Sociopaths in the media, part ii

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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:29 am

When I mentioned Tsunami Buddies the other day, I never suspected that such creatures might actually exist. Matthew Parris proves me wrong:

I watched the TV pictures of the surge of ocean coming ashore, saw the buildings in its path, and had to stifle an inward “Yes! Sweep them away! Show us how small is Man! Show us how easily this Universe can make matchwood of our dreams!” And no, you do not need to remind me that they were somebody else’s dreams, not mine. “Show us,” I thought, “how lives and livelihoods can be snuffed out in the twinkling of an eye.”

You get the feeling Matthew Paris would be more upset if someone stole his office coffee cup. T.W. Andrews deals with the idiot.

Posted by Tim B. on 01/03/2005 at 12:17 AM
    1. Maybe he’s one of those ‘Earth First’ arseholes (a psychotic Leftie group) where human beings are considered environmental vandals and parasites, and a tsunami is merely the Earth’s way of defending herself…or some such heartless Leftie bullshit!

      Posted by Brian on 01/03 at 12:38 AM • permalink


    1. He’s a former Tory MP who moved from ‘dry’ to ‘wet’ when everybody else was moving the other way…then he came out as gay, left parliament and became a columnist, getting seriously weirder all the while.

      Posted by yellerKat on 01/03 at 01:54 AM • permalink


    1. Well, he managed to drag out the smart-assed darker side of my personality.

      Especially the part where he smugly claims that we’d “hesitate” if we had the power to stop natural disasters. I’d be careful about granting deity-level powers to people you don’t know, Mr. Paris. Some might be inclined to thwart your desires in a way that might exemplify the words “poetic justice”.

      Posted by Patrick Chester on 01/03 at 02:17 AM • permalink


    1. Parris is an ex-Tory MP and Poofter who recently published a piece in the Spectator lamenting the demise of the noble and loveable Soviet Union.

      What wass it the Pope said aout the Culture of Death?

      Posted by Kevin Dunn on 01/03 at 03:14 AM • permalink


    1. So wait, he’s “come out” as gay?

      So he was “in”?

      That positively sparkles of lefty self-bullshittery.

      Posted by ushie on 01/03 at 04:21 AM • permalink


    1. Matthew Parris isn’t a lefty; he’s a conservative, and former Conservative MP, whose autobiography, Chance Witness, is a really good read.  I was slightly shocked by this article, though.  I can only assume that it’s laissez-faire conservatism taken to a bizarre extreme: liberal conservatives often argue against the socialist/statist belief in the perfectibility of man, and the idea that this can be achieved through legislation and state-imposed control.  Here, Parris appears to be suggesting that we should adopt the same approach to natural disasters.  I think that’s taking libertarianism a bit too far.

      Posted by wardytron on 01/03 at 04:52 AM • permalink


    1. A useful reminder, I think, that conservatives can produce wingnuts as smartly as the left. Needless to say, Parris has found a home at the Spectator these days.

      Posted by rick mcginnis on 01/03 at 06:30 AM • permalink


    1. Where do these sociopaths come from?  Was it the potty training?  Influenza in Mom’s first trimester?  Where?

      Posted by RebeccaH on 01/03 at 07:29 AM • permalink


    1. Sorry, I was confused by the lament of Perry’s about the demise of the Soviet Union, and my own sad ignorance of British political parties.

      I miss the Whigs, myself.

      Posted by ushie on 01/03 at 07:37 AM • permalink


    1. Let�s not forget the distinction between moral action and moral thought. Amongst libertarian-conservatives there should be no thought-crimes: you can think any number of hideous things and that’s your own business. It is your actions that matter. That�s one of the things that separates us from leftists and socialists. Parris is not doing anything to hurt anybody, nor is it within his power (unless he is secretly some Gaia-trained plate-shifting daemon from the spirit world) to cause any new real-life action adventure tragedies.

      But in any event, I�m not even sure if Parris was just having a morally-loathsome brain exercise, and he was certainly not writing in moral terms. He seemed to be trying to unearth something true about human psychology, and accordingly was operating within the morality-free realm of individual human feelings and (unwanted) impulses.

      A man�s mind can be an amoral and chaotic place (think about the Bible heroes; especially in the Old Testament), but God (sticking with the Old T theme here) is looking for you to do the right thing when the time and place arrives for your test. Parris is noting that there is a God-feeling in the midst of the awesome destruction, and as the awesomeness and fality level of the destruction mounts the stronger is the seductive feeling of awe. Of course, this sort of thing has been noted throughout the history of Western culture: from the Bible and the Greeks, through to the present.  When we are not being reminded by tsunamis, we remind ourselves – via music, essays, etc. – that even if you obey all of God’s laws we could still be subject to random death and destruction. That is what makes God, God.

      And if you don�t believe in God, you may find that Mother Earth or Randomness or whatever still tests you (like a Brit tourist on holiday in Pukhet, say) and you still have to do something, and that something involves a choice, and hopefully you’ll make the right one. And for those of us not at present being tested, such as we with comfortable lives sitting around reading and writing on the Internet all day, it is not unusual to find someone occasionally permitting the feeling of nihilism to happen, only to wonder at it, dismayed.  Parris is wondering at his own nihilism, dismayed.

      But to reitterate the first point: there is a big difference between entertaining nihilism in the context of human psychology, and taking nihilistic actions in public and political life.

      Posted by Sergio on 01/03 at 08:01 AM • permalink


    1. sergio � There certainly is.  Let’s give Matthew a shovel and a one-way ticket to Indonesia and see how he chooses.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 01/03 at 08:34 AM • permalink


    1. Matthew’s mum must be so proud…her little boy has so grown up from his days of playing with magnifying glasses and anthills.

      Unconscious yearning for a cosmic spanking? I’m sure there are other ways he can satisfy his own inner fantasies without projecting such crap into an evaluation of people in general.

      Drop a few quid on a Dom and keep it to yourself next time, Matthew…

      Posted by Wind Rider on 01/03 at 08:54 AM • permalink


    1. It’s always fun to heap self-righteous, pc scorn on someone, but Matthew is making an honest observation about human nature. I can attest from personal observation that even in the bluest of the blue states, Massachusetts, the traffic backs up for miles in the opposite direction from an accident, and that’s not because the gawkers are stopping to offer help. It’s human nature to be fascinated by danger and to fantasize about it as Matthew has done. That’s all necessary as a precondition to be ready to deal with real danger when it happens to yourself or neighbors.

      To pretend that your own mind doesn’t hide such thoughts, and to criticize those who are more honest than yourselves, is to wall yourself off and to encourage others to be dishonest and cut off themselves off from genuine interaction with other real humans.

      One of the great wonders of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is that it deals forthrightly with the shortcomings of all the kings and apostles. That’s gives the rest of us guidance with dealing with our own growth.

      Posted by Jon Cohen on 01/03 at 09:22 AM • permalink


    1. richard mcenroe: perhaps, like millions of others, he donated money, or maybe he’ll now go out of his way to buy stuff made in the affected countries or something – surely he’ll choose some easier, proper upper middle-class thing to do (if he even bothers)

      Wind Rider: “Unconscious yearning for a cosmic spanking? I’m sure there are other ways he can satisfy his own inner fantasies without projecting such crap into an evaluation of people in general.”
      Well said. But if such rule were general millions of psychologists and writers would be unemployed. Good lord, they would have to become bloggers. And perhaps that’s the ultimate point here: Parris actually gets paid money (!!) to write this stuff, while the rest of us must limit our brilliance to Tim Blair’s comments board. Pity.

      Posted by Sergio on 01/03 at 09:28 AM • permalink


    1. Anyone who quotes Lennon’s Imagine is a fully-fledged, certifiable, 18-carat wanker of the highest order. A more asinine piece of doggeral has yet to be penned.

      Posted by slatts on 01/03 at 03:21 PM • permalink


    1. No, Parris’ column, based exclusively on his own personal experience, presumably ten minutes worth of “thought”, and no scientific analysis, is not an interesting work in the field of psychology.

      It is retarded drivel.

      Posted by Crispytoast on 01/03 at 03:42 PM • permalink


    1. Sergio, I read through your longer comment twice, but RINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRING BANANAPHONE….

      Posted by Andrea Harris on 01/03 at 05:24 PM • permalink


    1. Actually, I tend to get annoyed with those who stop to watch an auto accident.

      Posted by Patrick Chester on 01/04 at 12:07 AM • permalink


  1. The Parris piece is as childishly flawed as it is odious. He asks us to imagine an alternative to Nature red in tooth and claw and swiftly supplies his own absurdly extreme alternative: Nature so impossibly defanged and dull that only a dolt would choose it. This is the philosophical equivalent of Nanny telling off a five-year-old for whining about a rainy afternoon “well, wouldn’t it be boring if every day was sunny?”. Great choice, Parris. He then tries to defend himself against the charge of furtively dribbling in his armchair with excitement by citing a real newspaper quote from a real eye witness which mentioned a feeling of excitement. That quote reads like an honest reponse from someone who survived unscathed without losing a relative or limbs. It doesn’t deserve to be fatuously cherry picked by a columist and waved around as a badge of moral immunity. Finally, is Parris fooling anyone other than his cat when he insists – by the by – that he is quite certain he would respond with courage and fortitude to personal disaster? Wasn’t there a Matthew Parris who was filmed trying to keep body and soul together for one week on the dole (UK version of welfare payments) for a TV programme in the early 1980s – and failed miserably?

    Posted by jody tresidder on 01/04 at 05:54 AM • permalink