The other day I had a rather odd comment on a blog post. I'd called the Mail's self-appointed experts on everything 'fucksticks' and a commenter said: "Melanie Phillips is anything but, dear boy".
Well, I suppose that's fair enough. I shouldn't call Melanie Phillips a fuckstick.
"Mad evil cunt" is a much better description.
It's easy, as someone who controversially doesn't believe that there's a worldwide conspiracy to destroy Israel, with the United States at its heart, to dismiss Mad Mel's ramblings as the outpourings of a seriously and irretrievably deranged mind. It's easy to collect your jaw off the floor when she claims that 'no direct ties' is the 'direct opposite' of 'no direct connection'. That's the kind of rational, logical argument you get from someone who's paid thousands of pounds a year by a national newspaper.
And it's easy to look at yet another savaging of mothers by a female columnist with an agenda and say that Phillips is, if anything, just a poor woman's Alison Pearson. The same hatred and bile, the same pathetic attempt to link not-being-Daily-Mail-enough to crimes - just not as well written.
What's the point of taking Melanie Phillips seriously? Is there anyone who actually does it? Well sadly yes. She gets a slot of the Moral Maze and Question Time to bubble over with righteous anger and whining drivel. She gets a huge arena in which to say things. But does anyone actually believe her? Isn't she just an embarrassment to women, to journalists? Or are there some people who actually believe - really believe - that she's hit the nail on the head? Sure, the comments below her columns would appear to show that there's a veritable army of Mad Mel supporters who cheer her every word, greeting every bonkers assumption on world affairs and moral issues with a knowing nod. Yes, they must say to themselves, Mel knows - she's the only one! She can see through the lies. But these comments are, I would suggest, rather heavily moderated. I'm sure there's an avalanche of disapproval that we're never allowed to see - battling the factual, logical and moral inconsistencies. But those views of dissent are, I would suggest, swept carefully under the cyber carpet.
Unlike Richard and Judy, who get slaughtered by their readers every week despite not ever saying anything especially controversial, Mel and her fellow bile-servers Richard Littlecock and co, apparently is only ever praised by people on the internet. Which I find hard to believe. The internet is full of views, not all of them nice and positive and praising ones. Yet Phillips and Littlecock spout views that are marginal and best, yet get only praise? Do me a favour, Mr Mail. I don't believe that for a second!
Let's have a quick look at how she writes her mindless toss though.
Why Shannon is one more victim of the folly of 'lifestyle choice'
Yes, how dare people choose a lifestyle. What the fuck?
But it's a classical approach to Phillips' argument. Let's give her credit. Firstly, she says there's been criticism of Karen Matthews and Fiona McKeown. Then she says, rather indignantly, that other people are saying that's not quite right. (Not in the bloody Mail, I might add.) So, that's a fair enough excuse to go ripping into them again, isn't it? Hooray! Off you go, Mel.
Here are no fewer than 16 children (one of whom lies tragically dead) who have been exposed to harm, risk, emotional neglect and worse as a result of the gross irresponsibility of their mothers and fathers.
Sixteen children. All exposed to harm AND risk? How? What risk has there been for the rest of Karen Matthews' children? And what of Fiona McKeown's children - what harm have they been exposed to, except a holiday in somewhere with brown people?
Mel explains: someone has accused Matthews' boyfriend of something, for which he's never been charged and which he denies. But as ever, Mel accepts one side of the evidence at face value, because it dovetails in with her world view. With McKeown, a 'hippy lifestyle' is enough of harm AND risk to her children.
These women have feelings no less than anyone else after all.
Oh, that's charitable. Maybe Mel's being compassiona... oh.
The problem is these feelings have been channelled into the most twisted tributaries so that the very essence of love - putting the interests of someone else first - and the disciplines of everyday life that are essential to safeguard those interests, are to them a closed book.
What? Does that make any sense, to anyone? But what I can grasp is that MM, like Pearson, thinks she knows very well all about the things that have gone on in these mothers' minds, and that, furthermore, they are wrong, because they haven't lived their lives as she would have done. Essentially, they're not like her, so she can be smug and self-satisfied.
Well I can't go on without saying one thing. Abductions happen because of abductors. Rapes happen because of rapists. Murders happen because of murderers. This is victim-blaming of the most disgraceful and disgusting kind. It's victim-blaming by proxy: someone's been the victim of a crime, well it must be the mother's fault for their lifestyle. As if those women do anything other than blame themselves - as all parents do when things go wrong to their children. No-one, not even Mel or Pearson, can hand down more misery and criticism. Yet they try. Oh they try. Let it be said, loud and clear: no-one deserves to be abducted. No-one deserves to be raped and murdered. The only reason these events took place is that people committed these acts. That's the top and bottom of it. It's sickening in the extreme to try and throw some shit at the parents at a time of sadness, shock and grief, when they don't have columns in national newspapers, when they aren't as articulate as their tormentors, when they are vilified in the media for having lived their lives.
Mad Mel again:
Our society has encouraged people to think they have an absolute right to live exactly as they want without people passing judgment upon them.
You want lifestyle choice? This may be an extreme case, but what happened to 15-year-old Scarlett is the result.
Bullshit. Firstly, who says people think they can live exactly as they want without holier-than-thou ruminants like Melanie telling them they're wrong? Who says there isn't judgment? No-one. But that's the strawman. Society has made people irresponsible, and when girls get raped and killed, it's society's fault. Not the rapist and murderer, obviously. It's the parents, who are just products of society. And the proof? It's what I think, that's all the proof you need.
There's no point bothering with Mad Mel. She doesn't draw on evidence to make conclusions; she just makes conclusions. Sometimes, her conclusions are in direct contradiction to the evidence. Like Pearson, she sits in her comfortable middle-class home taking pot-shots at other people who aren't quite the same and who haven't had the same advantages. In some ways I'd like something horrific to happen to her family so some know-it-all bitch can tell her she's to blame for being too Daily Mail. But then I can't even wish that on her.
All I do wish is that she never writes another word.