Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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Retracting MyArse: A Cynical, Censorious Cop-Out

Alfie Gallagher writing @ Left From The West hits out at the handwringing cant so visible in the Sunday Times after a column by Kevin Myers. 

Yesterday's retractions of articles written by Kevin Myers for the Sunday Times and the Irish Independent (8 years after publication in the latter case!) reek of hypocrisy, cynicism, and cowardice.

Myers's piece in the Sunday Times was his typically noxious plat du jour -- a smug, facile, bigoted Colonel Blimp rant. This, in itself, was nothing new, for it has been his stock in trade for decades now. Of course, Myers normally prefers safer, easier targets — single mothers, Muslims, travellers, gay people, feminists, etc.

The only reason he finally got his comeuppance yesterday is that he just happened to indulge in the "wrong kind" of bigotry and it just happened to go viral.

The subsequent retractions, though, display the worst kind of journalistic cowardice there is. For years, editors at the Irish Independent and at the Sunday Times were quite happy to pay Kevin Myers handsomely for his pseudo-intellectual imitations of Eric Cartman. Yet the moment one of his tiresome tirades kicks off an international Twitterstorm, both newspapers suddenly develop an "editorial ethos" and piously pull his articles from their websites.

This is not just rank hypocrisy — it is a cynical, censorious cop-out. Myers is an obnoxious bigot, but if you're going to hire him and trade on his shock-mongering, then you must publish and be damned. You face the consequences rather than weasel out and retract whenever his bile creates a social media storm that threatens your advertising revenue.

MyArse indeed.


AM said...


rather than Myers going too far the response went too far.

Writers like Myers shake people out of their complacency and cause us to come up with arguments that overcome his. Because if can't do that, then he is right and we are wrong. What a frightening thought.

He was neither being racist nor anti-Semitic. It is simple enough for us to make the case that he was wrong as he so often has been without searching for the worst labels possible with which to gag him.

Had he wrote that piece for TPQ it would have been carried and no doubt he would have been criticised for the content.

What makes it all worse for him is the apologies he has made. He should have stuck to his guns and made the case as to why he thought the way he did. I doubt the intellectual quality of the response he received changed his mind. He hasn't changes his mind, merely his position and that came as a result of pressure.

Good for you for having written this piece.

Joe Dalton said...

The Irish Independent pulling that eight year old article, after it was “brought to their attention” is a complete joke. Have disagreed with so many things Myers has written over the years I never thought I would say it but I am actually feeling very sorry for him. His interview with Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5 was painful to listen to. You can hear in his voice how pained he is that so many people thing he is anti-semitic and a Holocaust denier. He is many things, but he is not those.

DaithiD said...

Freedom of expression has replaced original sin to the new puritans.

Alfie Gallagher said...


I agree. Though I think the assertions and arguments Myers makes are facile, unsubstantiated, and indeed bigoted, I don't see why he should be compelled to retract something that he still believes to be true? It's clear that his only regret is not the substance of his article but his "weakness for facile terminology".

Personally, I think Myers is a smug semi-fascist, but I also think that retraction/suppression is wrong for precisely the reasons Norman Finkelstein puts forth in this lecture.


AM said...


in the pastI have been loathe to jump on the censorious bandwagon that has gone for his throat, despite disagreeing strongly with what he writes.

The most lamentable thing about Kevin Myers in this affair is not what he wrote but the fact that he failed to stand over it. It suggests he never much thought about it in the first place; facile as you say.

Alfie Gallagher said...


It seems to me that it is very difficult to truly appreciate the sheer villainy of suppression unless one has been at the sharp end of it. That is something on which I am sure you and Norman Finkelstein would agree.