Greater Surbiton

The perfect is the enemy of the good

Apologies for feeding the troll… Brendan O’Neill on sexual harassment

BrendanONeillCartoon

I know you shouldn’t feed the troll, but professional contrarian twit Brendan O’Neill’s defence of sexual harasser Sam Kriss can only make a pretence of plausibility if you haven’t read the victim’s account.

O’Neill wrote: ‘Mr Kriss is accused by an anonymous person of repeatedly kissing and fondling her when they were on a date. She didn’t like it, which means he should have stopped or she should have gone home earlier. That’s a bad night out with a weirdo who doesn’t know how to court, not sexual assault.’

The victim-blaming is bad enough (‘she should have gone home earlier’), but O’Neill is being actively dishonest.

The victim wrote (in an account that Kriss has acknowledged is accurate): ‘Next, I felt Sam putting his arm round me. Phew, that’s better, some mild affection, not a mauling, I thought. Turns out he wasn’t putting his arm round me, but behind me, to place his hand on the back of my neck, so as to twist my head to face his, wherein, he again forcibly kissed me. This physically hurt.’

And: ‘After realising that I really wasn’t returning home with him, he began forcibly ‘snogging’ (I can hardly call it kissing given it was so aggressive) me at the bus stop. I turned my head away so it was out of reach, to which Sam started grabbing at my breasts with both hands. There were, rather mortifyingly, other people at the bus stop trying to ignore this scene. I felt so embarrassed, so I moved to the doorway behind the bus stop … this moving away was taken not as, ‘please leave me alone’, but as if I had gone to the doorway for us to have more privacy and thus intimacy. At this point Sam actually put his hands up underneath my top to touch my breasts. I protested with statements like, “Sam, seriously, can we not”, “we are outside on the street”, trying to remind him I was not ok with this, but not show any anger in case it escalated his behaviour.’

O’Neill has similarly doctored the facts regarding Rupert Myers’s sexual harassment of Kate Leaver. He writes: ‘For saying ‘I want to fuck you’ to a woman and then trying to kiss her (allegedly), Mr Myers has lost his journalistic jobs and been turned into a pariah.’ He presents it simply as a clumsy advance on Myers’s part, concealing from his readers the fact that Leaver had, according to her own account (as reported by Matthew Scott) explicitly already said ‘no’:

‘She told him that she wasn’t interested in a romantic relationship. She just wanted to be friends with him. Two weeks later they went to a pub in “Fitzrovia” for another drink. She again said that she wasn’t interested in a relationship, couldn’t they just be mates?

According to her he tried this line:

“I’ve got enough mates, I’d rather fuck you.”

Unsurprisingly this conversational gambit created more ice than it melted, and Ms Leaver decided to leave. He left too and just outside the pub he (to use her words) “forced himself” on her.

This is ambiguous. Only Leaver and Myers know exactly what happened, and because it took place two years ago even they have probably forgotten some of the detail. But she explained a bit more on a Radio 5 Live interview with Emma Barnett:

“He took that opportunity to ignore what I said, grabbed me and forced himself into a kissing situation and touching me inappropriately. … just on my body where I was not comfortable having his hands.”

She agreed with her interviewer that his hands were “wandering.”.’

Myers has not denied the allegations and has apologised for his behaviour. There may be a reasonable debate to be had on what sort of sanction someone should face in such situations, but those arguing for greater leniency are not helping their case by suppressing relevant facts.

Attention-seeking, un-PC trolling is what Spectator columnists do, and we should all try to ignore it as much as possible. But if they have to conceal evidence to make their trolling plausible, then that is a bit sad. For O’Neill, a bit like the old days at Living Marxism, which never refrained either from sneering at sexual assault victims or from shamelessly suppressing evidence.

PS This blog has been rather quiet in the last couple of years as I transferred my commentary to Facebook and Twitter, and no longer have time for many of the longer commentaries that I used to publish here. Consequently, to liven the blog up a bit and to give the wider public once again the benefit of my pearls of wisdom, I may start republishing my longer Facebook comments here – like this one.

Advertisements

Sunday, 22 October 2017 - Posted by | gender | , , , ,

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: