Rod Liddle created a little shitstorm this week by coming out against people who exaggerate or simply make up illness or disability in order to claim benefit. Of course he didn’t put it like that. Instead he worded it in such a way as to suggest that he thought all people who suffer from a certain group of illnesses are faking it.
In this way many people would have stalked off in high dudgeon on the basis of what he was appearing to say rather than what he was actually saying. It almost looks intentional.
Many journalists do this. They write articles carefully using words like “could” so that people can get incensed about things that aren’t going to happen. For instance the Coalition could in the course of this parliament revoke jobless benefits for anyone who hasn’t worked in the last 5 years.
They could. It’s not impossible, stranger things have happened. It would just take one offhand remark from one politician to say that’s not impossible and you’d have the right wing press applauding the idea and the left wing press urging people to march on Downing street (although if no one has been able to encourage these people to get up and work for 5 years, how do they expect them to get up and protest?)
They probably won’t though. That doesn’t matter to the media. They’re looking for a response. The more response, the more sales. You have to remember that many of these people are graduates, sure they’re arts graduates so they’re lazy but they are intelligent.
They know that there are groups of people on both the left and the right who are sitting around waiting to get indignant about something, even if it’s just about the fact that the other group are getting indignant. It sells papers or gets viewers and keeps them in employment. Imagine if they just reported the news in a dispassionate way. They’d all be out of a job.
So they stir people up. In opening a door to hatred in this way they justify themselves. Apparently, according to Delingpole’s mate Eddy this means you’ve “arrived”. Yes, I’m as surprised as you are. Delingpole has mates.
Or course if the level of dislike you evoke is the measure of “arrival” then Delingpole has not only “arrived”, he’s stayed a while, left and arrived again, repeatedly.
I’ve largely been leaving Delingpole alone lately. There’s only so often you can look at a blog in utter horror and think “My God, how can anyone write this and actually mean it?” before you have to just turn away and leave it. My little habit of writing pithy little tweets on DT blogs is leaving his alone because while the saner DT bloggers like Ed West, Dan Knowles, Tom Chivers and so on respond to these with a little chuckle or a discussion on twitter, Delingpole and the Scat Monkeys treat them as a sort of assault and I find people taking themselves (and myself) so seriously kind of depressing.
I can understand though, that some people might want to see any response at all as justification of their existence. Maybe they don’t have anything else. It’s a bit sad, though, and one can’t help but feel sorry for them. I suppose it’s easier for them to do that than to self examine their position and wonder if maybe they might be wrong.
So they continue to open the door to hatred.