Rod Liddle

The moronic inferno descends

The moronic inferno descends
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Another interregnum – apologies, from now on there will be no more. I’ve been in San Francisco interviewing Neil Young for the Sunday Times and returned jet-lagged and frazzled a day ago to a pile of letters from outraged cat-lovers. Is there something about owning a cat which obligates the owner to have his or her brain sucked out by a straw? As someone who dislikes “domestic” cats, or more properly the people who own them, I would like to think that this is true – that cats are at the nexus of all manner of stupidities, that they convey a certain unfathomable imbecility upon their owners. This seems to have happened in the case of online reader Christina Burton, for example, who rang the RSPCA, the ombudsman (I don’t know which ombudsman) and probably the UN Court of Human Rights to have me banged up for having written the following. I was commenting on the case of the woman called Mary Bale, who placed a live cat in a wheelie bin. Or, if we’re honest, commenting upon the moronic inferno which engulfed the woman not long after. Anyway, this is how I began the article:

‘Well, thank the Lord there were no cctv cameras around when I caught Mr Tibbles in my garden a few weeks back, before the whole furore began. Luckily, I read about Mary Bale and surreptitiously took down the mini-gibbet and buried the remains in a small trench behind the pond, before the Facebook maniacs had a chance to get on the case.

The cat had been doing its usual stuff — crapping on the lawn, eating wild animals, urinating in my daughter’s sandpit — before it was unfortunately snagged in the wooden peg and wire snare I had laid by the hedge. It was subjected to a brief trial, of the sort you might receive in Cuba or Burma, before being marched to the centre of the garden swinging by its back legs and subjected to due process: I even put a suit on for the event and sang a brief requiem, by Fauré. I swear there were two woodmice sitting nearby knitting as the sentence was carried out, cackling away to themselves. Declining in numbers are woodmice, so a rare moment of cheer for them.’

Now, unless you are so thick than you need to be fed by carers or regularly reminded how to breathe, you would realize that the above was not a straightforward description of events. I did not set a snare in the garden, erect a gibbet, nor subject the cat to a trial; nor were there two woodmice sitting nearby knitting. What sort of IQ level do you need to believe that the paragraphs above were nothing more than reporting of reality? Sort of, you know, nine? But Burton wasn’t alone. There was this, from a pompous idiot called Tom Halstead:

‘Rod Liddle's article about snaring and killing a domestic cat was disappointing: not for what it told us, but what it didn't tell us.

How did he kill it? Did he strangle it, or hit it with a brick or spade? Perhaps he swung it round and dashed its brains out on a rock. Did it die first time or did it scream in pain a require a second bash? Perhaps it's because Mr Liddle is a coward and knows he has committed a crime, moral as well as technical.

If he wanted to protect his garden he would be better looking on the RSPB website at methods of deterring cats.

Tom Halstead.’

Tom – I told you, I hanged the cat, from a gibbet, with the woodmice knitting away in the background. Were you incapable of reading that bit? And then this, from some other mug:

‘Dear Sirs,

In the Rod Liddle article in the most recent edition of the magazine, he appears to admit to snaring his next door neighbours domestic cat a few weeks ago, “marching it to the centre of his garden swinging by its back legs & subjecting it to due process” ie killing it. The following paragraph seems to confirm this.

This may be a joke, in which case it is in the grossest bad taste. If it is true, he will be prosecuted.’

“The following paragraph seems to confirm this.” Brilliant. There were many more, from people who are either too thick to read what was written or, more likely, alighted upon the fact that the writer disliked cats and were thus disposed simply to be angry and ignore what they knew to be the case – that the paragraphs I wrote were a sort of joke and not intended to be taken literally. I suspect the woodmice were the give away. And so these complainants proved the point of the article, which is that there are a legion of mad or dense people out there who will consciously misrepresent what they read because they feel miffed, or are simply too thick to be allowed out by themselves (which is it Tom, Christina?). And increasingly, these maniacs hold a certain sway through weight of numbers. Interesting times.