Archive for February, 2008

Jon Gaunt on capital punishment: “Waaaaaaaay-hey!”

Posted in fuckwits, Fury Home, Media, Politics, The Modern World with tags , , , , , , , on February 29, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

Jon Gaunt is mean and tough. He’s not a namby-pamby, and don’t you dare say otherwise. Jon Gaunt’s not into the idea of his taxes being used to keep mass murderers in Playstations and swan korma, and he’ll not thank you for implying that he is. It may be controversial, but Jon Gaunt is anti-murder, and he doesn’t care who knows it.  Jon Gaunt’s not one of those liberal sandal-hugging yoghurt-weavers  who won’t be happy until there’s a one-legged lesbian black heroin addict in Number 10.  When John Gaunt does a push up, he’s not pushing himself up, he’s pushing the earth down.

Actually, that last one’s Chuck Norris, but the rest is spot-on.  Today, Gaunt has regaled us with his views on capital punishment – again.  Having been one of two Sun writers to work himself up into a nigh-on orgasmic euphoria over the idea of its return just a few days ago, Gaunt’s own column today was devoted to his fantasies over what would be a suitable punishment for multiple murderer Levi Bellfield.  Despite the evidence, Gaunt still feels that the death penalty is a suitable deterrent to murderers, and throws up his arms in despair at the luxury in which Bellfield will spend the rest of his life.  A luxury that, I grant, would be entirely unmerited, which makes it a relief that it is also complete fiction.

In support of his argument, Gaunt puts forth the result of the in-no-way biased Sun poll that saw a startling 99% in favour of the death penalty.  A cynical person might suggest that the kind of person who votes in these polls is exactly the type of person who gets all their opinions from … well, Jon Gaunt.  Furthermore, at the time of writing, there has not been a law passed to give legislative powers to Sun pollsters, unless I’ve been in a very clean and very subtle coma.  Nonetheless, Gaunt tells it like it is:  “The politicians must listen”.  Gaunt calls for a free vote on the issue.  Gaunt forgets that as a representative democracy, the UK public votes for a government to enact legislation, and that deciding everything by referendum would slow things down to the point where Commons motions would eventually be passed thirty years after the issue was first raised.

The politicians DO listen, Jon, and a number of Westminster MPs agree with you on the death penalty.  However, a government was elected that opposes its return, so tough titty.  The families of the murder victims are justifiably angry and want revenge for their lost ones – as I imagine I might in such a situation.  The government, however, cannot allow emotion to dictate penalty where lives are at stake.  An awful lot depends on the government’s handling of issues, and any decent government cannot afford to be cheaply populist.  That is a privilege afforded to columnists like Gaunt – and bloggers, too – so for him to refer to MPs as “self-serving jokes” is like James Blunt criticising Frank Sinatra for his lack of  talent, and would be stupefyingly hypocritical if we expected any better from idiotic right-wing shock-jocks like him.

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Kay Burley – what the fuck?

Posted in fuckwits, Fury Home, Media, Today's Society with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 29, 2008 by Toni

A serial killer is jailed. The seriousness of his crimes ensures that he will not live another day as a free man. The mandatory press galoots lobbying for the return of the death penalty hop all over it. A further two sex killers are locked up within a week and the debate gathers pace. Press coverage, much of it unedifying in the extreme, piles up, and one wonders where the next angle will be found. Will the tone be elevated by conscientious journalism, or dragged further into the gutter by some hack who asks questions first and thinks later? A two-word answer for you: Kay Burley.

Having secured an interview with Pamela Wright, partner of the murderer Steve Wright, Burley posed a question that will go down in history for its sheer jaw-dropping insensitivity. “Do you think if you’d had a better sex life, he wouldn’t have done this?” asked Burley, demonstrating an interview technique which, having long ago found the bottom of the barrel, has struck out for new and interesting depths. I have yet to decide whether or not it is to Wright’s credit that she considered and answered, rather than driving a stake into Burley’s heart.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I’m no fan of the Murdoch empire, and that I feel it has done for journalistic standards what Guy Ritchie has done for cinema. Indeed I feel that were Dante still alive today that he would have to revise his Inferno to add an extra circle just for Rupert and his legacy. It’s a personal opinion, and I am aware it is not a particularly unique one. So it takes something truly head-spinning to surprise me where Sky News are concerned – and somehow Burley has pulled out of the bag an absolute scorcher, one that takes the old certainties, sets fire to them, urinates all over them until the fire is dead, and then puts them through some kind of crushing mechanism before scattering them to all four corners of the globe. Then visits them all and pisses on them again.

Burley will retain her job at Sky News. It’s an organisation so far beyond redemption that word has it they don’t bother with mirrors in the toilets because so few of its employees have reflections. Scientifically-controlled tests have shown that when a television set is tuned to Sky News, the room temperature drops by on average five degrees Celsius, and if you play its incidental music backwards a voice can be heard exhorting the viewer to sacrifice a neighbour so that Rupert Murdoch can feed off their soul. It’s broadly similar to Fox News, the main difference being that for Fox the method of execution is by use of a ceremonial sword, whereas in the UK the viewer is advised to use half a brick.

Rumours that Burley was persuaded to drop from the interview her follow-up question “So do you feel 50% to blame yourself, you horrible frigid bitch?” are as yet unconfirmed, but it is believed that on taking a short break from drowning new-born puppies to watch the interview, Rupert Murdoch sent Burley a congratulatory telegram written in the blood of slaughtered infants.

Will Burley apologise for attempting to spread the blame around in such a ghoulish way? Will she penitently give some thought to journalistic and moral standards in future? It’s hard to imagine it happening, sadly. Indeed, I’d be willing to bet that Hell will freeze over before that happens. Which is great news for Our Kay, as she’ll have somewhere nice and familiar to practice if she decides to give Dancing on Ice another go.

EDIT: I just read this post. Says it better than I did. Sod.

EDIT 2:  Anyone wishing to push Burley towards the exit door at Sky News can sign the petition here.

The BNP’s creep toward “respectability”

Posted in fuckwits, Fury Home, Politics, The Written Word with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

It’s been talked about time and again, particularly since the turn of the century, but the BNP’s continuing attempt to re-cast itself as a party that has thrown off the old “jackboot” image is still fooling many, it seems. As a political party that is, if not fluent, at least conversational, in PR, the flow of stories about supposed pillars of the community who have “seen the light” and joined the new, improved party must delight Nick Griffin, who gains reflected acceptability from the people joining. It helps if these people are female, and more so if they are pretty, because it is harder to picture these poster-children wearing a Chelsea shirt and defiling a mosque.

The Daily Mail, (I know, such a cliché, what can I say?), is often the source of these PR victories for the modern-day Moseleys. Careful to adorn their stories with caveats that make clear how unpleasant they find the BNP, the Mail is beginning to specialise in stories about the softer, more human, and let’s be honest, less-likely-to-be-tattooed face of the party. The latest of these is Donna Bailey, whose bid to be elected to the parish council of Upper Beeding in Sussex was stymied since it emerged that she was a card-carrying member of the Bigoted Nazi Party. Bailey is quick to reject the assertion that Griffin’s merry band of Holocaust deniers, racists and cranks are an extreme-right party, but asked to name a more extreme party she says: “I don’t know the names of them but there are some. Maybe that Combat 18. Now they are extreme.”

That’d be the Combat 18 who aren’t actually a political party, but a splinter-group from yer actual BNP, who still share many common members with, yes, the BNP. Yeah, you’re dead right, they are extreme. Well spotted. She goes on to bring out some cracking deadpan one-liners, saying that the parish council’s decision not to elect her into its number as “discriminatory” (and you suddenly have a problem with discrimination since you joined a party that denies people membership on the basis of their race?). Because her membership of the BNP means nothing to her supporters, proudly disinterested in politics as they are, she retains their support, although gratifyingly she was defeated in the eventual election (and then soundly patronised on her party’s own website). Her dreams of one day being an MP, rest assured, seem a long way off as she cannot win an election even when faced with an electorate that she mostly knows by name. But it does seem that being photogenic and having no criminal record – two things that place her in a minority within the party – have seen her given an easier ride than would ordinarily be afforded a BNP member.

The same could be said for Simone Clarke, now obligatorily referred to as the “BNP ballerina”. The head dancer of the English National Ballet was revealed last year to be a member of the party, and the sympathetic hearing she gained from the Mail may have a lot to do with her gender and her looks (how ironic that the BNP should benefit from positive discrimination, and that the Daily Mail should partake in same). Where normally someone promoting a political party might expect to be hauled over the coals for showing a worrying ignorance of what that party stands for, and for singularly failing to back up their arguments, Clarke is almost patted on the head for being the victim of a nasty, dirt-digging journalist.

The crippling naivete – or even bland, meaningless platitudes – on display in the interview actually seem to count in Clarke’s favour. While I despise the BNP and all that it represents, I must admit to having a shade more respect for someone who votes for or joins them if they are open and honest about WHY they have done so – they may be a bigoted toad, but at least they’re not posing as a vulnerable faun. Clarke’s defence reads like a checklist of clichéd pub philosophy:

“Using the word immigration is now a greater crime than cold-blooded murder” – no. No, it’s not. Jesus, people call liberals whiny?
“I’m not too proud to say that a lot of it went over my head” – there’s a clue in there, Simone. I take no interest in particle physics for that very reason, I don’t pay £25 to join a fan club for it.
“I think the BNP are honest. They’re not trying to dress up what they want, which is change on these issues.” – no, they aren’t, and yes, they are. See Nick Griffin caught on hidden camera, then see him interviewed. He’s a racist and a liar, sticking a suit on him won’t alter the fact.
“I’m not a particularly political person but I read the manifesto and I took it on face value.” – another error there. Nick Griffin could pledge to dangle his dick in a bucket of custard on taking his seat in the House of Commons in the full knowledge that he won’t need to make good on it.
“I don’t know why it’s OK to be shot for your mobile phone and the thief be given a few months in prison but I’m not allowed to say, ‘I don’t agree with that’.” – you just did.

The article was written at a time when Clarke was still shacked up with fellow dancer Yat-Sen Chang, a Cuban immigrant with a Chinese father and an individual who would be barred from joining the Griffin revolution on the basis of his foreign nationality.  Since then, however, she has dumped him and swiftly got engaged to BNP bigwig Richard Barnbrook.  Of course there’s nothing sinister in that – when love strikes, it strikes regardless of circumstances.  Anyone taking the cynical and wrong attitude that there’s a hint of PR in a prominent member of the BNP ending a relationship of which the party disapproves and moving in with a fellow party member who while at university directed and produced a film that looked a hell of  lot like gay erotica and has a tendency to get really quite agitated at the very mention of this, almost like someone trying desperately to distance himself from something… well, it’s horrible even to suggest such a thing.  You won’t hear me saying that it all looks like a coincidence to try and shrug off reputations that are potentially damaging to Clarke’s and Barnbrook’s standing within the party.

I just wonder if the Mail have an exclusive deal to show the wedding photos, that’s all.

Jodie Marsh again.

Posted in fuckwits, Fury Home, People, The Modern World, Today's Society with tags , , , , , , , on February 27, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

About a fortnight ago I posted an angry damnation of celebrity fuckwit Jodie Marsh and, therein, I posited the oft-expressed point of view that she existed only to make “Katie” Jordan “Price” look good.  Jode, as I like to never call her, has often trumpeted the fact that she’s better than Jordan because her sweater-cows are all real, even calling her autobiography (fucked if I’m linking to an Amazon page for it, the dire cunt that she is, I’m not risking someone actually buying it as a result) “Keeping It Real”.

Anyway, it now emerges that she’s going to have her boobs done – with some lucky magazine stumping up the cash for her in return for the first photos of the new knockers.  There is no font currently in existence that would adequately carry enough weight to do justice to the enormous “FOR FUCK’S SAKE” that this development merits.  After years of gurning about how “real” she is, la Marsh has decided to throw her only remaining card directly into a fucking big shredder.  And some futile arse is going to pay her to do it.

Not only this, but in another stunning development, Marsh has told a leading magazine that the recent break-up of her pretend marriage to some bloke led her to consider suicide.  This is roughly the 964th time that she has considered suicide, having previously given the idea some thought when she got booed on Celebrity Big Brother, and on one occasion when she couldn’t find the teabags.  As a long-term sufferer of clinical depression I can honestly testify to having had very real suicidal feelings and … how to put this … these feelings did not manifest themselves in a desire to go out and get bladdered in a nightclub before making crude denunciations of anyone who had ever looked at me funny.  Call me sceptical, I just don’t quite buy it.

In the earlier post, incidentally, I made a suggestion that Marsh’s existence may cause our planet to be consumed by the purifying fires of judgement.  Can it be any coincidence, I am forced to wonder, that within 24 hours of the latest Marshian revelations, England was struck by a right big earthquake?  It damn near knocked me off my sofa, and caused me to spill red ink all over my Big List of Reasons I’m Jealous of Jodie Marsh and Want to be Like Her but I’m Just a Desperate Wannabe.

Please, Jodie, I’m begging you.  For the sake of the human race, please don’t get your norks inflated.  You have angered the Gods of Squalid Repetitive N-list Celebrities, and this earthquake may only be the beginning.  We’re counting on you.

Tabloid legislation – why do we bother having a government?

Posted in Fury Home, Politics, The Modern World, The Written Word with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

So, it appears that 99% of some nebulous “YOU” favour a return to the death penalty. This according to the front page of the Sun anyway, which fails to make it clear what exactly this 99% pertains to. 99% of everyone? 99% of Sun readers? 99% of people called Gary? Actually, as it turns out, it’s 99% of the 95,000 respondents to a special “You The Jury” poll – therefore roughly 85,500 people. If by law the paper were forced to edit the headline to “85,500 people want the death penalty back” the impact might be lessened somewhat, particularly once it turned out that these were 85,500 people who view voting in a newspaper’s poll as a reasonable way of registering their point of view. Granted, all of that may be tricky to fit in a headline, but they can do wonderful things with computers nowadays.

From judicious further reading it turns out that the Sun’s leader column and all but two of the writers questioned (those two being, perhaps unsurprisingly, the shock-jocks Jon Gaunt and Fergus Shanahan) come out against a return to the death penalty, but nothing makes the same impact as a booming headline and a picture of a gallows. As though, even if the death penalty were brought back in the UK, the chosen method would be hanging…

But then, my point here isn’t actually the validity of the hypothetical (and so it will remain) return of the death penalty. The arguments for and against are all so well-known by now. Suffice it to say that I am anti, and have yet to hear an argument that convinces me to change my mind – the same goes, I dare say, for those in favour, whose points are often quite reasonable. No, my point is to do with the scourge of tabloid legislation. Already we have the shadow Home Secretary backing calls for a return to executions, and Ann Widdecombe agrees. The Sun wants to usher in a “debate” on the issue, despite the fact that all the arguments for and against have been made, and anyone would think that they just wanted to horn in on the recent high-profile convictions handed down to Steve Wright and Mark Dixie to sell some extra copies.

The families of Wright’s and Dixie’s victims have in some cases made it known that they would support legislation to see the killers put to death, and one can only sympathise – it’s impossible for me to put myself in their place, as I am fortunate enough to have never lost a loved one in such a way. But without seeking to sound callous, it is not for the victim’s family to say how the perpetrator should be punished. Nor is it a matter for tabloid-based polls. We live in a representative democracy, and we elect a government every five or so years to legislate for us. Given their accountability to the electors it is their place to decide on such issues, and given that the present government – avowedly anti-death penalty for their many other faults – is currently on its third term, we should consider the decision made. On the Internet, in pubs, in everyday life the debate already exists, and to elevate it above this runs the risk of turning a serious, potent issue into a political football.

Another case of tabloid legislation arises with the continuing argument over “Sarah’s Law”. From the inception of this movement, driven by the News of the World under the tenure of Rebekah Wade, envious eyes have been cast across the Atlantic at the supposedly revolutionary “Megan’s Law”. Why, demanded the press commentators, don’t we have an equivalent law here? The swift response – “because it hasn’t worked there” – was broadly ignored amid all the placard-waving. Also ignored was the huge pile of arguments against it happening – that the vast majority of child sex abuse victims know their attackers already, that it had led to vigilantism in the US (as the NotW’s naming-and-shaming campaign did here), and that it led to a steep drop in compliance with the sex-offenders’ register, causing paedophiles to go untracked.

A very watered-down version of the law is now to be piloted in the UK, though the concerns about vigilantism and compliance are not adequately addressed, but already it’s not enough for some people.  Expressing opposition to a so-called “Sarah’s Law” can lead to great hostility, not least because the press have succeeded in making the name stick.  If you are against “Sarah’s Law”, it logically follows that you don’t share the widespread revulsion at what happened to Sarah Payne.  In terms of loaded terminology, it’s right up there with the neocons in the US naming some extremely draconian legislation “the Patriot Act” – thus making a “traitor” out of everyone who opposed it.

See, in the end, for all of the faults of our lawmakers, they at least carry out studies before acting.  If the Sun had to think before wading in on a major issue, they’d only put a paper out twice a month.

Internet Suicide Cult Redux

Posted in Fury Home, People, The Modern World, The Written Word, Today's Society with tags , , , , , on February 21, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

As the number of people dying from suicide in Bridgend continues to increase, so does the level of prurience in the media’s coverage of what they are still trying to claim is an “Internet Suicide Cult”. Despite the continued insistence from friends, family and police that social networking sites had precisely nothing to do with the latest case, the Sun yesterday adorned its front page headline with a ticker referring to Bridgend’s series of tragic deaths in the aforementioned terms. Aside from the unpalatable scapegoating – more on which later – it’s hard not to feel that the very suggestion that internet fame has anything to do with a teenager ending their life is somehow insulting.

Insulting in the sense that, when someone decides to end their life, it is not a decision that is entered into lightly. Whether from long-term depression or from developments in one’s life that drive them over the edge, suicide happens because a person is feeling such extreme pain that they feel they can no longer live with it. To suggest that a Bebo memorial page plays any part in the decision process is so misguided as to be infuriating – tantamount to suggesting that the suicide victim has considered minimal posthumous celebrity to be more important than the feelings of their nearest and dearest. That’s not the way it works.

Being blunt, a lot of the recent coverage of the supposed “suicide cult” has amounted to crocodile tears. Chiefly tabloid newspapers are dishing up entirely synthetic sympathy in order to wring the maximum coverage from events that are exclusively the business of the communities touched by the suicides. An angle is manufactured and tweaked to make these events more newsworthy. From much of this reporting, one could easily come to the conclusion that Bridgend itself was a smallish town, where the members of this “cult” lived side by side. It was interesting to learn from an article written by the press spokesman from the Bridgend branch of the Samaritans that only one of the seven victims originally linked was from the town itself. The others lived in outlying communities within a county whose population numbers 132,000. Also in this article, Philip Irwin mentions that the total (currently set by the press at 17) is significantly lower than the suicide count for Bridgend in 2006, when it reached 28.

These facts, however, don’t make it into most newspaper reports, as they interfere with the exciting angle that the press have chosen. Looking at this story in the Sun, it’s hard not to feel that they have a list of the “depressed dozen” (there’s a time and place for snappy alliteration, and I can’t help feeling an article about youth suicide is not it) and are waiting to tick the members off one by one.

The other angle, regarding the supposed Bebo link between the suicides, is perhaps more ghoulish.  Actively suggesting that a person has ended their life for 15 minutes of debatable fame is one thing.  Sticking it on the front page and linking to the stories via thumbnail pictures on your website is quite another.  Irony doesn’t seem to enter the mind of a tabloid editor.  Find me ten random teenagers, and I will show you eight people who have a Bebo account.  To imply that the site is in any way nourishing a suicidal mindset among youngsters is as cock-eyed as suggesting that the suicides are in some way attributable to playing pool or wearing trainers.

Simply put, all that links the suicides is as follows:  They all live in the same county, they’re all young and they are all dead.  And all their memories are being sullied by disreputable gung-ho tabloid bullshit.  Unfortunately, it’s gone too far to expect the press to display a modicum of restraint or journalistic integrity on this issue.  They’ve got their story that keeps on giving – why bother with anything that seems like hard work and research?

Jodie Marsh. Just… Jodie fucking Marsh

Posted in Fury Home, People, The Modern World, TV with tags , , , , , , on February 15, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

It may not be topical or relevant to fulminate about the many idiocies of Jodie Marsh, but I’m going to do it anyway. It’s Friday. Okay, she’s an easy target (in so many ways). But don’t you just want her to fuck off and never, ever speak a word again? And, ideally, wear a burka or something – anything to flatter her assets in the best possible way, by ensuring they are never seen again?

It’s not that I hate her – although, truth be told, I do. It’s more that I think her existence on this planet could at some stage cause us all to be engulfed by the purifying fires of judgement. And no-one wants that, do they? Has she truly not yet cottoned on that the only reason for her creation is so that Jordan looks really good by comparison?

Her scattergun dismissal of all criticism as coming from people who are either “jealous” or “lesbians” or, perhaps, both, misses the point in oh so many ways. Chiefly, if you were going to pick someone of whom to be jealous, Jodie Marsh would rank somewhere between Pete Doherty’s cleaner and the press officer for the Liberal Democrats. Staggering though it may be, there are a great many people who would not, given the choice, choose to be Jodie Marsh. Although it must be cool to be so untouched by the misty fingers of reality that you hire forty security guards to patrol your Big TV Wedding when the only celebs there are Syd Little and Lynsey Dawn McKenzie. For fuck’s sake, my postman is more famous than Lynsey Dawn McKenzie.

With some car-crash celebrities, it’s natural to feel a little bit sorry for them. But this intensely self-pitying yet still somehow bragging piece of work is just one example of what a vile individual Marsh really is. She has stooped many times in the past to the ultimate fuckwit’s response to criticism, to trumpet the fact that she has an IQ of 138, as though a person’s IQ has any kind of relevance to anything at all. Jimmy Saville has an IQ of 149 and is one of the biggest morons ever to tread the earth, so anyone who leaps about the place waving their own score on a placard should really be horsewhipped until they bleed.

But what would I know? I’m jealous, and according to the laws of probability, also a lesbian.