The Repellent Mr Ross

The first essay in Theodore Dalrymple’s new book Not With a Bang But a Whimper is available online here for free. The essay holds up the career of BBC personality Jonathan Ross, and in particular his obscene interview of Conservative Party leader David Cameron and his offensive behavior toward 78-year-old actor Andrew Sachs, as an emblem of the vulgarity and coarseness into which British society has fallen:

It is difficult to conclude anything other than that Jonathan Ross is paid a fortune specifically because of his vulgarity and abusiveness, both fearless and determined.

More important, significant and revealing than the episodes themselves were the responses, public and official, to them.

Protests about the questioning of Mr Cameron were relatively few and muted. Some of the responses were beside the point. Mr Howarth, a Conservative Member of Parliament, said that ‘to refer to the most distinguished Prime Minister since Winston Churchill in this way is beneath contempt’. It was not Mrs Thatcher’s distinction, however, that made the question objectionable; it would have been no better had it been asked, say, of Mrs Castle, the Labour Minister, or Mrs Williams, the Social Democrat, or indeed of anyone else. It was wrong in itself, pointless in its vulgarity; indeed, its vulgarity was its point, and its whole point. It was vulgarity triumphant, crowing its victory over restraint and refinement.
You can buy the book  here.

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