Is there something about sitting behind a keyboard that turns an ordinary, normal, reflective individual into a knee-jerk-reacting, I'll-do-what-I-wanting, I-hate-Nu-LieBoreing, grumpy, growling twit? I don't think that there is. I'm sitting behind a keyboard, after all, and I don't think I'm any of those things. Yet read pretty much any news story nowadays and you can be pretty sure of what kind of comments are going to pop up.
Is there some part of the mainstream media that doesn't reflect the misanthropic unpleasant retired/unemployment hatesprayer who is scared of Muslims, doesn't like Labour, would prefer it if we closed our borders and wants the right to smoke in babies' faces because it never did him (and it's usually a he) any harm? I don't think so; I'd even contend that these people are over-represented in the mainstream, particularly in those newspapers I like to write about so much.
Maybe that's wishful thinking on my part. Maybe I should face the uncomfortable and pressing truth that these people say I should face: that what they're saying is just what everyone's thinking, that most people are delighted with thinly veiled racism because you can't say anything nowadays for fear of the PC Brigade burning you at the stake and pissing on your grave, except they can't, because the elf'n'safety Brigade would get there first and have to conduct a risk assessment on the murder scene before it took place.
I link this kind of particular stroppiness to an attitude that's about asserting a kind of impotent rage; that's about trying to rage on internet comments, because that's the only place they might feel they're capable of having an impact. These are people who want the right to smoke wherever and whenever they like, because they want to, and they don't care who it pisses off; these are people who want the right to pollute as much as they like, because they want to, and they don't care what damage it does; and these are people who want the right to offend whomever they choose, because they want to, regardless of the effect it might have on other people's feelings; you could call it libertarianism, if you like, or you can call it being a selfish bastard, if you prefer that. Everywhere, to them, it seems there are restrictions on their behaviour and everything they want to do is being denied them. They see themselves as an oppressed minority, but at the same time the silent majority.
the majority of people in a debate deciding against it. Is science particularly bad at getting its point across, are people just unwilling to change their lifestyles in order to save the planet, are people unable to link actions with consequences, or what is it? Or is it all a big con, as the brave battlers of the Express, Melanie Phillips and her list of 'distinguished scientists' (including Alan Titchmarsh) and our friends in the online comments would have us believe?
Which brings me to a textbook weather story in the Daily Mail, predicting cold weather in winter. Which naturally brings about the classical kneejerk:
Although to be fair there are a few more comments than you might expect not only knocking the story as the patent flimflam it is but also raising the valid point that a few cold days in a cold country in winter is not necessarily the smoking gun that proves than man-made climate change definitely isn't happening and never will:
But it seems there's little danger of much balance. Is it that the British are naturally conservative, sceptical of science, inert, unwilling to change their ways, grumpy, misanthropic and nasty towards anything that might stop us doing whatever we want? Science doesn't seem as split about climate change as these polls would have us believe. So what can we believe? That most people are sceptics, or that the scientists haven't done a good enough job selling the science? It's strange, though, how unsceptical people on these websites appear to be when it comes to misleading immigration stories, so willing to accept the inevitable doom that will come from foreigners coming to Britain; yet unwilling to accept a different dystopia, in which the world's climate changes dramatically and disastrously. I wonder which will turn out to be the real problem in the future, and whether we'll have fought the right battle.
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Hello. I'm a Bristol-based writer and soon-to-be-redundant journalist. You can read more about me and the Enemies site here, or follow me on Twitter. Email me if you like - antonvowl at live dot co dot uk
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