In tomorrow’s Spectator, Rod Liddle gives his verdict on the social media storm caused by Suzanne Moore and then Julie Burchill. Liddle suggests that until the ‘entire bourgeois bien-pensant left’ self-immolates, leaving a slight scent of goji berries, bystanders can ‘enjoy ourselves watching them tear each other to pieces, mired in their competing victimhoods seething with acquired sensitivity, with inchoate rage and fury, inventing more and more hate crimes with which they might punish people who are not themselves’.
He describes Burchill’s Observer as ‘easily the best piece the paper has carried in a decade’, and then examines the response of the government and the Observer’s editor:
‘At which point the government got involved. No, it really did. Its most idiotic minister, the Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone — again utilising that conduit for the shriekingly self-obsessed and vapid, Twitter — described Burchill’s article as ‘bigoted vomit’ and suggested that both she and the editor of the Observer, a man called John Mulholland, should be sacked immediately. Should government ministers do that sort of thing, demand the sacking of newspaper editors? Even if they are incalculably stupid ministers with a track record of saying incalculably stupid things? She is the minister for International Development these days, Featherstone, so it is not even part of her brief. Although I suppose it is part of her brief as a non-cissexist heterosexual woman, in a very real sense.
‘How did Mr Mulholland respond? Did this titan of the press, this staunch and stoic defender of freedom of speech stand by his columnist? Um, not exactly. He instead apologised for having run Julie Burchill’s article and within the hour the piece had been expunged from the joint Guardian-Observer website, no trace of it remaining. But in making his apology Mulholland did say that the Observer supported freedom of speech and did so terribly bravely sometimes. Just, er, not this time.’
What did Liddle think of the language used by Moore and Burchill? His full article will appear in tomorrow’s Spectator. Click here to subscribe.
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