There's something wearying about writing a 'Littlejohn is a dick' blogpost. There's something about it that's like getting your bicycle wheel caught in a tramline. You know exactly where you're going to end up, and yet you try not to. You have to remind yourself that your hate has made him powerful; if people just ignored him and left him alone, he wouldn't be as popular as he undoubtedly is - if people like you didn't get so irritated by his wilfully ignorant, baseless repetitive drivel, he'd be simply thought of as a bad writer who makes bad jokes, occasionally popping up on Question Time to be an idiot then turning up on a Channel 4 documentary about how it's all the Left's fault for everything somehow, never really explained, but it is, and they hate the Jews as well, just look at them.
I tried to ignore his nonsense the other day, but I couldn't help it. At the time I said I thought it was just a bad joke rather than something despicable, and I do stick by that. However, what he's written today defending his column of earlier in the week is despicable, beyond any benefit of the doubt I might have given him before.
As ever, I won't link to him, as the thought of giving him just one page impression makes me queasy and have to stare at the carpet for a few minutes to make the sick feeling go away. But you should know this: it's a follow-up to his hilarious article, hilariously illustrated by the hilarious Gary, about how Jody McIntyre is like Andy off Little Britain. You know, because they're both in wheelchairs, then they're exactly the same person.
Today's effort attempts to explain his simplistic "one bloke in a wheelchair is exactly the same as another bloke in a wheelchair" riff by saying that it was considerably more nuanced than we might have given him credit for. The bloke in the wheelchair got out of his wheelchair and walked up some stairs! Aha! That means he's even more exactly the same as the 'faking it' character Andy than even Big Brain Littlejohn could have imagined when first he looked to the heavens for inspiration and started typing his chucklesome prose.
But I find that even more offensive than his original column. It shows a miserable understanding of people with disabilities in general, if that's what he's really saying - "look, this guy got out of his wheelchair and moved around under his own steam, therefore, he's just like Andy in Little Britain". The fuck? No-one was ever pretending or claiming that Jody McIntyre was paralysed or incapable of movement. I don't remember anyone saying that or writing it. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think people were arguing that Jody McIntyre shouldn't have been dragged out of his wheelchair and bundled away by police because he was physically incapable of walking. I don't think that was it at all; I really don't think that's the issue that people had with his treatment. People in wheelchairs aren't necessarily unable to walk or move around; it's just that doing so can present problems and issues that are fairly obvious for people who have cerebral palsy, which itself can mean people with a whole range of symptoms, and other conditions. I mean, is it too hard to understand? Let me know when it's too hard to understand, Richard, just put your hand up the moment that the complexity and nuance of real life gets a little bit too taxing for your chirpy black-and-white comedy persona, and we'll run you through it slowly, with a fucking blackboard and some directions and maybe some fucking pictures so you can actually get what the fuck is going on with things. I wouldn't want you to miss out on some vital understanding that the world is a rich, diverse and complicated place in which some people in wheelchairs can walk sometimes, or climb stairs, or something, but that doesn't mean they're not disabled, or that people who are disabled can only be thought of as having disabilities if they're a sack of blood and bones that can't do anything. I wouldn't want you to think that, because that would make you the kind of wilfully ignorant foreskin who wouldn't be able to grasp the most simple of concepts; I wouldn't want to think of you that way, Richard, I really wouldn't.
But it's symptomatic of a wider idea that people have when they think of disability in general. Laurie Penny has written articulately about it this week. The idea that disability is a fairly binary concept, that you're either incapable of doing anything at all, or you're faking it, that there's nothing in between, there's just the able and the disabled and a huge gulf in between, and that's that. That's the kind of hateful ineptitude, the kind of inability to think of things in terms of anything other than 0 or 1, that is driving the Government's desire to drag loads of people off incapacity benefits, because some of them must be faking it, we've got no evidence for that, but we just think they must be, because they must. It's that kind of attitude, the inability or unwillingness to think about how other people, people with disabilities or long-term conditions, must go about their daily lives, or how they get on.
Look. No-one wants to be thought of as 'disabled'. A lot of people with disabilities don't want to be thought of as being disabled, and that's entirely understandable. As someone with relatively minor mental health problems, I don't want to be thought of as anything except normal; I aspire to normality. But the truth is, some people do need assistance. And it's the mark of a decent society that we look out the most for the people who need to be looked out for, that's all, and do our best so that everyone can have a rich and full life unencumbered by whatever hand life might have dealt them. And if that means paying some taxes to do it, then good. People who need assistance need assistance. It's not asking a great deal and it doesn't make a huge difference to everyone else's life. In fact it makes all of our lives better as a result.
But no. Jody McIntyre is just like Andy out of Little Britain. He's in a wheelchair! Oh, some people were annoyed by that. Well, he got out of his wheelchair! Eh! Do you see?
Yes, I do see. I see that Littlejohn is a nasty polarising piece of shit who doesn't like slightly complicated things because they ruin his comfortable, cosy narrative. You could say that his kind of ignorance is a disability in itself, but I think on this one particular occasion the person in question is definitely faking it. He knows what he's doing, and it's a not a pleasant thing at all.
And there you are, the 'Littlejohn is a dick' blogpost. Just the kind of cliched rubbish you'd expect from me. Just the kind of thing I find myself doing time and time and time again. And does it change anything? No. Does it make anything better? No. Does it make him stop what he's doing? No. Does he even notice? Does he care? Does any of this criticism matter to him, in any sense other than to make him thing he's done his job and wound some people up? It's a mosquito bite on a brontosaurus's arsehole. But still. It's what I do.
Please, please, please, don't give the odious buttock any more website traffic than he deserves. Here is his latest piece of flamebaitery...
Actually, I don't think this is the worst thing Littlejohn's ever done. The 'spare me the people's prostitute routine' stuff about the Ipswich murder victims was appalling; the use of "Rue des Jeunes Garcons" in a spoof piece about Peter Mandelson, implying he likes little boys, was truly terrible; the lie about Afghans going straight to the top of the housing list instead of soldiers was a straightforward piece of mendacity without any comic value whatsoever. This is just a bad joke. Much like Littlejohn's entire career. (Sure, you and I don't get upwards of £700k a year for making bad jokes.)
But I don't find it miserably offensive. Just par for the course. Not a new low; just the usual low standards. I suppose if you don't read Littlejohn much, it sticks out as something appalling; but believe me, this is fairly ordinary fare. Some bloke in a wheelchair, so he must be Andy from Little Britain. Tedious linking; tedious comedy reference; tediously unfunny joke.
Seeing as Littlejohn was cheerfully let off the hook for entirely falsely claiming that 'any Afghan clinging to the bottom of a lorry' would go straight to the top of the housing list, I wouldn't hold out much hope for PCC complaints either. Not that I'm telling you not to complain, if it's offended you, mind. Incidents like this bring the awfulness of Littlejohn and chums into the wider audience beyond the slavering dogs who lap up his garbage every week, so it's no bad thing in raising awareness of what a nasty piece of work he is. But I will say this: he'll probably love the attention, and being attacked by 'lefties'.
He will love it.
There are those who'd say that it's actually quite difficult being a columnist. You know, scratching around for something to write about, agonising over whether it's entertaining enough or not, wondering whether to do any research or not - and then just deciding to barrel through with some ill-informed prejudiced horseshit because you're of the school of hard knocks and tough luck and you reckon you know best:
Yes yes, I know. It's easy to mock. It may even feel right to mock someone so lacking in empathy, so ice-heartedly brutal, so lacking in compassion and understanding of other human beings and how they live their lives; it might seem like the most natural thing in the world to call them a purulent weeping wound on the arsehole of life. But would that be right? Would that be fair?
The Mail's defence of JSP's ignorant tripe sandwich to the PCC was, as ever, based on the right to offend by being completely fucking pig-ignorant and not doing any proper research, dressed up as 'well, she's entitled to her opinion'. It's one we've seen before towards Melanie Phillips's absolute tosh based on no credible evidence whatsoever regarding gay foster parents.
And of course that's true. If I had the opinion, for example, that all columnists are deviant scum who masturbate over pictures of raped kittens, that would be just an opinion as well, wouldn't it? But I think it would be wrong to express it if I couldn't be bothered to actually go and check for myself whether that was actually anything near to being the case or not - just out of, oh I don't know, a desire to try and be accurate as well as provocative, or wanting to have professional standards due to my privileged position of being able to have a platform in a national publication for my views, and wanting to get it somewhere near an approximation of correctness because of all that money I'm being paid, maybe. No...? Oh, no, then. Please yourselves.
So, it's pretty clear what columnists get paid for - to be provocative, not to be accurate. Say something controversial, whether it's true or not. And of course I'm all for freedom of speech, and I wouldn't like to see anyone prevented from doing so, not even the rubbish likes of Janet Street-Porter and chums. On the other hand, seeing as there is something called the PCC, why not try and be accurate in the first place? Why always fight complaints, rather than just admitting that you got it wrong because you did no research and couldn't be bothered to find out whether what you say was supported by any facts or not? Why be so fucking lazy?
More than anything, it's the pisspoor standards of these big-shot publications that is the real let-down, and again I find myself disappointed rather than angry. You'd kind of hope that every now and then one of these bozos would have their work chucked at them and be politely told that it's frankly not good enough - that they should anticipate or at least look into the counterarguments, if only to prove their own case. But maybe that's thinking too much. Maybe that's expecting too much. Just be provocative. Just say whatever you like, whether it's got any basis in truth or not; it doesn't matter, it's just a column that you get paid thousands of pounds a year to churn out. It doesn't matter that if you're shown to be wrong countless times, it erodes the credibility of everyone else working for the same organisation and trying their hardest to break real news? Why bother trying to make it right, so long as it's controversial?
Anyway, just for the record, as someone who has suffered miserably, deeply and profoundly throughout several years with the so-called 'trendy illness', let me just state that I haven't gone through it to pretend that I'm somehow fashionable or because I've got so much money that I don't know what to do with myself. A good clip round the ear doesn't actually work sometimes, and sometimes, some people are less capable of dealing with certain events and experiences than other people.
If you really can't understand that other people may experience the world differently than you, then all I have is pity rather than anger, because you must be a pretty vacuous piece of shit, and your life must be pretty empty - apart from all that misplaced hostility and ridicule towards people who can't help being any different from how they are, no matter how hard they try. Fuck you, and fuck your school of hard knocks attitude, Janet Street-Porter.
...he's a cloaca.
Yes, you look at his biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig faaaaaaaaaaaaaace. Go on, you sit there and look right into his biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace. Look at that chirpy "Hey, I get paid for this shit!" look on his jowls. Look at the cheery "Well, that's the kids through college thanks to a bit of thinly veiled racism and obsession with gay people!" twinkle in his eye. Look at him. LOOK AT HIM!
Don't confuse that picture with this one, though:
Let's just make that clear. OK? The nice lady from off of Loose Women, who used to do the cruise ship singing, isn't a cloaca. Or a cunt. I want that stated beyond all misinterpretation. And besides, she looks nothing like him:
See? I think we're fairly clear on that now.
If you're wondering where all this cloaca talk comes from, or why it's such a perfect way of describing Britain's Favourite Cock Columnist, by all means have a look at Tim's post here. And if you liked that, you'll probably like the b3ta.com image challenge on Littlecock. The Wicker Man one is particularly haunting. *shudder*
Professional trolls like Leo McKinstry make a living out of being hatefully provocative, writing shit like this:
In the past decade, Britain has lost its soul and character through shallow commercialism and mass immigration. We are constantly told to celebrate diversity and prosperity, yet we are a nation without any strong national identity or values.
The football Premier League, utterly dominated by foreign interests and spectacular greed, is the breeding ground for our England inadequates, who, in Oscar Wilde's famous words, know 'the price of everything and the value of nothing'.
The sorry consequences are there for all to see in South Africa.
There you go. When in doubt, blame immigration. If it's a story about the England football team, blame immigration. And yes, I know. I know. I know that by even mentioning this vile little cuntflap I'm doing exactly what he wants me to do. These people want to be flamebait as much as anything else - all links are good links, and all traffic to the article proves that they're doing their prolling job properly: they've got a reaction, and hurrah for that! They love the disapproval as much as the approval. "I must be doing something right, I've annoyed the right people!" - and there's another fat cheque to write more of the same horrible, deceitful, unpleasant thinly-veiled prejudiced filth. Maybe some people will complain about it and then they can hide behind their hands and say Ooh, these awful liberals are trying to censor me, they're the real fascists aren't they? Except look, I'm not trying to censor Leo McKinstry, cunt of all cunts, high priest of "blame immigration" lying bullshit: I just want to call him the vacuous prick he so clearly and resolutely is, and who he rejoices in being day after day, being paid for this kind of deviant wank.
Fuck you, McKinstry. Fuck you in the eye, in the face, in the skull, till your tongue pops out. You're a piece of shit and you know it. You've carved out a career as a despicable troll and you've managed to write article after article after article blaming immigration for everything - and people love it. The Express, the Mail, the Telegraph, they've all queued up for one of your "blame the immigrants" articles, and I daresay you've done very well out of it. That it's hatemongering shite probably doesn't concern you for a nanosecond: it's job done as far as you're concerned.
And yes, I'm painfully aware that even by writing this, it will give you a ripple of satisfaction for your words having hit the target and made someone somewhere so pissed off that they write a tedious swear-filled rebuttal like this. And yes, you've won, because you're the big man getting paid by massive news organisations for your borderline racist rubbish, whereas anyone challenging you just has to throw whatever we say into the ether, for it to be picked up or ignored. So well done to you. I know I'm not going to change anything by writing this, but I've got to. Because I've had enough of this kind of shit. I'm fed up with reading bullshit like this, unchallenged, time after time.
So it was immigration that ruined the England football team, was it? I suppose your ideal England football squad would be without Emile Heskey, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Ashley Cole, Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Glen Johnson and Rio Ferdinand, given that they're the products of 'mass immigration'. I suppose the team would be so much better off without them. But why stop there? Rooney doesn't sound a particularly English name, does it? He doesn't belong there either! Yes, I can see the England team being so much better off, if it weren't for 'mass immigraton'.
Fuck you, McKinstry. I'm cheering on the pink, beige, brown and whatever colour players we have. I'm backing them. Yes, I'll celebrate diversity, you fuckstick, and I don't care what you say. I'm supporting England. Even if they're shit. Especially when they're shit. I don't care, they're still my team. And it's nothing to do with immigration or foreigners. And yes, I know your weasel fallback position will be that you didn't mean to imply that England shouldn't have any of those players in the team; but if you blame immigration for England's ills, where else do you expect people to go? And don't pretend you're entirely innocent if people might arrive at those conclusions, even if you haven't explicitly pointed to them yourself. You're not dumb. A complete scumbag, yes. But dumb? No, oh no, you're much too calculating for that.
So there you are. He's done his job. He's written the controversial thing. He's all happy and proud of himself. He wins. Shit like this is paydirt. He gets paid. He'll be asked to write more, and more, and more, because that's the way it is.
I know Peter Hitchens is a proll - a professional troll. His entire reason for existing is to try and say something sufficiently outrageous or unjustifiable that it gets him some attention. He has no logic to his arguments - it's just a series of random thoughts, which if they came from anyone else would be instantly ignored as the slightly twatty ramblings of an idiot. But because it's the Hitch, someone who's mysteriously regarded as being intelligent, despite all the evidence to the contrary, he is elevated to a level beyond the average pub bore - or the average crap blogger - to someone who gets a column in a national newspaper.
He's written two pieces today, and while one of them is entitled "Israel wasn't tough enough", it's not that piece of flame-bait that I want to concentrate on. However, it does give an indication as to the kind of schtick these people have - think about an issue, think about the most contrarian and least plausible position that a human being could possibly hold, then go for it and take it to the nth degree. If you were to indulge in the kind of 'psychobabble' that Hitch rips into in the piece I'm about to look at, you might say he is like an infant rubbing shit over his face to try and get attention from his parents. But that might be unkind. To shit-covered infants.
No, the piece I want to talk about is one in which he speculates, without any evidence whatsoever other than the clunkings in his tiny brain, that antidepressants were somehow to blame for Derrick Bird's horrific crimes. He writes:
Patrick Purdy, culprit of the 1989 Cleveland School massacre in Stockton, California, had been on anti-depressants. Jeff Weise, perpetrator of the March 2005 Red Lake High School massacre, was on anti-depressants.
Anti-depressants were found in the cabin of the ‘Unabomber’ Ted Kaczynski. Michael McDermott, culprit of the 2000 ‘Wakefield massacre’ in Massachusetts, was on anti-depressants.
Kip Kinkel, culprit of a 1998 murder spree in Oregon, was on anti-depressants.
John Hinckley, who tried to kill Ronald Reagan in 1981, was on anti-depressants.
It is both interesting and worrying that, with so many such unhinged and otherwise inexplicable killings perpetrated by people taking legal medication, the official world has been so slow to look into the matter.
It’s so much easier to pass a pointless, populist gun ban.
Not really, Hitch. Hey, you appear to have left out all of the examples of people carrying out mass murders without having been prescribed antidepressants. But I forgot, we're in 'only connect' territory, where whatever dumbfuck theory you come up with is legitimate, because you can just go searching for the things that confirm what you think, while discarding anything - even if it's a majority of the evidence - that doesn't fit your tedious little theory. And of course there are the other explanations, one which anyone can grasp if they bother to think about it - that the prescription of antidepressants might be because of depression, which may have been a contributory factor (if not the main factor) in the murder-suicides, and that it might not have been the antidepressants which caused the violence; rather, they may have been an attempt to deal with a depressive symptom of a much wider personality disorder.
No. Of course not. If you're Hitch, it must be the antidepressants causing the murders. I love the way he says it's 'so much easier' to pass a 'populist' gun ban; whereas in fact, it is he who is doing the 'so much easier' in all of this, while attempting to represent himself as the deep thinker. He isn't. He's just a jerk, a tedious attention-seeking little prick. I don't know if he's entirely deluded by his grandiose dream of being so much more clever than everyone else in the world; I don't know if he's just being provocative for the sake of it, and doesn't care at all whether what he says might be accurate, or truthful, or entirely misleading, or just trolling bullshit. I don't know, and to be quite honest I don't care.
Of course, this is the Daily Mail, where mental health issues are breezily dismissed with what you might call a depressing regularity. Janet Street-Porter recently lied like this:
No, it isn't. It's not the new trendy illness at all. (I'm aware, by the way, that JSP doesn't write the headlines, but that stinking article wasn't unfairly represented by the headline, which was a reasonable summary of the hateful 'never did me any harm' just-world fallacy unpleasantness below). But this is the kind of attitude that you get from the nasty prolls of the Mail. I wonder whether it might have anything to do with the kind of "every man for himself" attitude of the libertarian right, or whether these people are simpletons who are unwilling or unable to wonder that other human beings might possibly experience the universe in a different way to the way they do. If it's the latter, I pity them really, because they're emotionally still just children. If it's the former, I despise them.
There are clues as to which one it is. Hitchens comes out with some stuff that's so patently absurd that you have to wonder if he really thinks about anything at all before he starts typing:
It’s possible an old-fashioned village constable, on the spot, might have done something to halt Derrick Bird, or have realised something bad was going to happen before it did.
Why? It's not explained. Don't you go thinking that Hitchens ever actually explains the long-range salvoes he launches at his targets; they just keep getting lauched. It boils down to: "Somehow, everything is bad, because, oh the Left, and things aren't what they used to be, therefore, yes, I'm right." And that, somehow, is seen as being satisfactory. Hitchens doesn't have evidence; he just guesses. He just wonders aloud:
Was Bird taking the anti-depressant pills that are now prescribed so readily by NHS doctors to so many people whose lives – like Bird’s – have gone down the drain?
I don't know, was he? Maybe you could wait a bit before you decide that it was antidepressants that made him do what he did, if you don't even know that he was even taking them? No...? OK, just wildly speculate away. It's not as if there are several grieving families this week and it might be a tad disrespectful to them, if they themselves might be taking antidepressants - or may even be prescribed them to try and cope with the awfulness of what has happened - to say that it might make them killers, just like the man who took their loved ones away? Oh hang on, it is.
I'm quite happy to say that I am still taking antidepressants. To the best of my knowledge, I'm not about to go and start murdering people at random. It might be true to find evidence that some murderers take antidepressants, but at the same time, you will find evidence that a lot of them also drank Coca-Cola, or ate potatoes, or took aspirin, or drank beer. And a lot of others didn't. Hitchens is so woefully wide of the mark, so far from establishing a causal link, that it's embarrassing that any publication, anywhere in the world, would consider his pitiful waste of words worthy of putting on a printed page. All that ink... all that paper wasted. What a waste.
I know Hitch is a proll, and that creating any kind of response, even if it's a weary "Jesus Christ you twerp, what the fuck have you written this time, you shambolic fool?" is exactly what probably drives him. But these kinds of myths don't help anyone. It's disrespectful to the victims of this tragedy to be idly speculating about such matters, without any evidence whatsoever to back it up. Not that Hitchens cares, you understand. For him, it's business as usual. Israel wasn't tough enough. Mass murders are caused by antidepressants. There, job done.
Today's Littlecock* returns to an old theme, how women who worked as prostitutes must be called prostitutes once they've been murdered. It's almost exactly the same stuff he came out with in the wake of Ipswich murders some years ago, though this time he's decided against saying their deaths were 'no great loss' (which he did last time) or that murder was an occupational hazard for them. Must have left that bit off when he was copying and pasting his stuff over.
If you've never seen this response by Stewart Lee to the first time Littlejohn came out with this tedious shit, enjoy it now. The Littledick stuff begins at 4.53 but it's a beautifully crafted thing and well worth seeing in its entirety.
* I won't link to him. You can find it.
I often enjoy reading woolly environmentalist George Monbiot in the Guardian, and I find myself agreeing with a great deal of what he writes, but one thing he said in yesterday's article struck me as a little odd:
The attack on climate scientists is now widening to an all-out war on science. Writing recently for the Telegraph, the columnist Gerald Warner dismissed scientists as "white-coated prima donnas and narcissists … pointy-heads in lab coats [who] have reassumed the role of mad cranks … The public is no longer in awe of scientists. Like squabbling evangelical churches in the 19th century, they can form as many schismatic sects as they like, nobody is listening to them any more."
Views like this can be explained partly as the revenge of the humanities students. There is scarcely an editor or executive in any major media company – and precious few journalists – with a science degree, yet everyone knows that the anoraks are taking over the world.
I've read this kind of thing before by other writers whose work I love very much. And I think it's bizarre. Do these highly intelligent people really think that people who get a degree in one type of subject are so very different from people who choose to get a degree in another subject? Really? Because I don't think that at all. I think it's a bit of a false friend when you're going around looking for an explanation as to why people don't write about science convincingly or effectively - ah, they must have done a humanities degree, that values instinct and emotion rather than evidence-based research into things, that explains it all.
I mean, by all means do some proper evidence-based scientific research into the likelihood of science or humanities graduates writing good or bad news stories, and then come back to me. Otherwise, well, it's just what you think, isn't it. And that isn't science. Or am I missing the point? Maybe I am.
A humanities degree doesn't mean you're incapable of seeing the truth in complicated science, or that you're incapable of writing about it properly either. Just as a science degree doesn't guarantee that you'll do it right. It's a fairly narrow definition of a human being, what subject they did for a few years at university rather than all those other decades in their life which might have been spent doing this, that or the other. I've met a lot of dumb science graduates, and a lot of bright humanities graduates - and yes, I appreciate this is anecdotal evidence, and yes, somehow, I am aware that's not the same as peer-reviewed science, though how I should know that despite not having done a science degree must be some kind of bloody miracle, apparently.
As ever when I read stuff about journalism, I am struck by the kindness with which writers treat journalists and the willingness to accept everything other than malice as a reason for why they don't always get it right - Nick Davies is the same, and Ben Goldacre too. I'm not too dumb to imagine they might be inviting us to read between the lines, but still. It's rare to see anyone suggest that the reason why a journalist might get something wrong is because they don't care whether it's right or not, or because they want to write X, regardless of whether it's accurate, or fair, or truthful. They always look for alternatives - their higher education, for example. It's all very charitable. But is George really sitting there, confused, saying: "They must be good people, and I'm sure they're doing their best, but they just happen to be humanities graduates, that must be it, that must be why they can't understand the science, or they get it wrong."
I'd offer another, alternative explanation. It's not based on science so we're going to have to wing it - but since Monbiot's daftness about humanities graduates isn't based on science either, I'm sure he'd have to permit it. I think journalists get it wrong about climate change because they don't care. Columnists don't care whether they're right or not; they just want to be contrarian and pack a punch. It's easier to say "Aha, there's no global warming, because it's raining outside my window!" than it is to say "I wonder if these AGW models are entirely correct and whether we really will suffer catastrophic climate change" - but it's not just about easiness either; it's about entertainment. And the reason why there are so many columnists attacking climate change is because they find it entertaining - there's good scope and knockabout fun in chortling away at possible scenarios and conflating the Met Office's forecast for a 'barbecue summer' with really worrying science about the impact of temperature rises.
Columnists, particularly the ones you'll find in the usual suspects, are just trying to get a rise out of it. It's easy to snipe at Littlejohn, but look, he's up to his old tricks again, printing absolute tosh about Michael Foot - twice - for no reason other than to be provocative (and that because Foot is dead, no-one can sue - his relatives can, if they wish, go to the PCC, but we all know what will happen there. The defenders of freedom and haters of censorship will gnaw their fingernails to the bone hand-wringing about Littlejohn's 'right to offend' by telling the opposite of the truth). He might not know whether what he's saying about Foot is true or not, but the thing is he really doesn't care. If it's knocking some old leftie, then he'll do it.
You could say to me: oh, but that's Littlejohn. He's just a bad apple; they're not all like it. But I'd say: why is he? He's a marvellously successful journalist, right at the top of his game. Why is he a bad apple? He gets away with that tripe twice a week and gets magnificently rewarded for it. Being provocative and exploiting that contrarian "Yeah, what about me?" narcissism, regardless of the facts, is not the exception, I'm afraid. As I was saying yesterday, if you just read the Guardian (perhaps) or only read stuff you agreed with, you'd never know this. But look at the press as a whole and you'll see Littlejohn isn't the exception; he's the template. He does what he does very well. He's what I'd call a proll - a professional troll. I might think it's abhorrent, but what do I know? He's massively wealthy and adored by thousands while I'm typing this in my spare bedroom waiting for the kettle to boil. It's not hard to see who is the loser really.
It's not a great deal more complicated than that, and I think that while Monbiot would like to think the best of others, and fellow journalists, he's giving newspaper columnists a damn sight more credit than they deserve. They aren't getting it wrong because they didn't do a nice science subject at university, which would have made them write better stories; they are doing it because these are the stories that would have been written anyway, if not by them then by others. They fit into the right-libertarian narrative so beloved of these newspapers: we can do what we like to pollute and it won't make any difference; any attempt to stop us polluting as much as we want is just the evil apparatus of state trying to invade our lives and take away our freedoms; it's all a big con by academics to get handouts to prop up their careers, while we have to carry on paying tax and funding it all.
That's what I think it is. I could be wrong, of course. But it seems much more plausible to me than imagining that people who did humanities instead of science are just a bunch of yo-yos who can't grasp the concepts well enough and who therefore end up writing a load of rubbish. No, they're entirely aware of what they're doing. The science of climate change is complicated, but not insurmountable to anyone if they bother trying. It's the 'getting them to bother trying' bit that's tricky. And George is of course at the vanguard of this, and long may he continue. I just think that with silly lines like the one about humanities students he doesn't really do himself many favours.