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February 21, 2015



OK, I love your columns, but "cuntitude"? How about assholery which is generic and less sexist. I suppose you would say arseholery. That really griped me.

Luis Enrique

An obvious retort is that the desire to be seen punching up and championing down is responsible for the twaddle spouted by certain varieties of lefty. But that retort would obscure the importance of your point. Personally, I'm bad at this because what gets up my nose tends to be the guardian, whilst, say, i tend to find the worst of corporate bullshit unremarkable, no more than I expect. Which means if I had a blog I'd probably hit the wrong tarhets. Like self styled heterodox critics of mainstream econ. Although there is a diversity argument there. Defenders of the mainstream are outnumbered because most don't participate. Anyway you are quite right about the merits of turning fire on the real enemy, so to speak.

Coincidentally I made the same point about Murphy to tim w just the other day.

Roy Lonergan

Not trying to punch up, but you've got a link & a few words missing in "But what about when some Ukip candidate is for an idiotic statement?" I'm guessing it's the renewable resources quote?

gastro george

Brendan O'Neill is a professional contrarian RCP weirdo, though.


@ Roy - ta. Correction made.
@ Carol - sorry about that. Is there a US-UK divide here? I (and I suspect most English people) don't think "cunt" is sexist - any more than "prick" is. That said, I (and most Englishmen) would not call a woman a "cunt" whereas I gather that some Americans sometimes do.

Nick Rowe

There's a bit of irony here Chris. If you are told you are not allowed to do it, does that mean you are punching up?


Agree to an extent except for someone who's supposedly in favour of 'punching up', Frankie Boyle does rather a lot of punching down, what with the way he has a go at people he considers chavvy celebs, Scots (odd for someone who's a nationalist) and, ooh, the disabled etc. Fact of the matter is nobody's punching anybody, are they? It's just comics making routines out of shit that annoys them.

Aromatic Fanny Adams

Identity politics has killed the left.

Nobody more narcissistic than Oxbridge or Ivy League genderqueers and intersex Ph.d's complaining in the guardian about not being represented on The Bill or insulted and ignored on Twitter.

It goes hand-in-hand with our crazy credit bubble.


@Aromatic Fanny Adams

Agreed. I can smell the Guardian's narcissism, hypocrisy and self-righteousness from here. For all their worship of "diversity", if you don't share their beliefs you'll soon be out in the cold ;)


Please tell me you trolled your own post with the first comment because if not the irony of Carols narcissistic dimwittery in complaining about your choice of words is a delicious rejoinder to your equivocating about O'Neills article.

Aromatic Fanny Adams and Bob are right here, until we get those with a narcissistic personality disorder to understand and accept their diagnosis the rest of us will constantly be faced with their unreasonable demands. From whichever wing of political thought they come from.

An Alien Visitor

When I think of Luis Enrique I don't think of punch up but of lick up. He is a perfectly calculated arse licker of the captains of the universe. This is how he appears to me.

Luis Enrique

I shan't respond, in case I offend Carol


«When Simon criticizes Osborne's austerity he's punching downwards intellectually, as are many critics of Iain Duncan Smith.»

That sounds to me rather condescending...

My impression of George Osborne is that he is frightfully clever, well read, insightful, capable, and he could have been an Oxford professor had he wanted to.

Thus I don't think that George Osborne is in any way intellectually "down" from Simon Wren Lewis, rather that he is working to a rather different agenda, and working pretty well at that.

As to Ian Duncan Smith, perhaps he is not quite as subtle and deep as George Osborne, but he is pursuing a different agenda, and also fairly well, not dumbly.


"My impression of George Osborne is that ..."

Your impression is wrong; he is a dullard. Biddable, shallow and self-centered. Just ask any of his constituency party in circumstances where their personal career or wealth are not threatened by their answers. Ask any of the civil servants who are tasked with doing his bidding. There is plenty of evidence unless you determinedly look in the other direction ...


The very notion that these things: racism, sexism, bigotry in all its guises can’t always be blamed on poverty would imply it often can. For sure, poverty (cultural and economic) can enable the worst in us – it puts enormous stress on individual lives. But, being a bit narcissistic myself, I wish to say Boyle rightly indicates that not making it on to the memo distribution list doesn’t make people bad; but it does make them malleable. (Witness the Bermondsey by election first hand) Contrary to popular belief on the right there is a natural desire to band and work together for a better life, consequently the personal is unapologetically political and fighting the good fight. Which is just as well, because how else would memo ideas reach the rest of us down here?


@Carol, there's nothing inherently sexist about using the word cunt. In Edinburgh, cunt is can just mean person. You can be a good cunt, a bad cunt, a nasty cunt. It's just how people talk.

In fact, I find your getting on your high horse about it a bit cunty.


"Josh Parsons (who in being a racist, Chelsea fan and Ukipper has achieved the perfect hat-trick of cuntitude)"

followed, apparently without irony, by

"Secondly, what counts as punching down?"

What's made me annoyed enough to comment is not Chris, who responded quickly and simply. It's some of the others here who seem to think they're reading a local Tesco's bulletin board or something.

For those of you who need it spelled out in words of one syllable: yes, it's a vile put down in much of the world outside GB.


I lost count of the missed points and ironic juxtapositions you displayed in such a short post, quixote. Well done. It's s shame the Oscars have just finished, you'd be a shoe-in for Best Example of Up-Their-Own-Assery. Well, maybe next year ...

Narcissism in the context of power politics.

So (without irony) you feel obliged to let us know 'What's made me annoyed'. Bravo!

You double down with a wagging finger against being parochial; is there anything more parochial than your own butt-hurtness? I don't think so.

And finish us off with a large dose of condescension about the meaning of words outside Great Britain without any sense of shame that this is a personal blog written by a British person, hosted in Britain with a particularly British tone, style and context.

Are you going for some sort of Guinness Record for failing to understand things?

Icarus Green

To be fair to O'Neill's piece, he actually inadvertently makes a point I've been banging on about to anyone open minded on the left that will listen - identity politics is killing real liberals like myself.

I don't really care about conservatives opinions of people who identify themselves as 'genderqueer' first, actual name second. Conservative opinion on any subject is worthless hatred.

But the substantive point is that the splintering of liberalism into a hundred different movable camps just feels to me the inevitable result of losing the economics argument. "naval gazing" is actually a good term used by O'Neill.

The end result of all of this 'diversity' is a pandora's box of ghettoisation, alienation, the cult of the individual, PC shutdowns of debate, tolerance for the intolerant, break down of family and society and perhaps the death of the liberal dream from ironically below, not above.

Cunty McCuntface

Jesus Christ this blog is full of cunts.


Why yes, Luis Enrique, Donald, and Chris, let's all agree that Carol's suggestion that "cunt" as a term of abuse is an offensively sexist term is way off the mark.

Obviously, there can be no suggestion that women's genitals are offensive, and so there can be no possible implication that the word "cunt" carries any disapprobation whatsoever.

Imagine how much worse it would have been if (say) Chris had chosen to illustrate a post on Bayes Theorem with a picture of a woman with big tits.

KB Player

So Frankie Boyle is complaining that people won't employ him if he tells jokes which lazy journalists will report as offensive. And this somehow prevents him from doing satire about big targets like bankers, global warming and the arms industry. I've heard those topics on the News Quiz and The Now Show – and that's Radio 4 at 6:30. Not particularly good satire – I think those are hard subjects to do as sketches. A show like The Thick of It on bankers (The Thick Wad of It?) would require too much explanation about the jargon and concepts of banking, which are a foreign language to most viewers. But “Bankers” now is used pretty much as a sure fire punchline for an easy laugh when talking about corruption or greed.

The idea going about that satirists are supposed to be virtuously concerned about being on the right side of social justice (“punching up”) doesn't describe about nine satirists out of ten from Aristophanes on.

Here's my take on it:-




Lets say that offensiveness is subjective, which is the point of this post and Frankie's Boyles.

Lets then also posit and that anyone that somehow constructs the straw man that I'm denying cunt can ever be offensive, rather than making the perfectly reasonable point that its often not, 's either a moron or a cunt (in the offensive sense). Or, at very least, bit of a fanny.

And finally, lets just say their a cunt because it's a bit more fun than calling them a moron.

Luis Enrique

Churm. Sadly the English language lacks any other word that quite does justice to our alien visitor


Is attacking PC students "punching down"? Hard to say. Taken as one angry mob acting in unison it doesn't seem so, though taking aim at an individual student would seem to be. At least coming from O'Neill, who is a somewhat major play in journalism.


@ Donald: You say that the term "cunt" is often not offensive. Oh really? You part company with the British public on that one - there's considerable research on offensive language available via Ofcom if you care to look it up. But if you're looking for "a bit more fun" than calling someone a moron, why not try "spastic" or "spazza", "retard" or "mongol", which would all seem much germane than "cunt"?

And no doubt yids, niggers, and pakis would all agree with your view that any offence caused by these terms is "subjective" - i.e. the problem only exists in their eyes, and is, as you suggest, only "a bit of fun" (the UKIP defence).

@ Luis Enrique: I'm sorry that you feel that the English language doesn't encompass any greater insult than "cunt". You might like to consider "spastic yid cocksucker" or "Jesus-shitting-Christ motherfucker". Not quite as crisp as "cunt" I admit, but then who could imagine anything worse than a woman's genitals?

Luis Enrique

Churm are you really claiming that using that word as an insult implies that the user or anybody else thinks female genitals are really horrid? If so, you're wrong.


Luis Enrique: Where else does the insult lie?

Just saying I'm wrong doesn't really cut it.


At least Chris had the grace to apologise.


It really is a bit pointless arguing about whether the word "cunt" is offensive when the original point, which seems to have got lost in the heat of the argument, was that it was sexist. Given that being compared to genitalia is offensive regardless of the sex of the genitalia, it doesn't really seem that sexist. I doubt anyone would have complained, least of all Carol, if the term of abuse had been "dick-headedness" or "knobbery". If Carol is offended that a word referring to her genitalia is used as a term of abuse, should we not all be equally offended by her alternative? Everyone has an arsehole, after all.

Luis Enrique


so you really think that people who use that word really think that female genitalia are really horrid, or are you just pointing word associations? Do you think that the use of the word fuck as an extreme expletive implies the view that the beautiful and sacred act of two people make love is really horrid?

(it's a very small point, but you will not I did not actually use the c word, because I think it's ... offensive)

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