A fatal misunderstanding

What is it about Naomi Wolf that inspires such venom? Perhaps that she’s American, brash, media-savvy and not averse to showing off her impressive embonpoint, which might go down badly in academe. But also — she makes mistakes. She made a pretty bad mistake in her very first book, The Beauty Myth, published in l990, by saying that 150,000 women died of anorexia in the US every year — whereas in fact she should have said 150,000 women suffered from anorexia. In this book, she seems to have dropped an even bigger clanger. Matthew Sweet started the ball rolling on his Radio 3 Free Thinking programme, when he told her

Forbidden love and the beautiful game

Nowadays, most of us living in the liberal West agree that there can never be anything morally wrong with love between consenting adults. This is good for society but bad for novelists. The tale of the grand passion that runs foul of societal mores is a staple of literature. What is Madame Bovary if Emma can slam divorce papers on Charles’s desk after her first few sexts with Rodolphe? Writers who want to do the love versus society theme have to get creative. Ross Raisin has hit on the sterling idea of heading for the world of professional football. Not a single one of Britain’s 5,000 full-time players is openly

Kids’ stuff | 6 October 2016

When a new TV channel calls its flagship food show Fuck, That’s Delicious, we might surmise that the Reithian ideals are not foremost in its corporate philosophy. You probably haven’t heard of Viceland. You certainly haven’t watched it. It seeped on to the airwaves with little fanfare and few viewers. Viceland is the new 24-hour TV channel of Vice Media, the Canadian-American outfit that describes itself as the ‘world’s preeminent youth media company and content creation studio’. Vice began in 1994 as a magazine but now encompasses a news division, a record label, a film studio and myriad digital ventures. It prides itself on being ‘alternative’, ’disruptive’, sticking it to

Pussy galore

I think I might be turning into Alf Garnett. When I was growing up I saw him as an obnoxious, cantankerous, ranting old git that my grandparents’ generation seemed to find funny but who left me cold. Now I’m beginning to identify with him as an unfairly maligned and surprisingly youthful fount of wisdom whose tragedy is to be ignored by maddeningly unsympathetic womenfolk and infuriating kids. That was my thought, anyway, watching Till Death Us Do Part (Thursday, BBC Four) — a one-off remake of one of Johnny Speight’s original Sixties scripts, with The Fast Show’s Simon Day as Alf. It’s part of a short season, ‘Lost Sitcoms’, commissioned

Zero tolerance, zero sanity

For 20 months, I stood accused of a hate crime: homophobically motivated common assault. The British Transport Police pursued my case with extraordinary zeal. So too did the Crown Prosecution Service. I was plunged into a world where common sense withered and died. The nightmare began when I was travelling home to London after a funeral in Kent. I was chatting with a friend on the train when a strange man started shouting at us from across the carriage. ‘Shut up!’ he yelled before accusing us of conducting a sexist and misogynistic conversation at high volume. This was, in his opinion, ‘offensive’. Brendan O’Neill and Kevin O’Sullivan discuss the real hate crime

Brendan O’Neill

We are not a hateful nation

Britain is in the grip of an epidemic, apparently. An epidemic of hate. Barely a day passes without some policeman or journalist telling us about the wave of criminal bigotry that is sweeping through the country. It’s been bad for years, they say, but has become worse since the EU referendum. Police forces tell us that hate crime has ‘soared’ in recent weeks; there’s been an ‘explosion of blatant hate’, according to some newspapers. Twenty-first-century Britain, it seems, is a pretty rancid, rage-fuelled place. Brendan O’Neill and Kevin O’Sullivan discuss the real hate crime scandal: If you feel this doesn’t tally with your experience of life in Blighty in 2016,

Why are children in Guernsey extolling Islam to their parents?

I have never been to the island of Guernsey. This is a large world and we have a finite amount of time on it and must make our decisions about where we visit based on necessarily limited information. We cannot know everything. I have never been to Japan, for example, because I do not wish to be crushed to death by a mass of jabbering humanity, nor take part in unpleasant sadomasochistic sex acts, nor watch people disembowelling themselves in order to affirm their masculinity. I realise that this is not all that Japan has to offer. There is also sushi, for example, and buttock-clenched politeness. I could get both

Farty, smelly and in love with Putin? You must be getting middle-aged

There are things that happen when you grow older — bad things, harbingers of death and decay. Past the age of 55, I mean. For example, a friend and fellow columnist confessed recently that upon rising from a sitting position he almost always unintentionally farts. A delicate little ‘glip!’ from his bottom, every time he stands up. I am a little older than him and have yet to experience this demeaning imposition, this additional whiff of misery as we trundle downhill, via the unctuous and grimly cheerful hospice attendants, to the crematorium. But I am so terrified of it happening that nowadays, when I stand up, I rise very slowly and

Spectator’s Notes | 3 September 2015

Was there ever a more unilluminating political idea — for voters rather than practitioners — than triangulation? For those readers so pure and high-minded that they have not followed politics for 20 years, I should explain that triangulation came from Bill Clinton, was imported by Tony Blair, and is now practised by David Cameron. Clinton’s adviser, Dick Morris, put it thus: ‘The President needed to take a position that not only blended the best of each party’s views but also transcended them to constitute a third force in the debate.’ The Tories’ adoption of the Living Wage is the latest example. This concept, almost as mystically bogus as the medieval concept

Who’d have thought that about Ted? Well…

In another blow for freedom and the protection of the vulnerable, Conservative MP Mark Spencer has suggested that anti-terror legislation should be used to punish teachers who hold ‘old-fashioned’ views about homosexuality and perhaps divest themselves of these views to their pupils. I assume this could mean simply reading out bits of the Bible — that pungent little verse in Leviticus, perhaps, with its reference to ‘detestable acts’. Or maybe he would be OK reading out bits from Leviticus if he then made it clear that the Levite priests, and God Himself, were totally wrong on this issue and that homosexuality is absolutely lovely. But never mind the Levites. These ‘old-fashioned’ views would include

Warning: this column may soon be illegal

[audioplayer src=”http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/theelectionwhereeverybodyloses/media.mp3″ title=”Listen to Douglas Murray discuss Islamophobia” startat=1350] Listen [/audioplayer]A couple of weeks back I wrote an article headed: ‘Call me insane, but I’m voting Labour.’ Among the many hundreds of people who reacted with the rather predictable ‘Yes, you’re insane’ was my wife, Mrs Liddle. She pointed out that Ed Miliband had vowed that upon being elected, Labour would make Islamophobia a crime. ‘So,’ she concluded, with a certain acidity, ‘not only will we be substantially worse off under a Labour government, but at nine o’clock on the morning of 8 May the police will arrive to take you away. You are voting for a party which will

It’s dark days for dogs and their owners

So who is poisoning all the doggies, then? I assumed, when the first horrible reports came through from Crufts, that it was either the Russians or the Muslims. Russians seem unable to go more than a few days without feeling the need to bump somebody off. Perhaps they’d run out of businessmen to kill and thought, during this morale-sapping lacuna, it would be wise to keep their hand in by murdering a few dogs. We were told almost endlessly during Channel 4’s coverage of this year’s tournament — won this year by a small and unpleasant black thing, some sort of painfully sculpted terrier with an embittered expression on its face — that

Michael Arditti is the Graham Greene of our time

Duncan Neville is an unlikely hero for a novel. Approaching 50, divorced and the butt of his teenage son Jamie’s utter contempt, Duncan is also the eloquent yet mild-mannered editor of the Francombe Mercury, a local newspaper on its last legs. Francombe too has seen better days, not least since its pier burnt down in 2013 (an event covered fulsomely in the Mercury). While Duncan negotiates a good take-over deal for Mercury staff and their pensions, he’s also trying to prevent the ruined pier from being developed into a sex theme park by his schoolboy nemesis Geoffrey Weedon. The fact that Duncan’s ex-wife Linda is married to Geoffrey’s brother doesn’t

The hidden price of more overseas students at British public schools

Just a decade or so ago, most public‑school-educated parents felt obliged to give their children the same start in life they themselves were given — selling off heirlooms to send their Jacks and Henriettas off to Eton, Stowe, Cheltenham Ladies or St Paul’s. These days the price is just too high, says Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School in Wimbledon, and he’s been honest enough to name the cause: the hordes of prospective parents from other countries, oligarchs and oil men, all jostling for places for their progeny. They push the price of an elite ‘British’ education up beyond the reach of any ordinary Brit. He’s brave to raise the

Thank heavens for Justin Welby!

For decades, interventions of the Archbishop of Canterbury in national debate were like a sporadic bombardment of small pebbles against the door of Downing Street. Justin Welby has changed all that. This week, payday loan companies are facing reform (or in some cases oblivion) as new caps on interest payments come into effect. That the industry finds itself in this position is thanks, in no small part, to it having been hooked around the neck by the Archbishop’s crosier. Welby has inspired reform of the industry not by trying to set himself up as the leader of the opposition in a cassock, but by acting as an effective leader of

Sex and squalor in San Francisco

Frog Music begins with a crime against a young mother, committed in a tiny space. Unlike Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel Room, however, the setting is not present-day America but that of 1876. Blanche is travelling on a train with her new friend Jenny. She hears several loud cracks and feels something hot and wet fall on her face. When she collects her senses, Jenny lies dead. Like Kate Atkinson, Donoghue straddles the literary and the crime genre. Room, inspired by the discovery of a number of women abducted and impregnated by their captors, should have won the 2010 Orange Prize and didn’t — perhaps because its subject matter was simply

Sochi Olympics: Why picking on gays has backfired so horribly for Vladimir Putin

After all the fuss, the billions spent, the calls for boycotts and so on, the Sochi Winter Olympics will begin next week. Given the incredibly low expectations, the Russian Games may even be judged a success — as long as the weather stays cold and no terrorist attack takes place. But Vladimir Putin should not be too smug, because his broader campaign against homosexuality has backfired spectacularly. The Russian President’s decision to sign a law prohibiting ‘the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors’ last summer probably made sense to him at the time. This measure, along with one that bans the adoption of Russian children not just by homosexuals

Rod Liddle

Why I’m on board for the homophobic bus

London has long since lost its allure for me — altogether too many cars, foreigners, cyclists, middle-class liberals and people who, like me, work in the media, as they call it. I was born in London but only feel truly at home in the north-east of England, an area of the country within which the constituents of that list I quoted above are almost nonexistent. But I am thinking now of moving back to the city — it’s possible that I could afford a flat in somewhere such as Brockley, or perhaps Catford — to take advantage of a radical new development in our capital. Because rumbling along the streets

There’s a global morality gap — and it’s getting wider

First World, Third World, East, West, North and South; every few years economists come up with yet another supposedly more acceptable way of slicing humanity into manageable chunks. Mostly these great divides are riven by wealth; sometimes (RIP Second World) by ideology. But I think it’s time to name a new divide, a more fundamental, more puzzling one — a split between worlds that will define the 21st century much as the Iron Curtain defined the 20th. I am talking about the morality gap. It is now clear, though not much talked about, that humanity, all 7.1 billion of us, tends to fall into one of two distinct camps. On

Mr Loverman, by Bernardine Evaristo – review

In 1998, the Jamaican singer Bounty Killer released a single, ‘Can’t Believe Mi Eyes’, which expressed incredulity that men should wear tight trousers, because tight trousers are an effeminate display of gayness. Fear and loathing of homosexuals has a long history in the West Indies. Jamaica’s anti-sodomy laws, deriving from the English Act of 1861, carry a ten-year jail sentence for ‘the abominable crime’. Similar laws exist elsewhere in the Anglophone Caribbean, yet Jamaica is outwardly the most homophobic of the West Indian islands. A white man seen on his own in Jamaica is often assumed to be in search of gay sex. Batty bwoys (‘bum boys’) are in danger