Saturday, February 19, 2011

Terrible People Saying Terrible Things

[As always, cross-posted at Newsgrape.]

A couple of weeks ago, a friend sent me this link. I know it’s long, but I’ll wait while you read it.




Welcome back! That article is the reason I made a resolution to quit supporting the Daily Mail. Not that I’ve ever bought it, given it my money, recommended it to a friend; but, like many a sneering leftie (the Mail website gets three times as many hits as any other paper’s), I used to occasionally follow links to their more ridiculous articles, so I could chortle in disgust and self-righteousness at the wilfully ignorant hatemongering about “gay maths”. The Mail, though, doesn’t know I’m mocking it; it still registers as a hit, and that increases the site’s popularity and helps generate ad revenue for a truly repulsive institution. In short, my self-righteousness was unjustified, and now that I’ve resolved never to visit the Daily Fail website again, I can be properly self-righteous about it.

However, all the leftist brownie points this resolution gets me are cancelled out by my ongoing sick fascination with the awful Simon Heffer.

My parents have a personal vendetta against Rupert Murdoch, but they find the Guardian’s Saturday crossword too difficult; so, every Saturday, they take the Telegraph. They are the first to admit that it’s a dreadful bloody paper, and they frequently talk about subscribing to just the crossword online so they don’t have to be seen buying it, but bad habits die hard, and anyway they like having a TV Guide.

There are a few pages of the Telegraph that I always look at: the back cover, which has the crossword and the weather; the birth announcements, which sometimes include some real gems (“Zavier Thomas Knox, a brother for Zakari and Zahra”, “to Spencer Harvard-Walls and Tabitha Aldrich-Smith, a beautiful daughter, Tatiana Skye”, “Christobel Sophia Eleanor, a sister for Charlotte Grace Alexandra” – and those are just from the past couple of weeks); and Simon Heffer’s column.

Simon Heffer is a truly odious man. For a while I thought he might be a satirist, a sort of British Stephen Colbert; then I wondered if he could be a time traveller from 200 years ago, brought forward by a controversy-hungry newspaper to rail against modern society from his deeply unpleasant, reactionary standpoint; but, honestly, he’s just an ass.

Heffer is the perfect example of somebody with his head so far up the patriarchy that he can’t see what a raving misogynist he is. He boasts of “gallantry” (vomit) and says things like “how can the Commons take speaker John Bercow seriously if he can’t control his wife?”. This is a columnist being published in a mainstream newspaper in 2011. In the same column, he made mention of his wife, and I am gravely concerned for Mrs Heffer’s wellbeing, given that she is married to a man who publicly states his belief – IN 2011! – that a husband should “control his wife”.

His misogyny is evident in slightly more subtle ways too. I recall, during the recent Labour leadership contest, a column throughout which he referred to David Miliband, in true former public schoolboy fashion, as “Miliband D”, but condescendingly called Harriet Harman “Hattie”. A man who insists on giving a woman politician a patronizing nickname is clearly a man who has deep and troubling issues in his attitude toward women generally.

Heffer also seems to be going for a world record in his invocations of Godwin’s law. I envision him throwing a dart at a customized dartboard in order to choose which group of self-evident non-Nazis he will accuse of Nazism this week. Recent targets have included people who believe in man-made climate change and, brain-achingly, people who speak out against racism, sexism, and homophobia. Given the baffling frequency with which they accuse assorted left-leaning groups of Nazism, I am beginning to wonder if certain right-wingers are privy to some little-known documentation – Hitler’s Very Secret Diary, perhaps? – in which the Nazis outlined their plans to end discrimination, promote equality and tolerance, and make all concentration camps carbon-neutral.

Or, you know, maybe they’re just idiots.


  1. Another fine article, as usual.

    "The Mail, though, doesn’t know I’m mocking it; it still registers as a hit".

    When I read this line, I immediately thought of the end of this sketch - have you seen it?

  2. Haha, I hadn't seen that, but it's funny (even though I've never seen The Apprentice). How did Oscar put it: "There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

  3. Also, have you seen this?

  4. That was fantastic - were those all real frontpage headlines?

  5. Aside from 'sports stars have sex, bears shit in woods' etc., obviously