I adore provocative people, be they rebellious, cheeky or just amusingly contrary. I also purposely follow and read people I disagree with.

My stance is this: I’ll listen to your point-of-view if it’s well-informed, cleverly constructed and you don’t take yourself too seriously. Good grammar is also essential. There’s no excuse for spelling ‘relevant’ as ‘relevent’ unless you’ve gone 48 hours without sleep and have consumed enough vodka to plaster a small Russian village.

So when Gareth Cliff (who a lot of people detest but I actually find occasionally amusing or just mildly annoying) asserts that the death of a baby girl born with a heart defect is how “Darwinism shows it’s (sic) hand”, I get angry.

Apart from the insensitivity and atrocious grammar, Cliff has maligned and misinterpreted a great thinker and pioneer.

Darwin never propagated the idea of weeding out the weak or breeding the strong, but people who are only vaguely aware of Darwin’s work say this rubbish all the time. White supremacists use it to justify racism and Hitler used it to rationalise murdering “defective” children.

In a very simplistic nutshell, “survival of the fittest” means survival of the species that can best adapt to its environment.

So Gareth, go read some Richard Dawkins or take an anthropology course and keep your “Ooh, I’m so shocking” statements to yourself until you know what you’re talking about. Otherwise you just look shockingly dumb.

9 thoughts on “Shock cock – advice for Gareth Cliff

  1. I am not so sure you’re objecting to his grasp of Darwinism, as I have to say the basic idea seems to apply in this situation – the girl’s heart was defective, she did not survive.

    Her death is tragic, most certainly, but Cliff is not wrong in saying that it is essentially an illustration of Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory.

    I think you might just be a wee bit peeved that he was as insensitive about it as he was, rather than him actually being wrong.

    I also think you showed your own lack of understanding by playing the Nazi card. I’m pretty sure Cliff isn’t advocating Eugenics, not least of all since it would be social and career suicide. No sensible person, especially not one in the media would endorse something like that, not even for ratings or to be controversial.

    I appreciate that you’re angry, but I’d advise you to take a breath and think really hard before you go off on an irrelevant tangent and paint someone with the wrong brush, as you have here. Sure he’s a cock, but he’s not a cock for the reasons you’re implying.

  2. Deon: Like I said, I’m not as angry about the insensitivity (I’m hardly a paragon of tact myself) as I am about the iteration of social darwinism. “Survival of the fittest” was not even coined by Darwin and he later regretted using it at all. Natural selection is far more complex than that. Animals that may have been born with a genetic anomaly sometimes go on to thrive in their environment because the environment changes in such a way so that those with a “defect” become the most successful in surviving and propagating themselves. For further reading, I recommend Richard Dawkins’ “The Ancestor’s Tale”; it’s both educational and entertaining.

  3. Just on the grammar debate: shouldn’t you have used “whom” rather than “who” in the third paragraph? Sorry for being a pedant.

  4. Deon, when I first read Amanda’s piece I also did a double take, but then I thought about it and realized that it was actually correct, and very needed.

    A child dying from a defective heart is not Darwin’s basic idea (it’s hardly even an idea). His basic idea applies to the origin of species (or the origin of complexity), not the survival of individuals.

    And her discussion of eugenics is perfectly appropriate precisely because it illustrates what happens when Darwin’s name is attached to nefarious ideas. Amanda doesn’t suggest in any way that Cliff advocates eugenics. That wasn’t her point.

  5. Pedro: I may write colloquially, but I know how to use contractions correctly. “Ain’t” is not a word.

  6. I think ‘who’ is correct because ‘Gareth Cliff’ is the subject of the sentence. I would use ‘whom’ if Gareth were the object i.e. “So when I say that Gareth Cliff (whom a lot of people…”

  7. Gareth is a bit sarcastic,its part of his job,he tugs at
    Peoples emotions,but I doubt that he is as cold hearted as he
    Appears,he’s got to have some feeling,perhaps sensationalism
    Is routed in our bloodstream,without gareth life in South Africa
    Would be dull,he’s a great tool for the media,I love him,
    He’s a handsome guy ,full of humour,and he tops it off
    With a sexy smile,I would love to have him cock me up!really h
    Hard Twice!!

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