In another highly publicized incident, Beard retweeted a message that she had received from a twenty-year-old university student: “You filthy old slut. I bet your vagina is disgusting.” One of Beard’s followers offered to inform the student’s mother of his online behavior; meanwhile, he apologized. Beard’s object is not simply to embarrass offenders; it is to educate women. Before social media, she argues, it was possible for young women like those she teaches at Cambridge to enjoy the benefits of feminist advances without even being aware of the battles fought on their behalf, and to imagine that such attitudes are a thing of the past. Beard says, “Most of my students would have denied, I think, that there was still a major current of misogyny in Western culture.”…
The university student, after apologizing online, came to Cambridge and took Beard out to lunch; she has remained in touch with him, and is even writing letters of reference for him. “He is going to find it hard to get a job, because as soon as you Google his name that is what comes up,” she said. “And although he was a very silly, injudicious, and at that moment not very pleasant young guy, I don’t actually think one tweet should ruin your job prospects.”
It is not a journalist’s job to protect us from the ugly facts. Neither is it his job to protect the sensitive from the painful truth or anyone, really, from anything.
In fact, speaking more broadly, it is not a journalist’s job to make the world a better place, to ensure our right thinking, or to defend the virtuous politicians that sophisticates like himself voted for while excoriating the evildoers elected by those country rubes on the other side. It is not his job to do good or be kind or be wise. The idea that any of this is a journalist’s job is a fallacy that seems to have infected the trade in the 1970s, when idealistic highbrows began to replace the Janes and Joes who knew a good story when they heard one.
Because that’s the journalist’s job: the story. His only job: to tell the whole story straight.
In the greater scheme of things, Williams’ suicide is a small story, but it is part of a bigger story: the story of our country and our world. That story unfolds only slowly, and no one knows what wisdom it will ultimately reveal. The best we can do is tell each chapter whole and true, without piety or fear or favor.
Andrew Klavan, “Report the truth — the whole truth — on Robin Williams’ death” (via wesleyhill)
I would just like to take this moment to say that that is the biggest bunch of self-serving, self-aggrandizing, falsely noble bullshit I have read in a long time. “The story of our country and our world” my eye.
The details of Robin Williams’s suicide are no more relevant to “our country and our world” than the details of anyone else’s suicide. If journalists have some moral obligation to “tell each chapter whole and true,” they’re leaving a great many chapters wholly untold, and indeed unacknowledged.
But that’s the nature of the beast, isn’t it? All the stories can’t be told, so all of us who are in the business of writing have to choose. And when journalists like Klavan choose to write about exactly how Robin Williams took his own life, are we really supposed to believe that he does so out of some high-minded devotion to “the story of our country and our world”? People have a perverse and often malicious interest in the sufferings of celebrities and will pay to read about them. They won’t pay to read about a worn-out junkie who deliberately overdoses in a cheap apartment in the San Fernando Valley. Let’s at least be honest about that.
If Klavan wants to write “without piety,” then he should start by ceasing to be so piously sanctimonious about his own motives.
A bogus dichotomy between religion and equality has been set up, resulting in a succession of comparatively trivial new stories about receptionists being banned from wearing religious jewellery or nurses being suspended for offering to pray for patients’ recovery. Adopting the rhetoric of persecution on such matters obscures the very real persecution of Christians being killed or driven from their homes elsewhere in the globe.
Most of the world’s Christians are not engaged in stand-offs with intolerant secularists over such small matters. In the West, Christianity may have increasingly become embraced by the middle class and abandoned by the working class. But elsewhere the vast majority of Christians are poor, many of them struggling against antagonistic majority cultures, and have different priorities in life.
The paradox this produces is that, as Allen points out, the world’s Christians fall through the cracks of the left-right divide – they are too religious for liberals and too foreign for conservatives.