“Shocking” is too soft a word to describe the crimes of the financial sector. They are almost thrilling in their creative abundance – laundering money for drugs cartels; defrauding old people, small businesses, investors and shareholders; rigging markets; sugarcoating dud loans to look like good ones; loading the world economy with ever greater levels of risk and throwing millions of people out of work. And so on. All the time, they were enriching nobody but themselves. The banks and their buddies have been on a crime spree that would have glazed over the eyes of Al Capone.
O Clavis David
the prisoners’ eyes see light—
open and shut case.
O Radix Jesse
hear prayers in shopping malls—
green shoots grow a canopy.
Nothing so useless
as wood that is burnt– unless
the Lord is in the burning.
I have always been grateful every time the press (broadly defined) in Britain write about a subject in which I am expert or even familiar. The mistakes, mistruths, mis-speaks and down right lies (errors of omission and commission) which accompany every article about the Church of England, English history or theology remind me to mistrust every expert opinion which pronounces on international relations, politics, economics and so on. If they can get the workings of General Synod, or the process of the Henrician Reformation so wrong, why should I trust them on post-Qaddafi Libya, the politics of Quantitative Easing, or the general election in Mexico?
Which is way the British press’s reaction to the Leveson inquiry is so interesting, because now there is prima facie evidence that I shouldn’t trust newspapers when they write about newspapers. The mistakes, mistruths, mis-speaks and down right lies being presented as impartial, ex cathedra judgements on Leveson’s suggestions, combined with an overweening sense of their importance to the body politic (the only entity within British society which should be exempted from statutory oversight for fear of us all turning into Stalin’s Zimbabwe, or some such rubbish) shows that the principle which the press promulgates is their own power and prestige1.
Mehdi Hasan, writing for Huffington (an organization which does not favour Leveson’s recommendations for statute-based regulation) pins some of the more egregious little-lies being peddled. In the meantime, excepting individual examples of individual journalists’ individual work, what is the point of the British newspaper industry? It can’t be simply protecting the power and privileges of itself, can it?
- take that! alliteration Nazis! [↩]
My wife comes home with a kit of lotions, a present from a friend. Each comes adorned with its own philosophy, because the lotion company is called philosophy. The “philosophy” of exfoliating foot cream reads as follows:
let’s review your only true assets, you own your values, your integrity, your thoughts, your words, your actions and therefore, your destiny. questions: are you proud of what you own? what is your true net worth to the world and the people around you? are you really rich or do you just have money?
Never in my life did I imagine exfoliating foot cream to be imbued with that kind of profundity. Never in my life could I imagine a bigger load of bullshit squeezed into such a thin little tube.
The vociferous declaration of dissatisfaction together with the tacit acceptance of authority is the conjuring trick of contemporary conformity; this explains how people can crowd into a cinema to see an anti-establishment movie (but every movie is anti-establishment) and all agree with it.
Tim Parks, Adultery and Other Diversions (1998),
via Hal Niedzviecki, Hello, I’m Special?: how individuality became the new conformity (2006).
Our church has been fighting during these years only for its self-preservation, as if that were an end in itself. It has become incapable of bringing the word of reconciliation and redemption to humankind and to the world. So the words we used before must lose their power, be silenced, and we can be Christians today in only two ways, through prayer and through doing justice among human beings.1
Today BBC Online (where most reports are anonymously produced) tells us that the killings by Anders Behring Breivik on 22 July have “traumatised” Norwegian society. The evidence presented for this? A caption to a photograph, and, further down the report, another unsubtantiated assertion
The attacks on 22 July traumatised Norway, one of the most politically stable and tolerant countries in Europe.
- Norway is stable and tolerant
- Killings are unstable and intolerant
- Stability and tolerance can’t cope with instability and intolerance
- therefore, ergo, ipso facto, Norway is traumatised.
I don’t deny that individuals in Norwegian society might have been so badly affected by the killings that “trauma” would be a reasonable description of their mental and physical conditions. But that is a supposition on my part, based, chiefly, on the way in which we are told, over and over again, that trauma is the only possible reaction to unexpected and violent events1 Nowhere do I see any evidence that Norwegian society as a whole, has been traumatised.
When the Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, remarked that “the Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation” it doesn’t strike me that he is the leader of a country convulsed by PTMS (post-traumatic-melodrama-syndrome), no matter how much lazy, unthinking, journalism, wants him to be.
Shame on you, BBC.
- The four most depressing words in English journalese? “Counsellors are standing by”. [↩]
I know exactly who reads the papers: the Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country;
The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country;
The Times is read by people who actually do run the country;
the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country;
the Financial Times is read by people who own the country;
The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country;
The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.
The News of the World and The Sun are read by the people who don’t care who runs the country, just so long as they can hear what’s in their voicemail, and read about their sons’ medical reports.