Sunday, 30 March 2014

RIP the Times of London

...once a monument, a national treasure. With pride I used to do some of the Times Crossword, used to look forward to what Bernard Levin et al had to say this week. In those days I trusted the Times (rightly or wrongly) and felt that there existed a moderate and moderately proud newspaper that stood for the values I believed in.

Nous avons changez tout cela, along with much else I valued. In order to appeal to a wider demographic, and, I suppose, to compete with TV and web-based news sources newspapers have - in a desperate struggle to avoid their certain doom - included "Lifestyle" sections.

We all know perfectly well that these sections are modelled on women's magazines for particular age-groups etc. The Guardian seem to direct their comments and Lifestyle sections at militant feminists. Amusingly, I think between 5 and 10 times as many women read the Daily Mail in the UK - a newspaper much hated by Guardianistas, a focus for all their fulminations against sexism, xenophobia etc

All good fun. It's interesting that the Times seem to be going the same way as the Guardian, and include more and more pieces where women complain about feeling victimised or excluded in some way because of their life choices. They feel society is against them because they have children/don't have children/are single/divorced/married/have a career/stay at home and look after kids... You name it, if it's a basic life choice then someone has written a whinge in a national newspaper about how unjustly they have been treated for making it. Society, we are told, has the wrong attitude about it, and needs correcting.

We arrive at the impetus for my rant: Janice Turner's recent piece on Mother's Day (£). She tells a lengthy anecdote before announcing

It struck me then that there has never been a worse time in history to be childless.

She then embarks upon a torrent of generalisations and unverifiable (not to say meaningless) claims. Here are some highlights.

In the absence of religious faith, we believe only in our own DNA and push around our household gods in Bugaboos. Parenthood is no longer a phase of everyday life, but a revered state. The world is not an adult domain into which children must learn to fit, but increasingly organised around childish needs. As [MP Rory] Stewart told Radio Times, babies are the new “opium of the masses”....As for motherhood being the hardest job in the world: really? Unless you have a disabled child and/or live in poverty, now we don’t wring cloth nappies through mangles or darn socks, it’s chiefly a test of patience and boredom threshold.

That last sentence seems to come from the Barbara Ellen charm school. The rest reads like hyperbole from a teenager's diary.

The comments section underneath the article is truly a thing of beauty. Comments range from inane agreement to things resembling "Nonsense, I have 5 kids and it never did me any harm". There are a few snarky remarks, less than half of them from men, and there is the obligatory side-swipe about the "anti-women" nature of "some of these comments" without specifying who, or why they are such misogynists. There's often a comment like that lurking under online journalism.

Finally there is a comment so deranged, and with such innovative punctuation, that I'm afraid to quote from it, lest I summon some creature of Cthulu from the depths. 

I shan't mince my words. Turner's piece is embarrassing rubbish, the commenters all belong in a special hospital unit of some kind. (Yes I commented). That is about all. Have a nice day :)

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