SEARCH:  
Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Wednesday 7th November 2018

In defence of Roger Scruton


Once identified as right-wing you are beyond the pale of argument,’ wrote Sir Roger Scruton. ‘Your views are irrelevant, your character discredited, your presence in the world a mistake. You are not an opponent to be argued with, but a disease to be shunned. This has been my experience.’

Unfortunately, that experience is due to intensify for the 74-year-old conservative philosopher. Last weekend, the government announced it had set up a commission to try and make new housing developments ‘beautiful’ and appointed Sir Roger as its chair. It’s one of the few sensible things the present government has done; so, of course, it’s caused a scandal. (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 0 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Wednesday 7th November 2018

Anthony Ekundayo Lennon and the left’s dilemma about race


I feel some sympathy for the director Anthony Ekundayo Lennon. According to the Sunday Times, which broke the story last weekend, he’s the beneficiary of an Arts Council England grant intended for ‘theatre practitioners of colour’ even though he’s white. To obtain the grant, Lennon described himself as ‘mixed heritage’ but what’s interesting about this case is that both the Arts Council and the theatre he’s linked to are standing by him. They have defended his right to identify as a person of colour, claiming it’s not an act of deception but a choice he’s made and which they respect.

Needless to say, he’s come in for a fair amount of criticism from the left-wing theatre community, including some prominent black actors, and he may yet be thrown under a bus. But this poses an interesting dilemma for the identitarian left. If it’s perfectly fine for someone born male to identify as female, why isn’t it OK for someone born white to identity as mixed heritage? (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 0 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Friday 2nd November 2018

Will making jokes about vegans soon be a hate crime?


Well done to Sara Thornton, a senior police officer who has warned against extending the definition of a ‘hate crime’ to include misogyny, misandry and ageism. Yesterday, she told a conference of the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners that they should be allowed to focus on ‘core’ crimes like burglary, rather than being forced to increase the already ridiculous amount of time they spend investigating hate crimes. In 2016, British police detained and questioned 3,300 people for making ‘offensive’ comments on social media – roughly nine arrests per day. Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police, the fourth largest force in England, is failing to investigate 56 per cent of cases – and these aren’t minor crimes, but include things like theft, assault and burglary.

A ‘hate crime’ is any crime motivated by prejudice towards someone based on certain ‘protected’ characteristics. At present, those characteristics are race or ethnicity, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, and transgender identity, but the Law Commission is currently reviewing whether to add to them. Diane Abbott told police leaders this morning that she’s in favour of making misogyny a hate crime, although it won’t surprise anyone to learn that Labour’s shadow home secretary has misunderstood what a hate crime is. Merely harbouring hostility towards someone in one of the protected categories is not, by itself, a ‘hate crime’, so adding ‘gender’ to that list won’t make ‘misogyny’ a hate crime. In addition, the accused would have to commit an actual crime, such as sending an unsolicited, malicious email. In the words of the criminal justice system, a hate crime is an ‘aggravated offence’ it is not an offence in its own right. Then again, Abbott may actually want to bring forward a bill proposing that merely having a thought that she disapproves of should be classed as a ‘hate crime’. (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 0 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Friday 2nd November 2018

William Sitwell falls foul of the Maoist thought police


My heart goes out to William Sitwell, the editor of Waitrose Food Magazine who's just been forced to resign for making a joke about vegans. To lose your job as a result of a gag shows how extreme the climate of Maoist intolerance has become. When free speech advocates like me make comparisons between contemporary Britain and America and the former Communist states of Eastern Europe we are called ‘alarmist’ and ‘hysterical’, but this episode reminds of the first novel of Milan Kundera, the great Czech dissident. Set in Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia and called ’The Joke’, it concerns the fate of a young man who sends a postcard to his girlfriend that says, "Optimism is the opium of mankind! A healthy spirit stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky!” Being a horrid little sneak, the girlfriend passes it on to the local Communist Party official who doesn’t see the funny side and the poor man loses his job and is dispatched to the coldest part of the country to work in a coal mine. I daresay William won’t end up down a pit in Yorkshire, but the principle is the same. If you make an inappropriate joke, you risk losing your livelihood. It says something about the age we live in that a novel written to satirise the most oppressive aspects of Communist Czechoslovakia could, with very few changes, be about contemporary Britain. (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 0 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Thursday 1st November 2018

I like the idea of meritocracy as much as my father hated it


Last week I spoke at an event at Nottingham University to commemorate the 60th anniversary of The Rise of the Meritocracy, the book by my father that added a new word to the English language. A dystopian satire in the same mould as Nineteen Eighty-Four, it describes a nightmarish society of the future in which status is based on a combination of effort and intelligence rather than inherited privilege.

That sounds like an improvement and, to my father’s annoyance, the word ‘meritocracy’ has come to stand for something politically desirable when he intended the book to be a warning. As a lifelong socialist, he didn’t like meritocracy because he thought it gave the appearance of fairness to the economic inequalities thrown up by free-market capitalism, thereby delaying the emergence of a more egalitarian society.

In my speech I explained that I liked meritocracy for much the same reason. I regard inequality as an inevitable by-product of limited government, which history teaches us is preferable to excessive state power. In common with many utopian socialists, my father believed the state would just ‘wither away’ once it had overseen a massive redistribution of wealth and power, but I’ve always been sceptical. Such optimism is contingent on a conception of human nature that is belied by science, particularly evolutionary psychology: that man is a peace-loving, altruistic creature who can be depended upon not to engage in predation, cruelty, warfare, sexual enslavement and homicidal violence once the workers’ paradise has been created. (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 0 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Wednesday 31st October 2018

At last, a Jordan Peterson vs. feminist debate that isn’t an absolute bloodbath




The British edition of GQ is 30 years old and, to celebrate its birthday, it is conducting a ‘dissection of masculinity’. I can’t help feeling that’s a bit of a shame – if a men’s magazine won’t celebrate masculinity, who will? – but fear not. The male gender still has one unapologetic champion – step forward Canadian psychology professor Dr Jordan Peterson – and, as part of this promotional push, GQ sent Helen Lewis to interview him.

Those hoping for a re-run of Peterson’s famous encounter with Cathy Newman, the Channel 4 News presenter, will be disappointed. Peterson comes out on top, of course, but Lewis, the deputy editor of the New Statesman, is better prepared than Newman. She’s been to one of his talks, read 12 Rules For Life and – by the looks of things – has studied some of his previous jousting matches on YouTube. (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 0 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Sunday 28th October 2018

Larysa Switlyk is the latest victim of the Twitter mob – and I should know


he influence of Twitter continues to grow. Scarcely a day passes without someone being “called out” for an ill-judged tweet, often with career-ending consequences. Indeed, my own career suffered at the beginning of the year after a team of offense archaeologists found some historic treasures in my Twitter account. But I’ve never heard of an imprudent tweet leading to a change in the law – until now.

Earlier this week, an American TV presenter caused uproar when she tweeted a picture of herself posing next to a dead goat on a Hebridean island. “Beautiful wild goat here on the Island of Islay in Scotland,” wrote Larysa Switlyk, presenter of Larysa Unleashed. “Such a fun hunt!! Made a perfect 200 yard shot and dropped him with the gunwerks and nightforce-optics!”

At the time of writing, her tweet has attracted 19,000 comments, most of them using words like “sickening”, “abhorrent” and “evil”. Not surprisingly, many of the people upset by the tweet called for a ban on goat-hunting, including Andy Murray’s mum. The response of the Scottish government, however, was less predictable. (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 0 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Friday 26th October 2018

Science is on the side of the trans activists


Some interesting scientific research on gender differences was published last week. Two social scientists studied the preferences of 80,000 people in 76 countries to determine whether there’s a link between the attitudes of men and women to risk-taking, patience, altruism, trust and so on, and how advanced a country is in terms of economic development and gender equality.

If gender is a social construct, as many feminists claim, you’d expect men and women’s preferences to be more divergent in places like Pakistan, Malaysia and Nigeria, where gender roles are quite traditional and women have fewer economic opportunities, than in the Nordic countries. However, the opposite is true. The researchers discovered that the more economically developed a country is and the greater the gender equality, the less likely men and women’s attitudes are to converge. This suggests that average psychological differences between men and women are partly biological. How else to account for the fact that when men and women are free to pursue their own interests, gender differences become more pronounced, not less? (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 0 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Thursday 18th October 2018

Why are faceless accusations allowed to end men’s careers?


On 11 October 2017 an anonymous Google spreadsheet began doing the rounds of American newspapers and magazines — a document that would have far-reaching consequences for Stephen Elliott, a Los Angeles-based writer and editor. Called ‘Shitty Media Men’, the spreadsheet had been created by Moira Donegan, a former assistant editor at the New Republic, and named various men rumoured to be guilty of sexual misconduct. Donegan closed it down a few days later, but by that time it had been widely circulated and many names had been added, alongside a summary of their alleged crimes. The entry for Elliott read: ‘Rape accusations, sexual harassment, coercion, unsolicited invitations to his apartment, a dude who snuck into Binders???’ (Binders is a Facebook group for women writers.)

The spreadsheet contained a disclaimer: ‘This document is only a collection of allegations and rumours. Take everything with a grain of salt.’ Needless to say, that was largely ignored. Numerous articles appeared celebrating the list as a much–needed ‘reckoning’, with not many people pausing to consider whether the men on the list were guilty. Elliott had a collection of essays to promote, but interviews were pulled, readings cancelled and his book tour fizzled out. His television agent stopped returning his calls and some friends began to distance themselves. He found himself at the centre of a Kafka-esque nightmare. (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 0 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Tuesday 16th October 2018

Is Sociogenomics Racist?


The publication of Blueprint (2018) by the behavioral geneticist Robert Plomin has revived the old debate about whether there’s something inherently racist or right-wing about looking for biological causes of human behavior. The subtitle of Plomin’s book—How DNA Makes Us Who We Are—makes it sound as if he’s a full-blooded hereditarian and that has led to a predictable outcry from long-standing opponents of this “dangerous” intersection where the natural sciences and the behavioral sciences meet. (To read an extract from Blueprint, click here.)

To its opponents, sociogenomics—or social genomics—of which Plomin is a leading practitioner, sounds suspiciously like sociobiology. When the Harvard entomologist E.O. Wilson published a book of that name in 1975, it was greeted with passionate opposition by a group of left-wing scientists who had assembled under the banner of ‘Science for the People,’ originally an anti-Vietnam War protest group. The biologists in that organization, several of whom Wilson had counted as friends up until this point, formed the ‘Sociobology Study Group’ and started firing off venomous letters to newspapers. For instance, a letter in the New York Review of Books signed by Stephen J. Gould and Richard C. Lewontin, among others, accused Wilson of peddling the same junk science that had led to the murder of six million Jews:

The reason for the survival of these recurrent determinist theories is that they consistently tend to provide a genetic justification of the status quo and of existing privileges for certain groups according to class, race or sex. Historically, powerful countries or ruling groups within them have drawn support for the maintenance or extension of their power from these products of the scientific community…These theories provided an important basis for the enactment of sterilization laws and restrictive immigration laws by the United States between 1910 and 1930 and also for the eugenics policies which led to the establishment of gas chambers in Nazi Germany.

Wilson was dubbed the ‘Right-Wing Prophet of Patriarchy’ and subjected to vicious barracking whenever he crossed Harvard Yard or attempted to speak in public. The most famous protest occurred in 1978 at a symposium of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington D.C. that had been convened to bring Wilson and his critics together. Ulicia Segerstrale takes up the story in Defenders of the Truth (2000), the definitive account of the sociobiology controversy:

The session has already featured Gould, among others, and Wilson is one of the later speakers. Just as Wilson is about to begin, about ten people rush up on the speaker podium shouting various epithets and chanting: ‘Racist Wilson you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!’ While some take over the microphone and denounce sociobiology, a couple of them rush up behind Wilson (who is sitting in place) and pour a pitcher of ice-water over his head, shouting ‘Wilson, you are all wet!’ (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 1 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share



 << Older Blog Entries     Blog Archive    


Twitter RT @QuilletteM: Do Parents Make a Difference? A Public Debate in London | @toadmeister link  (8 hours ago)

BEST OF THE WEB

The shocking truth about Jordan Peterson by Wesley Yang - tabletmag.com
The intellectual dark web by Bari Weiss - nytimes.com
How identity politics is harming the sciences by Heather Mac Donald - city-journal.org
The fall of the German Empire by Ross Douthat - nytimes.com
How Tom Wolfe became Tom Wolfe by Michael Lewis - Vanity Fair
The neuro-diversity case for free speech by Geoffrey Miller - quillette.com
The Age of Outrage by Jonathan Haidt - city-journal.org
The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski - the-american-interest.com
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony - jerusalemletters.com
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller - quillette.com
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand - newyorker.com
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge - economist.com
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell - city-journal.org
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander - prospectmagazine.co.uk
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell - quillette.com
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff - newsweek.com
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings - dominiccummings.wordpress.com
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew - politico.com
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus - claremont.org
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman - theguardian.com
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer - conservativehome.com
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan - nationalreview.com
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs - newstatesman.com
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker - edge.org
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood - theatlantic.com
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray - quadrant.org.au
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter - conservativeteachers.com
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win - youtu.be
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons - gq-magazine.co.uk
Inside Westminster's free school - telegraph.co.uk
Robert Conquest obit - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that - news.stv.tv
 

BLOGROLL

Andrew Lilico
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Normblog
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Slate
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone
 

COLUMNISTS

AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
 
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.com


  • IMdb Page on the film