The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 25 Mar 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Hateful columnists are massive old wankers

Aliens have come to Earth. They look just like us and have integrated seamlessly with the rest of the population. Relations between the two species are proceeding amicably and we find their interest in us refreshing and exciting, as we didn’t think we were really that interesting. One of them finds himself on a train with a lady, columnist from a right wing paper. Here’s how I imagine the conversation would go.

“So, what do you do for a living?”

“I give opinions about things, in national newspapers and on television. Sometimes I attend events as well, but the important thing, for me, is to make sure that, if I’m seen in public, I do or say something that makes lots of people pay attention to me. That way, people will be interested, the price of my words will increase and more people will pay to read them. It’s what we call, here on Earth, a failsafe business model.”

“Interesting. But if you weren’t doing anything before that made people pay attention to you, how did you manage to change? Did you do something criminal, perhaps? Outrage public decency or break some kind of law?”

“No. I was a contestant on a reality TV programme.”

“Pardon?”

“Reality TV. Well, it looks like reality, but they decided whether people will like you or not when they edit it, so I decided immediately that I’d be the kind of hateful windbag that sane people would stab themselves in the jugular with a blunt fork to avoid, so they didn’t have any usable footage that made me look like a human being. What they had made me look like Caligula with a cactus up his arse, and that’s what they ran with. People were kicked out each week for being appalling or incompetent, until there was a grand final.”

“You were in this ‘grand final’ then? That is why people pay you?”

“No, I was such a sociopathic monster that I was voted off before then, but it turns out that I’d misjudged the public mood. Enough people actually warm to sociopathic monsters and want to read what they say, so I realised that there might be an opportunity there. Give people what they want, and they’ll pay you. So I started saying outrageous things.”

“What sort of things?”

“Oh, things about minorities, mainly. The thing is, you see, I’m white and affluent, so I’m pretty much insulated from any of this. If, say, a footballer touched up a fifteen year old, I say that I side with the footballer and get them to all hate the fifteen year old. She has no power, you see, and can’t hurt me in any way, and making people hate someone who was actually a victim of crime is actually quite controversial, so it makes sure that everyone wants to pay to read what I say.”

“Umm… what sort of people?”

“Idiots, mostly. The kind of person who wants to hate people for no better reason than that they aren’t like them and have had different life experiences and yet are also afraid of them in some strange way, because they’re different. We had a writer called George Orwell who predicted that we could get people to scream their hate at a TV screen for a bit and feel better. Well, it’s a bit like that. I tell them who to hate and they hate them and applaud me. It’s rather sweet.”

“Do you want them to hate anyone else?”

“Anyone with no power, really. Like Muslims. I mean, they’ve never done anything to me, but the kind of people who like me tend to hate Muslims, so I give them lots of reasons. Every time a Muslim does something wrong, I tend to shout loudest, calling for all manner of strange and harsh things to happen, but each time someone like my readers does something wrong, I ignore it or, as I say, blame the victim and they all think that’s a sign that I’m a fearless free thinker. For instance, I said that we should machine gun boats with migrants in. Isn’t that funny?”

“But what about the people you talk about? The girl who was with the footballer can’t have felt safe and the people you want someone else to machine gun might not feel too safe, either. What about them?”

“They don’t matter. They’re expendable. I’m not. I have a career to build, and I intend to build it, brick by brick, with human misery. The more I write, the more I laugh, the more I hate, well… the more money I have. Hate is an industry, you see. It sells. But you have to make your hatreds big and vast and you have to find a mob who you can whip up. They’re your customers. Everything else is just detail.”

“What if, perhaps, people decided they weren’t that interested any more? That they didn’t want to hate people, but instead, to find out more about them and to think that the answers to problems weren’t just to kill someone, but maybe to think about it more deeply. What then?”

“Oh, that’s easy. I’d be fucked.”

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