Saturday, April 9, 2016

Theodore Dalrymple: Trawling the trolls

I am no respecter of persons, particularly politicians, but even politicians are human -- more or less -- and are therefore deserving of some kind of elementary courtesy. 

When, shortly after my arrival in Australia to spend April at CIS, I read a Guardian article reporting the Treasurer's remarks on state taxation, I read with mild dismay, but not surprise, the readers' on-line responses; for example the following:

   ... thanks Scott you f***ing two faced jumped up lying mendacious piece of crap. (asterisk insertion mine)

Since the Guardian sometimes excludes contributions as not being in accordance with its 'community standards,' one is forced to wonder what those standards actually are. Are contributions excluded for being too polite or too well-reasoned? The community standards do seem to include the use of the language cited above, for the following comment approved of what had been said:

 Pretty well spot on with that lot.

It seems, then, that at least a proportion of the population's minds -- not necessarily the least educated proportion of the population, for the Guardian's readership (I assume) is better educated than average -- runs like a sewer, in which insult is not only an argument, but also the only argument. The medium really is the message.

However, for a moment he managed a short burst of lucidity, writing:
   ... now i know who to blame when i can't... find a decent public school for the kids...

Certainly, his difficulty is not beyond the bounds of possibility. But if Australia is anything like my native England, the state spends $150,000 per head on a pupil's education, and still 20 per cent of pupils can't read properly when they leave school. This is a miracle that makes the parting of the Red Sea seem like an everyday event. 

Theodore Dalrymple is the pen name of Anthony Daniels, a prolific writer, who is a former prison doctor and psychiatrist. He is the Centre for Independent Studies 2016 Scholar-in-Residence for April.


Brian said...

Trawling? Or a distinct lack of Education and Manners?
I too, have been appalled at the reaction to articles, blogs and even one liners. Perhaps I am now so old as to recall our English Master informing us that when anyone resorts to the abuse of the English language to emphasis his (or her) point. THEN THEY HAVE SURELY LOST THE ARGUMENT.
One can draw a similar comparison to our present television,, when programmes are interrupted by over loud advertisements; one reaches instinctively for the volume button to reduce the sound level. I guess it is another rather successful part of subjecting the sub conscious, hopefully in order to get sale results.
Even in everyday life one hears abuse levelled at others in the community, which of course becomes a normal accepted factor among children who “ape” their adults. What is always a puzzle to me is the constant reminders from Government, Parents and the Teaching Profession that today’s education standards in this country are the best in the World.
In that case I will stay here in God’s Own, and remove my hearing aids, unfortunately I cannot remove my glasses to achieve the same result.!

paul scott said...

Yes too sad /and proof that if you read the Guardian any semblance of thinking will leave immediately and anyway its all the Government's fault and you should send me more money to teach my kid that the State owes us our welfare

Brian said...

I always assumed that the Guardian was for people who could not read !

KP said...

I always thought it was a normal reaction to the incredible frustration felt at the assymetrical power between those in power and those under them.

The chances of screamng and throwing rotten fruit at those running you life for you don't really arise any more, and thinking your vote will make a difference really is a sign of the uneducated.

Auntie Podes said...

Those entering parliament may do so with the best will in the world but, sadly, there is clearly a contagious disease or virus there present which rapidly infects them It destroys those good intentions replacing them with an over-riding sense of righteousness, entitlement and conceit. This is well recognised by many mis-named as "trolls" who "tell it as they see it". The only language capable of describing what they see is, perhaps, rude but perfectly justifiable.