How To Be Right… in a World Gone Wrong by James O’Brien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had some reservations reading this book, mainly because from the scant descriptions I’d heard, it was to be filled with transcripts of callers on the author’s LBC radio show. Thankfully, these transcripts are not the staple of each chapter, rather they appear in every chapter occasionally only to illustrate a salient point. The author does say he has tried to deliver the calls verbatim (he claims to his knowledge), I do wonder how much selective editing he’s done.
It is well written, though now and then it feels like James has flicked through a thesaurus for fear of repeating words. Who even says “interlocutor”? Seldom, there are a few typos but given the timescale to which this book was delivered, O’Brien can be forgiven for this transgression. His analytical writing style does make him come across as a logician. I did find it quite amusing how every time Kelvin McKenzie was mentioned, it was prefixed with “disgraced journalist”. However, he admits to telling a lie to a caller. If he’s admitting to lying once how do we know what he’s being truthful about? As a broadcaster this is especially important. Worryingly, the author does seem to call anti-imperialist protestors ‘silly’ in the defence of Churchill. Hopefully he comes to his senses about Churchill’s wrongs.
As O’Brien correctly states many times, when people claim their free speech is being stifled, what they actually want is to opine without scrutiny (see quote below). Sadly PC gone mad is not a boomer venting about problems with Windows XP. Instead it’s a bunch of easily offended reprobates complaining that people shouldn’t be so easily offended about everything. Most if not all of the stories in newspapers demonizing ‘political correctness’ are false or misrepresentations.
The author hits the nail on the head, when he lambastes the so called ‘gig economy’ such as Uber and Deliveroo. It’s all about using the deep pockets of venture capitalists to create artificially lower prices, deregulate the industry, wait for your competitors to go bust, then raise prices as a monopoly. In the process of course, the workers get less pay, than working without a middleman and less rights.
O’Brien’s solution is in the epilogue, it basically boils down to journalists doing their jobs and holding politicians to account. Challenging politicians to explain their views, not having people on who spout nonsense without evidence, empty chairing people who are scared of scrutiny. We’ve seen a little bit of this post publication but I fear we have a long way to go.
As O’Brien grew up with Catholic teachings, his knowledge of The Bible comes in useful poking holes in religious arguments against homosexuality. Jesus doesn’t mention anything about it and there’s only a letter from St Paul. Amusingly Leviticus uses the exact same wording to describe eating shell fish as an ‘abomination’ as it does homosexuality. Similarly with garments made of two different threads. But these zealots don’t bash lobster eaters or tweed wearers as much as they do the gays. Probably because they’re prudish conservatives.
The author does find quite amusing examples of honour killings and forced marriages in western civilization: the life of Henry VIII and Romeo and Juliet. Though I would counter by saying one is a work of fiction and the other is not exactly contemporary. Whereas, unfortunately honour killings and forced marriages are currently endemic in much of the Islamic world.
Often in the UK, politicians vociferously support an Australian style points system, whilst forgetting that the UK already has a very similar system already in place for non-EU migrants. As the author points out, having this system in Australia for all migrants doesn’t stop Ozzie residents complaining about the influx of foreigners.
On sexual harassment, the author notes that women will often welcome behaviour that may be considered sexual harassment, if they are attracted to the perpetrator. But he concludes that this is wrong and although I am sympathetic to this view, I will need to see the other point of view.
The book delivers on it’s eponymous promise. It’ll arm you with the tools you need to dismantle the nonsense arguments offered by gammon et al. That notwithstanding, O’Brien’s methods don’t go down too well with morons such as Rees-Mogg, where to the untrained eye it turns into a he-says, she-says. Lies delivered with conviction, simply asking why isn’t enough to show they’re full of crap.
The conflation of ‘freedom of speech’ with ‘freedom to say silly things without being challenged’ and, more, ‘freedom to insist that people have to listen to me even if they think I’m ridiculous and/or dangerous’ is rarely quite as glaring as in this case.
Only relatively recently did Schrödinger’s immigrant – the one who simultaneously steals ‘our’ jobs and claims unemployment benefit while leading a life of state-subsidised indolence
I learned that Section 40 of the Equality Act 2010, which required employers to safeguard employees against harassment from clients and customers, had been repealed in 2013 as part of the Conservative Party’s tabloid-friendly programme of ‘cutting red tape’.
It is always fruitful to point out to them that a forced marriage is pivotal to the plot of Romeo and Juliet and that Henry the Eighth is probably history’s most famous proponent of honour killings.
This ‘will’ [of the people’], apparently, meant that 17.4 million disparate and diverse people had all voted for exactly the same thing without realising it: namely, a Brexit which would mean whatever Paul Dacre, the billionaire owners of the Daily Telegraph and Jacob Rees-Mogg wanted it to.
Charged with defending an obviously flawed organisation against claims that leaving it would deliver utopia, they had nothing in their arsenal save a status quo that many found profoundly unsatisfactory.
This, though, is the ultimate aim of the war against ‘political correctness’. Its foot soldiers seek to silence opinions they find discomforting and to arrest social developments they consider threatening to a status quo that has delivered undeserved privilege to straight, white men like me for centuries.
Like ‘virtue signalling’, a term which seeks to ridicule the ideas of altruism and generosity by suggesting that they are only ever undertaken in search of admiration