In homage to the day, I have decided to introduce our non-UK readers to a sample of British fools. Not “fools” in a good way, as are so many characters in fantasy fiction – such the Fool in Robin Hobb’s books. But these are “fools” in a “paid-good-money to spread idiocy” way.
I have to start with Richard Littlejohn. He is the archetypal right-wing newspaper ranter. He would be a shock-jock if he had a Midwest radio show. Which would be tough for the Midwest but would probably raise the IQ of the average Daily Mail or Sun reader by 5 points.
His website claims that
His twice-weekly columns in the Daily Mail and the Sun earned him a place in the inaugural Newspaper Hall of Fame as one of the most influential journalists of the past 40 years.
Shudder. Be very afraid. “Most influential journalist”……… His home page has a modest quote from the Observer.
He’s a distant, bastard cousin of Thomas Nash, Daniel Defoe and Alexander Pope.
No idea who Thomas Nash was, but surely Defoe and Pope are the Premier League to his Sunday 5-a-side League in Droitwich. (*Soccer reference*) Trim the last nine words and the word “distant”.
Apart from the self-promotion, his website exists mainly to sell his books. So it was quite entertaining to come across the transcript of an old radio programme, where Will Self – although not really on his best form – dismissed his work in a Will-Self-signature haughty manner.
Mail stablemate of Littlejohn is Peter Hitchens, about whom we’ve ranted before. His mind seems to be that of a true conspiracy theory nut. The world is simplified for him into a monolithic conglomeration of everything he dislikes, witness his most recent Mail column. It starts:
This week we have a rare glimpse of the true agenda of our new, modernised rulers. They have disclosed their secret, virulent loathing of fatherhood.
This is deduced from the government’s alleged hatred of marriage (expressed by the words on a form), the wording of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (because it says “supportive parenting”).
In fact, the change – never openly argued for by its supporters – is a revolutionary blow at the foundations of British society. It is driven by the thinking of a few Marxist weirdos, including Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse
The idea that government ministers and civil servants have even heard of Wilhelm Reich or Herbert Marcuse, let alone read their works, stops me in my tracks. Are they directing social policy from beyond the grave? Did they have bizarrely prescient views on the HFEA Bill?
(It appears from his next paragraph that the government were idle students 40 years ago and must therefore have imbibed their ideas……)
He next insults the founder of the Brook Advisory clinics that provide contraceptive advice, complaining bitterly that a Conservative government gave her an honour in 1980. She is accused of somehow having caused a rise in the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. (By providing contraception? Uh?)
Then, he blames banning people hitting their kids. (I am ashamed, as an English person, to say that this one isn’t even true. Shockingly.)
The outcome is the surveillance state, which is supposedly the result of replacing parental authority with state power. I am at least as much against the surveillance society as Littlejohn, but I completely fail to see a connection between the rest of his rant and its conclusion..
I kid you not. This might sound like the opinionated drunk ranting in your local pub or the person with mild Alzheimer’s who collars you at at a bus stop. But it’s what passes for a Daily Mail column.
Which makes one suspect that a disturbingly large section of the British public – who actually buy and read this stuff – is several bells short of even the most minimal fool’s cap.