Sunday, May 04, 2014

A World Of Euphemism

Nick's latest column on the two hundred-plus girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria really is a jaw-dropper...
"...Read parts of the press and you enter a world of euphemism. They have not been enslaved but "abducted" or "kidnapped", as if they will be released unharmed when the parties have negotiated a mutually acceptable ransom. Writers are typing with one eye over their shoulder: watching their backs to make sure that no one can accuse them of "demonising the other".
To pick a comedy comparison, this is basically the equivalent of a crank physician denouncing his fellow doctors in apocalyptic tones for using the words "cold sore" rather than "herpes", under the pretence that to do so is cowardly and quietly pro-virus.  It's beyond absurd.

You have to wonder what other journalists think when they see themselves being castigated in this manner.  In any other profession - teaching, medicine, science, law - the response to some numbnuts accusing his colleagues of professional misconduct on the basis of this sort of arse-extracted nonsense would be furious: letters, response columns, angry social media retorts and so on.

And yet the hacks have been getting this treatment off Nick for the best part of a decade with barely a squeaky fart of disapproval.  It's bizarre enough that the Observer chooses to pay someone to mount this kind of constant, clown-shoes custard pie campaign against its own writers and readers, and actually baffling that other journos clearly read this and either a) chuckle and say "Our Nick, there he goes again", or b) just assume that he's talking about somebody else.  He isn't.

Now, I appreciate that some journalists won't want to get into a fight with Nick, largely because they'd be better shouting into a bucket or trying to teach an excitable Cocker Spaniel to play the banjo.  Both buckets and spaniels tend to be more open-minded than Nick is, for a start. 

Nonetheless, the temptation here is to conclude that the hacks don't defend themselves because they actually think they are as shit at their jobs as Nick claims. By and large, they aren't - in fact, lots of them are actually very, very good at what they do.  You'd think one or two of them might like to say so, occasionally.

15 comments:

AHB said...

Because you both get dirty, and the pig enjoys it.

Mr. M said...

Favourite strawman is the last, suggesting that saving an African child's life is as easy to guarantee as putting a coin in a tin or plucking a kid infront of you from a lake. Utter idiocy throughout.

Organic cheeseboard said...

Nick has in the past been hugely complimentary of journalists per se, particularly in the face of Nick Davies's work - though Cohen tends to conflate reporting with opinion writing. Yet he is also prone to castigating every single journal in the world.

I think that the "chuckle" is in fact the sum total of the impact of these pieces. Nick doesn't seem capable of losing friends no matter how overblown his criticisms of all journalists are, and I think that's cos people consider him a polemicist and as such he's bound to do this kind of thing. It's only Owen Jones on Twitter who actually takes Cohen seriously - most other journos pat him on the crack whatever he writes. Journos stick together, even if one of them is slagging off the entire profession.

The piece is fucking shite, but then again what do we expect? It's also a direct culture wars import - getting prissy about one particular and not really controversial word in order to make the same point you always do ie lefties are all dickheads. I'd like to have the time to look to see whether Nick has written about any overseas events since 2003 without using them as a stick to beat the straw man left. It's pretty damning, surely that the first thing he writes about this awful stuff going on in Nigeria is of this type.

Also it'd be interesting to know how he found this source (which he actively lies about). Presumably it was as usual via twitter, bug if not it'd mean he was obsessively googling phrases about it to desperately find evidence for his prejudices.

Quinn said...

Best bit must surely be when he moans that "when it comes to violence against civilians and, most notably, the denial of women's rights, [Leftists] change the conversation to anything except the deeds of the criminals in front them. The girl can drown or be enslaved and raped. They have more pressing concerns."

Hmm. Like using this obvious wrong as a springboard to have a pop at Lefty journalists, again, isn't changing the conversation?

Nincompoop.

flyingrodent said...

Glaring case of plagiarism here, according to the author of this post.

http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/boko-haram-islam-and-the-left/

SarahABUK said...

I don't want to alarm you, FR, but there is some degree of convergence between comments here and comments on HP http://hurryupharry.org/2014/05/05/reports-of-protest-leaders-being-arrested-in-nigeria/

flyingrodent said...

Yes, Nick's finally trotted out something so daft that he can't even carry half the HP commenters with him.

Probably worth noting that it's not as if Nick this level of nonsense is out of character - almost everything he's written on similar topics in the last ten years has been equally foolish. The only difference is in the extremity of the claim being made and the extreme poverty of the evidence presented.

Sadly, I notice that this hasn't stopped this latest slice of fantasy receiving a rapturous welcome across a good chunk of social media.

Organic cheeseboard said...

Also - don't reporters have a duty to be neutral? So unless there is evidence that every single girl here has indeed been "enslaved", anyone reporting that would be misleading their readers. And the link to c4 news in Cohen's article demonstrates this exact problem, saying as it does that it is unclear how many have already been sold on. As with other issues where terminology is significant, Cohen wants reporting to be less objective, and I still can't work out why other than "liberals are dickheads".

Funny to see that he nicked this, too, and in the process misrepresented his source. Even Johnann Hari was usually true to his sources in his theft. Surely Cohen's subs must have had something to say about his trying to pretend that a Nigerian blog is in fact "the theoretical pages of left wing journals" - almost everything in his description is a lie ffs.

Anonymous said...

"Also - don't reporters have a duty to be neutral?"

Reporters have a duty to make clear what is an established fact, what is supposition and what the basis is of those suppositions. The articles I have seen on this subject report what local people fear might have happened and what the kidnappers threaten to do. Nick seems to be assuming that no-one gets beyond the first sentence of an article on a subject like this.

Guano

flyingrodent said...

And while we're at it, here's the Daily Mail referring to "kidnapping" and "abduction", presumably because Mail journalists are writing with one eye over their shoulders, terrified to be seen to be demonising "the other"...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2620615/Islamic-militants-warn-sell-captive-Nigerian-schoolgirls-sex-slavery-international-outcry-kidnap.html?ico=worldnews^headlines

Here's the Telegraph doing the same...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/nigeria/10808830/Nigerian-Islamist-leader-threatens-to-sell-abducted-girls-as-slaves.html

And here are the pinkoes at the Wall Street Journal, terrorised into acquiesence by their own PC mindset, getting in on the euphemisation...

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579537690452232328?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303678404579537690452232328.html

Without need for further links, I can confirm that the Sun and the Express have done likewise - each and every one afraid and shivering, all of them lacking the giant, stainless-steel balls of sheer bravery that only our Nick possesses.

organic cheeseboard said...

Well heh. More than a bit unfortunate for Nick that this is now at the top of the news agenda across the board. Kind of undermines all his other ideas on the subject.

He might get a bonus intervention out of it by the looks of things despite not seeming to want one.

organic cheeseboard said...

Nick's spectator piece on hirsi Ali and Anne-Marie Waters is a peach, too. In the same article he manages to provide evidence that they're both bigoted cranks yet also says we should 'support' them for unspecified reasons. Bonus points, too, for his pretending that Hirsi Ali has only ever said one bigoted thing about Islam...

Hilarously, despite the fact the piece is 90% recycled from stuff he's written before, on twitter he was claiming it'd taken him three weeks to write.

ejh said...

Pfft. By the Spectator's standards that's not recycling at all.

organic cheeseboard said...

Now it transpires that 130 of the girls (almost all of them) are still captive and thus haven't been sold on as slaves but are rather being used as leverage to get prisoners released. Looks like Nick's advice to reporters - advising them to effctively lie because terrorists are in general bad - was well-founded eh.

flyingrodent said...

Yes, although I'm not seeing anyone back-tracking. Amusingly, while Nick's column was extensively commented on, retwat & blogged on etc., the only people I saw agree with his idea that e.g. "abducted" is a euphemism for "enslaved" were overt idiots - odd, since this was so much at the heart of the article that it was actually in the title itself.

Today, I've been enjoying all the condescending Decentry about the Bring-Our-Girls-Back hashtag campaigns, featuring bucketloads of snark about how hashtags aren't manly enough to frighten Boko Haram. I can only assume this mob are so condescending because they're social-mediaing it up from bandit country, Nigeria, inbetween their throat-slitting night raids on Islamist encampments.

What this tells me is that all the years of boo-hoo chat about how everyone must immediately Condemn! this, that and the next thing or the Age of Reason itself will topple in ruin is basically bollocks. We knew that, of course, but here it is in stark, undeniable terms.

Here, we have a broad group of mostly left-wing people doing exactly what they've been instructed to do for more than a decade - publicly denouncing a nasty Islamist group and campaigning on behalf of their victims.

And what's the response? Snotty jeers about how condemning things on the internet is ineffectual (!!), with the implication that we should all instead immediately demand a major US assault on a country that hasn't even requested outside assistance.

I noted previously that all these Condemnathons were never anything more than a series of hoops to jump through, and no that amount of condemnation would ever be enough if it didn't include outright cheering for blowing shit up. Well, here we have a prime example, and the best part is - they actually seem quite proud of it.