David Thompson
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February 21, 2011

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rjmadden

Stoicism is so old fashioned, David.

Embrace your inner whinger.

Anna

"I don't want special or different [treatment] for my family."

So she doesn't want special treatment but she complains when she doesn’t get it (even though she is getting it).

Genius.

Anna

"my family have been relegated to accessing this high-minded cultural institution through the tradesmen's entrance because my daughter is disabled."

The tradesmen's entrance! The bastards.

David

“The tradesmen’s entrance! The bastards.”

Oh you may laugh your heartless laugh, but Ms Birkett has to be escorted past cardboard boxes and health and safety notices. That’s oppression by anyone’s standard.

Frank

Do you suppose that they really believe it themselves? Or is it more a chance to fulminate after a bottle of free trade plonk?

Personally I am outraged that she should be getting a seat the whole way through while the rest of us are forced to stand.

David

Frank,

I could only guess whether Ms Birkett is being sincere, albeit delusional, or just peddling tat and hoping no-one notices. She has, however, managed to avoid addressing any serious criticisms from readers and has instead turned on them, saying: “As so often is the case, it’s shocking to see such hatred against people with disabilities.” Oddly, she doesn’t offer any examples of this “hatred,” despite being asked several times, and I didn’t spot anything that would qualify. But she’s definitely miffed at something.

Possibly the fact the punters aren’t buying her victimhood shtick.

But prolonged exposure to identity politics isn’t ideal for anyone hoping to retain a sense of proportion, honesty or realism. Judging by contributors to the Guardian, it encourages people either to ignore criticism altogether, especially if it’s accurate, or to construe it as “hatred.” Which is handy, in that it allows one to go on pretending to be aggrieved and entitled to something or other.

Frank

“As so often is the case, it’s shocking to see such hatred against people with disabilities.”

I suspect she may be an insensitive chancer, anyone that is au-fait with the current terminology of ableist victimology knows that the term disabled is patronising. The preferred mode of address is differently abled.

Tom Foster

'She has, however, managed to avoid addressing any serious criticisms from readers and has instead turned on them, saying: “As so often is the case, it’s shocking to see such hatred against people with disabilities.” Oddly, she doesn’t offer any examples of this “hatred” despite being asked several times, and I didn’t spot anything that would qualify. But she’s definitely miffed at something.'

A few days ago on CiF, one Lisa Ansell wrote a piece:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/18/welfare-reform-bill-domestic-violence-mothers?commentpage=5#start-of-comments

…in which she claimed that a 'gender pay gap' existed in which women are paid 41 per cent less than men. Several commentators pointed out that she was in fact comparing women working part-time with men working full time. Her below the line replies made it obvious that she simply didn't understand the statistics she'd tried to quote, nor why there might be any problem with them, so she went on the attack – just like dear Dea. Having obviously taken great offence at the nerve of her readers in questioning her assumptions, she signed off with a piece of bizarre and embarrassing would-be sarcasm:

'I think it is fairly safe to say that the Cif feeding frenzy that appears everytime someone mentions the word women, inequality, domestic violence, rape, the subject of welfare benefits- would not be satisfied by any source I came up with… The point is more something upon which the boarddwellers can focus their rage, while pretending that the article was somehow false, misleading or that these policies won't have this effect. Or that all women needing state support are scrounging whores, domestic violence either doestn exist or doesnt excuse them being scrounging whores, and that anyone pointing out the logical effect of a series of policies is a manhating feminist…Enjoy your Friday.'

The Guardian really is excelling itself at the moment.

David

Tom,

I had a similar exchange a while ago. By asking for evidence, I somehow became the villain.

For some reason I’m reminded of Joseph Harker, who couldn’t be bothered to address his readers’ criticism and wished instead for a more compliant audience. And Zohra Moosa who also finds defending her assumptions terribly exhausting. Why, oh why, can’t the little people just agree?

But this is why I so often turn to the Guardian. Obviously there’s woolliness and dishonesty in every paper, but the Guardian has a particular kind of dishonesty and in very high concentrations. And if you follow the dynamics, as you’ve illustrated above, the manoeuvres are quite striking. There’s a kind of factual and moral imperviousness.

Patrick Brown

I work in public liability claims, and I have identified two phrases that are dead giveaways that someone's knowingly lying through their teeth. The more subtle one is "can't you take just take my word for it?" The less subtle one is "are you calling me a liar?"

The "scrounging whores" comment is interesting. I'm willing to bet nobody but Ms Ansell actually used that phrase. I'm reminded of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently, who spread all sorts of rumours about himself by denying things nobody had accused him of.

JuliaM

"I could only guess whether Ms Birkett is being sincere, albeit delusional, or just peddling tat and hoping no-one notices."

A quick glance around her other offerings for CiF makes me think the latter. Still, it clearly pays well, and raises the profile. I guess in her circles, that's what counts...

carbon based lifeform

As so often is the case, it’s shocking to see such hatred against people with disabilities

Guardian writer whinges, bends truth to fit victim narrative, whinges some more.
Guardian writer gets found out.
Guardian writer gets angry with people who point this out, says they hate disabled people.

Business as usual then.

Thornavis.

The term tradesman's entrance is quite telling, is that what the Tate calls it ? I suspect services is more likely. The unconscious snobbery on display there is of a piece with the Guardian generally, identity politics is a license to look down on the working class whilst pretending to have their interests at heart, a form of psychological apartheid one could say.

sk60

As an able-bodied taxpayer who subsidizes Tate Modern I have an access problem too. I live 200 miles away from London.

randian

I see the same idiocy at work in the US. At one time, many cities in the US had door to door van service for disabled patrons of public transportation. It was much, much faster than using a city bus, private, and inexpensive. That was considered apartheid by the usual suspects, so "mainstreaming" was demanded. They said the disabled need identical service to what the rest of us use, not "separate but equal". What the various public transportation agencies did in response was to replace all their buses with muc more expensive flat floor, wheelchair-lift equipped models (whether the bus needed it or not), at a cost of many millions of dollars per city, and eliminated the van service. As a consequence, both the disabled and the taxpayer became much worse off, to satisfy the egos of the whiners in the "disabled rights" movement.

AC1

I have a problem with the Tate Modern. It's placed right where a useful building should be.

David

Guardian writer whinges, bends truth to fit victim narrative, whinges some more.”

Well, the article tells us more about the author than any hardship she experiences while perusing art. For instance, Ms Birkett tells us, “Building work is not an excuse to remove access - and that is what happened.” But, to say the least, that’s not quite true. Wheelchair access is temporarily less convenient, and when the building work is done it will be much more convenient than it previously has been. She adds, “Access isn’t only about getting in a building, it’s about feeling welcome. If you’re sent to the back door, you don’t feel welcome.”

Yes, it’s Bethlehem all over again.

Except that it isn’t. The Tate isn’t “sending” anyone to the back door; nor, shockingly, is it trying to discourage or belittle its disabled customers. Judging by the hefty PDF on the Tate’s disability equality policy, the gallery spends quite a bit of time and effort making disabled customers feel welcome. The upgrade will significantly improve disabled access, but the building work temporarily necessitates an alternative car park for disabled customers, the nearest door to which happens to be the staff entrance. A member of staff escorts the customer into the galleries. This is hardly grounds for hyperbolical umbrage and cries of “apartheid.” Unless, that is, someone wants to be upset for reasons of their own.

And when someone construes criticism and correction as “hatred,” and then ignores it, that tells us something too.

Fred

So, let me get this straight: no one is actually preventing her from using the ordinary car park if she wants to, right?

Funny definition of "apartheid", that...

Franklin

"There’s a kind of factual and moral imperviousness." Bullseye. Facts are the bane of any simplistic argument. One can pretend to moral superiority whether one's facts are correct or not. This is why demanding evidence from people who assert simplistic arguments causes them to make increasingly heated displays of moral superiority. It all makes sense to me now.

David

Franklin,

“This is why demanding evidence from people who assert simplistic arguments causes them to make increasingly heated displays of moral superiority.”

And why it often results in critics being accused of being hateful, bigoted or a cloud of pure evil. I think it’s also a problem of role-play, in that many of these examples involve unearned indignation. The umbrage is often pretentious, vicarious or opportunistic, so when challenged there’s not much to support it. And hence the prickliness when people start asking questions.

Tom Foster

'By asking for evidence, I somehow became the villain.'

And there's more!

Art critic Jonathan Jones writes pretentious piece about how two of the 7/7 bombers appear in a photograph as 'everyman figures, faces of our times', gets a kicking for it in the comments, and responds with:

'Why read a newspaper site if you do not want to think? Indeed why read anything at all? Go and get the paperback of my book The Lost Battles when it comes out end of March, read it cover to cover, and then write me some letters of fucking apology for your disrespect.'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/22/mi5-cropped-photograph-7-7-bombers?commentpage=2#start-of-comments

Are they putting something in the water at Guardian Towers?

David

Franklin & Tom,

There are more illustrations here and here. As you can see, things can get quite nasty. And people with a dogmatic and irrational need to appear virtuous can in fact behave in rather sinister ways.

Simen Thoresen

As I live too far from the Tate to contribute directly, I'll leave a comment worth more than a thousand words;
http://failblog.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/fail-owned-wheelchair-access-stairs-sign-fail.jpg

-S

David Gillies

It is a bit like Soweto c. 1980. Philistine that I am you'd probably need to hit me with sjamboks and fire tear gas at me to visit the bloody Tate Modern so I could see what latest farrago one of Sir Nicholas Scrotum's trained seals had come up with.

Hyperbole is so wearing. And it's so refractory to reasoned argument. Take the current hullabaloo in Wisconsin. You have a bunch of public servants, most of whom earn between $85,000 and $100,000 a year, comparing being asked to stump up a bit more for their pensions to the Holocaust. You can't engage peeople like that. It's like trying to talk palaeontology to a Young Earth Creationist. The crazy is too slippery and runs away too fast for one to get a handle on.

BT

"Oh you may laugh your heartless laugh, but Ms Birkett has to be escorted past cardboard boxes and health and safety notices. That’s oppression by anyone’s standard."

Backrooms full of cardboard boxes and health and safety notices are a cruel reminder of the existence useful people. People whose jobs serve a function beyond provoking a few cheap sarcastic laughs at their expense.

Exposing a Guardian columnist to such horrors is insensitive at best, if not an act of calculated sadism.

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