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You CAN make it up

So this may or may not actually be a picture of Richard Littlejohn—Popbitch reckon it is and are hosting it in all its probably-not-safe-for-most-workplaces glory here, so they can take the flak if it turns out just to be so much pig-skiffle—but either way it’s perfect.

Littlejohn has managed to wind some people up recently (though, statistically, probably delighted more) with a column that took its cue from Jody McIntyre, the protester with cerebral palsy who police pulled from his wheelchair, but extended its scope to lambast anyone with CP who might be thinking of going and protesting as well, using an amazingly well written satirical sketch[1] featuring Lou and Andy from Little Britain.

As well as the predictable outpouring of anger on social networks, there were also many upset responses from parents along the lines of “What if your child was in a wheelchair and they read that?” This morning Richard Littlejohn issued a statement through his lawyer in reply to these criticisms. It reads, in full: “Mnehhhh! Thpathtic!”

Unsurprisingly, my assertion at the end of the previous paragraph about his statement is not actually true. However, thanks to Richard Littlejohn himself, one of the final shackles on a truly free press has been cast aside: you can confidently assert a blatant and incendiary lie in a national newspaper (and certainly therefore on a blog) so long as you expect your readers to have understood that you are making an “amplified statement for rhetorical effect”.

The Press Complaints Commission code states:

The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures

The Press Complaints Commission, however, is usually loath to enforce its own code. It is sometimes alleged that this is because the PCC is hopelessly compromised, even corrupt, as it consists predominantly of senior staff drawn from the newspapers that it is meant to be policing. That allegation is so obviously scurrilous, malicious and unverified that the PCC would happily allow it to go entirely unchallenged.[2]

Richard Littlejohn wrote a column where he said that,

any Afghan climbing off the back of a lorry in Dover goes automatically to the top of the housing list.

On the grounds that this was inaccurate, misleading and distorted information, the blogger Primly Stable reported him to the PCC for contravening that section of its code. The PCC’s response included the phrase about “amplified statement(s) for rhetorical effect” as part of its reasoning for classifying straightforward falsehoods as rhetoric. Primly’s full post about it is here.

By these lights, if you were writing a print column about, say, the effect on Richard Littlejohn’s columns on those who he regularly attacks, on the strict understanding that your audience knew that you were given to rhetorical flourishes, you could safely state that “RICHARD LITTLEJOHN IS A CONVICTED RAPIST… of people’s hearts”. Indeed, if you were writing about Richard Littlejohn’s relationship with documented facts and in your article you represented verifiable truth as a small and trusting child, the PCC should have no problem with you running with the simple headline, “RICHARD LITTLEJOHN IS A KNOWN PREDATORY PAEDOPHILE”. Truly, Richard Littlejohn has liberated our newspapers. He’s the Fox News of the UK press.

So let’s celebrate this man of the people, who may or may not be the guy in that awful-but-somehow-less-threatening-than-it-should-be photograph (80s leather pseudo-rapist chic minus any actual sexual threat equals Frankie Goes To Hollywood), with a couple of pertinent links.

I vigorously recommend putting aside some time for Five Chinese Crackers’s masterly evisceration of Littlejohn’s (to date) only published novel, To Hell in a Handcart. Having taken a bullet for the rest of us and submitted to reading the thing in the first place, Five takes our hand and gently leads us through the fetid swamps of Littlejohn’s turgid prose, meat-fisted plotting and OH GOD HIS MIND. As well as being an entertaining guide to something so inherently unentertaining, Five’s guide is useful for some perspective: Littlejohn emerges from the whole exercise less as a left-wing hate figure than as someone to be deeply pitied.

To Hell in a Handcart, Part 1

To Hell in a Handcart, Part 2

To Hell in a Handcart, Part 3

Let’s not forget that if it hadn’t been for Littlejohn’s extraordinary column belittling the women murdered by the Ipswich serial killer—“in the scheme of things the deaths of these five women is no great loss. They weren't going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur”, wrote Littlejohn, himself noted for his boundless philanthropy and his groundbreaking cancer research—we would never have encountered the comment on that article from one-man silent majority Tony Garstang from Marlow. I make no apology for detouring slightly to share this once again, as I’m no closer to breaking the code here and there’s a chance that the kind of person who claims that Littlejohn “tells it like it is” might be able to shed some light on what Tony could have meant:

Very sad but as has been said before: a serial killer’s victims often meet him half-way.


Finally, The Daily Mash called it exactly right with this story:


… which is why I can think of nothing better than to refer you back to the Hell in a Handcart links above, to help restore him to his rightful place in your personal pantheon as nothing more than a genuinely pitiful human being. As Spiritualized sang, "Littlejohn is sad and fucked..."

[1] It was not amazingly well written.  Back

[2] It’s almost as if self-regulation meant no regulation. Can you imagine?  Back

Brisk handshakes to Primly Stable and Five Chinese Crackers.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2010 10:47 am (UTC)
I did read that Andy-Jody comparison and I was as angry as I have ever been about Littlejohn. I should pity him, as you say, because he is living in a pitiful world of his own construction.
Dec. 16th, 2010 10:55 am (UTC)
Much as I agree with your comprehensive evisceration of Littlejohn, I must respectfully quibble with your claim that the PCC "...consists entirely of senior staff drawn from the newspapers that it is meant to be policing." It may predominantly be so constituted, but several of its members have no such background - including one I know personally.
Dec. 16th, 2010 11:07 am (UTC)
This is fair and I have amended the text accordingly, although I suppose I could have fallen back on the "amplified statement..." defence.
Dec. 16th, 2010 11:05 am (UTC)
I came, I read, I still don't know who Littlejohn is...damn this Americaness
Dec. 16th, 2010 11:17 am (UTC)
His "they weren't going to cure cancer" article is pretty much all you need.
Dec. 16th, 2010 11:33 am (UTC)
you see that sign behind your head on your icon, that's what littlejohn is...
Dec. 16th, 2010 12:30 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about Magenta and Columbia, but that leopard print is just so perfectly Frank-n-furter.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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