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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

You know you want me to . . .

… give you this week’s most valiant attempts by Guardian writers to contrive a link, any link, between a news story of the last few days and their own ongoing obsessions.

From Lindsay Beyerstein, an article very approximately about a recent attempted murder in Wisconsin allegedly motivated by an internet meme: “Slender Man is a convenient target for our fears. Misogyny and racism aren’t.”

My favourite comment came from doshermanos_III:

It’s really quite amazing.
Two girls stab another girl 19 times. But misogyny.

Another quintessential Guardian take on current events came from Giles Fraser. (I should explain for overseas readers that the Michael Gove mentioned is the current British representative of SPECTRE, Witchfinder-General, and Secretary of State for Education.) It seems this here Gove goes in for a bit of kulcha and likes his Handel and his Saints-Saens. Fraser does not hesitate to draw the obvious conclusion: “Samson was like a suicide bomber. So why do you love the opera, Mr Gove?”

The comments section for this article fizzed with good ‘uns. To choose but one, robjmac quoted Fraser asking,

But isn’t this also a version of Gove’s religious extremism, too?

and replied,

No. Next?

17 comments to You know you want me to . . .

  • Paul Marks

    The odd thing is that there is no one in this country more committed to government financed “free” education than Mr Gove, he wants there to be no difference between state financed schools and private schools where the parents pay directly from their own pocket.

    An impossible dream? I certainly think so – but why is Mr Gove hated by the LEFT? Why do the Guardian crowd hate him?

    Surely it has been the argument of the collectivists (since at least the time of Plato) that FORCE (the state – taxation and so on) does things such as education better than voluntary cooperation (people paying with their own money – or with money voluntarily given by others) so the left should welcome and support Mr Gove.

    The left should be setting up “free schools” (with the money of taxpayers offered by Mr Gove) to prove that state education is NOT a make-work scheme for unionised “qualified teachers” and bureaucracts – but it s noble crusade to give the educational standards of such private schools as Eton to “the masses”.

    Surely it could not be the case that the left do not really want to provide high quality education? That (as in such American cities as Chicago) they just want to take lots-and-lots of money, teach the children a bit of Marxist agitprop, and spend the rest of the day doing bugger all?

  • Mr Ed

    Gove is, at best, a fool of the highest order, who thinks that the issue with education is one of management. Before the 2010 election, he gave an interview to the Guardian saying that he wanted universal State education to be the outcome of his reforms, as no one would wish to have a private education with the state schools being so good under his reforms.

    He is the sort of politician that blocks lavatories.

  • CaptDMO

    Well, y’all gonna’ be sorry when the so-called racist, misogynist, opera lovers, maintaining cover in all walks of life, reveal their secret agenda. It’s all just a RUSE to throw off the easily duped.
    Here’s a hint. You’ll never look at your cats, and “toy” sized dogs, the same way ever again when you’re hungry. Mindful that The National Inquirer(U.S.,no page 3) and such from the checkout lines have been electronically supplanted by MSNBC and The Huffington Post, The TRUE FACTS can only be decoded from the “Tweets” of faded entertainment folk, desperately clutching to fame long passed to their younger, hotter, but equally insightful peers in “the industry”. If you’re “in the know”, you can see the secret symbols EVERYWHERE!

    Ok, what’re the periodicals in the “other” anglophile spheres that “report” with crap like that, in a restrained level of reading comprehension,and strangely, have the highest publication numbers?(apparently,The Guardian, aside)

  • JohnW

    I love how the Guardian never fails to test the limits of its own witlessness – it’s like the Sunday Sport but without the irony or the tits.

  • Ohtobide

    Beyerstein does not suggest that the attack in Wisconsin was caused by misogyny and there is no reason to suppose that it was. But of course it is possible for one woman to attack another because of misogyny. Do you and doshermanos III think it impossible? For heaven’s sake, why? Misogyny is common in our society, and even more common in other societies, and women are half of society. Why would women be immune? Do you really think that only men can be misogynists?

  • Natalie, the point about misogyny (and racism) made in the beginning of that article is a general one, but refers to another crime described later in that same article, and which was explicitly motivated by misogyny. So it looks like that doshermanos_III commenter had not read the whole (admittedly boring) thing.

    Ohtobide, of course misogyny, racism and all kinds of other personal collectivism are real, more so in some cultures than in others. And yes, women can and often do hate other women, and blacks other blacks, etc. But I think that it is a huge mistake to blame individual violence, such as referred to in the article, on these perceptions. The reason for such violence is simply violent tendencies. The targets may happen to be members of some group that the attacker dislikes, or individuals who he or she similarly dislikes for entirely “uncollectivist” reasons. These are two completely separate issues, IMO. Some people are violent, while others are less so – that is all there is to it, as far as I can see.

  • Misogyny is common in our society…

    I don’t like people generally in “our” society most of the time, and as half those people are women, does that make me a “misogynist”? But of course it is not at all clear you and I actually share a “society” in more than the most nebulous sense. Certainly I do not live anywhere with official institutionalised misogyny (i.e. I do not live in the Islamic world), but that is not society, that is state, which is a quite different thing indeed. Societies have conventions that can be ignored, states have laws that cannot.

    My problem is “misogyny” is often a meaningless category wheeled out for political purposes. Much like “racism” actually. It is a notion that some irrational hatred of people are worse than others. It reminds me of the joke about how the Guardian would report the impending end of the world: “Giant asteroid will strike Earth tomorrow and mass extinction will result! Women and minorities disproportionately affected!”

    A girl stabbing two others tells “us” nothing whatsoever about “society” (what with that word being a magic mirror into which anything can be projected), it just tells us something about that girl. Misogyny, like racism, is rarely some pathology that can be assigned like “infected with typhoid” or “has cancer”. If the girl who went on a stabbing spree does not like women (I have no idea) maybe she also does not like people with nicer shoes than her or people who remind her of her mother. I know about as much about the inside of her head as the author of that daft article.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Ohtobide & Alisa,
    Yes, I got that Ms Beyerstein was not attributing the attack by the two girls on another girl to misogyny, and no one else is either.

    That is why it is so odd that she hung an article about misogyny on a crime that had nothing to do with it.

    For the Geyser / Weier attempted murder, Beyerstein’s attitude was that fixating on the motivation for the crime stated by the perpetrators was superficial. For the Rodgers mass murder her attitude was that the motivation the perpetrator stated for wishing to kill his two female victims obviously revealed something about society as a whole that “we” have to confront. She was a lot less interested in his motivation for killing his four male victims.

    I’m pretty sure doshermanos_III understood that perfectly well and that he or she was ironically compressing the author’s inconsistent attitude and opportunistic linkage between the two crimes into “Because misogyny”


    “But of course it is possible for one woman to attack another because of misogyny. Do you and doshermanos III think it impossible?”

    If you really would like me to confirm that I admit the possibility of a woman attacking another woman because of misogyny I am happy to confirm that I do. There are also a literally infinite number of other motives for crime whose possibility I likewise admit, but will not enumerate here for reasons of space.

  • Good point, Natalie.

    Truth is, I see this article as an expression of honest despair in the face of raging violence (whether real or merely reported), and a not-too-incisive attempt to explain it by someone who is not used to think things through deeply and independently. But I do feel her pain, in a way…

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    A good serious comment to the article in my opinion was this one by a commenter called Robert Riversong. The parts where he quotes Beyerstein are in italics, his responses in plain type:

    “When violence occurs, it can be comforting to define the problem as narrowly as possible.”

    Yes, and in this case the author wants to define complex problems simply as “misogyny and sexism”.

    “Rodger wrote a manifesto in which he explained, in plain terms, something deep-seeded and complex: that he was going on a killing spree to punish women”

    In fact, Rodger’s manifesto was a tyrade against humanity, and his Plan of Retribution began with the intimate slaughter of men.

    “commentators bent over backwards to explain why George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin wasn’t racially motivated.”

    It requires no back-bending, since race played no part in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, and Zimmerman had a life-long close and often intimate relationship with blacks.

    “…quasi-revisionist accounts of Matthew Shepard’s murder question whether the killing was really an anti-gay hate crime.”

    That fringe revisionism was from careful research, including into formerly sealed legal documents, by an ABC News 20/20 reporter.

    The Guardian seems to have a cadre of commentators who choose to see the world through narrow ideological lenses rather than report objectively.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)


    I can envisage someone writing a good article on the same framework as Beyerstein’s bad one. It is worth the attempt to examine the motives of killers, even mad killers, in the hope that understanding them might help prevent future similar crimes. It is worth the attempt to separate the one-off type of motive from the recurring type of motive. Unfortunately the the human tendency to leap upon whatever you believed to be the big issue anyway is very strong.

  • Indeed. A disservice to all of us, really.

  • Dom

    Alisa, saying a crime was caused by myscogeny is like saying a building is burning because of heat. Myscogeny is only a description of a crime. Any crime in which the victim is a woman can be called myscogenistic.

  • Not necessarily, Dom: some people do in fact kill women because they hate them as a group, just as with any other group that some people may hate as a group. It is not the description of a crime itself, but of its motive (whether real or imagined, is a separate issue).

  • Rich Rostrom

    One might compare the Wisconsin case to one which happened in Chicago a few weeks earlier: the shooting death of a 14-year-old black girl.

    Whose Facebook page (since scrubbed) had pictures of her flashing gang signs. Who was killed by another 14-year-old black girl. Who was her rival for the affections of a 20-year-old gangbanger. And was given the gun by her uncle, a gangbanger left in a wheelchair by a gang shooting. And was escorted to the confrontation by several family members, one of whom obligingly cleared the gun when it jammed.

    Because racism/unemployment/despair, of course.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Actually, Rich, by the sounds of it I could go with “because racism/unemployment/despair” for that sad story you relate. In fact I could go with something even more compressed: “because welfare” or “because the State”.

    Welfare in the form of minimum wages that directly causes unemployment for those with few saleable skills, and indirectly in the form of paying people not to take low-paid work, a course of action that blocks off all avenues of self-improvement, and ultimately results in dependency and despair. Worse yet welfare destroys the family by making it not pay for couples to stay together.

    State “aid” causes racism because state largesse really IS a finite pie, the sharing out of which is a zero sum game, and racial groups quite rationally fight over it. Also because thanks to welfare a high proportion of black children in the UK or the US to grow up without a father in their lives and so are more likely to turn to crime, which the whites notice, so the whites distrust the blacks and fear them, which the blacks notice and reciprocate in turn. More racism and despair.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Natalie: There’s a pretty big step from feeling marginalized by prejudice (which is hardly the case for blacks in Chicago) or having family culture corroded by the welfare state to a family encouraging one teenage girl to shoot another.

    Toxic cultural memes arise from many causes. Some predate the welfare state or even industrial society – e.g. the habits of gypsies and Travellers.