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Silly season comes to the Blue Tick brigade

August 12, 2020 - 7:00am

Silly season isn’t what it used to be. There’s just too much end-of-the-world stuff going on. Even the ‘Phew, what a scorcher!’ headlines of August are a portent of doom these days.

Luckily, blue tick Twitter is always good for a giggle. The humour may be unintentional, but our liberal celebs have outdone themselves this year. For instance, here’s Emma Kennedy opining on the Union:

https://twitter.com/EmmaKennedy/status/1293142444792569861?s=20

Really? Not a single reason? Well, for starters, how about the collective responsibility on which all administrations depend? I’m not sure that the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon or Labour’s Mark Drakeford would want to be bound by the collective decisions of a Tory government. And as for Northern Ireland — where the First Minister and Deputy First Minister are of equal standing and one of them is a Sinn Fein politician — how’s that going to work?

Kennedy wasn’t alone in shooting from the hip. For instance, Professor Brian Cox might have paused a bit longer before tweeting in response to Priti Patel:

He was, of course, expressing his disdain for a certain style of political rhetoric rather than the British people themselves, but why shouldn’t ministers speak and act in our name? It is their duty, after all — and it would be weird if their language didn’t reflect that fact. The Professor may recall the New Labour years when ministers also invoked ‘the people’ and ‘the British people’. I wonder if he felt equally sick about it back then? Or perhaps he thought that things could only get better?

Jessica Simor QC has also had a lively August online. For instance, here she is tweeting about the CANZUK concept (the idea of a political union of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom):

As many people pointed out, including Paul Embery, exactly the same could be said about Simor’s beloved European Union — if not more so. When challenged, she responded that “geography chooses itself”. Well, yes — but then so does a common language and shared institutions.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with expressing an opinion. And there’s not much wrong with a hot take. If we all had to sit down and fully justify everything we say before we said it, then all would be silence. The comment business (in which I must declare an interest) would collapse overnight.
But must we be quite so intemperate about the people and ideas we disagree with? They may be wrong, even laughably wrong, but enough with the hyperbole.

One may believe that first ministers should sit in Cabinet, but is it necessarily “disgraceful” that they do not? One might not like ministers invoking “the British people”, but should the phrase be “banned from political discourse”? And one can surely disagree with the idea of CANZUK (and I have my doubts) without calling it “racist”.

At the very least, those who don’t like “inflammatory and divisive” rhetoric should lead by example.

Peter Franklin is Associate Editor of UnHerd. He was previously a policy advisor and speechwriter on environmental and social issues.

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Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Well done Mr Franklin for exposing these pathetic pseuds.

It is a pity you didn’t have the space to expose more of them, and amuse us with the vacuous nonsense they invariably spout.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Hear hear!

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

When a culture has reached the point where it proclaims men to be women and asserts that 2+2=4 is colonialist racism, there really is no intellectual low to which it cannot sink.

Jay Williamson
Jay Williamson
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

I really don’t understand the 2+2=4 colonial rascist thing. Does anybody else?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Jay Williamson

I think Chris is referring to how some parts of the woke movement see mathematics as an oppressive western social construct.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jay Williamson

Their claim is that for certain types of object, if you aggregate them you will end up with a non-additive quantity.

So for example, if you put a male and female animal together in a pen, soon you will have three animals. Or if you put a fox and a chicken together in a pen, soon you will have one animal.

They wrongly believe that this disproves mathematics.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago
Reply to  Jay Williamson

It is an analogy; and it comes largely from some genuine, published material written by academics fully committed to progressivist thought and action. Mr Martin could have chosen almost any term or combination of terms from the progressivist lexicon of invective.

The allusion is to works such as the following “Moving Towards a Feminist Epistemology in Mathematics” by Leone Burton (Educational Studies in Mathematics, 28: pp. 275″“291) and the article “Political Conocimiento for Teaching Mathematics: Why Teachers Need It and How to Develop It”, by Rochelle Gutiérrez, in Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods (2017). In these and countless others, a pre-existing doctrine is applied to a well-established scientific or mathematical method, and used to undermine the method. Almost invariably, these pre-existing doctrines are shaped by concepts of identifying and fighting against racism, patriarchy, oppression, colonialism, . . . . . the list goes on.

All of it is, as Mr Martin says, an “intellectual low”. But it is so widely accepted within academia, and is spreading into school curriculums. It is extremely dangerous.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Adams

Thank you, Martin.
Signed, Mr Martin.

Gerry Fruin
Gerry Fruin
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Adams

Yur waa! Kan yu rite tha agin like slowli in big leturs . Ta

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
3 years ago
Reply to  Jay Williamson

For my two penneth on this. I heard a terrific explanation on this a few months ago but can’t quite recall by whom. But essentially it’s not that 2+2 = 4 or doesn’t equal 4. That’s irrelevant apparently. The question is in whose interest is it that 2+2=4. In summary this idelogy has innoculated itself from rational argument by removing any relation to truth or logic. There is no objective truth to be found. There are competing groups of identities with different interests engaged in a zero-sum conflict. Facts, logic, truth, mathematics, biology you name it can all be ignored or denied depending on whether they suit the interests of one identity group or another. If the answer 4 suits their purpose then ok. If the answer 4 doesn’t suit their purpose then the means of calculation is deemed oppressive and can be ignored.

It’s not a game logical, rational people can win. They shouldn’t even try.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

It’s not a game logical, rational people can win. They shouldn’t even try.

Hear, hear! And that’s a good explanation of why, worth rather more than “two penneth”.
Thank you!

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jay Williamson

https://www.youtube.com/wat
If I understand her correctly, it depends what you are counting. 2pencils +2pencils=4 pencils is OK; 2slaves +2slaves =4slaves makes maths racist.
She is conflating the subject with the use to which it is put. By the same token nuclear power is racist because you could use it to bomb African countries.
I love the way her first statement is that white people are all racist and the way her smug self-righteous look gives way to panic as she realises he is not buying it.

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jay Williamson

Try this
https://www.youtube.com/wat

I love the way she starts off so smug and starts to lose it as she realises he is not buying into her narrative.
She conflates the subject with the use to which it is put. It is not maths which is racist but it can be used in racist situations. Of course, language (or any other discipline) can also be used in a racist way but that does not make language inherently racist.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

A blue tick is a verification mark to show that the user is indeed the celebrity or organisation they claim to be. All social media has a problem with users putting fake names to give the impression they are someone they are not.

And some people are unfortunate enough to share their name with a celebrity, so could be mistaken for them. I can’t imagine that that’s very likely, though.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin
Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Nice one!

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Well played!

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Thanks for the explanation. For the record, I’m not the former Spurs central defender who also made four appearances for England.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
3 years ago

of course it’s racist. How do we know?
It exists.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago

At the very least, those who don’t like “inflammatory and divisive” rhetoric should lead by example.

Yes! This is one of the most telling aspects of current social media rhetoric. Every idiot has an opinion; but if you are some kind of celebrity, social media offers you, idiot or not, the opportunity regularly to declare your status and flaunt your supposed influence, without taking any responsibility for what you might say.

I wouldn’t expect attention-seekers such as Emma Kennedy to understand that discretion and precise thought are far more creditable than spewing opinion of a spuriously moral nature. But I would expect a little more from a famous scientist and from a QC who is supposed to understand the value of intellectual and linguistic discipline. (What on earth does “racist” mean in her lexicon of self-righteousness?)

Social media feeds the worst aspects of human nature. In particular, it diminishes the restraining effect of face-to-face discourse; and in that respect it’s even worse than e-mail because the world it has constructed is a levelling one in which immediate response is encouraged, with little or no heed to the consequences and possible influences of what is said. To pick an extreme opposing example, there are very good reasons why Her Majesty the Queen does not declare her opinions in public, and is (by several accounts I’ve heard) pretty guarded even in private (for whom can she trust?).

The challenge I have put to several people I know who are enthusiastic users of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms, is to ask them to explain to me their merits. Not one such user has ever persuaded me that the merits were in fact meritorious. Its entire culture is ostensibly individualistic, but is in fact collectivist; it breeds irrational fear; it undermines concepts of truth. I could go on. Suffice it to say that UnHerd and one or two other sites of that kind are the nearest I have ever come to social media, or ever will.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Adams

I would expect a little more from a famous scientist

He’s got a doctorate in particle physics, but that grants him precisely zero additional insight into any other branch of science, let alone public policy.

And he’s actually famous not for any scientific achievements, which are zero, but because he was the keyboardist for Dare and D:Ream.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
3 years ago

I think David Steele was probably too busy playing forward defensives against Lillee and Thomson. Perhaps you mean David Steel?

Nick Pointon
Nick Pointon
3 years ago

As contrasted with the bland but suprisingly effective England opening bat against the Australians.

Jay Williamson
Jay Williamson
3 years ago

I’ve vaguely heard of Brian Cox – he was in some pop group, wasn’t he? Who, though, are the others? Twitter seems to be strange place, full of strange people who over-estimate their importance. I believe that Piers Morgan and Alistair Campbell seem to spend a lot of time ranting on twitter and they are two good reasons to avoid it!

Neil Papadeli
Neil Papadeli
3 years ago

IMO Brian Cox has a point. Invoking the ‘British people’ card over the complex small boat/refugee/economic migrant question is, I think, missing the point. It’s complex, it’s technical, it’s an issue, get on and sort it out with as little fuss as possible; to reignite the Brexit conflagration isn’t the smartest move right now. It has echoes of Harriet Harmon’s “court of public opinion” gaffe in the 2000s.