I Don’t Like Nick Cohen

Posted on November 10, 2009

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I stumbled across Nick Cohen well before I even started to pretend being interested in columnists and the like, after I reading his cynical and miserable view of the state of left-wing politics. I thoroughly recommend for you not to buy it here, though I note that it is available at the slightly more realistic price of 35p. Having managed to avoid any kind of comment of his for a couple of years, I was unfortunate enough to stumble across one of his latest offerings the other day.

Cohen has managed to come to the conclusion that the opportunity offered by the internet to protest and express dissatisfaction is, somehow, bad. I agree with his initial thoughts on the taking of offence. I remember once hearing an obscure comedian remark (his name escapes me): “So what if you’re offended? Nothing happens”. People that actively choose to take offence are, again I agree, infuriating and wholly pointless. But if Cohen genuinely cannot see why people might be offended by Andrew Neil’s reference to Diane Abbot as a chocolate HobNob or Jan Moir’s hateful comments regarding Stephen Gately, then he is clearly missing the point. Cohen may not be black or homosexual, in fact I’m pretty sure he’s neither, but plenty of people are, and may well have, believe it or not, taken offence at remarks such as those from Neil or Moir.

Cohen recognises some of the positive aspects of the internet, but the suggestion that protesting through the internet could impede free speech is erroneous. Neil and Moir, along with countless others, had their right to speak, and then the rest of us had our chance to respond. That opportunity was provided by the internet. Cohen claims that “a mob fighting a good cause is still a mob”. Fair enough, but so what? So what if the internet has made it easier to protest and raise complaints? People with lives to be getting on with, by which I mean those who have jobs other than sitting at a computer and blogging about whatever takes their fancy, have too much time on their hands to express their views about something that they are offended by (apologies, the heinous phrase again!). If the internet lets these people express their views- and remember, those views can be positive as well as negative- then it gets my vote every day.

Now, I’m off to resume my retirement from anything written, uttered or farted by Nick Cohen.

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Posted in: Media