Oh, lord. I can’t stop myself. I can’t stop myself from finding terrible obituaries of Leon Brittan in the Telegraph. Kill me.
This time it’s Bruce Anderson, who, like Dan Hodges, isn’t really the sort of person that you’d want writing your obituary. Because he writes shit like this:
“In the late 1970s, as a junior front-bench spokesman, [Brittan] was one of the pathfinders of Thatcherism. Forget mere centuries; her fame will endure for millennia.”
Millennia? What the fuck is this? Isn’t he even slightly embarrassed by himself?
It gets worse. Anderson goes on to tell a joke involving a pun on the word “pederasty.” Apart from being a pun and therefore the lowest form of humor, it’s an incredibly stupid thing to write about a man who, according to Anderson, died under the weight of an undeserved shame. Why joke about it? I’m sure it wasn’t funny to Brittan or to his family. An alternative view—Anderson knows the rumors, just like “everybody else,” but for him it’s nothing so bad that he can’t make a joke out of it. Ha ha, maybe Leon Brittan raped kids! Or Nick Clegg, same thing.*
I’m not writing this just to note that Bruce Anderson is a terrible journalist who thinks that Margaret Thatcher is comparable to Jesus or Socrates. It’s to note the creation of two realities. This isn’t like the case of Jimmy Savile. In Savile’s case, all the immediate postmortem coverage was respectful and positive; it took the airing of a documentary a year later to turn media coverage uniformly negative. Brittan isn’t even buried and there are already two versions of him in existence. In the tabloids, Brittan is a sadistic monster from hell; in the broadsheets and on the television, Brittan is a kindly family man who suffered calumnies of unknown origin.**
I bet that both versions of Brittan will disappear pretty quickly, and he’ll be forgotten by both tabloids and broadsheets, living on only as an Internet legend of evil, just as he was before his death. The evidence just isn’t there—or it isn’t there in a form that can reconcile “official” and “unofficial” Brittan, and the “official” version usually wins out when this happens. Besides, nobody ever did get around to figuring out whether Ted Heath threw all those kids from his boat or whether the Queen is a lizard woman, so there’s the still big questions to answer…
* Anderson has form with kids. No, I’m not talking about pederasty, I’m talking about this wonderful article about the permissibility of child torture. Out of all the post-9/11 intellectual exercises involving torture—and there were many—Anderson was the only one to make the brave stand that torturing terrorists was bad because torturing their children was easier. I have to give him bonus points for writing this in 2010, by which time the CIA itself had wound down its secret torture prison program. I don’t think they ever got around to torturing a whole family in one room, so Anderson never got to live the dream, even vicariously.
** On the Internet, Brittan’s a sadistic monster from hell and a Zionist Bilderberg dog, but then again, on the Internet, everybody knows you’re a Zionist Bilderberg dog.