Modern Journalism for a Modern Society

 

A story in three photos –

In the issue of 12-17 April, the New Statesman published an article by George Eaton, joint deputy editor, on the Conservative philosopher Roger Scruton.

On April 10th, George Eaton tweeted what he called “a series of outrageous remarks” by Roger Scruton. The four tweets by George Eaton certainly had an immediate effect on social media – racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia: Roger Scruton was guilty of it all according to Eaton.

Only the supposed quotes from Roger Scruton seemed to be wholly out of context and appeared to have been manipulated. Did anybody try to find out whether Roger Scruton had actually said any of the things he was accused of saying? No. This is not how things work anymore.

There was a twitter storm and it raged for a while.

The Labour Party and several leading Conservative figures immediately demanded that ministers remove Scruton from his unpaid position as chairman of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission.

A mere four hours after the article appeared, James Brokenshire, the housing secretary, dismissed Scruton. Without talking to him, without asking for his side of the story. James Brokenshire sacked Roger Scruton based on a series of inflammatory tweets, and nothing else.

Eaton posted on his personal Instagram account a picture of himself drinking champagne, clearly as way of celebration.

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If anybody was in any doubt that Roger Scruton had been the victim of a hit-job, this was proof, of sorts.

(George Eaton later deleted and apologised for the Instagram post.)

Luckily there are still people with honour and integrity in the journalism world. Douglas Murray (I adore him), a friend of Roger Scruton took up the fight to clear the philosopher’s name. He repeatedly called for the full transcript of the interview to be published, a call that was not answered. Meanwhile, George Eaton had suddenly gone very quiet on social media.

 

Eventually, Douglas Murray somehow got his hands on the transcript of the interview which revealed Roger Scruton had been smeared in the most appalling fashion. He had been deliberately misrepresented, his reputation tarnished by…a journalist… who works for a major magazine. Is it any wonder people don’t trust the mainstream media anymore?

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I can’t even begin to explain how angry this whole debacle made me. As a person who values truth, integrity – as a qualified journalist myself who was told every single day without fail when I was training that: “accuracy is everything” – I was disgusted by it all. I still am, actually.

I was ecstatic when Douglas Murray published his article clearing Roger Scruton. So much so I indulged in being petty and replicated the ‘George Eaton gloating champagne pic’ for Twitter – twice – with the caption: “The feeling when Douglas Murray exposes the duplicity of George Eaton in an excellent piece that should hopefully deter other ‘journalists’ from distorting, lying and trying to destroy the reputation of anyone, let alone one of our finest minds.”

Petty? Yes, but I couldn’t resist. incidentally, that second pic is the first drunk pic of me to ever make it on the internet (Facebook doesn’t count)

 

I had booked tickets to go and see Roger Scruton and Douglas Murray talk in London before George Eaton published his ‘article.’ I had been looking forward to it but the event took on a special importance after the scandal. The evening wasn’t just about listening to two highly interesting people anymore, it was about showing support for a man with a very fine mind who had been needlessly demonised.

And it was a delightful evening – I was (without exaggeration) glowing when I left. Roger Scruton came on and was given a standing ovation. The love and respect for the philosopher in the room was almost tangible. He touched on the whole scandalous story of course, without bitterness – he was actually wonderfully magnanimous considering he hasn’t received a proper apology from anyone who was so quick to condemn him based on nothing more substantial than a few tweets. 

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I have to ask: what kind of a society have we become when journalists deliberately entrap others, when journalists are happy to lie, to smear, to demonise…and to gloat about the result of such despicable actions. When people in governments make decisions to sack someone without knowing the full story, without even bothering to speak to the person they employ, a person who has an outstanding reputation as a philosopher and writer.

I am so angry about the left’s methods which have gathered momentum in the last couple of years. No debate, but lies instead. No discussion but name-calling.

If they can do this to a respected philosopher, what chance do the rest of us have?

After a prolonged absence, George Eaton is back – he has apparently been demoted but the real scandal is the fact he wasn’t actually sacked. He is a disgrace to journalism and clearly an appalling human being. Journalists have always been guilty of bias, they’ve always been known to flirt with misrepresentation and even lies…but we’ve achieved a whole new level of deception that is just unacceptable.

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We are living in dark times, anybody who cares about truth and freedom of speech should be very worried – we have a duty to fight back against this tidal wave of sheer hysteria, self-righteousness and authoritarianism that has infected everything. 

Get a life

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I had a busy day today, juggling all kind of stuff. I was getting a bit stressed with it all when I checked my email and some fuckwit had sent me a message about something I said on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, might even have been longer than that. In any case, my little tweet had enraged the fuckwit and he clearly NEEDED to tell me about it.

This is EXACTLY why I don’t let non-followers private message me on Twitter anymore. Between the guys who want to send you dick pics and the people who just HAVE to let you know how offensive your political opinions are, I couldn’t handle it anymore.

But, my blog link is on Twitter and if you find my blog, you find an email address. The fuckwit was kinda dedicated, I’ll give him that. I was talking to my tutor while reading his bullshit email which basically amounted to: I’m an ignorant stupid bitch, out of touch with reality, etc…the usual stuff.

Well, obviously I don’t reply to those kind of emails.
What could I say? Only this:

Fuck you, you fuckwit. Fuck right off and when you’ve fucked off as far away from me as possible, fuck off some more. I don’t give a fuck what you think of me because why would I worry about the opinion of a fucking toad? Also, take a fucking chill pill, we’re all allowed an opinion – even you – but you shouldn’t bloody harass people with it though. Seriously, get a fucking life.

You know? Some of us HAVE lives to get on with, I’ve been up since 6 and been working and studying all day, I don’t have time for some fuckwit’s meltdown. And now I’ve gotta go and workout.
You lovely people enjoy the rest of your day – as for the fuckwits: in case you SOMEHOW missed the message, I refer you to my pic, I’ve got nothing else to say to you, so keep the fuck away, thanks.

Is Social Media making us miserable?

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Social media, as with having children, you have to ask, what the hell did we do before? Presumably we whittled sticks, recorded TOTP on video compilations and skipped through the long grass?

‘I’ve left Facebook’ is greeted initially with shock, laced with considerable disbelief. And that’s before you’ve even told anyone. Ironically it might be your most popular update, that you’ll never get to see. There’s a stubbornness to it; like leaving a great party early, albeit a party at which people are sharing photos of food, children and fierce political party allegiances. And clips of dogs falling off bar stools. It must be that which keeps us all there. The dogs I mean.

Social media is a strange place that demands revisiting like an itch that’s impossible to locate. We are certainly addicted. If someone was checking for their car keys with such frequency they’d be advised to seek…

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Move along, people – there’s no karma here!

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Brangelina is dominating the news. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t have missed the announcement that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are getting divorced.
What truly amazes me, is how social media is awash with talks of “karma” and the fact that Jennifer Aniston (whom Brad Pitt left for Angelina) must be hysterical with joy at the news of the divorce.

WHY? It happened 12 years ago! Sure, it must have been a dark period in Jennifer’s life, mainly because it was all played out in public and the media would not let her mourn the end of her relationship in peace – they just wouldn’t let her forget that period in time. YEARS after the divorce, Jen was still being asked about it in interviews even though she had made it clear she did not want to talk about it anymore. She didn’t want to be seen as a victim, and who can blame her? Jennifer lost her husband to another woman, it happens all the time, all over the world. She mourned, she moved on – it’s the rest of the world that hasn’t.

Social media today was melting down with the fact that this divorce is “karma”, that Angelina got her ‘just deserts’ because she stole Brad from another woman – what a lot of bollocks.

The fact is, Angelina did not steal Brad: nobody can be stolen unless they want to be.
If Brad had a brief affair with Ange and then came back to Jen because he’d realised she was the love of his life, it would be different. We could neatly label Angelina as a dark temptress and claim she used some kind of femme fatale witchcraft to lure Brad away from his true love.
Except, Brad Pitt left Jennifer and never looked back: he went on to marry Angelina and adopt a brood of children with her – clear proof that this was no passing fad, no “madness of the moment”, no “temptation that he couldn’t resist and later regretted”.

I have never liked Brad, I never fancied him – and although I applaud his decision early on in his career to reject the heartthrob tag and his subsequent attempt to be considered a serious actor – I have found his acting too atrocious, too many times to respect him acting-wise. That said, it’s awfully clear to me that he left Jennifer Anniston because he fell in love with someone else. It happens, it might have been terribly painful for Jen at the time but it’s a story that’s occurred a million times over the history of mankind. I may not admire Brad as an actor, but as husband and father, I have nothing (that I know of in the last 12 years) to reproach him with. (I know there have been allegations of substance abuse and anger problems but until this is confirmed, we should reserve judgment.) 

As for Angelina, I am not a fan either but she clearly was dedicated to this man she married and started a (huge) family with. She obviously didn’t just lure him away from his wife just for thrills. She may have issues, she’s not perfect but she has done a lot of humanitarian work over the years. Leave her alone, there’s no “karma” involved here, just a woman going through the pain of a long and committed relationship ending.

I find it incredibly insulting for Jennifer Aniston that people should assume she’s been sitting there, waiting for this moment when her ex-husband’s marriage would implode.
It was 12 years ago, she’s had plenty of time to move on and if she has (and I assume she has, why not?) Brangelina’s divorce can’t have caused much of a reaction apart from “meh.”

12 years, people. It’s a hell of a long time to harbour the kind of feelings that would make you smile gleefully when you’re told your ex-husband is going through a divorce. 

What I find the saddest thing of all is that among all the bitchy comments on social media (I’m sure Jen is feeling real proud of her fans right now #Not), hardly anybody seems to remember that divorce is an awful thing, especially when there are children involved – some of them old enough to read all the shitty things written about their parents online. But, yet again, that’s the price of fame and celebrity, isn’t it? It always amazes me that anyone should aspire to be famous when you consider the utter lack of privacy – I can’t imagine having my personal traumas splashed all over the media with half the world commenting, judging, and even laughing bitchily. Ugh. Why would anybody want that?! 

*Written really quickly so again, forgive typos, clumsy turn of phrases, etc…*

Social Media inanity/insanity

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Here’s me: an adult singing, dancing, acting like a 13 year old girl
wearing a wife beater and cap, I’m a chav, on Twitter & Instagram
You all need to see this, hence the 25 generic hashtags
‘Twas my birthday, a “private” moment between friends
that obviously had to make it onto the Internet
coz it was evidently of interest to the entire world, along with…
“I’m on my way back from the gym
Also, I’m in love (with…)
someone on the train is eating – now I’m watching a film
I’m crazy about queen Britney
I’m sweet, it’s all about my family
Oh, and I’m in love (with…thinly disguised name)
Here’s me in nothing but pants,
do I look good?
I’m brilliant, I’m at work, look!
By the way, I’m in love (*with…actual name)”
It’s all utterly banal, mundane, hop onto my run-of-the-mill train
No, I’m not ashamed of my attention-seeking, insecurity, or my emotional and all round immaturity, plus
I have no interest in depth and words when there’s an ample supply of fab emojis

I share every detail of my life
on social media
my faux-deep thoughts, intimate & excruciatingly embarrassing feelings, videos, pics — everything posted on public sites
because…I’m sad
cheap, shallow, needy
Pleeeeeease love me, please validate me
Please listen, look, at…everything
otherwise, clearly I don’t exist
I may be the living embodiment of stupidity
but I don’t care, look at my hair
Aren’t I sexy? Don’t people fancy me?
What do you mean some laugh at me, believe I’m moronic…even…a freak?
They don’t think I’m adorable? They laugh, say I’m kinda creepy with my over-sharing? 
They’re just haters, trying to shatter my one-way mirror
No worry, I’ll hang on to my delusions to the bitter
end

Unfortunately, because I’m not smart & smack of desperation 
I will be fooled, taken in
so easily
by people I won’t ever really know –
even if I fuck them, am obsessed with them 
constantly talk to them – I’ll still never get past the surface
Day will turn to night, too late to wipe the slate clean and start again
Attention-seeking is well and good, until it’s the devil who turns his gaze on you – my social media life basically screams: use me, abuse me! it’s not a joke, attention-seeking might, one day, actually kill me.
Pray that I, and others like me, eventually learn
that instant gratification,
feeding off a high
is not right, is not life –
it’s possibly the furthest you can get
from happiness

*This came about after one of my friends phoned me on Sunday, and during the conversation mentioned a car crash on Twitter that was so horrifying it made it hard to look away. “You probably don’t want to look, Nat, but it’s both the saddest and funniest thing I’ve seen in ages” he said. Boy, was he right. I mean, we all hear about these people, but until you’re faced with their desperation and insecurity, it’s quite hard to believe the depth of their neediness — it’s also incredibly hard not to be thinking about the mental health issues they might very well suffer from, and which this addiction to telling the world everything can’t possibly help. There are many articles out there about social media and its links to mental health problems, whether it helps diagnose them, and/or cause them – this one is quite good because it openly admits there are many unknowns: Online Social Networking and Mental Health

 

Political Correctness – again – and Charlie Hebdo

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I’ve written about Political Correctness before, and I’m about to do so again. If this is not your thing,  I won’t get offended if you swiftly move on.
Right, are you still with me? Okay, good.
Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, published an article a few days ago. Contrary to their usual stuff, it was a “serious” article, no satire involved. You can read said article here: How did we end up here?

Basically, it deals with political correctness, and the fact that people are fearful to discuss or criticise anything having to do with Islam for fear of being branded hislamophobe…and the insidious devastating effects on society as a result. I believe this article is crucial because it is a fact that political correctness has now gone too far. I believe that nothing, no idea, no religion, no philosophy, no anything should be above discussion and criticism. We are human beings with brains, we should be able to use them. And yet, to do so nowadays is akin to wearing a sign round your neck that says “abuse me”.
It is a frightful state of affairs when people can’t express an opinion without being vilified.

This particular Charlie Hebdo article has had people frothing at the mouth. “How dare they?” they say. They’re “showing their true colours…they have been revealed as bigots and racists.” Well, no actually. This article is not about bigotry, or anything of the sort, it’s about the kind of society that develops when people aren’t allowed to emit opinions anymore. Of course the virulent reaction to the article perfectly proves the point it is making, but blindsided people will not, refuse to, see it.

This is one example of what happened on Twitter when I questioned the views of one politically correct person: I have to admit that after being shot down by quite a few people before this one, I maybe wasn’t as tactful as I could have been when I replied to his original tweet…but the condescending and patronising tone of it got to me.

I’d like to pre-empt anyone saying that “I shouldn’t bother interacting with those people” and that “I must have too much time on my hands” by replying that: I can’t help it sometimes, it’s the journalist (and INFJ) in me. I cannot bear misrepresentation of people or their ideas, and that’s exactly what happened with this article. Twitter got inflamed with it, summing it up as: “Charlie Hebdo thinks that the lack of ham sandwiches threatens Western values”. I mean, it would be funny if it wasn’t all over the net, and actually taken seriously. Someone has to speak out, otherwise where will it all end? We are in dire need of people fighting back the PC brigade who are unfortunately supported wholeheartedly by the media. 

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I just couldn’t quite believe that he spoke to me like that, why swear at people?! I am guilty of swearing quite a bit myself but it’s more like: “where are my f*****g keys?” and “what the f**k is this?” – swearing as I’m speaking to myself… I do not swear at people I know or even strangers for no good reason. 

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So anyway, I promptly got blocked by this guy, which is funny really as he was the one who was abusive and got personal. If anybody should have done any blocking, it should have been me, but obviously I’m more mature than he is.

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Then somebody else who had followed this “conversation” tweeted him to say that maybe he should be more articulate rather than swear at people but that person got blocked as well after that one single tweet. This crazy dude blocked everyone (who disagreed with him obviously) involved in the “chat”…even though none of us were abusive.

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So there we have it. The PC brigade is out there, making sure nobody but them is allowed to express opinions. And once again, they scream and shout for tolerance, while showing none themselves, as is always the case. They call us “haters” for having an opinion we express calmly and yet they’re the ones spouting hate words and acting like raving lunatics. Oh, the irony.

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News flash: People are shallow

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The Maths lecturer who also happens to be a model has been dominating the news on social media:
http://mashable.com/2015/03/30/maths-lecturer-model/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link

Apparently the world is aghast – and just cannot comprehend – the fact  that someone can be intelligent and also “hot”.

Personally, this guy doesn’t do it for me. At all. But I’ve never been into model looks and superficial beauty, so that’s hardly surprising. Still, that’s not really the point, is it?

Do we really live in a world that classifies people as either “clever” or “fit”? Haven’t we moved on from that? Is it so very difficult to believe that people can be both?

And now we have girls (and guys) falling over themselves to proclaim a newly found love for Maths just because this particular lecturer is ripped. Apparently Pietro Boselli is “winning hearts around the world” – I’m sorry but what a load of utter b******s. If Johnny Depp himself was willing to teach me Maths, I still wouldn’t be interested. Well, maybe I’d consider it for a minute or two, but I’m pretty sure I’d decline all the same (I really do hate Maths).

Are good looks really the only way to get the masses to listen and take notice of what you have to say? I find that so, so depressing.

How I wish people would stop being so fucking shallow – not that it’s going to happen anytime soon, more’s the pity!