Sometimes, it's not worth taking an article seriously enough to go to the trouble of reading through and addressing point by point. Sometimes, it's better to just point and laugh.*
Today's Richard Littlejohn column is probably a good example of such an article. Have a look at 'Welcome to Britain, land of the rising scum.... We've cornered the market on welfare layabouts, drug addicts and feral gangs' and laugh at the stereotyped caricature of an ill informed, boorish columnist getting it wrong and inadvertently attacking his own newspaper.
Ah, if only that were the only stereotyped caricature in this column. There's the grotesque working class family, whose most damning characteristic he inadvertently reveals to be more than likely made up ('washed down with what I seem to remember was Irn-Bru, in the case of the children, and Special Brew, for the parents'). Seem to remember, eh?
There's a caricature of Polly Toynbee, which wouldn't normally be such a bad thing. There's a caricature of the BBC. There's a caricature of the entire country. It's all there. Laugh it up.
But I can't bring myself to leave it there. It's such a cavalcade of wrong that I am powerless to leave it alone. Ah well, here goes.
After painting his picture of a comically exaggerated working class family and offering caricatured examples of excuses people might have for their behaviour, he says:
Then again, they could just have been scum.There is another word for it, Richard. In fact, there are several. 'Fantasy' is one. 'Made up' and 'apocryphal' are another three. 'Poorly remembered mishmash of different things seen at different times over two decades ago pulled together to create a frightening grotesque for a shouty newspaper column' is a whole mouthful, which probably comes closer to the truth.
You know what? I’ve just thought about it again. I’m going with scum. Sorry, but there’s no other word for it.
The Guardianistas railed against Little Britain’s portrait of the underclass, accusing it of cruelty and making fun of a ‘vulnerable’ section of society. The truth is, the Leftist bien pensants have built a land fit for Vicky Pollards.Remember that opening vignette? The one that explains how Littlejohn decided 'the game was up'? The one set twenty years ago, when Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives were in power and had been for almost a decade? Damn those Leftist bien pensants.
But the country is in the toilet because of the undeserving poor. These people who do terrible things to their children are typical examples of the working class and how this country is full of scum. Presumably, when middle class parents abuse their children, a caricature of middle class people can be used to illustrate how Britain is the land of the rising scum too. What do you mean, it doesn't work that way?
The country is in such a parlous state that:
In Hackney, East London, a teenage girl is gang-raped for not showing sufficient ‘respect’ to a local yobbo. It barely makes the newspapers.Here's a quick heads up for someone who has been working in newspapers for several decades. If something doesn't make the newspapers it's because newspaper editors don't want it to be in them. Editors decide what appears in their papers and how it's prioritised. You'd think he would know.
The paper Littlejohn writes for covered the story on page 28. The front page headline that day was 'PAY THE OBESE TO TAKE A WALK', and the page featured a photo with the headline 'Smoothy Sarko charms Camilla'. Some of the other stories Paul Dacre decided were more important than the gang rape one were (in ascending order of page position, starting at page 3):
'Mama don't preach - Madonna lets Guy see his boys...on 12 conditions'
'Why lack of sleep could put your heart at risk'
'Ban him! Outrage of a grieving mum as soccer star who saluted drink-drive killer escapes with a fine'
'Pacemaker recharged by the heart'
'Tory tax holiday aims to help the jobless'
'Security chiefs want media crackdown'
'The girl who had to fight for the right to die in peace'
'Gentler fertility treatment 'with double the chance of pregnancy''
'Get your snouts out of the trough MPs blasted by their own sleaze watchdog'
'Youth offending soars with rise of gang culture'
'Carla and Camilla in an entente cordiale'
'Charles and his four minute warning, by his personal chef'
'£1million blunderer Outrage over 'absurd' golden handshake for ousted Yard boss'
'Rosenthal accused of racism over 'spear chucker' gaffe'
'Evergreen Cliff is back at Wembley'
'I paid next door's bills for 16 years'
'The girl who haunts Rowan'
'The big family brunch for only £4 at Morrisons'
Littlejohn's own column, including an appeal to keep Ken Bruce at Radio 2
'Did Wilson have Alzheimer's as PM?'
'Let me get out there! Mortally wounded officer's plea to return to his soldiers after Afghan rocket explosion'
'You can't go out like that, Mum!' An article about a dress Lorraine kelly wore.
'Apostrophe catastrophe Punctuation howler that drives us to distraction'
'Hauled to court, the man whose bin fell over'
'Stewardess stole £100,000 of passengers' charity cash'
'Hell and high water Chaos reigns as 70mph winds batter Britain'
'Why Britons are warming to Iceland'
'French and Saunders take their last bow'
'The perfect Christmas stocking fillers' the Mail's free DVD campaign.
'How zero tolerance Head transformed school exam results'
'A BITTER VICTORY' A piece about returning soldiers from World War One.
On the same page as the Hackney rape story is 'Boiler breakdown cover for only £7 a month' and a selection of other adverts.
These are the things that Paul Dacre - not the country - not society - Paul Dacre, who over the weekend informed us that reporting should above all be entertaining and that scandal sells papers, decided were more important. Stories where you can't name perpetrators or victims or publish pictures of any of them don't sell papers, so the editor of Littlejohn's newspaper decided that the story was less important than the columnist's own campaign to keep Ken Bruce at Radio 2.
Also - might the fact that these people are from a poor part of London (and possibly black) have at least a little bit to do with why the story was shunted away to page 28?
Back to poor people, and:
The women are the worst of the lot, giving birth to a procession of bay-beesIsn't the whole point of spelling a word phoenetically that you show up how some people say things differently to everyone else? How else are you supposed to pronounce 'baby'?
On to Polly Toynbee, and:
Toynbee found herself not only attacking press freedom, but siding with the son of a well-known fascist notorious for exploiting women for his own sexual gratification.Hey, if we're criticising people who are descended from 'well known fascists', are we now allowed to mention that the owner of the paper Littlejohn is writing in here is descended from a notorious supporter of both the well known fascist in question and another well known fascist called Hitler? Or are we supposed to let the past go now?
If we're saying Toynbee would make a good stormtrooper, can I say the same about Littlejohn, or would that make me a left wing fascist? I can't get my head around these 'it's only bad when someone else does it' rules.
Which doesn't help in the last section, which has a subheading that might as well be Littlejohn's motto. 'Don't let facts spoil a smear'. The smearer in question is the BBC, and:
One of the more ridiculous smears given currency was that Palin wasn’t aware that Africa was a continent, not a country. It fitted perfectly with the perception of Palin as a thick hick.This claim that was broken by the notoriously left wing Fox News, and covered by the Mail in 'Africa's a continent? That's news to me, said Sarah Palin'.
But Littlejohn thinks the BBC's coverage of the possibility that the claim is a hoax wasn't good enough because:
One of them, Dan Mirvish, was interviewed on the Today programme by a clearly disappointed Sarah Montague.Wow, you can't get much lower than saying the claim might be true. The Mail's coverage of the hoax claim is given due prominence in today's dead tree version by not actually appearing at all, except for the mention in this column. The online version has 'Blogger identified as 'source' behind claim Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a country does not exist', which points out in the second sentence:
At one stage, she blurted out that even if it had been made up, it didn’t mean it wasn’t true.
We’re still none the wiser, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story?
However Fox News is standing by its original story that the former vice presidential candidate believed Africa was a country.It also reveals that Democrat supporting MSNBC actually broke the story that the whole thing was a hoax. Bloody liberalocracy. Damn those liberal smears.
And who but a dirty lefty would attack Sarah Palin with such nasty things as:
It wasn't just that he thought that McCain might croak in office and they'd be left at the mercy of the entertaining, but scary Sarah Palin.The BBC are clearly a bunch of biased bast... hang on, that was Littlejohn's column a few days ago.
On Monday the Mail praised a little boy for his apparent 'patriotism', and less than a week later publishes a column by the country's highest paid hack saying Britain is 'the land of the rising scum'.
I can't quite get the hang of that hating/loving the country thing either.
Why didn't I just point and laugh like I was going to? I've wasted good minutes of my life I'm not going to get back now.
*At as opposed to with.