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Thursday, September 24, 2015 

Three ring circus sideshow of freaks.

People on social media, aren't they all a bunch of whining, quick to take offence charlatans totally unrepresentative of the wider public?  You'd be forgiven for thinking so, considering the number of thinkpieces as well as the occasional news article that consist almost entirely of "look at what these bastards said about my last missive advocating the drowning of the first born".  

At the weekend even the normally wonderful Marina Hyde dedicated her Graun column to mockery of the angry, vocal self-righteous shits in our midst, the people who are so enamoured with their chosen outsider they'll go so far as to get Alex Salmond or Nigel Farage inked on their skin.  Fairly easy targets, you might have thought.  That she did this just a week after writing one of the best responses to the Charlotte Proudman affair, comparing the creepiness of Proudman's flatterer describing his own daughter in sexualised terms with Donald Trump's repeated remarks that if his daughter wasn't his maybe he'd be dating her, was all the more surprising.

It does seem odd then that of all the people the Graun could have got to respond to Lord Sumption's worryingly complacent remarks on the representation of women in the judiciary, they decided on... Charlotte Proudman.  This is not to say there is anything much wrong with her article.  There isn't.   Nor was much wrong with her piece the previous week on the furore following her shaming of Alexander Carter-Silk for messaging her on Linked In to express his non-politically correct admiration for her "stunning" photo.  Generally, if you realise the message you're about to send isn't in the best taste, or wouldn't be acceptable as a part of saying hello in like, real life, you are deserving of the kind of response Proudman gave.

This said, and this is part of the reason I will probably never properly understand social media or the battle of egos and narcissisms that go hand in hand, there was no compelling reason to name Carter-Silk on Twitter as she did.  Her point about sexism, as well as her question about whether other women had received similarly objectionable messages regarding their physical appearance on the professional social network would have remained just as powerful with his identity blanked out.  Indeed, if anything it would have further highlighted her withering response to Carter-Silk, especially the cutting reference to his being twice her age.  It would also have helped to prevent the likes of the Mail then deriding Proudman and others like her who dare to object to unwanted advances as "feminazis", and everything else that followed on.

The media as ever wants to have its cake and eat it.  This week, columnist Lindy West encouraged women to #ShoutYourAbortion.  Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, I side completely with West when she says abortion needs to be safe, legal and accessible to everyone.  In her previous piece though, she took issue with an unfunny viral video titled Dear Fat People.  Again, more than fair enough.  Nicole Arbour's past work is characterised as slut-shaming, the video itself is fat-shaming, and so on.   West's response to this is simple: she is a far better person than Arbour because she fights for her regardless of what she thinks or says.  West's argument is nothing more than I'm brilliant and certain of my righteousness, and that's why you're wrong and in time will appreciate just how right I am.  West doesn't seem to have any problem with how Arbour's YouTube channel was temporarily removed after complaints, as she doesn't so much as mention it; perhaps this is because she realises that when discourse becomes reduced to characterising criticism or mockery as always being about shaming, demands for censorship are bound to follow.  Or it might be that West thinks that "shaming" is a perfectly appropriate response, so long as the shaming was started by the person being targeted.

When the usual cretins then reflect that however unpleasant it might be to be the centre of attention for a few days, to receive death threats and all the rest, if it gets you a regular gig in the media it can't be all bad, it's more and more difficult to argue against them.  Fact is that the "mainstream" media and social media have become interdependent; increasingly neither can operate without the other.  For all the complaints about trolls, people being zoomers and monomaniacs, the media wants more rather than fewer Katie Hopkins and Charlotte Proudmans.  The circle might be vicious, but it keeps on turning.

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