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Elsewhere (103)

BenSix ponders the moral compass of Russell Brand and Laurie Penny: 

I do not know what Ms Penny’s memories of the riots are but mine are not of “righteous rage,” as Mr Brand phrased it. I think of Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir, who were killed in a hit-and-run attack while defending their community from rioters; Richard Mannington Bowles, who was beaten to death while trying to extinguish a fire and Ashraf Rossli, who was attacked and then robbed by people who had pretended to help him. I think of the hundred private homes that were burned; the shops that were torched and the thuggishness that was so dramatically irresponsible that fire engines had their windows smashed when they arrived to fight the flames.

Penny can believe that such acts were inspired by “anger,” though the fact that so many of the participants had faced multiple prior convictions suggests that a good many of them required no such excuse to vandalise and steal. What I find disgusting, though, is the idea that they provide a model for future protests. It is evidence of a bizarre ethical and intellectual failure that one can romanticise this cause of death and destruction in a piece that is devoted to the horrors of casual sexism. It is interesting that a journal of left wing opinion is so receptive to calls for violent upheaval. One can only speculate as to their response should a Spectator columnist demand attacks on wind farms, speed cameras or publishing houses.

As regular readers will be aware, Ms Penny is inclined to hyperbolical nihilism and has some intriguing views on the subject of violence and on whom it may be inflicted. In August 2011 on the BBC’s World Tonight, Laurie offered her “intelligent analysis” of the aforementioned criminal spree. What frightens her, she said, isn’t the beating and murder of pensioners, the mugging of children or the gleeful attempts to burn people in their homes, but the use of the word “feral” to describe the people doing so. By Laurie’s lofty moral calculus, we, not the rioters, are the ignorant ones. “Violence,” she insisted, “is rarely ever mindless.” “Nicking trainers,” we were told, is “a political statement.”

Mark Steyn notes there’s nothing funny about Obama: 

There’s a designation for countries where mocking the leader gets you sent to re-education camp, and it isn’t “self-governing republic of freeborn citizens.”

Chris Snowdon does some basic arithmetic: 

Anyone who says that they want a tax on fizzy drinks because they are concerned about the cost to the public is either disingenuous or ignorant. It will place a further tax burden on the public that far outweighs any plausible savings. Also remember that we already have a 20 per cent tax on fizzy drinks. It’s called VAT and it isn’t levied on fruit juice, milk or water. 

And Tim Worstall tries to endure an economics lecture by the Guardian’s foremost social commentator Polly Toynbee. As you can imagine, it tests his patience a little.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets below.

Update, via the comments:

Anna quotes this,

It is evidence of a bizarre ethical and intellectual failure that one can romanticise this cause of death and destruction in a piece that is devoted to the horrors of casual sexism.

And adds, “Laurie Penny in a nutshell.”

It does indeed capture something of Laurie’s… psychological peculiarities. It takes an extraordinary determination, or a practiced obliviousness, to see the riots of 2011 and somehow construe the predators as victims and therefore entitled to a spot of arson, pillage and murder. Victims, it turned out, who were mostly known thugs and career criminals – 75% having previous convictions for an average of fifteen crimes, some more than fifty. Laurie wasn’t alone of course. The Marxoid philosopher and fellow Guardian contributor Nina Power did the same, as did the post-colonial studies lecturer Priyamvada Gopal. And as did China Miéville, another titan of the left who’ll perform any contortion to excuse a fit of thuggery. Interviewed in 2011, Miéville claimed to be “horrified” by the use of the word “feral” when describing what he refers to as “troubled” teenagers. To describe as feral the kind of people who drag female fire-fighters from their vehicles and then punch them insensible – randomly, for fun - is, he says, our “moral degradation far more than [theirs].” Yes, by referring to such behaviour in unsympathetic terms, we are the degraded ones, the ones in need of fixing.

Faced with such statements, you do have to wonder about the people making them. Were their minds broken before they embraced the far left - did some pre-existing shortcoming draw them to that worldview? Or did prolonged exposure to Marxoid politics turn otherwise functional people into moral idiots?

This rickety barge is kept afloat, just barely, with the tip jar below.