Laurie Penny is a petulant, prepubescent performance artist, play-acting at being both a journalist and a grown-up. But failing. Previously referring to herself as a media professional, which I’d not contest, she has now taken to calling herself a reporter or journalist. These categories of writing have a marked difference which will, inevitably, become an insurmountable inconvenience for Ms. Penny: Journalists report facts.
Skipping back and forth between New Statesman and The Independent, Penny filled the vacant shoes of disgraced plagiarist Johann Hari in 2012, just long enough to follow in his disgusting footsteps. Fabricating quotes and failing to cite her sources where it didn’t suit her colourful narrative, Ms. Penny is not troubled by her lack of integrity. Trivial expectations of honesty in journalism were responded to with an assertion that all journalists are subjective, and she’s somewhat proud of her methods.
Given Laurie Penny’s disrespect for her art, it’s not surprising to discover that she has lied. Which article hardly matters but, in this case, it was a discussion about men’s rights and an encounter she had with Mike Buchanan, founder of the Justice for Men and Boys (& the Women Who Love Them) political party in the UK.
Penny misrepresents the details of their meeting to make it look like Buchanan, who was visiting friends in London at the time, was homeless and unable to find work. She finds him pitiful. Given that Laurie is a self-described defender of the poor and was eerily in the exact situation she describes for Mr. Buchanan, she takes a hypocritical stance in her projection or, more likely, is knowingly dishonest.
Mr. Buchanan retired from his business career about four years ago and informed Laurie Penny of this fact. But, you see, money matters very much to Laurie Penny. Money and hairstyles. That’s about how deep her ambition goes. When she flinched at Mike Buchanan’s proffered hand it was not because he was male, and she a man hater, it was because he appeared to be beneath her. She is 28, he is 56 years old.
She is chic, he showed up disheveled in an attempt to accommodate her interview request at short notice. Penny recorded the lengthy interview, during the course of which Mike Buchanan explored numerous areas in some depth. Virtually nothing of what he said appeared in the article. It’s all too obvious that for Laurie the only objective to be gained by meeting Mike Buchanan was to seek material for a personal attack. It was journalism of the lowest order..
Quickly advancing her agenda driven pathos, Penny inserts the word “white” into Buchanan’s concerns for men and then calls men’s rights activists racist. This slippery segue to her ensuing rant is not to be taken seriously. Accusing people of racism is a “go to” technique of Ms. Penny’s to gain audience support.
As historian David Starkey noted, Laurie Penny is nothing but a child with a penchant for making personal attacks then crying foul when her vitriol backfires. At the June, 2012 Sunday Times Festival of Education, Penny declared Starkey to be “playing xenophobia and racial prejudice for laughs” then fabricated charges of tax evasion on they fly, after which she sat meek voiced, pale faced, and lip quivering while Starkey exposed her for her own money grubbing, uncharitable behaviour.
Now I think that that is as mean and grasping as some runt comedian, and I will not be lectured to by a jumped-up public schoolgirl like you .
(Editorial note: It might be helpful to non-British readers to note that in England, unlike elsewhere in the world, a “public school” is an expensive, posh private school. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just hard not to note the irony of another privileged Social Justice Warrior spew lies about anyone who questions her, embarrassing even those who titularly share her values. –DE)
Anyway, to her distress, the audience did not take her side and there was no applause in her favour, only jeers.
As Miss Penny continued speaking, Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Idea think tank stood up and told the journalist who has written for The Independent and the Guardian, that she was a disgrace to both women and the left.
Purportedly, those are the things that are nearest and dearest to Ms. Penny’s heart: feminism and social justice. Nonetheless she shook off the criticism and got back to her devious business because Laurie Penny is not an honest reporter, she is a pop icon in the modern, infantalized world.
If she really cared about the causes she pretends to fight for, Laurie Penny would be very concerned about the condemnation that her colleagues from the Occupy movement have directed towards her. Sporting a new hair colour and style for every publicity event, Penny brags about being an integrated member of the revolution but showed zero concern for either the three-part revelation of her misquoted friend or the anger from a presumed ally whom she publicly called a “cunt” just for the dramatic effect.
Laurie Penny has been called the “voice for a generation” but she is obviously just a voice for herself.
As sociologist Frank Furedi pointed out in an Intelligence 2 debate, “[t]he very idea of a generation is a banal, unsustainable concept. The idea that a biological accident, the fact that you happen to be sharing the same calendar, binds you together in a common experience is inane.”
He goes on to explain that Penny’s so-called “Generation Rent” has mostly been failed by “child centred rearing” which has robbed them of a “heroic imagination” and, instead, taught modern youth to protest with phrases like “”Bail us out!’ ”Give us a handout!’ ‘Take better care of us!’ It’s almost like an infantalized reaction.”
Furedi and Starkey are not alone in noticing the perpetual childishness of the self-obsessed Ms. Penny.
Of course, extending child-like innocence into adulthood is a very difficult thing to get right — hence Laurie Penny is one of the most bitter and twisted people in public life.
But raping the world of honest journalism is not Laurie Penny’s concern. She’s too busy counting her followers on Twitter, planning her next hairdo, and choosing which of her leftover friends are most disposable next time she needs a good punchline.
Being a fad is not easy. The hardest part must be trying to keep from her mind the fact that all fads have a limited shelf life. Just as being sort of cute, like children are, has helped her get away with shoddy, unethical writing. Laurie Penny’s fame will fade with her youth because she focused on building a personality cult instead of learning how to do her job well.
As Furedi tried to explain, “we end up with a very sordid generational tension that is really about the small things in life. It actually distracts young people, or could distract young people, from having a vision of the real possibilities that could occur.”
There is no point trying to reason with Laurie Penny. No point discussing the real issues, asking her for more attention span outside of her own, solipsistic world than she can afford, nor in requesting integrity she hasn’t had to develop. Laurie is what I call an OPK (Other People’s Kid); ultimately, she’s their problem not ours.
While Laurie Penny stomps her feet like an adolescent, crying that nobody understands her – she’s right. We don’t want to understand her. She’s a spoiled brat and we are adults with better things to do than worry about why The New Statesman still continues her employment.
I guess she’s just privileged.
Feature image by Susanne Nilsson
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