A David Lynch moment

June 18, 2010

Melanie Phillips reinvents surreality:

“Amazingly, it looks like Obama deliberately exacerbated the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster to push his ideological agenda.”


More rape fallacies from the right wing press

May 24, 2010

Melanie Phillips is now whining about rape and how the ‘feminist Sisterhood’ is responsible for the tendency of false allegations being made against poor, emasculated men. The specious nonsense she writes would be hilarious if not for the fact that The Daily Mail has a readership of nearly five million. M. Phil., like Ann Widdecombe, believes that a lot of rape cases are just drunken misunderstandings between couples or something similarly benign. Here’s a justification which wouldn’t look conspicuous in a radical Islamist’s marriage handbook.

Thus a woman is encouraged to claim she has been raped when, for example, with the benefit of hindsight, she may become aggrieved about what she voluntarily allowed to happen, particularly when she was rather the worse for wear.

This is disturbing.

The moral regression of Melanie Phillips

May 6, 2010

I have read the journalistic nonsense of Melanie Phillips for some years and it continues to surprise me how she actually gets away with it. She is a big fish in the conservative movement but in a riposte to Jonathan Freedland she coyly denied this:

Jonathan justifies his attack by claiming that I have massive influence. Would that it were so! I remain, alas, merely one journalist trying to tell the truth as I see it. Jonathan can breathe easily again.

Whatever the scale of her influence in 2007, and it was big, her influence is indeed massive in 2010: Lecturing widely, contributing to Fox News, a Daily Mail column, blogging at the Spectator, writing for the Jewish Chronicle, appearing on Question Time and BBC 4’s Moral Maze, promoting books–that’s massive. Liberal-minded people must watch with horror as her influence expands and the rhetoric intensifies. This week alone has seen her launch a new book as well as having a cover story in the Spectator.

Her big theme (aside from the Middle East, a subject for another day), abundantly reinforced throughout her writing, is that atheism, rationalism and the like are bad and Judeo-Christian voodoo is actually authentic reason. This is an attempt by one journalist to rewrite three millenia of philosophy. All the brilliant philosophers have been wasting their brains since Christianity because Phillips has figured it all out. Read the rest of this entry »

Melanie Phillips on marriage, values, sex and bastards reloaded

January 26, 2010

Melanie Phillips reasserts her position on sex and marriage in The Daily Mail:

All the informal attitudes protecting marriage – taboos against sex outside marriage, illegitimacy, cohabitation – were similarly  struck down on the basis that nothing should interfere with the individual’s ‘right’ to do whatever he or she pleased.

The individual’s right to do what he or she pleases is the central tenet of what it means to be free. Phillips proposes a Judeo-Christian society in which freedom is conditional. She really does advocate here a society which would castigate people who don’t marry and especially those who practice the disgusting sin of unmarried sexual gratification:

This can’t be restored until marriage is properly supported by removing both incentives and approval for extramarital sexual relationships and by putting fault back into divorce.

This is the second time in two weeks that Phillips has hinted that the abolishment of the status of illegitimacy was lamentable, and that any sex outside of marriage is wrong. It is regrettable that one of the most intolerant, self-righteous and illogical commentators in the UK is drifting even further to the right.

Melanie Phillips on marriage, values, sex and bastards

January 10, 2010

Melanie Phillips is clearly rejuvenated after the winterval, and possibly drunk on the dregs of the brandy and port. She is a skilled rhetorician, able to swaddle a lot of intolerance in the cosy blankets of traditional families and her cluster-bomb answer to everything, Judeo-Christian values. Stab yourself with your pen, burn your laptop, your godless logic cannot survive Judeo-Christian values.

I am surprised, then, that a recent post in the Spectator seems to have slipped under the radar and not caused even a flicker of anger because her opinions here are unusually extreme even by her standards. She begins with the usual disparagement of Cameron’s Conservatives for not being conservative enough. That is de rigueur for an M.Phil. critique of the ‘Cameroons’. She then expounds the virtues of that most vital of institutions, marriage.

Finally her head rotates and she projectile vomits a black, viscid bile. She doesn’t of course but I find the following comments disturbing, retrograde and utterly prejudiced:

the cementing of that union [marriage] is achieved not just by law but through a complex web of custom, assumptions and attitudes which are promoted, enforced and policed at a social and cultural level.

‘Enforced’ and ‘policed’? Sounds a bit nanny state, does it not?

The reason marriage has been so catastrophically undermined is not just because married couples no longer enjoy financial rewards but – much more crucially — because unmarried people have been both awarded incentives and lost disincentives to produce children outside marriage. Incentives such as welfare benefits, both cash in hand and services such as flats for teenage mothers; removal of disincentives such as the abolition of the legal status of illegitimacy, the removal of fault-based divorce, the non-judgmental approach to elective lone parenthood with fatherhood now reduced in some cases to anonymised fluid in a test-tube — and perhaps most disastrous of all, social approval for cohabitation, that great contemporary engine of mass fatherlessness, with all levels of society, from officialdom downwards, now creating a level playing field between marriage and unmarried ‘relationships’ through the ubiquitous use of the word ‘partner’

What an unbelievable world view. Illegitimacy should not even be mentioned because it is horrendous and indefensible. Stigmatizing children and families because of unconventional domestic situations was plainly barbaric. What seems implicit in the text is that its abolition was somehow a bad outcome. Phillips’ disdain of cohabitation is another baseless prejudice: cohabitation is no more immoral than marriage and it is not normal to disapprove of it. Again the logic of her argument is invalid–most couples cohabit before they marry.

If marriage really is to be restored to its rightful place as a unique institution with unique status and privileges, then disapproval of unmarried sexual relationships and the production of fatherless children has to be restored

Condemning sex before marriage is dysfunctional and authoritarian. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Staunch social conservatives like Phillips see no hypocrisy in pontificating about what people should do in their bedrooms, while whingeing about the repressive regimes of foreigners.

Social liberalism is all about destroying the normative Judeo-Christian moral principles of society which social conservatism is all about defending

It is debatable whether Judeo-Christian values are the ‘normative’ morals of society. And even if they are, it does not logically follow that they should warrant special merit. Phillips believes that every other set of values, especially secular, should be subordinate to a strict moral code arising from the precepts of Christianity and Judaism, as she sees them.

What the marriage zealots have forgotten to mention is the status of being single. If they were to get the dispensations for marriage they so desperately want, the single person would be penalised simply for being single. Widow, divorcee, person who can’t find a partner, let alone a spouse: they would all find themselves marginalised for not being married. This would be a bizarre and illogical outcome, and it exposes the flawed reasoning of bigoted columnists like Phillips.

For a woman whose journalistic output consists of so much criticism of radical Islam, there is a lot in her post which would have the Taleban nodding in agreement.