Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Mail now accusing others of racism? FIGHT!

I'm not a big fan of Nick Griffin, to be honest, but if there is one good thing to come out of his upcoming Question Time appearance, it's that there's a certain joy to be had in watching right-wing commentators squirm as they try to distance themselves from Griffin and his party, who they understand aren't very well-liked. This can be a little tricky when your own writing and that of your newspaper is to a large extent based on stoking up the kind of fears Griffin's BNP are feeding off, as Enemies Of Reason recently noted.

Last week, the Mail rain an article entitled Is political correctness to blame for lack of coverage over horrific black-on-white killings in America's Deep South?, which helpfully reproduced, in full, a white supremacist group's propaganda pamphlet. The police in the story suggest that there was no racial motive for the horrific crime in question, but the Mail doesn't really believe that cop-out, and attributes to 'campaigners' a flyer produced by 'govnn.com'. If you go there (and I'd advise you not to, especially at work), you'll get taken to the Vanguard News Network, an absolutely notorious white supremacist site, run by this charming fellow. The most recent stories on VNN concern 'Deciphering Jewish Intellectual Movements', revising the Auschwitz death totals, and celebrating the recent and shocking decision of a Lousiaina judge to refuse a marriage licence to an interracial couple. VNN helpfully divide their news articles with tags like 'nigger crime', 'nigger mentality', 'niggers', 'jewish lies', and, rather more simply, 'jews'. I'm not saying the Mail endorses these cunts, but it does get kind of troublesome for them when their areas of interest overlap with those of the more balls-out racists.

Today, Richard Littlejohn explains why he didn't want to go on Question Time alongside Griffin...
Best case, you monster him and come across as a bully. Worst case, he challenges you to disagree with some of his views, perhaps on something as straightforward as demanding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and you're immediately tarred as guilty by association.

Once you've said he's a racist, where else is there to go?
And there you have it. A Mail writer simply accusing someone of racism instead of engaging them in the debate? Isn't that the sort of thing Mail writers constantly accuse everyone else of doing with them? Imagine if Griffin challenged you to disagree with his views! Here's Littlejohn from back in January praising Trevor Phillips;
Those of us who argued at the time that it was ludicrous to accuse the entire police force of racism [he's referring to the Macpherson report], over what was a bungled murder inquiry, were ourselves slandered as 'racists'.

The phrase was seized upon by those Trevor identifies as ' guilt-tripping white folks' as a potent stick to batter every public institution in the country.

They have used the catch-all cliche; of 'racism' to advance their own agenda, silence dissent and bully the paying public into submission.
The distinction, it soon becomes clear, is that Nick Griffin is an ACTUAL racist, even though, like Littlejohn, he constantly claims he's just sticking up for British identity, whereas Littlejohn is just someone who agrees with the BNP about a lot of things but wouldn't vote for them because they're racist thugs, unlike him.

Melanie Phillips wrote a similar 'Fuck the BNP!' piece this week:
But that is not the reason for [Griffin's] appeal. Those who support him do not in the main do so because they are racially prejudiced. It is because he also opposes mass immigration, Islamisation and the loss of sovereignty to the EU.
The message, then, is that if only the two main parties started opposing immigration and 'Islamisation' and started getting out of the EU, the BNP would go away. If we just adopt the BNP's policies, they won't be needed after all! Huzzah! Phillips continues;
The BNP really is racist.
Do you see?
But because legitimate feelings about national identity are also deemed to be racist, Griffin has been able to present the entire political mainstream as a conspiracy against the interests of ordinary people.

By cleverly sanitising the BNP message over recent years, he has thus been able to pose as a victim of political correctness.
I can't help feeling that I'm witnessing the truly absurd here. Mail commentators essentially saying 'Guys, come on, don't listen to him, he's racist!'. There's just something inherently amusing about Melanie freakin' Phillips decrying others for 'pos[ing] as a victim of political correctness'. It's the basis for your entire fucking career! You would have thought the Mail would take care not to toss around accusations of racism when their whole shtick is complaining that others are unfairly accusing them of it, but hey, here we are. The irony of Melanie Phillips talking about 'legitimate feelings' is brilliant. Could you imagine if a left-wing columnist had been chastising her by implying her feelings were illegitimate? She'd fly into a fury.

Let me make myself clear; the BNP are much worse than Phillips and Littlejohn, and I'm not trying to suggest their views are identical. But when Mail columnists like them constantly bang on about political correctness stifling debate, and depict accusations of racism as underhand tricks to create 'thought crimes', when you repeatedly say, as Phillips does, that "The hallmark of a liberal society is the toleration of offensive views", can they then realistically simply dismiss the BNP as racists? As Five Chinese Crackers wrote, these extremist groups seem to be at least partly fuelled by the relentlessly negative stories about Muslims and immigration and overbearing political correctness that the Mail churns out. I can't help but feel that when Mail writers lash out at the BNP, maybe somewhere in there should be a little twinge of guilt. There won't be, of course, they simply blame it on the left.

Friday, 16 October 2009

In which I join a mischievous and heavily orchestrated internet campaign

Yeah, so pretty much everyone has joined in giving Jan Moir's spectactularly offensive Mail column, "Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death..." (now pathetically retitled "A strange, lonely and troubling death..." as if a more thoughtful headline somehow mitigates the swill within) a good kicking. Normally I try and avoid the subjects everyone else is doing, but in this case it's hard not to want to join the kickers.

It's hard to know where to start. Moir begins with a bit of pointless padding about other celebrity deaths (Heath Ledger and Jacko), and then starts talking about how the recently-deceased Gately couldn't really even sing. Now, I don't give a fuck about Boyzone; I've got a bunch of Six Organs Of Admittance and Chris Corsano records, and I listen to genres stoner doom metal entirely without irony (or drugs even). Heck, I've even got a surprising amount of Jandek albums which I had to grow a beard that I could stroke along to. I've made 26 records of my own which had a combined listenership that could safely fit on a single-decker bus, so to see these lucky chaps performing bland ballads and inexplicably getting showered with money and awards and the wet knickers of teenage girls has always been a bit depressing. All of that is irrelevant to Gately's death though, so to set the scene a supposedly serious column by joking that "he could barely carry a tune in a Louis Vuitton trunk", as Moir does, seems a bit crass somehow.

Still, that probably would have made for a better column than the one she launches into, which defiantly casts scorn on the coroner's verdict:

But, hang on a minute. Something is terribly wrong with the way this incident has been shaped and spun into nothing more than an unfortunate mishap on a holiday weekend, like a broken teacup in the rented cottage.
Actually, no-one called it a mishap. The official cause of death was pulmonary oedema, which is a dangerous accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
The sugar coating on this fatality is so saccharine-thick that it obscures whatever bitter truth lies beneath. Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again.
As many people have pointed out, 'healthy' and fit men DO die in their sleep, for a variety of reasons. Although in this case it's a disingenuous argument; if he had a fluid build-up in his lungs then he didn't just die for no reason, and having a serious medical condition requires a particularly loose definition of the word 'healthy'. What's troubling about this is that Moir is just nudging and winking at the readers; the coroner and the family may believe one thing, but WE all know different, right, folks? We know what people like Gately get up to! This would be staggeringly heartless so soon after his death even if there were solid grounds for casting aspersions, but with an official explanation in place and nothing but assumptions in the opposing corner it's just pure vindictiveness.
After a night of clubbing, Cowles and Gately took a young Bulgarian man back to their apartment. It is not disrespectful to assume that a game of canasta with 25-year-old Georgi Dochev was not what was on the cards.
What was, Jan? And how did it relate to his death? Any evidence? Some kind of theory? ANYTHING?
Gately's family have always maintained that drugs were not involved in the singer's death, but it has just been revealed that he at least smoked cannabis on the night he died.

Nevertheless, his mother is still insisting that her son died from a previously undetected heart condition that has plagued the family.

Yes, because a hereditary heart condition known to be present in his family is absolutely ludicrous, whereas cannabis = death is just pure, solid science you can take the bank. Where the column gets most outrageous is towards the end, where this tragic death is somehow co-opted into a rant about civil partnerships:
Another real sadness about Gately's death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships.

Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael.

Of course, in many cases this may be true. Yet the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately's last night raise troubling questions about what happened.
Kevin McGee hanged himself. He wasn't in a civil partnership at the time. He had been battling drug addiction. There's genuinely no similarity between the two deaths other than that they were both gay, and that they'd been in the papers. This kind of dog-whistling, "see what happens when the gays try to get married" garbage is just so utterly foul that it's hard to imagine a paid newspaper columnist actually going through with writing it. But here, sadly, we are.

The reaction has been strong enough that Moir has put out a damage-limitation press release to try and make herself look vaguely human. It's not an apology, which I suppose is fair enough since she doesn't feel sorry and clearly meant every word she said. "Some people, particularly in the gay community, have been upset by my article about the sad death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately", she points out. I'm not in the gay community, and I'm certainly not in the Boyzone fan community; I'm just one of those crazy human beings who thinks that viciously raking over the largely imagined details of a tragic death, in public, before a man's even been buried, insulting his family and casting doubts on the integrity of the coroner, is kind of not really cricket. You may not be sure about the wisdom of civil partnerships, Jan Moir, but this is really not the angle to be criticising them from if you want to get any sympathy, even from people who thinkthat equality is somehow a bad idea. The response goes on, hilariously suggesting that her critics probably haven't read the massively widely-available online piece that got Tweeted around the globe, before compounding it with another torrent of burning stupid:
However, it seems unlikely to me that what took place in the hours immediately preceding Gately’s death - out all evening at a nightclub, taking illegal substances, bringing a stranger back to the flat, getting intimate with that stranger - did not have a bearing on his death.
It doesn't matter what it seems like to you, Jan. The facts don't care what you think. That's why we have coroners and inquests and police. There's a reason we don't write on death certificates "Fucked if I know...looks a bit dodgy though, he was one of them weed-smoking gay fellas...just put that down". It seemed 'unlikely' to me that a professional writer would think this column was a good idea, but hey, I'm revising my opinions in the light of new evidence! So, what was that you were saying about civil partnerships?
"In writing that ‘it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships’ I was suggesting that civil partnerships - the introduction of which I am on the record in supporting - have proved just to be as problematic as marriages."
What happy-ever-after myth? Find me one person, one single living person in human history, who claimed, nay, even suggested, that civil partnerships would in all cases be a lifelong recipe for happiness. Just one. Were you asleep when we debated civil partnerships, Jan? Because I'd always assumed that the reason we did it was that homosexuals are just people, as complex and uncategorisable and multi-faceted as any others, imperfect just like you and me (well, perhapss not quite as imperfect as you). There was no expectation of a 100% success rate for gay marriages, just a simple recognition that some sort of basic fucking equality in the eyes of the law might be quite nice, an acknowledgement of the fact that gay people are not freaks to be marginalised and stereotyped and looked upon as a threat. Get with the fucking nineties, Jan!
"In what is clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign I think it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones."
Yeah, you're right. All these people who read your article, they don't really think it was nasty. They're all quite right-wing and intolerant usually, but on a Friday they like to let their hair down and pretend to be politically correct liberals for the lulz. It's how the kids roll these days! We don't feel anything! It's definitely not that journalists have been cossetted for years by the cosy world of printed media, reaching a largely sympathetic audience who can't really reply. It's definitely not that journalists like you are only now suddenly coming face-to-face with what reactions their columns genuinely provoke in real people in an age of instant communication. Just keep believing the problem is everyone else's and nothing to do with the bilious drivel you wrote, it'll all be fine!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The art of headlines

I'm always intrigued by the way headlines juxtapose with their stories in the tabloid press. I understand that headlines are supposed to be attention-grabbing, but when they misrepresent the story it makes reading the comparatively lacklustre material within a bit of a let-down. For example, when you look at the sports pages and you see that someone has 'blasted' someone or is in a 'fury', and then when you read the story they're just making fairly mundane comments expressing minor amounts of disappointment, because they've all been media-trained within an inch of their lives to spout tedious platitudes. See today's Telegraph for Shay Given blasts Fifa over decision to seed World Cup play-offs, where the blast in question is less like a giant star exploding and more like someone trying to discreetly let out a fart in an overrunning meeting. Or the other day in the Mail when Frank Lampard blasted former chief Adam Crozier for 'golden generation' tag, wherein Lampard tapped into unexpected levels of molten rage to furiously spit that it was "quite frustrating". It's not known yet if Crozier needed to be taken to hospital after being caught in the epicentre of that terrifying blast.

That sort of thing is easy enough to let slide, I guess; the sports pages unfortunately don't go away when it's a barren international week, and it's hard enough to make footballers' comments sound interesting at the best of times. In the realm of Proper News though, those kind of exaggerated headlines feel a bit more dangerous. The Mail has a few examples today, the most irresponsible of which is Normal flu jabs 'double the risk of catching swine bug'. The worst thing about this is that you can tell that the writer is fully aware that it's a non-story; much of the actual piece is given over to sheepishly admitting that this is a single study which hasn't even been published in a medical journal, and as such hardly overturns the huge amounts of properly peer-reviewed research that backs the safety of the vaccine. Dutifully, the reporter gets appropriate quotes from the JCVI, the WHO, Sir Liam Donaldson, and the Department Of Health telling them not to be fucking idiots about the whole thing. My favourite bit of the article though is this line:
Health chiefs are concerned that conflicting evidence about protection offered by flu jabs could deter those at risk of serious illness or dying from getting vaccinated.
Which might as well have read "Health chiefs are concerned about tabloid reporters writing articles with scaremongering headlines like this one".

Over in the science section, we get Whatever happened to global warming? How freezing temperatures are starting to shatter climate change theory, its headline eerily similar to a recent BBC effort which made global warming 'sceptics' and their nutjob ringleaders shit their pants with glee last week. The headline suggests the article is about to finally explode the idea of climate change, but the article itself is a bit of a damp squib; some cherry-picked tales about how it's really quite nippy in the not-normally-tropical state of Montana, a repeat of the incredible stat that the earth isn't quite as warm now as it was in the hottest year in recorded history, and then a fair bit of backtracking in the middle where they say the evidence is 'inconclusive', before topping it off with some quotes from some scientists who tell them their headline is pretty much bollocks. Many of the commenters didn't seem to get that far, of course, with Vanessa in London dribbling:
At last an article with the truth. I am sick and tired of reading about this idiotic dream of 'global warming' or climate change...
...suggesting this is the first time she has seen the Mail. Pete in Essex knows where to go to dig for the REAL scientific evidence:
Read the book State of Fear by Michael Crichton. Blows the whole climate change scare stories out of the water.
Indeed. And why be worrying about climate change anyway, when we've got these fucking big-ass cloned dinosaurs on the rampage?

Moving on, we come to Boy, 6, faces 45 days in reform centre for bringing own cutlery to school, wherein 'cutlery' is apparently a quaint euphemism for a Swiss Army knife. This story is from the US and concerns a kid who took a camping knife to school, apparently to eat his lunch. The school had adopted one of those crazy 'don't bring knives to school' policies, and got suspended pending a decision. Thus we get to witness the slightly disorientating sight of seeing the Mail, once so outraged about knife crime, apparently demanding that a child not be punished for taking a knife to school. To be clear, it does sound like the school may have been a bit inflexible with their zero tolerance policy (although that is kind of the point of zero tolerance policies), but I'm kind of baffled that this became news over here, especially with a needlessly misleading headline.

Still, I suppose the alternative to misleading headlines for a paper like the Mail would be ridiculously straightforward headlines that lay bare the crashing tedium within. Headlines like Curvy Danielle Lloyd gets back into bikini for romantic Dubai holiday with Jamie O'Hara, in which curvy Danielle Lloyd gets back into a bikini for a romantic Dubai holiday with Jamie O'Hara. Or Rebecca Loos is back in a bikini eight weeks after giving birth having lost her baby weight AND an extra 5lb, in which, over several gripping paragraphs, we learn the incredible truth about how Rebecca Loos is back in a bikini eight weeks after giving birth, having lost her baby weight AND an extra 5lb. Or Naomi Campbell shows off her timeless figure in an orange bikini as she reunites with Russian lover in Miami, which takes the reader on an extraordinary roller-coaster ride of emotion as, through an intense mesh of florid prose and startling illustration, we gradually build up a picture of what it might be like to look at Naomi Campbell showing off her timeless figure in an orange bikini as she reunites with her Russian lover in Miami. Still, I guess these particular stories are aimed at people who don't necessarily have time to decode more nuanced headlines in the five minutes before their wife gets out of the shower.

Friday, 9 October 2009

James Delingpole is a twat

Probably not one of my cleverest blog titles, if I'm being honest, but he really is a massive twat. He's the sort of twat that would probably love finding out that people like me think he's a twat, as he sits there oozing twattery from his twatty face.

You can pretty much pick any entry from his Telegraph blog to back this up, but let's start with the most recent one. After the headline How pathetically useless of Cambridge Union to ban Michael Savage, Delingpole runs his mouth off about Cambridge Union apparently cancelling an invitation for Savage (an even bigger twat than Delingpole) to speak in one of their debates at the last minute. After a swift kick at Islam and a suggestion that the Union wimped out, Delingpole is forced to add a sheepish update at the end, after he gets an email from the Union explaining that they actually just couldn't afford to meet Savage's technical demands. While it's nice to see Delingpole admit he was wrong, the headline does still call them 'pathetically useless'.

Skipping past a few entries, including a nauseating one where he taunts his wife about how much he wants to fuck Carla Bruni, we come to the following bizarre entry from Sunday: A little light Islamist propaganda to liven up your Sunday. I'll quote it in its entirety:

I’ve just been supervising my nine-year old daughter’s home work for the week. She attends a Church of England Primary School. Here is the text she was set:

“Abdul left his friend’s house. He had had a fun afternoon. He took the route home. He was whistling softly. He scuffed his feet in the dry leaves. He pretended to dribble a football up the pitch. He passed a derelict church.”

Is it just me or is there something seriously wrong with the subliminal messages being sent out here?
Because, as we all know, C of E schools are the first place I go to for my Islamic propaganda. As far as I can make out, Delingpole makes the case that this is a sneaky leftist conspiracy to foist Allah on us all merely by noting that this fictional kid is named Abdul. That's basically it, plus the 'derelict church' bit, which inflamed a few of his commenters (although one could just as easily argue that the image of a Muslim walking past a derelict C of E church was subtly anti-Islamic, you could certainly imagine it as a shocking vignette in a BNP party political broadcast). So I Googled the first line and found this PDF link to what would appear to be that piece of homework. In that link, the text is exactly the same, but it says 'old church' instead of 'derelict'. It could be that this is a standard piece of homework that Delingpole's kid's school changed for some reason, or it could be that Delingpole got a bit creative there, I don't know. In any case, it goes on:

He heard a sound. He stopped. He listened. He heard someone crying. He pushed the gate open. He was scared. It creaked. He shivered. He looked around. He wondered whether there was anyone behind him. He went through the gate.
...so it's not really about Abdul or the church, it's a starting point for kids to write a story. Even if it were, is naming the character in your fictional story 'Abdul' likely to cause of wave of little Church Of England school kids to start strapping bombs to their chests and joining the jihad? Not least since the other questions on that page involve kids named Charlie and Gavin and fucking Joshua.

My recent personal favourite is where he claims, without irony, that liberals can't do comedy. No, really: 'Liberal satire' is an oxymoron. Adopting the moral high ground, as he often does, by calling liberals 'libtards', Delingpole takes aim at comedians like Al Franken and Jon Stewart (seemingly because Chris Hitchens already picked on them and he's merely cribbing off a Hitchens piece), asserting that they're not funny because they don't make jokes about Islam (except when, as some commenters point out, they do). Unable to think of any actual funny right-wingers (seriously, who is there? Fucking Clarkson?), Delingpole desperately tries to claim the Daily Mash as right-leaning satire (sample headline from this week; "TORIES TO RAISE MILDLY RACIST, CARAVAN-OWNING BASTARD AGE"), which will come as something of a surprise to many of us.

He does little to explain why right-wing comedy is funny and left-wing stuff isn't, but that's not really Delingpole's style; merely asserting that something is true is usually enough for him. He contrasts the Daily Mash with another, supposedly shit, liberal satire site which I haven't read. Strangely though, he neglects to contrast Stewart's wildy successful Daily Show, or the similarly popular Colbert Report, with the unbelievable failure of its conservative equivalent, Fox's quickly-aborted 1/2 Hour News Hour, which was thoroughly derided during its brief 17-episode lifespan and featured the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter struggling to make joking about the poor and minorities into something funny. (The show was swiftly cancelled and had a rating of 12 out of 100 on MetaCritic).

I could go on, but some of his other entries are making me lose the will to live. You've got Isn't Black History Month a bit racist?, which fails to add any particular insight beyond its depressingly familiar title, and things like How the global warming industry is based on one MASSIVE lie, one of his many pieces where he takes the word of a 'global warming sceptic' at face value and runs around smugly touting his triumph over the libtards. In this particular one he can be found repeating criticisms that have spread like wildfire throughout the right-wing blogosphere, in an article so shit it got a special mention in RealClimate's weary rebuttal.

Delingpole loves to pour scorn on the idea of anthropogenic climate change; most weeks you can find him hiding behind Ian Plimer, tossing insults at George Monbiot for following the scientific orthodoxy on climate change, because Delingpole read Plimer's largely discredited book and found it well impressive. His understanding of science is pretty laughable; in one hilariously bad piece of playground name-calling, he responds to Monbiot's perfectly reasonable suggestion that a debate between himself and Plimer take place in written form to allow readers to check out the sources rather than in a live public slanging match, by calling him a 'chicken' and characterising his response as
...the squirmy, weaselly get-out of a no-good, snivelling, yellow-bellied, milquetoast loser quite terrified of having the massive holes in his puny argument mercilessly exposed in public by a proper scientist who actually knows his subject inside out?
And that, my friends, is the sort of thing that justifies my admittedly childish title. I thought about taking the high road, but he's really just a big silly fartypants.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Quite possibly the laziest Richard Littlejohn column ever

I've been a bit quiet recently, since I haven't really been in the mood to depress myself with a trawl through the papers, and the stories I have followed, like the abortive attempt by several papers to whip up an HPV vaccine scare only to be cruelly thwarted by the actual evidence, (although many of them did gamely try to cling on to the 'well, we should still be concerned' angle even after their initial reactions proved unfounded), have been pretty well covered elsewhere.

So I figured I'd ease myself back in with another lazy run through Dicky Littlejohn's latest knockabout romp. Today's, though, is quite bizarre. In it, Littlejohn complains that his council are too damn reasonable about recycling and helpful with the bins. He ponders aloud how he's supposed to run off one of his ironically recycled rants about the Bin Nazis, displayed a hitherto undiscovered sense of self-awareness. You can see that he's suddenly struggling with his conscience; there's just a glimmer of a hint of a thought there that maybe, just maybe, the world isn't entirely run by morons without a shred of 'common sense', that maybe all these little pathetic one-off anecdotes he repeats about some unreasonable council official aren't actually a fair representation of the world. That in some cases these stories aren't even true, or that they're exaggerated, or that even when they're true they're only newsworthy because they're isolated incidents which you can't extrapolate from. As I read it, I almost started rooting for him. "He's about to get it! He's finally fucking getting it! Go on Richard my son!".

Of course, he hasn't learned a fucking thing, or if he has, he's clearly about to repress it, as the final piece of his column today demonstrates. Still, before that, he has time for a couple of other segments, like a whole section which is designed to justify yet another pointless, smirking reference to Peter Mandelson's (gay!!!!) partner. It's actually quite a neat little bit of baiting; the section is headed "Thank God it was Sarah and not Reinaldo", and after a perfunctory complaint about Sarah Brown introducing Gordon Brown at the Labour conference (© all newspapers this week), he drifts into one of his merry little daydreams:
Still, at least we were spared Reinaldo's version of how Mandy makes a mess in the bathroom when he's dyeing his hair. Or Jack Dromey on how Harriet went mental when she discovered he had a Page 3 calendar up in his office.
The Dromey/Harman bit has the feel of something tacked on just in case someone makes a joke about his continuing obsession with Mandelson's gay relationship, so it wouldn't surprise me to see him making that defence of himself next week.

The next two sections aren't really worth talking about, just a strained dig at Gordon Brown and then a bit of fluff about how we're being turned into a federal superstate. Yawn.

Still, you know it wouldn't be a proper Littlejohn column without one of his trademark misleading anecdotes about politcal correctness gone mad, and today's comes in the form of this closing belch:
When the North Wales Traffic Taliban decided to muzzle all their police dogs and train them how to headbutt suspects instead of biting them, I thought I'd heard it all.

As usual, I should have known better. The increasingly absurd Devon and Cornwall force has started replacing their German shepherds with springer spaniels, which are said to be 'less frightening'.

Isn't frightening the whole point of police dogs?

Perhaps they should go still further and start recruiting labradors. Our old lab, Ossie, would have enjoyed being a police dog.

Trouble is, he wouldn't have been able to decide between licking suspects into submission or humping them to the ground.
Hmm, that seems odd. Attack dogs reduced in size to avoid hurting the nasty rapists and armed robbers? Must be human rights gone mad! So, donning my Sherlock Holmes hat, off I bravely go to Google to put in "springer spaniels" along with "Devon" and "Cornwall" to see if I can't get my massive detective brain around it and try to get to the bottom of it. It's amazing I go to this level of trouble unpaid, but what can I say, when duty calls I guess you gotta pick up that phone. And so, after upwards of 26 seconds of reading the BBC's less rabid account, I finally get a glimpse of the truth...

They're rescue dogs. No, genuinely, it's literally as straightforward and almost insultingly simple as that. They've trained them to be rescue dogs, for rescuing people. People who probably haven't done anything wrong and need rescuing. Devon and Cornwall police force have trained three (3!) springer spaniels and a Brittany to rescue people. So when Littlejohn asks "Isn't frightening the whole point of police dogs?", he means "Isn't frightening the whole point of police rescue dogs?". To which the answer, I would think most reasonable people would agree, is "no".
The force dog inspector said: "Our existing general purpose dogs are fantastic at what they do but vulnerable people are often scared when confronted by a German shepherd dog.

"These lost person search dogs have no other skills and are pure specialists in finding people who are lost."
So, these dogs will literally only be used to rescue people and find people who have gone missing, like for example lost children, with the old big dogs used for everything else. Meaning that they're not being 'replaced' either. This BBC story, which completely renders Littlejohn's argument massively wrong IN THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE, has been up since Tuesday. If you Google News search for "springer spaniels", you get it as the second result, with the Telegraph's Springer spaniels recruited as rescue dogs by police the main result. Indeed, do any kind of search for any news story about this, and it becomes painfully clearly that Richard Littlejohn is possibly the only person in the world who thinks these dogs are supposed to be hunting down criminals and giving them a playful lick on the face because political correctness gone mad says we can't frighten the bastards. I don't want to accuse him of being deliberately misleading, but I genuinely cannot conceive of a way he could have found out about this story without being told that these dogs are purely for rescuing people, unless he just half-heard it on the telly while he was doing something else and didn't bother his arse to do even the most basic Google-powered research of the kind a tiny child would be able to do.