“who needs S&M when–“

you can write for the Daily Telegraph?” Robert Webb in the New Statesman, 2011-08-08.

For anyone and everyone who’s had to suffer from stupid, ignorant, rabid comments; or, as the good Mr Webb puts it: the Ghouls.

[…] a tag-team of spiteful old men.

[…] Their “comments” were characterised by a suspicion of nuance, a tin ear for irony, a conviction that political correctness and Stalinism were the same thing, and a graceless irascibility of the kind we are now expected to find endearing in Prince Philip. There was also an assumption of intellectual superiority, rather cruelly undermined by a vulnerability to cliché and an inability to spell. In general, a column was supposed to be a broadly positive analysis of George Osborne’s economic policy and anything else was lightweight gibberish. Ghouls think the phrase “I don’t suffer fools gladly” is a boast.

[…] revealing more about their own rage and disappointment with life than about anything I thought or wrote. I knew all this. Still . . . they were such bastards! Why couldn’t I get them to like me? Every writer needs an inner critic, but usually one who suggests: “Bit of room for improvement here?” rather than “WHO CARES??!!”

For more on what he tried to satisfy and appease them, what made them go berserk anyway, how far he suffered the fools, and along the way find out if you have “Shits & Giggles”–all of ths and more here.

In the same issue, there’s a very decent Will Self piece, not unrelated–on crowds, masses, psychopathy, dehumanization: “The only verdict: get him to the asylum.” Equally applicable to trolls and online life:

So complete is the psychopath’s experience of dehumanisation that it becomes meaningless to speak of him as possessing either a moral understanding of the acts he perpetrates or even an intellectual competence in respect of his performance of those acts, for both of these paradigms exist only in a societal dimension – and he exists on a wholly different plane. In fact, the so-called M’Naghten (or McNaughton) Rules for the prosecution of the insane make this perfectly clear, calling for a verdict of either “not guilty by reason of insanity” or “guilty but insane” to be returned if it can be “clearly proved” that the accused either did not know what he was doing or, if he did, was unaware that what he was doing was wrong.

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