Friday, September 18, 2015

A Police Riot

"Prepare yourselves, comrades, for a tsunami of cockamamie hyperbole and hysteria".

 - Alex Massie, Intolerant Corbynistas are just like creepy CyberNats

So says Oor Alex today, describing the allegedly infinite over-excitement of Jeremy Corbyn's fans.

Presumably, Alex entirely missed e.g. the articles by his fellow Times opinionistae in which - as previously noted - they loudly evaluated the new Labour leader alongside Stalin; Mao; Castro; Ho Chi Minh; Pol Pot; Osama Bin Laden and Oswald Mosley, amongst a whole host of similarly beloved public figures.

Really, what Alex is doing here is indulging in a trend that has become gratingly common since the Scottish independence referendum - that is, deliberately poking idiots on Twitter with a stick, then wailing about their rudeness and converting their snarls and yelps into column inches.

There's certainly a time and place for observing that Corbyn's social media set contains a fair crowd of raging zoomers, and that place was mainly in all of the broadsheets and on your social media accounts, every day for the last three bloody months.

And we also should note the one-eyed nature of such outrages.  You seldom see the Spectator, to pick just one example, clutching its handbag in terror because a mob of baying shitheads spent the day calling Owen Jones a homo on Facebook, or because a bunch of screeching cellar-dwellers send sinister, rapey tweets to Laurie Penny.  And yet, both of these are every bit as common occurrances.

Would Alex regard such events as symptomatic of some dark psychotic monster lurking deep within the ever-resentful psyche of Tory Britain?

Reader, he would not.   Sooner or later, we're going to have to face the fact that social media is us; that we are social media, and that social media is horrible because it's full of people like us.  If we seem angrier or nastier or significantly more racist, it's most likely because we can now all send each other instant messages displaying our personal faults, where we previously couldn't. 

Further, let's note that as Godawful as social media is, Alex has probably picked the wrong week to accuse its dumber denizens of "hyperbole and hysteria", while the nation's paper of record broods over the Hitlerian symbolism of a white poppy which even the author admits that the Labour leader probably won't even wear.

It's hard to credit complaints about the public's "sneering moral superiority" or "contempt" for their fellow citizens for taking "a different view" when hacks are loudly declaring that the entire political left is infested with terrorist-love, in the pages of Alex's own magazine.

It's also perhaps the wrong time to wonder aloud why Corbyn and his supporters are so very paranoid about pointed questions, when the nation's political press have spent the week with their palms slapped to their cheeks, screaming in terror in unconvincing and overblown Macaulay Culkin impersonations.

There's no need to go in-depth into the furore over supposedly-sexist cabinet appointments, or the pearl-clutching outrage at the "Minister for Jews" that never was and never could've been, or even the Sun's hilarious, almost simultaneous attacks on JC for his republican views and his betrayal thereof.

If I had to summarise the behaviour of the UK's political press this week, it'd be as the hack equivalent of what we used to call a police riot.  Helmets on, billyclubs out, hippy heads broken all over the place.

And you know, that's worrying, but it's ultimately to be expected.  The British press may be in large parts verminous and hysterical, but I'll take that any day of the week over the soulless, corporate slurry that is its American equivalent.

Anyway, the point here is that it's surely long since past time that we gave up on Waah-Waah, People were mean to me on the internet as an awe-inspiring political gotcha. 

If it isn't - if Alex and others are so wedded to I met a dickhead on Twitter as an incredibly representative demonstration of a truly despicable national horror - then I'd say that this then brings the hilarious behaviour of our journalists directly on-topic.

If we're opting for the latter, then let's not have any of the traditional but-we're-just-asking-questions, why-is-everyone-so-defensive nonsense, eh? 


septicisle said...

My view on Twitter is a lot of people use it in the same way as they do texts, just they're available to everyone. I'll regularly describe people as cunts and all the rest of it in private, not sincerely meaning it, when I wouldn't dream of doing so on the blog unless they truly deserved it. There was an awful lot of Liz Kendall being called a Tory cunt and so forth on Twitter, but by the same token there were plenty of her supporters describing anyone so much as thinking of voting Corbyn in slightly less virulent ways but which damaged them far more politically.

Another point to make in response to Massie is that yes, while most of the people with opposing political views do have them in good faith, there's also a minority who as we've seen of late, think absolutely nothing of being complete power hungry bastards/shitlords because they can. Witness Matthew d'Ancona relating how the Tories want to destroy Labour for good, the SNP going after Alistair Carmichael (oh, sorry, I forgot, only one of the petitioners against him was from the SNP) as 51 out of 56 seats isn't anywhere near enough, or Labour from 1997-03. Much of the Tory manifesto was meant to be a bargaining tool; rather than drawing back from its extremes, they've carried on regardless when if anything it would be in their interests to do precisely that. Power, victory, righteousness, it always goes to the head. Twitter has just magnified that by 10.

organic cheseboard said...

I've said it before, but 'angry supporters of x cause on Twitter invalidate it' is this decade's ''this phrase gets x amount of Google hits and this tells us something", ie easy copy but ultimately nonsense. And as you say, this is always selective. The Nick Cohen piece is devein itself one of the worst for this - from a man who spends half his life thinking up (rubbish) insults, and trying desperately to label his opponents as "objectively pro-fascist", for him to accuse Corbyn supporters of being rude and bemoaning their calling Liz Kendall a Tory for, er, endorsing lots of Tory policies, is pretty rich. Equally, as you say, this stuff is always one-eyed - it's always one side who do all the mudslinging, and that side is always coincidentally the side the author was already opposed to.

organic cheeseboard said...

Off topic, but just because there's nowhere else for this to go - the pig-fucking thing is clearly the opening salvo in the Johnson-Osborne war that's likely to engulf the Tories in the coming years. (BoJo is, I think, fairly clearly the deniable source, who's been intentionally belittled since arriving in parliament). Timing of this is designed to undermine Osborne's big 'PM-in-waiting' trip to China, for instance, and the Sun - which seems to be an Osborne paper - is noticeably playing it down. And jeez, we thought the stuff vs Miliband was 'dirty' and 'nasty'.

I don't think things will be plain sailing for Corbyn at all, and like I've said I doubt he'll last til 2010, but all the same, last week was probably the high point of Tory unity 2015-2020.

Anonymous said...

"I doubt he'll last til 2010"

Just before supper?


flyingrodent said...

...last week was probably the high point of Tory unity 2015-2020.

I hadn't considered this but I think you're probably right. I can only assume that the Tories are now so confident that Labour is unelectable, that they think they've got the time and space for a huge civil war. I can only encourage them in this - yep, no need for you to worry folks, why not scratch each other's eyes out for the next five years.

organic cheeseboard said...

Ahem, 2020 yeah.

I think the Tories would have had a civil war of some sort even if Labour had elected A Leader They Fear.* Like Miliband, Cameron has manage through a series of sellotape-fixes and kicking things into long grass to retain some sort of party unity, but it won't last forever.

*Quite why they supposedly feared Tristram Hunt, who was pisspoor as Shadow Education Sec, I have no idea