Saturday, 8 September 2007

Fish in a barrel; Candy from a baby; Fisking a social worker

Looking through the site stats this evening, I noticed that I'd had a couple of people coming through from a blog entitled, 'The Child Minder', which is run by, a website written for social workers, by social workers. The precise page they've come from is this one, and I thought it worth taking a detailed look at what the author of the post, Janet Snell, had to say. For one thing, her post perfectly illustrates the sanctimonious smugness of the average liberal. So, here goes:
The Dail Mail and its lies about child protection
The "Dail Mail"? Is that something to do with the Irish parliament? Sorry, it was a cheap shot. But those are often the most satisfying...
The Daily Mail is vile.
That's quite a strong assertion. Why is it vile?
Everybody, apart from its readers, must know that.
Yes, its readers are clearly too stupid to understand. After all, why else would they deny what is obvious to all goodthinkful people?
But the problem is the sheer number of people who do read it – more than the Guardian, Times, Telegraph and Independent put together!
Isn't it terrible that lots of people read a publication we don't like? If only we could do something to stop them!
Still, if it's got all those readers, the Mail must be doing something right, eh?
Many social workers, with their tendency to a more liberal and tolerant world view...
No shit, Sherlock! So "liberal and tolerant", in fact, that they allowed homosexual paedophiles to abuse children without objecting, for fear of appearing "homophobic".
Not so liberal and tolerant when it comes to people who, Heaven forfend, disagree with them, though, are they? Those people are vile (and stupid).

But, to return to Ms Snell's clearly-reasoned discourse on the evils of the heretics:
Many social workers, with their tendency to a more liberal and tolerant world view, prefer to just ignore the Mail and all it stands for. But the trouble is the Mail doesn’t ignore them back.
It feeds the 2.3million people who read it every day a constant drip drip of poison against social care staff, questioning the profession’s competence as well as its motives.
"A constant drip drip of poison"! Ms Snell's assertion that the Daily Mail is vile is, however, a well-reasoned and objective critique of the newspaper.

And why would anyone cast doubt on the competence of social workers? After all, the Wathey and Faunch case was a one-off, wasn't it? Just like the Victoria Climbie case was a one-off. And the Rochdale "devil worship" case, that was a one-off as well. As were all the other one-offs.
And I say 2.3million – that’s the number who buy it, meaning that at least twice that number read it. That’s quite frightening really.
Don't you just love this woman? The thought of people reading a conservative-leaning newspaper frightens her. You can just picture the sanctimonious expression of benevolent concern etched across her face when she considers what can be done to teach the dear little people the error of their Mail-reading ways.
It suggests that almost 5 million people will have seen the story yesterday about the “scandalous” behaviour of social workers who have told a woman called Fran Lyon they plan to take her baby away from her shortly after it is born. The piece is written in an emotional, some would say lurid, style, detailing how the woman, “who has never harmed anyone” does not know if she will get to hold her baby.
It’s clearly a very sad case but, as every child care professional reading it will know, there is another side to the story. A side that those 5 million Mail readers will not get to hear.
Now, there may very well be another side to the story. But has Ms Snell heard it? Or is she just working on the basis that if a social worker says something, it must be correct?
Ms Snell seems to believe that if a social worker makes an accusation then, no matter how outlandish that accusation may be, we should all accept it at face value. What we should certainly never do is criticise social workers! But I'm afraid that I do not agree. There have been a considerable number of cases of social workers getting things wrong - often with very serious consequences. Taking a child from its mother is a huge step, and yet one that social workers can take all too lightly. After all, it has been alleged in The Times (also vile?) that social workers are now taking children from their parents solely in order to meet government quotas. The family courts have a default position of siding with the social workers. For a mother whose child is being unjustly taken from her, the media is often the only resort available. If the Daily Mail helps people at risk of injustice at the hands of social workers to fight for their rights, then good on the Daily Mail.
Why should we care about what Mail readers think?
Why worry about the little people? Never mind that their taxes pay our salaries; they can't stop us taking their children, so let them eat cake!
Well, for one thing it helps stoke up real hatred against social workers. The story of Fran Lyon prompted one person to write a blog headed “Save A Life – Shoot A Social Worker".
My moment of fame, cast in the coveted role of 'ignorant Daily Mail reader'. Of course, Ms Snell doesn't seem to have noticed that I actually wrote about this long before the Daily Mail did, and that I linked to the Sunday Telegraph report of it, rather than the report published in the Mail.

I would add, I don't hate all social workers. Indeed, I'm sure that many of them are perfectly decent people. But I do hate people who are possessed of power in as great a degree as social workers are, and who use that power incompetently or abusively. Fran Lyon's case is just the latest in a string of cases in which it has been shown that a significant number of social workers fall into one, or sometimes both, of these categories. And those social workers - yes, I hate them.
That can’t be a good thing.
But, for what it’s worth, Community Care readers will get to hear the other side. On September the 20th we will be running a feature examining the way Fran Lyon’s story was hijacked by the Mail (and the Telegraph) through no fault of her own and how key facts about her psychiatric history were omitted.
Notice the unwillingness to come out and attack Ms Lyon personally (because doing that wouldn't look too good, would it?). While she is accused of lying, the accusation is made indirectly, with the Mail and the Telegraph (is that vile too?) getting the blame for "highjacking" the story. Well, that's just not good enough. Ms Lyon provided those newspapers with the supposedly misleading information, and she has subsequently spoken directly in the comments thread following Pete Moore's post on the case at ATW (in which she endorsed the entire Sunday Telegraph article, bar one minor factual inaccuracy regarding her degree), as well as at her own newly-established website. Let's face it, if, as Ms Snell alleges, there has been misrepresentation going on, then Ms Lyon has certainly been complicit in that. It would be nice if Ms Snell could come out and make her accusations directly.
Some Community Care readers have written in saying they don’t want to read about “child-snatcher” allegations against social workers in the national media. Notably 32 members of the social work team at Bolton Council protested at our coverage of John Hemmings [a Lib Dem MP, actually Hemming - FR] and his claims that children were being taken into care to meet adoption targets.
I think Community Care shouldn’t ignore every anti-social worker story that appears in the national media (though you have to ignore a lot of them otherwise it becomes too exhausting!) Hopefully our coverage of Hemmings – and the forthcoming feature on the Lyon case – is helping, just a tiny bit, to set the record straight. It’s at least worth a try, surely?
Well, the other side of the story is certainly something to look forward to. Hopefully it will explain a bit more than Ms Snell's post did. I particularly note, that Ms Snell never mentions any of the numerous criticisms of the very concept of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, the highly-dubious psychiatric condition which has provided the justification for taking Ms Lyon's child. Nor does she explain why the evidence of one particular doctor was accepted over that of others, even though he was not a specialist in the area in question, and even though he had never actually met Ms Lyon. Perhaps these will be explained on the 20th. But, until these, and the other rather serious questions hanging over the case, are satisfactorily answered, then it is likely that people will continue to sympathise with Ms Lyon. After all, the arguments in Ms Snell's post really amount to little more than "we elevated social workers know better than you, and you should just accept what we say, and never ever criticise us. If you're lucky, we'll explain why in a couple of weeks".

Finally, I couldn't let this go without once again emphasising the liberal smugness with which this post is riddled. Far more than a comment on Ms Lyon's case, about which it really says very little, it is an attack on the Daily Mail and, arguably, upon any who dare read it. Now, I can appreciate that the Mail is not beyond criticism, but Ms Snell's comments about this "vile" paper, providing "a constant drip drip of poison", go far beyond criticism, into irrational hatred. After all, I wrote the post of which she complains a full ten days before the Mail first mentioned this case. And yet, I am held up by Ms Snell as an example of an ignorant person, corrupted by the wicked Daily Mail. This post really does provide a fascinating glimpse into the liberal mentality, in which a newspaper can become the object of such fanatical hatred, that the facts themselves can be ignored and misrepresented in order to further justify the hate. The rest of the piece also does quite a good job of showing quite how patronising, quite how sanctimonious, and, for all their talk of being open-minded, quite how convinced of the indisputability of their own beliefs, the average liberal is. Do you know, I even think that Ms Snell might be the new Thick Lizzy?


Harry J said...

Great post FR. I'm off to buy the Daily Mail.

Anonymous said...

Another well written piece !!

I had a discussion one night with a colleague from work about politics and the newspapers we read.

I read the Daily mail but I recognise my own prejudices ( we all have them even these so called liberals) and also read the independent to get some sort of balance.
he was outraged that I read the mail, he of course read the Guardian .
What he failed to recognise was that I was challenging my world view but he was just reinforcing his.
Who was the true liberal ?

youdontknowme said...

There are far too many social workers and the only way to justify their numbers is by making cases into catastrophies.

Anonymous said...

'Why should we care what Daily Mail readers think?' the writer asks, failing completely to ask also 'why should non-"liberals" care what we liberal and tolerant people think?'.

Do these people actually think at all, I wonder, or do they just have a knee-jerk reaction against anything right-of-Guardian and run with that?

Daphne said...

That was a masterful fisking FR - I cackled and whooped in delight from beginning to end!

This woman should be enormously pleased and flattered to have been fisked by one of the very best.

Fulham Reactionary said...


Thanks for your comments. Sadly, Ms Snell didn't seem quite as delighted with her fisking as one might have hoped. She has posted a rather petulant comment on her blog in response to the experience. Actually, the comment is quite fiskworthy as well: I may have to play around with that as well.

Daphne said...

FR - You think she would be gratefull for any thoroughly good male attention. From my experience social workers are trolls who are lucky to attract the notice of any man under the best of circumstances.

That you deigned to pay some attention to her blatherings and turn them into something worthy of conservative attention should make her bells ring.

She'll probably start stalking you out of perverse liberal female sexual disfunction.

My advice - look through your keyhole before opening the door - this crazy child stealing bitch may be at your doorstep....

Anonymous said...

Well somebody over there has pulled that blogpost.

I wonder if the smear job they were promising on the 20th will happen after all.

Anonymous said...

FR - Well fisked indeed, a flawless delivery too. I bet you fisked her out of her tie-dye mohair sandals.

I've never read the Daily Mail, it's not my sort of paper, but I'm going to buy one and read it in the morning, just for Frau Schnell.

I feel driven to recalibrate my moral compass in opposition to whatever direction hers is pointing in.

I thought 'liberal' came from 'liber', as in free: Let this lot have any more power and it seems that we'll only be free to do as we're told:

[Hand over your child, citizen, we're going to set it into a block of concrete for it's protection, and while we're here, we can check you over. Papers!]

Seriously: Great blog, FR, and kudos to you for picking this up and running with it. This fiasco could mean you're going to get a lot of traffic, and it's good to see that you obviously deserve that level of readership solely on your writing's merits.


Fulham Reactionary said...


Thanks for your comments. The site has indeed been quite busy this week - yesterday (Tuesday) saw the most hits in a single day since I started writing. A mix of social workers coming from Community Care to gawp at the Daily Mail reading types, and sensible people coming from House of Dumb.