Vague ramblings

Death, the people and journalism: the year of stupid

Posted in Musing by Ian Cundell on 31 December, 2016

This has been a stupid year.

Death was stupid

I know death is pretty stupid at the best of times, but couldn’t it at least have taken an out-and-out evil twat, as well as all the nice people? Not some half-witted, brainwashed suicide bomber, but someone who actually matters? How hard would that be?

The people were stupid

Ian Dunt make a cracking case that it is quite OK to tell Trump voters they are idiots. He’s right: the left (especially the Old Left that has hijacked the Labour Party) ascribes everything bad to structural defects in the economy, the right subscribes everything bad to personal choice. But the truth is that there are manifestly huge structural defects with the economy (unless you are loaded, in which it is all tickety-boo), but nobody is forced to do bad things. At least not until they have a gun to their head. Voting in such large numbers against your own best interest – perhaps for no reason other than spite at the mythical “liberal elite” – is an act of idiocy.

But there is a corollary. To seek to punish “London” (a place with some of the poorest people in the UK) for its alleged sins, by spitting in the face of the one organisation that was actually providing funds (yes, the EU 100% funds UK regional policy) is an act of self-destructive idiocy. That it delivered a Prime Minister with delusions of Margaret Thatcher, but a fraction of the intellect, just compounds things. Boris Johnson in the FO. Idiocy.

Journalism was, and remains, stupid

Every time an attempt to make journalism accountable for its wrong-doing happens, it gets met with cries of “freedom of the press”, rather ignoring that we don’t have a free press. We have a private press, which even in definitional terms is quite different – but is grotesquely so when the concentration of ownership is thrown into the mix. That’s a sort of meta-stupid. The press will be free only when it is without both government and proprietorial influence.

But that is nothing compared to how journalism has fuelled the flames of fascism (not “populism”, not “alt-right”, fascism). That it has done so with the most breath-taking credulity beggars belief. Do not call yourself a journalist if all you are doing is recycling, be it a press release from the Government Press Office or tweets from the Orange-headed sex offender. You stupid fucking fucks were complicit in perhaps the greatest electoral fraud in history and you didn’t even try to be part of the solution. Far more clicks to be had in Clinton’s emails that Trumps sex offending or his, you know, clear and present danger to US national security.

And I’ll probably have a stroke if I get into the British media’s “let’s use balance as an excuse to avoid asking awkward questions” approach. Seriously: never once challenging a toff City dealer’s man-of-the-people act? Andrew Marr’s feeble interview with Marine Le Pen? Failing to call Jo Cox’s assassination an act or terrorism? “Balance” is not a substitute for truth, stupid.

How is that modern journalism on the one hand claims to be important, since it holds the powerful to account, and on the other soils is collective underwear when asked to do so? Fascism isn’t beaten by indulging it, but by confronting it.

Yes, social media compounds your challenges in all its click-baity shallowness. But just as structural challenges don’t force you to be criminal or stupid, social media doesn’t force you to be dickheads. Do you job or stop pretending that you are not part of the problem.

That gun to the head might come quicker than you think.

Anyway, at least we still have JK Rowling. Have a read of this thread, and all the best for 2017.:

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One Response

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  1. purofilion said, on 31 December, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Possibly things are far worse than I thought. I feel like leaving this country except there’s nowhere left. Great article, Ian.


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