Who's the hypocrite? | Anthony Miller defends Robert Webb and the hashtag warriors

Who's the hypocrite?

Anthony Miller defends Robert Webb and the hashtag warriors

I have for a while been considering replying Alan Varley's various ramblings on the Correspondents section this website but I have been put off by the fact that my replies might be more boring still.

Nonetheless I thought it might be interesting to run some counter-arguments to Mr Varley's continual digs at the left – in particular Robert Webb. I'm not a fan of Mr Webb but I do feel that Mr Varley's attacks on his 'ethics' for advertising e-cigarettes, among other things, are a bit wonky.

Personally I find Mr Webb's political articles a bit irksome. His rants generally have all the winning persuasion of Neil Kinnock on a particularly verbose day – but …well… Is Mr Webb a hypocrite?

I'm not sure exactly follow how promoting nicotine addiction while stating no opinion on it (note: tobacco is not nicotine nor nicotine tobacco) makes you the same level of hypocrite as avoiding taxation while promoting taxation. If this is such a killer argument why then have a pop at him for advertising for banks as well? I am a scientist but not a biologist - we'll be here all day if I attempt to scientifically evaluate e-cigarettes. However suffice to say I was unaware that the NHS being free at the point of need meant that socialists couldn't promote legal drugs.

But let's say for the sake of argument that Mr Webb is indeed a hypocrite. Does that mean he shouldn't state his values 'to be taxed till he farts'? People often hint espousing values can damage you, but as a devout coward I have to say I have noticed that not stating your values also comes with associated downsides. As a socialist I love money. It's one of the few things more interesting than comedy. Indeed sitting here in the City every day it occurs to be that I am or must be one of the 'wealth creators' the Conservative Party constantly tells us are 'on its side'.

But what are those? I'm not 100 per cent sure but I do work in the City not far from evil bankers and I am in the 40 per cent tax band (it's not that hard now the threshold is only £42,386) so I am presumably what the Conservatives would call a 'wealth creator'. Which means just the fact I earn money causes some kind of trickle-down effect that makes everyone else wealthy and solves all financial and political problems Adam Smith style. My earning creates more tax to pay for stuff, so the party of spending less tax on stuff tells me. Cool.

According to Karren Brady it is we 'wealth creators' who 'get up at the crack of dawn to do the accounts before the kids wake up; who put blood, sweat and tears into winning clients, employing new people and driving their business forward'. I don't wish to sound smug but if in order to get wealthy you're getting up at the crack of dawn to do the accounts you're just very poor at time management or too tight to pay an accountant.

So the point that if us 'wealth creators' don't point out that Bardy's view isn't our view of ourselves, who will People assume we must be Tories. Saying nothing isn't just being silent. It is allowing other people to glue narratives onto you.

Someone asked me a while back how I could live with myself having once gigged for Stand Up For Labour. The answer is money. I am perfectly willing to also do a 'corporate' for ICI or even the Conservative party but am yet to be inundated with offers. Perhaps I am 'the wrong kind of wealth creator'. Even Charles Pooter got invited to a ball at the Mansion House for 'Representatives of Trade and Commerce'. I however, like Cinderella, am never invited to the ball. Was it something I said?

This brings me onto another of Mr Varley's think pieces where he has a go at social justice warriors and hashtag warriors. He wrote: 'In 2014 one person was offended by one satirical joke posted on the Twitter account of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. They posted a tweet that contained the hashtag #CancelColbert and the instruction 'Trend it' and it trended. The person who started the campaign didn't get the joke and didn't really want the show to be cancelled because they liked it. However, they started and promoted the campaign because they are a "hashtag activist", a self-appointed moral guardian versed in the methods of modern keyboard warfare.'

That person was Suey Park who, is in my opinion, is a fairly revolting person – about the worst the hard left can create. But isn't what she's doing also satire? Hard-left feminist literature often uses satirical techniques of exaggeration. To what extent each writer actually believes it all at face value isn't always clear.

If humour is when we say what we don't mean does that only work one way? Could hashtag activism just be satire created by not being able to report Colbert to Ofcom? Is PC actually a by-product of the 1st Amendment banning 'official' bans? Who knows? Senator McCarthy?

Whatever. Isn't 'I am willing to show the Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong, Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever' a bit Jeremy Clarkson?

If Park says Colbert should shut up and Colbert says Park should shut up who should shut up when? I asked Clement Attlee. He said: 'Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking.'

Published: 12 May 2015

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