’s default bête noir. Here we go, point by point, chop chop chop, Timber.

Firstly, I am not ‘foul mouthed’. I swear once in the 180 minutes of the first series of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, not at all in the 105 minutes of my last live show If You Prefer A Milder Comedian…, and only once in the 90 minutes of the previous live show, 41 Best Stand-Up Ever, when I describe Moir’s fellow Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn as a ‘cunt’, for saying the East Anglian sex worker murders were of no consequence. Michael McIntyre actually swears more than me.

Apparently I represent ‘a slime pit of unpleasantness’ and once again, a Mail newspaper de-contextualises one line from my 45 minute 2009 routine about Richard Hammond to prove this. The same routine also references the anti-PC brigade’s attempts to ‘upset the grieving relatives of Stephen Gately’, an explicit nod towards Moir herself, who either chose to ignore this, didn’t understand it, or hasn’t watched the piece. (You decide).

Ironically, because people like Jan Moir mean it’s impossible now to employ any degree of comic ambiguity for fear of them choosing to misrepresent it, the DVD of the bit actually ends with the line, to camera, “I don’t really think Richard Hammond should die. What I was doing there, as everyone here in this room now understands, just in case there’s anyone from the Mail on Sunday watching this, is I was using an exaggerated form of the rhetoric and the implied values of Top Gear to satirise the rhetoric and the implied values of Top Gear. And it is a shame to have to break character and explain that. But hopefully it will save you a long, tedious exchange of emails.’

Again, Jan Moir either chooses to ignore what is, essentially, a direct address to her, or else she hasn’t watched the bit.

You can read the rest here.

Melanie Phillips: in her own little world

Melanie Phillips. Mad Mel. Someone who I recall was once memorably described on Twitter as ‘batshit, faeces up the wall insane’. It says something that even in the reality vacuum, outrage baiting world of Daily Mail columnists, Melanie Phillips can still pull out a column so deranged that you have to re-read its title over-and-over whilst punching yourself in the face just to make sure your eyes are not deceiving you. Today she gets stuck into the Phone Hacking scandal with her own unique perspective: ‘If Miliband is such a hero, why won’t he tackle the REAL threat to our way of life – the BBC?’.

Seriously. ‘If Miliband is such a hero, why won’t he tackle the REAL threat to our way of life – the BBC?’.

And why, you might reasonably ask is the BBC a ‘threat to our way of life’ (whatever Phillips’ might mean by ‘our’)? Well, because the BBC:

is a media oligarchy which exercises far more power in Britain than News International…

The BBC’s monopoly over the media is indeed a running scandal. After all, just imagine if News International had been given the legal power to levy a tax on everyone who bought a newspaper in order to fund the Murdoch empire.

So, ignoring the fact that the News of the World has closed down after constant allegations / revelations over phone-hacking, police corruption and political collusion / blind-eye-turning at the highest level we should ignore all of that – and the wider role of News International in creating a culture in which this is all fine – and instead focus on media monopolies as if this is what the story is really about. Even for Melanie Phillips this is stretching credibility beyond breaking point.

She continues:

Indeed, since it is a direct competitor of BSkyB, the disproportion and relish with which the BBC has been reporting the News of the World scandal — allowing it on some current affairs shows to drive out all other news — leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. Moreover, the BBC’s role in all this is even more questionable when you factor in the real reason for Miliband’s double standard.

For his motives surely have precious little to do with any criminal behaviour or monopoly power. No, the real reason is that for the past three decades the Left has been desperate to bring Murdoch down.

For such people, he is a hate figure of diabolical proportions. The venom and hysteria he inspires are truly irrational.

Isn’t it strange to read this version of history about ‘the left’ when I seem to recall Murdoch switching allegiance to Labour when it was clear the Tories were finished in 1997 and Murdoch and Tony Blair having a very cosy relationship. I don’t recall any politician of substance (perhaps because there are so few of them) trying to take down Murdoch or even discuss it. It seems Melanie is just making stuff up to fit her warped world view in which the BBC are the Labour party or more generally ‘the left’ simply because they don’t take the same frothing right-wing editorial line as the Daily Mail or indeed they don’t subscribe to Phillips’ fantasy version of Britain. From what i’ve read – and I could of course be wrong – the real darkness of this scandal is that almost every politician irrespective of party has been either in bed with News International or to fearful to ever question it and that has led to the current situation.

Phillips continues – in an extremely influential right-wing newspaper that holds – in the words of Nick Davies – ‘outstanding political influence':

Murdoch’s real crime in the eyes of the Left-wing intelligentsia is simply that he has stood in the way of their total capture of the culture.

The dominance of Left-wing ideas has been such that even among so-called conservatives, many of them have become accepted as mainstream. And one of the most powerful architects of that shift has been the BBC.

Yes, the Left-wing and their cultural dominance. That cultural dominance so widely-expressed through the Guardian and the Daily Mirror and… well, that’s it. It always amuses me when the overwhelmingly right-wing press claims to be the victim of some kind of left-wing, liberal conspiracy to stop them getting their own way. As far as I can determine the only mass of people capable of stopping right-wing ideas gaining complete dominance is the public. As much as it would pain Phillips to admit, the reality is that (shock horror) her ideas are only supported by a minority of blinkered Daily Mail readers. It isn’t a left-wing liberal elite that is preventing her ideas from spreading, but the fact that her ideas are so utterly repellent and stupid that the public as a whole just ignore her.

She finally does get to the point about why the BBC is the ‘real threat to our way of life':

the BBC’s output rests upon certain articles of faith.

For example, traditional Christians are all fundamentalist bigots; the science of man-made global warming is settled; opponents of mass immigration are racist; Eurosceptics are swivel-eyed fanatics; and all who oppose these opinions and more are Right-wing extremists.

And then to add insult to injury, the BBC forces people to pay for the privilege of being told day in, day out that their own views are stupid or prejudiced.

So, in short, because the BBC has a different opinion to her (even if it is based on science or facts etc) it is a threat to ‘our’ way of life (by which she really means ‘her view of the world’). Wonderful stuff indeed. It really puts the Daily Mail into sharp perspective when you consider it sees fit to pay Melanie Phillips a wage for writing this moronic, self-indulgent drivel.

If you want the full ‘glory’ of the article, you can read it here via istyosty.com.

Dear Paul Dacre: there is more to journalism than sales

Paul Dacre has long tried to assure readers that the freedom of the press is critical to its survival. This includes the right of the press to continue its system of self regulation and to be protected from ‘the scandalous fees charged by lawyers in no-win no-fee cases’ – fees payable when a newspaper loses a libel or defamation case in court. At the same time Paul Dacre has reserved a special level of contempt for any newspaper that dares to criticise the newspaper industry or in general ‘denigrate’ it by daring to have a media section.

One newspaper that the Mail constantly criticises is the Guardian – and the Mail is not alone, the Guardian is almost universally scorned as some kind of lentil-munching-lilly-livered-liberal-cesspit. In an editorial in 2010 the Daily Mail published the following:

The all-party Commons Culture Committee report is to be commended for accepting that self-regulation is the best way of policing Britain’s newspapers and for identifying many of the threats to Press freedom…

And if a certain heavily loss-making, chattering class newspaper spent half the energy it devotes to its almost psychotic hatred of self-regulation and popular newspapers to improving its own lamentable performance, then it and Fleet Street would be in a healthier state.

I wonder if Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail would like to apologise to the Guardian and to its readers for how it has forgotten that journalism is about more than sales figures. Clearly, the Guardian has been right to investigate the rotten state of journalism and have been noble in accepting that this kind of investigative journalism will not just make them a financial loss, but will also ensure them few friends inside or outside of the industry. It is undeniable that the self-regulation of the newspaper industry has been a complete failure and the dissolution of the Press Complaints Commission is now inevitable – another promised review and more worthless talk of lessons learnt from those at the top of the PCC are utterly out-of-step with reality. The press – like the banks they had so much fun attacking – have demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that they are not fit to regulate themselves.

The Guardian has devoted some of its energy to uncovering the horrific abuses carried out in the name of journalism by the News of the World and their work has resulted in the unprecedented closure of that newspaper. The Daily Mail website currently leads with this story, quick to jump on the bandwagon set rolling solely by the efforts on the Guardian. Until this week the Daily Mail have been one of the newspapers most keen to smash the wheels off of this bandwagon to ensure it never started rolling in the first place. As ever the Mail is hypocritical and, as ever, they are quick to join in the damning of others – describing the News of the World as ‘THE PAPER THAT DIED OF SHAME’.

Well, some of the shame should be felt by those working for the Daily Mail – and by Paul Dacre who controls so closely the editorial line of the newspaper. Dacre should be ashamed – not to mention utterly embarrassed – that whilst the Guardian struggled to make headway in a long story of hacking – starting with politicians and celebrities – he was editorialising about the scourge of wheelie bins and other inane drivel.

The Guardian having the temerity to investigate the actions of another newspaper is not a sign that the Guardian has a ‘almost psychotic hatred of self-regulation and popular newspapers’. It is merely that thing called journalism. Paul Dacre and the rest of the staff working for the Daily Mail should look that word up some time. Who knows, with enough effort they might even start practicing it again.

Richard Littlejohn on rape

I’ve been observing – with some disgust – the arguments about rape this week and I was wondering if the level of debate could get any worse. Then I realised that Richard Littlejohn had decided to make this topic the focus of his column this morning.

Yes, Richard Littlejohn, the man who insisted that the five women murdered in Ipswich be referred to only as ‘prostitutes’ and that we needn’t mourn the death of these ‘disgusting, drug-addled street whores’ who were ‘no great loss’ as they ‘weren’t going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur’. And anyway, said Richard, ‘death by strangulation [was] an occupational hazard’ for the five women murdered, so what were we all getting upset about?

Yes, Richard women-hating Littlejohn – the man who sees in the twice-weekly collection of wheelie-bins the very end of civilisation – has had to step in because he feels the ‘The confected, hysterical reaction to his remarks was frankly typical of the debasement of political debate in this country’.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, the man whose greatest satirical tool is to miss-spell words and to imagine what any given modern event would be like if it involved the characters of Dad’s Army is stepping in to rescue the level of debate.

You are probably thinking: ‘This isn’t going to go well, is it?’ And you’re right.

You see the trouble with Ricard is that he is so incapable of understanding any given topic that in order to ‘win’ any sort of argument he has to set-up a completely false starting point. He does this by arguing something that no-one has been talking about – at all – all week:

Last Tuesday night, two British charity workers were attacked and raped repeatedly by a gang of six masked men on the Caribbean island of St Lucia.

The women — aged 24 and 31 — were overpowered and subjected to a horrifying and prolonged sexual assault.

Their nightmare ordeal took place on a remote stretch of beach in the north-east of the island, where they were working on a wildlife conservation project.

No one would dream of suggesting that because they were camping on an isolated beauty spot overnight they were asking to be attacked.

Six men have now been charged with gang rape. If convicted they can expect — and will thoroughly deserve — harsh, exemplary punishment.

But let’s imagine for a moment that one of these unfortunate women had met a man in a Tiki Bar on St Lucia, got off her head on rum punch and invited him back to her hotel room for a drunken tumble.

The following morning, through her hungover haze, she was consumed by self-loathing. Would she be entitled to cry ‘rape’? [Emphasis is mine]

There we have it, somehow Richard Littlejohn has stepped into a semantic debate that focuses on the idea that rape can involve different degrees of violence and therefore attract different degrees of punishment (with the counter-argument that all rape is equal because rape is inherently violent; so, irrespective of whether the rapist hits the victim or not, the crime is the same because the act of rape is a far greater act of violence than hitting someone) by talking about women who ‘cry “rape”‘ after having a consensual one-night stand.

And, it’s worth pointing out, that once more Richard makes it perfectly clear he is just making it up with his classic ‘imagine if…’.

Why is it that whenever rape is discussed certain people – normally barrel-scraping misogynist hacks like Richard – always want to discuss false accusations of rape. We all understand that this is a serious issue, Richard, but it adds nothing to the debate about the conviction and prosecution of rapists – unless of course you just want to imply that unless the rape is completely unequivocal as in your first example, then we should just assume the women regrets a one-night stand and is ‘crying rape’.

Richard – having as usual got his caveats out of the way right at the start of his piece – then gets going:

There’s a world of difference between a violent sexual assault at the hands of a complete stranger, or gang of strangers, and a subsequently regretted, alcohol-induced one-night stand.

That’s not how the self-appointed Boadiceas of feminism see it. To them ‘rape is rape’, regardless of the circumstances, even if the woman was so sloshed she can’t remember whether or not she consented.

These vengeful viragos insist that ‘rape is a life sentence’ in every case. No, it isn’t. In many instances, it isn’t even rape.

There is a world of difference between rape and consensual albeit drunken sex, the trouble is Richard no-one is arguing otherwise. You have, as usual purposefully missed the point entirely. The next two sentences accuse the ‘self-appointed Boadiceas of feminism’ (you see you have to be a proper hardcore feminist to think that rape is a bad thing) of doing something they are not. They’re not defending women who falsely accuse someone of rape, probably because these people do a huge amount of damage to the cases of the real victims of rape (it doesn’t help that they receive a disproportionate media coverage either).

Let me make it absolutely clear for Richard: this week a debate erupted because it seemed as if the justice minister implied that rape could involve various degrees of violence and thus deserved varying degrees of punishment. The people who took offence at this tried to point out that rape is rape, irrespective of whether the attacker is violent in other ways towards his victim. The point being made is that rape is in itself the ultimate expression of physical violence and dominance, it doesn’t need to be accompanied by other forms of violence to attract the label of a violent crime.

I just get the impression that some people really see some kind of distinction between rape and violence. I think the confusion stems from the fact that ordinarily sex is a pleasurable and painless act so when a rape occurs the mind is able to make the fallacious argument that if no other violence occurred during the rape then it can’t have really been a violent act because the body is not normally harmed by sex. I genuinely think that this is the way some people subconsciously see rape. If the attacker doesn’t stamp on your face afterwards it’s seen as little more than inconvenient sex.

The sad thing is that this was never a discussion about consent, it was a discussion that stemmed once more around the idea that even in clear cases of rape (where the attacker confesses for example) there can be varying degrees of rape depending on the other violence associated with the case. Rather than engage in this debate Richard Littlejohn instead accuses women of crying rape simply because they regret casual encounters and then suggests that the only people to take offence are a bunch of hardy feminists who come out screaming to defend such women.

Even when he tries to get involved in a real, current debate he still has to completely invent a different debate to suit his own distorted agenda. In Richard’s world there are two types of rape: the first is the clear, violent gang rape of ‘innocent’ women, the next is just a bunch of drunken women screaming rape. It must be so nice living in a world of such clear distinctions.

This is the two types of ‘rape’ that Littlejohn puts into opposition:

I’ve no doubt that the victims of the most violent attacks, such as the poor woman who upbraided Ken Clarke on the wireless this week, carry their trauma with them for the rest of their days.

But, equally, many women who have had a brief sexual encounter of which they are ashamed simply shrug it off and get on with their lives. They don’t scream ‘rape’, they chalk it up to experience and vow to go easy on the chardonnay in future.

So, unless you are a rape victim who suffered a ‘most violent attack’ you’ll probably get over it just fine. On the other hand, if it wasn’t a really violent act then you’re were probably just drunk and feel a bit ashamed so you’ll just cry rape for the hell of it.

In conclusion:

  • Richard Littlejohn thinks that only women suffer or get upset by rape
  • Even when he tries to engage with a real debate, Richard must instead invent his own version because otherwise things are just too complex for him
  • If you weren’t brutally gang-raped, you’re probably just making it up (and you were almost definitely drunk as well)
  • No matter how hysterical or depressing a debate becomes, Richard can still easily drag it down another few notches
  • Richard Littlejohn is still the most cowardly little man in the whole of tabloid-land.

Responsible coverage

Richard Littlejohn has the usual thoughtless throwaway segment at the end of his column today [istyosty.com link], this time he wonders why there has been so little coverage of the shootings in the Netherlands. Richard suspects that it is evidence that the world is anti-American whilst remaining unquestioning of ‘liberal’ democracies such as the Netherlands. His reasoning is that he didn’t see ‘much of the Dutch massacre on tv’, and:

There wasn’t a great fuss made about it in the papers, either. Just imagine if this had happened in the United States.

There would be banner headlines about the ‘Wild West’ and the usual knee-jerk television specials about America’s rampant gun culture.

It’s called responsible journalism:

Still, no situation is too tragic for Littlejohn when he wants to push his own baseless, simplistic and paranoid agenda.