It was inevitable, with the certainty of night following day, that after pundit and campaigner Owen Jones was jumped by four men outside an Islington pub in the early hours of last Saturday morning, there would be a steady stream of right-leaning pundits claiming that it didn’t really happen, wasn’t indicative of what Jones said it was, or that he and his fellow Rotten Lefties™ were somehow using the attack as an assault on freedom of speech.
In the last category, that meant the inhabitants of the planet Spiked, so titled because it should have been many years ago. It also meant another dirge from Brendan O’Neill, this time titled “Who’s really demonising journalists? The attack on Owen Jones was outrageous. So is the use of the attack to demonise the tabloid press”. The attack has been used to demonise the tabloid press? When did that happen?
Ah, but we have clearly not all been tuned in as Bren has. “He claims his attackers were far-right activists. And he says such far-right activists have been emboldened by ‘people in the mainstream media who deliberately stoke tensions, who demonise minorities and who demonise the left’ … His target was clearly the tabloid press”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes?
“He said ‘We should just be honest about it. We live in a society where on the front pages of newspapers you have things like “enemies of the people”, “traitors”, “saboteurs” - that’s how people are discussed in politics.’” O’Neill is not pleased. And he is not accurate, either: “Without evidence, this claim that the red-top press is partly to blame for violent assaults looks like little more than middle-class prejudice”.
Headlines like “Enemies of the people” and “Saboteurs” were coined by the Daily Mail. The Mail is not a red-top. But then he sells the pass in no style at all, talking of those who read said papers “who are presumed to be so fickle, so easily warped by words, that a few spicy headlines can convince them to wallop a Guardian columnist outside a pub”.
A few spicy headlines. No, Bren. Just no. And not just red-tops. Not even just tabloids. The barrage of Islamophobia (and other forms of racism, including the routine demonisation of Diane Abbott and the Telegraph’s recent lapse into anti-Semitism), Europhobia, anti-Scots, anti-Left, homophobia, poor-bashing, disabled-bashing, benefit recipient bashing, this has been going on for decades. It is so blatant, even a Spiked pundit might have noticed.
After the Twitter teaser of O’Neill’s rant told “Using a random assault to damage your political opponents is cheap and cynical”, Louise Raw, who you can tell as she’s a Doctor, had had enough. “Jones has had threats from fascists for years. Stewards from [UAF] had to fight off scumbags trying to attack him at the People’s Assembly rally this year-Jones was spat on, called a bent c***, fascists chanted about lynching him. Spiked’s abetting of the Far Right is a disgrace”. Homophobia. Anti-left. Alleged “patriots”.
And all that the great Brendan O’Neill can do is to snivel about “A few spicy headlines”. He missed the Telegraph going after George Soros, the Times on “Muslim fostering”, the Mail monstering Trans people, the Sun on “The Muslim Problem”, any or all of them demonising anyone and everyone in favour of remaining within the EU, and the constant ratcheting-up of “othering”, hatred, intolerance, and yes, the forthright bigotry.
If the cap fits, Brendan O’Neill, perhaps it’s time for your pals to start wearing it.
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