Wednesday, 26 August 2009

O, Moonenbaum...

It was with a weary sigh that I opened up the Guardian's CiF section to note that they'd lazily republished a two-week old LA Times editorial about how frightfully nasty The New Atheists are. You might think that Andrew Brown's tireless moans about Richard Dawkins and the huge CiF Belief section would be enough, but apparently you'd be wrong. Science and religion need a truce was written by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, a pair of 'accomodationists' who promote the idea that religion and science should try harder to get along by writing books and articles as one voice. Anyway, they're the young, hip science advocates who seem to have found that telling Dawkins he's a bad man is a good way to get noticed, a notion sadly proved correct by the fact I'm writing about them.

Their basic premise is one you'll have heard plenty of times; Dawkins, PZ Myers and chums are all a bit too confrontational, and maybe if we were a bit nicer to fundamentalists we'd be able to go back to the halcyon days where everyone believed in evolution, before 'The God Delusion' ruined everything. This particular article starts off badly by bizarrely criticising Dawkins for writing a book about science:

This fall, evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins – most recently famous for his public exhortation to atheism, The God Delusion – returns to writing about science. Dawkins's new book, The Greatest Show on Earth, will inform and regale us with the stunning "evidence for evolution", as the subtitle says. It will surely be an impressive display, as Dawkins excels at making the case for evolution. But it's also fair to ask: Who in the United States will read Dawkins's new book (or ones like it) and have any sort of epiphany, or change his or her mind?

Surely not those who need it most: America's anti-evolutionists.

This is a bit of a straw man; I don't think even Dawkins believes he can convert fundamentalist Christians who believe the Bible is literally true and that the world is less than 10,000 years old. The strange part is though, that having been roundly criticised for writing about atheism, Dawkins is continuing to take heat for going back to writing books about evolution. Of course, Mooney and Kirshenbaum haven't read the book, but then that isn't really the point. The upcoming release of this book is just a hook on which to hang another reheated complaint about 'the New Atheists'.

These religious adherents often view science itself as an assault on their faith and doggedly refuse to accept evolution because they fear it so utterly denies God that it will lead them, and their children, straight into a world of moral depravity and meaninglessness. An in-your-face atheist touting evolution, like Dawkins, is probably the last messenger they'll heed.
I'm struggling to understand what Moonenbaum's point is here. If, as they say, the religious 'view science itself as an assault on their faith', what good is it going to do to start being nice to them? How is accomodationism going to get through to them? For the extremists, I don't think it really matters whether you offer them a cup of tea and a hug or leave a flaming bag of shit on their doorstep; if they're not interested in science then being a bit mealy-mouthed and cuddly about it doesn't seem like it's going to help. Let's not forget that pre-'New Atheism' everyone was telling religion how nice its hair was, and the acceptance of evolution wasn't any greater than it is now. I mean;

More moderate scientists, however – let us call them the accommodationists – still dominate the hallowed institutions of American science.
Yeah, and has it led to an America which overwhelmingly accepts the theory of evolution? It seems not. The weird thing about Moonenbaum (I mean beyond being a weird two-headed writing entity, one of whom appears to be Seth MacFarlane) is that while they're nominally all about respecting everyone's beliefs, they seem to really, really wish Dawkins and Myers and Jerry Coyne would all shut the fuck up and quit interrupting the big group hug they're trying to initiate. They seem to advocate the 'concerned friend' approach to empathising with creationists, but then criticise evolutionists for not being on-message with them. For example, they write this about Jerry Coyne:

Long under fire from the religious right, the NCSE now must protect its other flank from the New Atheist wing of science. The atheist biologist Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, for instance, has drawn much attention by assaulting the centre's Faith Project, which seeks to spread awareness that between creationism on the one hand and the new atheism on the other lie many more moderate positions.
Now, Coyne is no enemy of the NCSE (National Center for Science Education). His criticism of the NCSE's faith project is exactly the kind of friendly intervention they ought to endorse, but because it disagrees with their position they describe it as an 'assault'. A terrifying assault which begins;

Let me first affirm that I enormously admire the work of the NCSE and of its director, Eugenie Scott and its president, Kevin Padian. They have worked tirelessly to keep evolution in the schools and creationism out, most visibly in the Dover trial. But they’re also active at school-board hearings and other venues throughout the country, as well as providing extensive resources for the rest of us in the battle for Darwin. They are the good guys.
Coyne merely disagrees with the NCSE's policy in this particular area, arguing that the teaching of evolution doesn't really need to cosy up to religion to make its point; the science stands perfectly well on its own without having to get a big Jesus-shaped endorsement on it.

The article ends by suggesting that, hey, Charles Darwin wasn't nasty about religion, so there. But, as PZ Myers pointed out in his rebuttal, the whole point of science is that it's not about slavish obedience to Darwin; we don't have to agree with Darwin about everything because he was a brilliant scientist, just as we don't have agree with the NCSE's every policy just because Eugenie Scott is awesome. The most important thing in any debate is honesty, and what Mooney and Kirshenbaum, Andrew Brown, Michael Ruse and others seem to preach is a kind of weirdly dishonest approach where atheist scientists should keep quiet about religion even if they believe that unempirical faith-based thinking sits awkwardly alongside science, because God help us if we upset the odd Christian along the way. It's perfectly valid for Dawkins to put his cards on the table about what he believes; if you don't like it, criticise his arguments on their own merits. Don't start suggesting that he shouldn't make them in the first place.

(Predictably, Andrew Brown arrives in the comments, demanding that Jerry Coyne supply evidence that religion is hampering the teaching of evolution but failing to demand that Mooney and Kirshenbaum supply any evidence that Dawkins, Myers and Coyne's method isn't working).

The reality is that we're not seeking to win over the hardcore fundamentalists, it's about reaching the people in the middle ground. Some of them might object to any criticism of religion alongside their evolution, and for them there's Ken Miller, Mooney/Kirshenbaum and Francis Collins. Some of them might, though, appreciate the honesty of scientists who aren't afraid to say that there's no convincing evidence for God. The religious are attacking evolution and atheism all the time, why shouldn't some evolutionists fight back? We all have our own ways of debating, so let's all put our ideas out there and see whose wins, with less of this tedious nonsense about 'framing' the debate in the right way. And fuck, I'm willing to suggest that Dawkins' many science books have done more for the popular underestanding of evolution than a million boring op-eds which amount to little more than attempts to referee the debate.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Liz Jones' Tuscan villa nightmares, and other frightening tales

There are Mail columnists I dislike (well, pretty much all of them), but usually I know what the point of them is. Peter Hitchens may use some disingenuous arguments, but I understand why he thinks what he thinks, and I can see why he appeals to people who fetishise the past and fancy themselves as conservative intellectuals. Littlejohn is depressingly easy to understand; his columns are all pitched with exactly the same tone, making the same points over and over, and he appeals to the kind of people who think being 'no-nonsense' is a virtue, even if it means simplifying issues to the point where it pretty much is nonsense. Melanie Phillips...actually, let's not talk about her.

Liz Jones, though, leaves me completely baffled. I don't what her appeal is supposed to be, who her columns are aimed at. I sometimes get the feeling they're aimed at the little voice in her head that tells her to keep going. And no-one else. On Saturday she tackled the sensitive issue of 800m runner Caster Semenya's gender test with a dreadful set of observations about the differences between men and women. In this, Jones suggests that rather than using science we could just do a test based on a load of hackneyed stereotypes about men and women. When the Semenya story first broke forums across the internet were filled with budding comedians making 'THEY COULD JUST ASK HER TO PARALLEL PARK HAHAHA' jokes with all the subtlety for which the internet is famed, but Jones turned this into an entire column.

Of course, those of you who know Liz Jones know that she has a somewhat unique view of the world, which it perhaps wouldn't be that unfair to describe as 'spoilt'. So, instead of even attempting to put herself in the shoes of Caster Semenya, a teenager from a rural South African village which didn't have electricity when she was growing up and still doesn't have running water, Jones gigglingly suggests that we'll know she's a woman if she uses "a BlackBerry timetable" for her weekly shopping, checks in efficiently online when she goes on her holidays and dutifully sorts out the recycling because Lord knows the feckless menfolk won't. Reading Liz Jones' examples of what a woman is like, it's impossible to reconcile this with real female humans I have met. I'm used to people using 'men' and 'women' when they really mean 'my husband' or 'my wife', but I do wonder what planet Jones is on if she thinks that the mark of a woman is the ability to schedule her shopping trips on a Blackberry.

Liz Jones is most notable for writing a series of columns about her similarly objectionable ex-husband Nirpal Dhaliwhal, who seemed to be competing in public to see who could make themselves look the biggest twat post-divorce. Since then, Jones has become notorious for being unfathomably self-absorbed and yet not remotely self-aware, writing endless columns mixing gushing enthusiasm about her wonderful fashion sense and her brilliant taste in designer house fittings with horrendous whinges about trivial shit that real people deal with without any fuss, to the point that even the most pretentious pseudo-middle-class Mail readers started to view her as a bit of a joke. (I mean, she writes sentences like "Michael was fast asleep on his back in the sitting room on the Jasper Morrison"; you know when people start referring to their furniture by the name of its designer that we're not dealing with someone all of us might get along with).

Now she's been given a column which reads like a parody of a vacuous, solipsistic moron; the only thing stopping me from believing it's a satire is that Jones has always been a bit like this. That new column is called, with no apparent irony, 'Liz Jones Moans', in which Jones takes feminism round the back, shoots it, set it on fire, shoots it some more, buries it in a locked safe, pumps a few extra rounds into the dirt for good measure and then commissions an award-winning landscape gardener to do something oh so terribly tasteful with the space above it.

If women were all like Liz Jones, you'd probably become a rampant chauvinist. Aside from her tedious gossip-mag bitching about the awful dresses other women are wearing, she has a very strange relationship with the idea of independence, switching constantly between sassy noughties go-getter and simpering, clueless little girl who expects everyone to do everything for her. Above, she was faintly praising herself for her smart Blackberry-organised shopping trips, but she also writes columns like last Thursday's Who wants to fill up their own car with petrol while wearing heels and cream Burberry?, in which she yearns for some kind of working class man to do the terrible things she can't bear to do herself.

In that piece, Jones complains bitterly about having to fill her car up all by herself, lest she dirty up her cream Burberry clothing and classy heels, before going on to complain about how terribly confusing the process of filling up at a petrol pump is:
When you finally stagger in to pay, they ask you which pump you were at.

How on earth would I know? Then you put your card in, key in about a million numbers, and they ask if you have a loyalty card.
No real person is that stupid, are they? The pumps are numbered. It's a fairly simple system, this 'numbering', and personally I think it's really going to catch on. I predict we're going to be using numbers for all kinds of things in the future, and trust me Liz, while I appreciate how difficult it can be to pull your head out of your arse long enough to remember a one digit number, if you keep persevering with it I reckon even you can crack the code.

Three days earlier, Jones scraped the self-parody barrel with a whinge about the horrors of going on holiday to her rented Tuscan villa and her hellish experiences in posh hotels. Here she complains about such hardships as overlong codes to unlock the hotel's broadband connection, insufficiently obvious light-switch positioning, and being given too much helpful information on her bedside table. Let's join Liz as she recounts the harrowing tale of the time her remote stopped working:

The remote control for the TV doesn’t work. You phone downstairs. ‘We will send an engineer up to your room.’

‘No, don’t do that. I don’t want a man in my room because I am tired and in my pyjamas.’

He arrives anyway.
It's not entirely clear what Liz expects the hotel to do without coming to her room, but I'm sure you'll agree it's all a terrible farce. She moves on to complaining about the expensive villas she's stayed in;

And don’t get me started on self-catering villas in Tuscany which, despite costing half your annual salary, don’t come with coffee beans or bottled water or a TV that works.

Why are people in Europe not as obsessed with TV and DVDs and up-to-date gadgets as we are?

I once rented a villa near Siena. I hired a car to get there, kept driving the wrong way round roundabouts, got hopelessly lost and then couldn’t find the key to the front door.

I kept having to go to a supermarket to buy food, which was all extremely tiring.

Imagine! Imagine having to drive to your villa all by yourself! What horror! Imagine having to buy your own food on a self-catering holiday! Oh, the humanity! At this point I might have made an exaggerated comparison to some actual real-life hardship for comedic effect, but Jones is perfectly capable of unintentionally satirising herself, as she does expertly in Modern hairdressers? They're as bad as Guantanamo Bay (no, really), in which she does actually declare that "the modern hairdressing salon is the female high-maintenance equivalent of being sent to Guantanamo Bay - torture".

The basins hurt your neck, the magazines are out of date and mind-numbing (salons never seem to stock newspapers) and don't even get me started when you try to book an appointment.
I do feel that in amongst all the talk about human rights abuses and indefinite detention without trial, people like Amnesty and Liberty have missed the real scandal of Guantanamo Bay - the out-of-date copies of Grazia which the shackled inmates are expected to read. Who knows what terribly outdated techniques they're now using to please their man? By the time they get out their fashion sense will be soooooooo 2002 that they'll probably wish they'd been beaten to death after all.

What kind of future are these detainees in for anyway? Next time they fly out for a holiday they'll have to deal with the nightmare that is using an airport. Now, a lot of people get a bit annoyed about using airports. They take a long time, procedures to get through, lots of waiting, boredom sets in, fair enough. Jones, though, manages to make her complaints about airport security so toe-curlingly irritating it makes you want to vomit up your soul;

I have booked a week in a villa in Ibiza with its own pool, mainly to avoid having to strip off in public on a beach.

Why, then, am I forced to practically get naked at the airport?

First, I am asked to remove my jacket, despite the fact that a) it is Yves Saint Laurent and doesn't do folded, or being squashed into a horrid plastic tray, and b) I only have on a Marc Jacobs camisole underneath, which is the equivalent of standing around in a bra.
A normal person might go on a flight wearing casual, comfortable clothes, but not dear old Liz here. Why can't airports just arrange their security operations around her for a change? Because, if Liz Jones has to fold up her Yves Saint Laurent jacket to reveal the horror that is her Marc Jacobs camisole, then the terrorists have truly won.

Although, to be honest, sometimes when I read Liz Jones' columns, I start thinking that maybe the terrorists have a point.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Reading Littlejohn so you don't have to

Summary for those of you who would rather slowly fry your genitals in an oversized wok than read Littlejohn's latest column:

- Police groups representing minorities, far from being valuable tools to ensure that the needs of minority groups are not trampled by the majority, are inherently funny. The Gay Police Association, The Black Police Association, indeed anything ending in '...Police Association' is of course worthy of derision, as I'm sure you'll agree despite my failure to put up a particulary good case. I exclude from this analysis the 126-year-old Christian Police Association, of course. That one is fine, so fine that I and similarly minded critics never mention it.

- Anecdotes I have received from my own fair-minded readers, clearly not subject to any sample bias, back up my previous assertions about gypsies, and prove I was right to suggest they were all thieves. Well, I did also receive mail telling me I was a cunt, but...hey, did I tell you about these anecdotes?

- Airport security was invented after 9/11 entirely to stop Muslims, and should as a consequence never target white or old people. Despite having claimed in my earlier pieces that people should be judged by their actions and that special treatment for minorities will inevitably 'foster a culture of division', these particular minorities should be subjected to special treatment. Equal treatment is great in areas where people like me are already well on top, but should really go out of the window in areas where it inconveniences me.

- Having said that, it was ludicrous of immigration authorities to refuse visas to some Pakistanis I heard about, because I deem these particular Pakistanis not to be terrorists like all the ones that are already here. They were in a band, for fuck's sake, and as any fule kno, human beings can be neatly divided into two categories: 1) terrorists who openly admit to wanting to blow us up and therefore are waved through by officials, and 2) innocent people who can play the pipes. Now that these men have been refused entry, I can safely never be proved wrong! Therefore I am free to once again use an anecdote to make a cheap shot about immigration policy which ignores the various complex issues involved. I can do this even despite the fact that, on the face of it, the story actually suggests that UK immigration laws are far tougher than I give the government credit for.

- Being a ludicrous purveyor of crass generalisations, I believed that all criminals in Britain were foreign-born. Imagine my surprise to find out that some jewel robbers weren't!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

To hell in a correctly-registered, roadworthy handcart

For some reason, I always find the shorter pieces at the end of Richard Littlejohn columns the more interesting. Perhaps it's because in his main pieces, the torrent of bile unleashed is so strong that it's exhausting to read. This is certainly the case in today's Are you sitting comfortably? Let's go tarmacking with Teabag, Tess and Toby, the centrepiece of which is a toweringly obnoxious rant which does little except allow Littlejohn a platform to run down a list of classic gypsy stereotypes. I'd go through it, but I can't actually stand to read any of it again. Plus if I scroll back to the top of the page I'll have to see that picture of him with his self-satisfied smirk; a shit-eating grin that would infuse his subsequent writings with insufferable pomposity even if the words themselves didn't, and even if you hadn't heard him talk.

His shorter sections interest me more, because it's there where he'll toss out his twice-weekly exercises in eye-rolling, picking some apparently absurd decision by an authority figure and wondering aloud why no-one else in the world seems to share the straight-up, honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned common sense he and his like-minded readers have. 'Common sense' usually being synonymous with 'having a woefully underinformed grasp of a situation but spouting off about it anyway'. I always think of Littlejohn as being the type of person that's seen a few hack stand-up comics and came away genuinely baffled as to why Boeing don't make planes out of the same material black boxes are made out of.

Like those rubbish comedians though, I do sometimes wonder if Littlejohn's actually aware that the apparent absurdity he's pointing out actually has an explanation or not, whether he's deliberately sacrificing accuracy for the sake of his material or if he's actually that stupid. In his second section today, he complains tediously that Mandelson is somehow stand-in Prime Minister despite not having been elected in a weird 'What's THAT all about?!?!' kind of way, to which the obvious answer is that Prime Ministers, let alone caretaker ones, are not and have never been directly elected, and that Gordon Brown could pretty much have appointed a particularly foul-mouthed parrot to take his place if he'd so wished.

The bit of today's column that intrigued me most, though, is another of his world-gone-mad musings based around an apparently ridiculous real-life event. I'll quote it in full so you can see how Littlejohn portrays the totality of the evidence:
There was much rejoicing in North Wales when the Mad Mullah retired. The celebrations seem to have been premature.

Carl Myers was riding his motorbike on the A496 near Bontddu when he was passed by a police car and ambulance, sirens blaring and blue lights flashing, heading in the opposite direction.

He later discovered they were on their way to an emergency 12 miles away in which a three-year-old girl and her father died after falling 50 feet down a ravine.

So Carl was surprised to be pulled over by the same police car a little while later. The driver had turned round after spotting that Carl's bike had a non-regulation number plate.

He was given a £60 fixed penalty ticket because his plate was 80mm too short.
Nice to know that nicking a motorcyclist is deemed a higher priority than attending a life-and-death emergency.

A spokesman for North Wales Plod defended the decision, saying: 'Officers are tasked with specifically talking to motorcyclists - advising them of their vulnerability and enforcing any offences disclosed.'

The Mad Mullah may have gone, but the Traffic Taliban is still very much in business.
The first thing that seemed odd about that was Littlejohn's use of the new-fangled metric system. "80mm? What on earth is that?", many of his readers probably cried. It sounds tiny, but it's actually 8cm, or "over 3 inches" in ye olde English (not sure what it is in cubits, sorry). Still doesn't sound much, but then according to the similarly outraged Motorcycle News, it's 80mm short of a 178mm minimum, making it not much over half the size it should be. That's pretty fucking small, and was no doubt noticeable because, as the MCN suggests, motorbike plates are meant to be on two lines, whereas this guy's numbers were crammed onto one. In any case, yer motorcyclist here is bang to rights and admits as much, so the officers were doing their job correctly. I know it sounds like a tedious offence compared to say, gunning down a classroom full of kids, but the regulations are there for a reason.

So what of the more interesting question, of the police piddling around power-tripping on some poor biker instead of saving lives? Littlejohn characterises the Police's defence by quoting a largely irrelevant part of their statement where they asserted that catching rule-breaking motorcyclists is something they should be doing. This makes them sound officious and cold, which they may indeed be, but a quick Google for the story brings up via a local paper the vastly more important part of the statement, which Littlejohn presumably just didn't have space to include;
A police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that at the time the motorcyclist was stopped we were dealing with a very serious incident in the Llanbedr area. That incident involved significant numbers of emergency personnel – including 13 police officers, plus the North Wales Police helicopter as well as officers coordinating the search from the force control room.

“At this time, other officers continued with their duties and an officer did stop a motorcyclist near Bontddu which is over 12 miles from the scene of the emergency incident. There were sufficient officers at the incident in Llanbedr and the force incident manager was able to ensure that sufficient resources were sent to the scene.”
Hmmm. So he was one of 13 officers (or possibly a 14th officer) being sent to the scene, which was also being attended by a helicopter team and at least one ambulance. What we can glean from this is that some officers were already there, and perhaps more importantly the helicopter, which would have been involved in the actual rescuing/life-saving part. Indeed, the apprehended biker himself suggested that by the time he was pulled over by these cops, the rescue process was already well underway:
"When I asked what it was he said: ‘Two persons missing in a ravine. We have air support attending the scene, hoping to lift them out.’”
It looks to me like what happened is that, being an emergency incident, the police sent every officer in the area to assist. The sensible thing to do in emergencies is to send every available officer, more than are strictly required, and see who gets there first. By the time the officer in question had spotted our motorcyclist friend, other officers, ambulances and choppers were already there trying to help. Nothing about that seems particularly unusual, does it?

I don't really understand why people choose to believe these extreme stories of jobsworthiness. Why would anyone believe, even for a second, that it was a simple case of an officer choosing to let a three-year-old child and her father die because he considers vehicle regulations more important? Because you'd have to ignore a lot of context to believe that, you'd have to want to believe it. I don't really understand the mindset, presumably it's comforting on some level to think everyone else has gone mad and you're one of the few sane ones left, but it sounds absolutely fucking terrifying to me. Can you imagine actually believing that Britain is really the way it sounds like it is in the Mail? The Apocalypse would come as a blessed relief.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Political correctness still mad, claims Mail

The Daily Mail seems to think it's hit the 'PC gone mad' mother lode today with this gem: Women's refuge closed by 'politically correct' council as it does not cater for abused men.
Supporters of a women's refuge were 'shocked and stunned' to be told it is being closed - because it does not cater for men.
Only the Express and the Mail so far are covering this at a national level, so information is hard to find, but the best source I've found is the Dorset Echo, which makes the same hilarious claim, but later admits that really it's because of "funding shortages".

What interests me is why the Mail, and the Echo, take this claim at apparent face value. The Echo's stance in particular is interesting, because the article includes the following:
At present the group funds three Dorset refuges with £82,780 spent annually to run the Weymouth refuge [the one which is to close], £127,794 to a West Dorset refuge and £165,516 to a North Dorset refuge.
If either paper truly believed that this decision was rooted in political correctness, and that the elites had suddenly started deeming women's refuges anachronistic bastions of rampant misandry, why aren't the asking why the other two, presumably larger, refuges aren't closing? Ultimately it's because the truth doesn't make for good headlines. Reading between the lines you can glean that Dorset's Supporting People service doesn't have a great deal of funds, and has come to the conclusion that the best way to meet its obligations is to close its smallest refuge (which houses up to six families), and use the money to help victims of domestic violence, some of them possibly male, in a different way, by increasing the number of outreach workers (of which they currently have three).

Now clearly, this isn't ideal, and my knee-jerk reaction as a bleeding-heart liberal is that more money ought to be put in, in order to keep the existing refuges and expand outreach if necessary, but then I'm a lay person with very little information about the intricacies of Dorset County Council's finances, the schemes they have in place, and the demand for it. The sad reality of government is that there are a huge number of competing demands for the available money, and tough decisions have to be made. What's most depressing though is that the Mail isn't remotely interested in this story from a women's welfare point of view, it's using it to score cheap points and add another chapter to its ever-expanding bible of PC myths, which credulous twats will be bringing up in an argument in five years' time. "Did you know that in Dorset they banned women's refuges on the grounds they were sexist?", they'll say, in much the same way as they talk about Christmas being renamed Winterval or how you're not allowed to say 'gingerbread man' any more, all as part of a depressing conversational foreplay leading up to a gag about how the current Premier League champions will one day be renamed 'Personchester United'.

However, the story actually puts Mail readers themselves in an awkward position, since, as much as they hate political correctness, the anti-PC brigade does harbour a fairly large contingent of misogynists who reckon women are probably asking for it, reckon men are actually the most discriminated-against group in society, and love to cite statistics about woman-on-man violence to distract from the issue. Now, I'm not saying this commenter is such a misogynist, but, well...
Note this statement below

"The women are there because of what men have done to them and their children. When people suffer from domestic violence they need an immediate escape and that's being taken away"

They never talk about their par in it how they provoked the man to deliberately sabotage the relationship in order to get the house and his wealth using this plot and ploy of domestic violence that they instigate.

Good job, its a stand for "true" equal rights and their discrimination coming full circle and creating a self induced smacking in the face for devious long term lies.
- THe lie exposed, UK, 3/8/2009 3:17
(Italics mine, to distinguish a quote from the guy's opinions). So there you have it, battered wives are in fact "devious" masters of psychological manipulation, cleverly coaxing their men to smack them in the face so they can "get the house and his wealth". Evidently this plan hasn't worked well for the women who ended up in women's refuges rather than laughing it up in their husbands' houses, but I guess they were just the unlucky ones, eh? James in Brighton shies away from calling them liars and takes a different tack:
As a man I find this very funny, womens issues are rammed down our throats all the time and when the worm turns women still complain.

- James, Brighton UK, 3/8/2009 3:49
Another commenter shows that the Mail doesn't do a great job of explaining things:
Crazy.Ludicrous. Idiotic. Incomprehesible.Yet another example of the world gone mad. When is common sense going to make a come back? If there are battered men with children then provde facilities for them in another refuge,somewhere else.
- Christine Young, Brisbane,Australia, 3/8/2009 4:46
Let's be clear here; no-one is planning to put men in women's refuges, at least not in this instance. The actual story is that a women's refuge is being closed, and that these women will, hopefully, be put in other women's refuges. They're not replacing it with a unisex refuge. This is always the problem with trying to tell complicated stories through such wildly unrepresentative headlines though; people are going to get the wrong idea because you lead them there. There's a real story here, but sadly in the Mail's case it's been buried under a thick layer of distraction, turning a potentially serious debate about the proper allocation of funds and the best way to serve victims of domestic violence into some eye-rolling "look what the PC brigade are up to now!" flippancy.

UPDATE 3/8/09: the post above by 'THe lie exposed' seems to have been removed now.