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Samizdata quote of the day

Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance

- G.K. Chesterton, The Speaker, 1925

16 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • nicholas

    That would explain a lot! All those impartial referees really were as ignorant as I always felt they must be! And here I’ve been thinking that ‘impartial’ was a good word! Thanks for setting us straight!

  • Ok, nicholas, I think you just wore out your welcome and officially became a blogroach.

  • This is primarily a political and commentary blog, so in spite of the occasional post about sports, I kinda doubt this relates to being a referee. Jesus!

  • nicholas gray

    But shouldn’t samizdata Illuminatus have told us the context, instead of leaving us free to fill in our own thoughts? Shouldn’t things always have a context?

  • The context is the nature of the blog the article is posted on. Use a little common sense.

  • ResidentAlien

    Trying to be impartial when relaying facts is a virtue. It means reporting with a minimum of adjectives and offering as little interpretation as possible. It only works with an informed audience. It means saying “the Bank of England changed interest rates from 4.5% to 5%” rather than “Homeowners reeling from mortgage shocker!”

    When impartiality is taken to mean a BBC style concept of showing “both points of view” and merely allowing both sides to promote their particular spin e.g. “interest rate joy for savers” then it is ignorance.

  • nicholas

    I think this is an example of cultural differences. Ask any Australian what ‘impartial’ applies to, and he or she is far more likely to think of sport than politics. Is that reversed in Britain and North America?

  • nicholas

    I think this is an example of cultural differences. Ask any Australian what ‘impartial’ applies to, and he or she is far more likely to think of sport than politics. Is that reversed in Britain and North America?

  • Phil A

    Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance

    Sounds like elegant rubbish to me, when connected with being “unbiased”, or “neutral”.

    Oh and my first thought relating to the work “impartial” was of a sports referee and I live in the UK.

    If he was talking politics, or reporting, the maybe the meaning of the word has drifted some since 1925. Politics is partial reporting usually has some element of a political agenda.

  • I have to admit that sports never entered my mind when I read this, but then I am a woman…

  • And when you read a recipe on a food blog, does that also make you think of sport?

  • Chris Harper

    Well, despite that the issue of sport referees didn’t cross my mind until after I started reading the comments, that issue alone demonstrates that Chesterton was speaking tripe.

    In fact often, the more I learn of various sports, and other issues, the more indifferent I become as to their outcomes.

  • Blogs are a prime example of why Chesterton was not talking tripe. Any blog that claims to be impartial is likely to be laughed out of existence.

    The mainstream media claim to be impartial, the government claims to impartial. They are lying. Transparency + bias = credibility because impartiality is almost always a lie.

  • J

    Impartiality is often a lie. What it isn’t, however, is indifference, or ignorance, which still leaves me thinking that GKC was talking complete rubbish in this case.

    It is true that impartiality is very rare in politics, but I don’t think it’s non existent. I have known some debates on political topics that were chaired in a truly impartial manner, but I don’t think the chair was indifferent – and he certainly wasn’t ignorant.

  • Sunfish

    I have court on Monday. Should I tell the attorneys and the judge that impartiality is so much arrant nonsense because GK Chesterton says so?

    Perfect impartiality is probably impossible. However, there are times when we require people to come as close as their abilities allow, and I think for good reason. Hizzoner is going to care what I actually saw, heard, observed, said, and did, not about my biases or values.

  • Chesterton was a writer and was writing about writers and commentators (and thus his words seem apropos for an overtly partisan blog such as this). He was certainly not writing about judges and juries.