Friday Ephemera
Friday Ephemera

Elsewhere (40)

Mark Steyn on the hierarchy of phobias and the collectivist inversion of human rights:  

In some of the oldest free societies on the planet we’ve entirely corrupted the concept of human rights. It’s not very difficult. Human rights are rights for humans, rights for individuals. Back in 1215, Magna CartaMagna Carta Libertatum, to give it its full title – couldn’t have made it plainer. Real human rights are restraints that the people place upon the king. We understood that eight centuries ago. Today, we’ve entirely perverted and corrupted the principle. We’re undermining real human rights, like freedom of speech, and replacing them with ersatz rights that, rather than restraining the king, give him vastly increased state power to restrain the rights of his subjects. These new rights are not handed out equally but in different ways to different degrees according to which approved identity groups you fall into. 

The tribal approach to rights and entitlement is discussed here and here. Consequent attempts at attitude management may also be of interest. Though some academics prefer the term “social justice education,” or simply “treatment.” 

Bella Gerens notes the conformist trajectory of the comical Laurie Penny:

She has certainly worked very hard to communicate a message, but I don’t know if it’s the message she intended. Like many people from Wadham [College], she seems to want to improve the world in a certain way. But what she seems to do is reinforce the belief that privileged people from privileged educational backgrounds can, as long as they say the right things, engender trust among the lower classes whilst taking their place among the elite… She is travelling an extremely well-trodden road bearing the placard of thoroughly-explored philosophies. And the destination, reached so many times before, has benefitted no one except the travellers themselves.

And Heather Mac Donald revisits ‘radical’ graffiti and the art world’s double standards:  

Art in the Streets is a classic exercise of the elites’ juvenile dalliance with countercultural norms that they have no intention of adopting in their own protected lives. The Museum of Contemporary Art has never tolerated graffiti on its own premises; none of its wealthy Hollywood and real-estate-mogul trustees would ever allow tagging on their homes or businesses, either. So opposed is MOCA to unauthorised graffiti on its walls that it stationed additional security guards around its premises before the show opened, to guard against the inevitable upsurge in graffiti that the show would (and did) trigger. Yet there is no sign that [MOCA director, Jeffrey] Deitch or his trustees grasp the contradiction. Indeed, in a breathtaking display of stunted moral development, Art in the Streets never even addresses the seminal fact that behind every act of graffiti is an invisible property owner whose rights have been appropriated against his will.

Readers may spot a thematic link with, among others, our academic radical, Alexander Vasudevan.

Feel free to add your own.


Patrick Brown

It has long struck me that "human rights" legislation, even before the ID politics nonsense that doles out rights to categories of people rather than individuals, is designed to restructure the law from "anything that is not forbidden is permitted" to "anything that is not permitted is forbidden", because if the right to do something is not specifically guaranteed in legislation, then you can potentially get into trouble or be sued for doing it, or, and this is the most important bit, allowing others to do it. Hence, for example, parents are forbidden from taking cameras to school plays and sports days, and the draconian vetting and barring systems New Labour were so keen on.


Funny how all you 'non-sexist' right wingers can't stop hating Laurie Penny.

Hmmm. I wonder why?



“Hmmm. I wonder why?”

Light-to-moderate mockery hardly qualifies as hate. As to why Ms Penny is so often found comical, here and elsewhere, I suspect it’s partly because she’s the latest iteration of – and shorthand for - a broader dysfunction. See, for instance, these three posts and the subsequent comments.

Incidentally, if you’re going to insinuate sexism on my part, you might at least show me the courtesy of providing evidence of some kind, ideally quoting my own despicable words. Otherwise readers may not take you seriously.



Couple of things. One, because she's an idiot. Nothing to do with anything else. Of course, the reflexive accusation is inevitable, and betrays a broader sexism on your part: if anyone doesn't like a female writer, it must be because of what's between her legs and nothing to do with the drivel she spills onto the page, right?

And two, Bella Gerens is also a woman. Is she sexist to criticise Laurie Penny? Should she rather debase her own intelligence and critical insight by saying to herself, "I'm not going to criticise her, she's a woman."? That, again, would be sexist in the truest sense of the word.

Anyway, thanks for making Steyn's point: Laurie Penny belongs to a protected group and is therefore immune from criticism in a way that a man writing exactly the same kind of sixth-form nonsense would not be.


"Funny how all you 'non-sexist' right wingers can't stop hating Laurie Penny."

I've yet to find a conservative whose expressed anything remotely resembling hatred for Laurie. Ridicule and a semi-affectionate contempt, yes, but certainly not hatred.

"Hmmm. I wonder why?"

Laurie tries way too hard to project an image of a raw and edgy revolutionary. Her attempts at accomplishing this end are embarrassingly unconvincing, which leaves her wide open to ridicule. Her bragging about her squatter mates eating out of skips and having their trainers worn out from running from the police contrasts sharply with the privileged, privately educated background, which only increases her mock value.



“…designed to restructure the law from ‘anything that is not forbidden is permitted’ to ‘anything that is not permitted is forbidden’…”

I’m not even sure that many proponents of group rights have registered the implications and contradictions of their own demands. If they have, they seem to take care not to question them or mention them out loud. Still, even a vague perception of a chance to censor and intimidate may appeal quite strongly to a certain kind of sadist. (See links above regarding “treatment” and “attitude management” and note the license for malice.) As Jonathan Rauch noted, among advocates of such things there’s often a definite aversion to pluralism – an urge to eradicate whatever is deemed unflattering or oppressive, however ludicrously. And again, here:

“The University of Illinois system, to the extent that it fires people for offending someone, says the boundary of criticism in debate is wherever the most offended student can persuade the university to put it. And of course the next thing that happens is you have a campus offendedness sweepstakes to see who can get offended the most and thus become the gatekeeper for speech.”

When educators and students – supposedly clever people – fail to see the obvious consequences of their own ideas, and when they react very badly to basic problems being pointed out, then I think one has to wonder just how pure their motives are.


I think cm used the word 'hate' in the sense the far Left use when referring to their enemies (just about everyone else) criticising something, even if that criticism is mild, reasoned and well-founded.

We are 'haters', but strangely maniacs with spittle-flecked chins can scream the same rabid slogans over and over without 'hating'.


their trainers worn out from running from the police


And this one time, Laurie sent so many radical tweets her iPhone batteries ran down.


Sam Duncan

Got it in one, Rob. The Left uses the word “hate” (as a noun) to mean any criticism, however mild, of itself and its currently protected groups. Of course, it uses the same term for genuine hatred and persecuion of those groups: this conflation serves the purpose of suppressing criticism of itself.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of genuine hatred in mainstream political debate comes from the Left itself: they hated Thatcher, they hated Blair, they hated Bush, they hate Palin, they hate the Tories, and we hear daily of their desire to see these figures, or anyone else with whom they disagree, dead, at which point they say they will celebrate. Their terms for this are “dissent” and “protest”.

The really interesting thing that arises out of this, though, is the projection. They can't imagine their opponents not hating them. The “right” must hate Obama, pro-European-Unionists, climate alarmists, or daft Laurie, because we disagree with them. The idea that we may wish to see our opponents lose power and influence, then go on their merry way to live out their lives in peace and happiness, is utterly alien to them.

Sam Duncan

Darn. Forgot to close a tag.




Ooh. Laurie's got a new book coming!

"In the space of a year, Laurie Penny has become one of the most prominent voices of the new left. This book brings together her diverse writings, showing what it is to be young, angry and progressive in the face of an increasingly violent and oppressive UK government."

Hahahaha. Snort.

Right, I'm ordering a copy for you. ;D


“Right, I’m ordering a copy for you.”

All things considered, I’d rather have socks.

Though I did smile at the mention of her “persuasive analysis.” Two words that aren’t often used in connection with Ms Penny.


Incidentally, regarding the casual redefinition of hate, Laurie is indulging in some right now. The Twitter stream devoted to gentle parodies of Johann Hari’s er, interview technique is, according to Laurie, “getting homophobic” and is home to a “baying, gleeful hate-mob.” “He’s a human being,” tweets Laurie. “Treat him as one.”

Several followers of said Twitter stream have asked Laurie to point out an example, any example, of this homophobic hate. As yet, and despite repeated requests, she hasn’t obliged. While waiting, I scanned a hundred or so entries and didn’t spot anything remotely homophobic. But, like so many of her peers, Laurie can detect racism, sexism and homophobia in the vibrations of atomic nuclei.

That must be why her analysis is so persuasive.


Actually, I will declare a hatred for some of those mentioned above. They are committed to destroying western culture and raising their own authoritarian creed in its place. If you think this government is violent and oppressive (snort) wait till Penny's mob gets in. If you can't wait that long, take a look at any Socialist hellhole around the globe or consult a history book.

carbon based lifeform

Best reply to LP's 'homophobia' tweet…!/j0annepsi/status/85718057128951808


This latest bizarre episode makes me wonder whether Laurie actually hallucinates oppression at every turn. I mean, does she really believe that the Twitter stream in question is teeming with homophobic sentiment that only she can detect (but of which she can’t find even a single example)? Or is she just compelled to seek attention for herself and her leftwing credentials, even if that means resorting to fabrication and dishonesty?

carbon based lifeform

I'd go with option #2. She makes shit up so people will notice her.


“I’d go with option #2. She makes shit up so people will notice her.”

In which case, the whole thing is a tad surreal.

A Twitter stream that mocks a leftwing journalist who was caught fabricating interview quotes attracts another, even more leftwing journalist who rushes to his defence by taking fake exception to comments that don’t appear to exist and which no-one seems to have made.

A good day for journalism all round.


In case you missed it, Heather MacDonald had a longer piece in City Journal demolishing the graffiti exhibition when it was still at MoCA...

...and for good measure she went back and dynamited the philosophical underpinnings.

MacDonald's elucidation of the fundamental hypocrisy behind graffiti is excellent and necessary work.


Sorry, I guess one could have surmised as much by following the links from above to "Tag Off" to "Radical Graffiti" to "Crime in the Museum," but I remembered the other pieces from reading them earlier this year. Consider them all recommended.


Mac Donald’s articles on juvenile violence and pretentious victimhood are also well worth reading.


A Twitter stream that mocks a leftwing journalist who was caught fabricating interview quotes attracts another, even more leftwing journalist who rushes to his defence by taking fake exception to comments that don’t appear to exist and which no-one seems to have made.

A good day for journalism all round.

David, a disturbing thought:

"Johann Hari has been making things up for over a decade and yet he remains a national newspaper columnist and a regular talking head on various BBC programmes. Maybe this latest scandal will sink him but it probably won't and even if it does his presence will be filled with another fabulist like Laurie Penny or someone like that."


The foundation of post-modern thought, the idea that we noble Aryans (blacks, Moslems, proletarians) have had our wealth and power stolen from us by invidious conspiracy of the inferior Jew ( white ), is a stable idea that forms the basis of the new West in its repudiation of the Enlightenment.

The morality of it appeals to everyone, universally. For the superior victims and for the repentant inferior it binds them to a new community with well-defined roles for each. For the avaricious and amoral, it supplies the means to both wealth and power. Its consequences: mass murder and social disintegration are desirable; their ill-effects nothing less than what can be expected when the cancer (of the white race, the favorite metaphor of Sontag and Greens) or vermin (Hitler's, Stalin's, Mao's etc. favorite metaphor) is expelled. Prosperity and happiness are promised once the cleansing is complete.

While both the Nazi and Communist parties failed, their modes of thought have been consciously accept by the ambitious and the academic everywhere and unconsciously adopted by almost everyone else. In their repudiation of and long war against the old West of Christianity and Enlightenment they have nearly succeeded. From the "science" of scientific socialism to the sociological and psychological sciences of racism to the settled science of environmentalism, the new forms have displaced the old.

It is only a matter of time until the camps reopen to purge the cancer of the white race from the planet and to remove the bacillus (or virus, a more hep term) of the (climate) denier from the equation.

Ted S., Catskills, NY

Let's undermine the rule of law. It's for the children. What could possibly go wrong?

sackcloth and ashes

'Funny how all you 'non-sexist' right wingers can't stop hating Laurie Penny.

Hmmm. I wonder why?'

Well, in my case (and I'm not even a 'right winger'), I find Laurie Penny an object of ridicule and contempt for the following reasons.

(1) She's a poor little rich girl playing at being a revolutionary.
(2) She has - as one commenter here noted - the voice and the intellectual horizons of a bath toy.
(3) She's a hypocrite (see link as an example -
(4) She's a spoilt little brat who throws tantrums during debates when anyone dares to disagree with her (see interview on Radio 5, 10am, 14th May 2011).
(5) Her comments about 'oppression' and 'tyranny' in Britain are an insult to the millions worldwide who've had to experience the real deal.



My favourite Red Penny quote. On Newsnight a couple of weeks ago Penny was interviewed during a discussion on 'Vajazzling'.

She actually, and I kid you not, directly compared Vajazzling to castration. I waited breathlessly for some elaboration, or explantion, but none came.

M'lud, I rest my case.

Ted S., Catskills, NY


With apologies to our host for stealing his thunder, you'll be happy to know that Laurie Penny's comments on vajazzling were covered in this very blog:

Read down for Anna's particularly frightening comment.


Yes if you don't like Laurie Penny, you'll soon run into the implication that it's a knee-jerk reflex because you're "right wing"

I don't identify as being of the right. Penny seems to be given plenty of work by various broadcasters and newspapers. Now I grew up in a house with volumes of Bernard Levin's best pieces on the bookshelves. They were a joy to read. The standard of writing was superb, Levin was very well-read, and he could argue clearly at the same time as making you laugh out loud at some new idiocy.

No one in their tiny minds could say any of the above about Laurie Penny. Her writing is...not good, and rather rambling. She comes across as a naive student who enjoys the hysteria of a rowdy protest-march. She enthuses about the breakdown in the "relationship between the state and the citizen", as if it's the most joyful thing.

I can see how she attracts a lot of ridicule in this way, some of it unpleasant. She has plenty to learn about eg: why revolutions aren't such a great idea. It's irresponsible that space in papers and time on television is given to someone with so little adult or intellectual insight into events.



I’m not even sure what “right wing” is supposed to mean in this context. Is a “right wing” person someone who doesn’t like pretentious victimhood - as in Laurie’s lamentations about vajazzling? (Or, as she puts it, “submission to a species of surveillance whereby your nether regions are forcibly reshaped into a smile.”) Maybe it just means “people who dislike wildly hyperbolical and question-begging prose.”



"Johann Hari, The Independent's new columnist, has been bemoaning the "corrosive acid of distrust" in public life. "We in the press are least trusted of all British institutions," observes the 24-year-old pundit, who was shortlisted as young journalist of the year in this week's British Press Awards. "The number of my friends who assume that we just make up stories – even at reputable paper such as The Independent is startling.""



Ouch! Killer quote. Gotta love this interweb thingy.

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