Oh, he is a one, isn’t he? That Littlejohn bloke: such a character! I mean, he’s only gone and put those lefty wheelchair types in their place. And quite funny he was, too….
Yeah, yeah. We’ve probably all read the piece by now. Anyone with an ounce of radicalism in them will be up in arms – though possibly at not quite the right target. Littlejohn will be referred to the pcc and maybe – just maybe – get his wrist slapped.
This will, of course, fulfil two functions: it will make the pcc feel better and, simultaneously, it will enable them to claim that they really really aren’t afraid to take on the Mail. Meanwhile, Littlejohn will bask in the glow of all the attendant publicity. The trending of his name on twitter means his column will scale new heights of reader numbers…and barring a miracle or act of God, he will continue to spew out his vile nonsense.
So. What’s my take on this latest nastiness? The column is actually a piece in two halves. There is a bit of politics up front: and a crafted pastiche of Little Britain toward the end. Not unsurprisingly, it is the end bit that has drawn much of the fire, but I’d question whether it should.
Andy Pipkin (the focus) is an appalling stereotype to conend with if you’re a disability activist: the basic premise is of an able-bodied person malingering under guise of being wheelchair-bound. The same joke is made and remade with every sketch featuring this character.
Littlejohn’s copycatting is not really a lot worse than the sketch itself, and should be subject to much the same analysis. It won’t be, because the kneejerk reaction is always going to be: Mail…Littlejohn…disability joke…appalling. Perhaps it is: it is certainly unfair to associate the target of Littlejohn’s venom – Jody McIntyre – with this slur. But that’s a different matter.
Still, I said much of the complaint is likely to be aimed at the wrong target. I stand by that: because although the skit is eye-catching, the serious nastiness lies in the more prosaic politics at the front.
Littlejohn writes: “A man in a wheelchair is as entitled to demonstrate as anyone else. But he should have kept a safe distance.
“Mcintyre put himself on offer and his brother pushed him into the front line. It’s not as if he didn’t know there was going to be trouble.”
Ri-ight. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: its so funny. It’s the line – sorry, joke – about the woman wearing a short skirt who got beaten up and raped on the way home. Cause, as every fule know, if she was doing that .. well, what else would she expect? She shouldn’t have put herself on offer!
Much like me and my journeys to London. If I’m on the streets late at night. Well… a “man in a dress”: if I get taken aside and have the crap beaten out of me, what else was I expecting? And so on.
Now that’s not to deny basic common sense. And this does not contradict what I just wrote: I probably would be foolhardy to wander some parts of London late at night. Likewise, there are some places that women would be better advised to visit only in company or bearing arms. But that is not in any way because we are “to blame” for the fact that there are idiots at loose in the world.
Homicidal idiots are a fact of life, in much the same way that speeding cars and electrified railways are: they exist; they are to be avoided. However, nothing in the conduct of the victim ever, ever excuses the behaviour of their aggressor.
I might suggest – playfully, of course – that given his known penchant for viciousiness about trans persons and other minorities, Littlejohn really shouldn’t walk the streets of London. Because it would be only natural if someone like me walked up and twatted him. Littlejohn really should not put himself “on offer”.
That said, I am not sure Littlejohn is quite as aware of what he is saying here as he thinks. Just who was McIntyre putting himself “on offer” to?
Er: the Police, one can only presume. So in Littlejohn’s universe, the police are a bunch of thugs and if one goes to a demo, one is just asking to be beaten up by the police?
Not quite the sort of law-abiding message that I would have thought the Mail readership were expecting. But there you have it. Perhaps it is time to stop being quite so critical of Littlejohn. He pretends to be a racist, sexist, homophobic bigot…but in reality, like one of those deep sleepers with which lovers of John LeCarré will be familiar – he is an anti-establishment mole, dedicated to implanting images of police brutality in the minds of a semi-comatose populace.
Gosh! At this rate, one could even get to like him.