Ellis, schmellis, give us a real intellectual

I really don’t want to write about Bob Ellis today. From his latest piece in The Drum, I think we can all agree that his time as an intellectual has well and truly passed. As @drnaomi pointed out on twitter, “The only thing worth noting in the essay is the depth of Bob Ellis’ knowledge of sex offenders!”.

I won’t link to the Ellis piece here. You all know where to find it.

The factual errors alone should have been enough for The Drum’s editor, Jonathan Green, to knock it back, let alone the ridiculousness of the premise: that feminists are to blame when men do stupid and/or illegal things and fuck up their careers. And is a little bit of rape really that bad for women and girls?

But I don’t want to write about Ellis today because that would mean having to read his rubbish again, and my eyeballs have suffered enough.

Most people can see this piece for what it really is: a blatant attempt to generate hits. And each time a site does that, I respect them a little bit less. Sure, it gets clicks and it gets people talking, but they’re talking about the wrong thing: that The Drum is trolling and readers don’t appreciate being treated like idiots. It’s the kind of thing I’d expect from The Punch, not the ABC.

Contrary to what the MSM believes, Australians are capable of having discussions about nuance and shades of grey. An interesting opinion piece will generate loads of clicks and comments. We already have enough trollumnists who don’t let accuracy get in the way of a faux-outraged opinion piece: Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman, Paul Sheehan, Janet Albrechtsen. Do we really need another conservative writer twisting the facts in our limited public space?

62 responses to “Ellis, schmellis, give us a real intellectual

  1. I was surprised it was even published. Quite aside from the fact that it’s full of shit, it’s also full of errors and it’s so poorly written it’s barely coherent. I’m still not 100% sure that even he knows what point he’s trying to make.

    But hey, my outrage when I read it gave me the burst of energy I needed to get some work done, so it’s all good. (Of course, by “work” I mean “plotting with my fellow feminists to destabilise world governments”. It’s what we do.)

  2. Oh, I’ve been told that I am reading Ellis wrong, that he’s using extreme and outrageous context to relay a more subtle message….(somehow the idiocy in that statement is lost on those who believe it) My twitter spray this morning was about how if there really is a message in Bob’s writing, other than overt misogyny then he seems to be severely lacking in the skill needed to deliver his message adequately.

    Whilst I know it’s a click grab to keep posting Ellis’s special brand of pseudo-intellectual wankery, I don’t oppose The Drum posting it. The Bob Ellis’s of the world are out there, silencing them and not giving them a platform means we lose out the opportunity to call bullshit and perhaps show the people who follow this form of thinking what a steaming pile of horse shit it really is.

    I question how this particular piece got by editorial though. For Ellis to be able to get away with lumping sexual scandal along side sexual assault as though the two were perfectly interchangeable is mystifying at best. I am more outraged by this piece than I have been by any of his other nuttish ranting for that very reason.

    • My objection to it being published is because it contains so many errors. And omissions, in order to twist the facts. Visiting prostitutes cost Eliot Spitzer his job because he campaigned on an anti-prostitution platform, and that had nothing to do with feminism. Also, American culture is quite different to Australian culture, so it’s specious to suggest our political cultures are the same. And I am sick to death of people saying that Polanski is allowed to drug and rape a child because he’s a good film maker.

      I am all for publishing different points of view, but this piece by Ellis is complete rubbish, and we only have a limited space in the public sphere.

      • I agree with that entirely.
        This piece shouldn’t have made it passed the editor.

      • That bit about Polanski was PARTICULARLY bizarre I thought.
        “and the Jewish ex-Communist Roman Polanski, accused of pederasty, correctly, made no more Hollywood films, and despite his evident genius was blocked, harassed and menaced for 35 years and faces jail in his 80s.”
        Wah wah wah. Despite his evident genius? Yes – he made a few good movies. SO he should be ALLOWED to get away with rape?
        What the hell is his point here?
        Evil feminists should just shut the hell up and realise that raping underage girls is what happens at every drive in? WTF?

        The incoherence would offend me as much as the content except that the content is so offensive.

        • Yes, that was the bit my outrage was focused on. The CONTENT. The way he tried to make sexual scandal on par with sexual crime as though we feminists are out to ruin the lives of our creative, political and powerful men because we are merely women scorned. THAT was my biggest problem with the whole piece.
          A sexual scandal involving your intern is NOT the same thing as drugging and raping a child.
          Ellis normally induces my rage, but I normally find that I tend to feel an odd sort of amusement towards him, like he’s that horrible Uncle with such horrifically repulsive views on women you can’t help but laugh at him because you know he’ll be dead soon and will take his repulsive world view with him.

          But this time. Just rage. (And whilst I am astounded that The Drum posted this one, and that my rage should be equally levelled at them- who should know better than to publish this kind of drivel, -it remains directed at Ellis.)

        • The really spurious thing about invoking Polanski, for me, is the implication that his film career was ruined by “feminism” when it has in fact flourished in Europe, as indeed it was doing even before he went to Hollywood. I don’t know, maybe Bob thinks “feminism” doesn’t work in Europe or something. Or maybe the “subtle message” he’s trying to convey is “I am really a troll who enjoys twisting facts in the service of deceptive arguments”.

    • I always wonder, WHAT subtle message? You know what I hate almost the most? “Or perhaps you disagree.” and then he spends ages reading the disagreeing comments and replying to them. One commenter mentioned a few things that the thought were inaccurate and Bob popped straight up and accused him of preferring Nixon to Kennedy?! As if that were remotely relevant, or indeed could be inferred from the comment!

  3. I found this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhZk8ronces

    50 years on – a speech by JFK about secret societies delivered to the equivalent of the Press Club. The thing that caught my attention was his point of view that it should be a crime for journalists to shrink from controversy – but he elaborates to say that the controversy is not to ‘amuse and entertain’ but ‘to inform, arouse and reflect society.’

    Didn’t happen. I think the bar has been lowered so far, that it’s better to just step over most ‘news’ sources altogether.

  4. Whenever I read appalling stuff by/about Bob Ellis, I wonder if Marieke Hardy regrets naming her dog after him.

  5. Kat Caterwaul

    The only redeeming thing about that article was the good sense being shown by the commenters (though it seems to be getting more MRA trolls on it now it’s gone viral).
    I find it rather depressing that I’m impressed by people acting like baseline human beings on the internet, rather than it being an expected way to behave.

    • Um, yeah, it hadn’t occurred to me that that was actually pretty damn depressing. But I too was pleasantly impressed with the first 40 or so comments. *sigh*

      • Kat Caterwaul

        I choose to expect ALL news comments threads to read as the equivalent of a 3 year old that realises that shouting ‘FUCK!!!’ really loudly will upset the grownups around them. That way I am only ever pleasantly surprised.

        Any article about feminism is going to draw the shrieking MRAs (and their cheerleaders) who cant grasp the concept that the privilege afforded to their sector of society over the years is exactly that – a privilege – and not an unalienable right, so the dismantling of said privilege is not stripping them of something that should be theirs, but is instead taking something they shouldn’t have had in the first place.

        • Well said, I totally agree but would probably not have worded it as well.
          (But remember poor, privileged Byron dying in Greece! WAAHHHH!)

          • It is a widely accepted historical fact, also known as “an ellis”, that feminism-gone-mad was chiefly responsible for Byron’s downfall and demise. Also his syphilis.

        • And really, not a lot is being taken from them personally. They’re not going to lose their jobs or have their houses taken off them. It’s just recognising that we’re not in a meritocracy, so anything we do to make it one is a good thing.

  6. I’ve resisted reading the article in question, because I don’t want to feed it clicks, but I have a weird, car-crash compulsion to take a peak, even though I know I would just end up striding around the room ranting.

    I’m quite serious when I say that it seems Ellis is in critical need of some expert therapy. All the effort he puts into defending sexual abuse is starting to reek of either a deeply unsettled conscience, or someone with some very ugly impulses looking for an outlet for them.

    • Yes, I worry about that too. Why is he so determined to defend what he sees as his right to rape?

      • Not just his right to rape, but talking about rape, and even rape of minors, as if it equates with – peeping, having an affair with a consenting adult, and fooling around in the back seat of a car…as if they are all much of a muchness and so why is anyone getting upset? How can someone seriously equate consensual adult sex with rape of a minor and get it published on the ABC?

  7. That would be a peek. Unless I rise above it (ahem).

  8. Who’s this guy? http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/blogs/blunt-instrument/man-up-bob-and-stop-shifting-blame-20110704-1gze2.html

    I like him. “Okay, ease up on name-dropping the pants droppers, there Bob.”


  9. Fiction? Non fiction?
    He seems nice.

  10. I also thought Dave’s take down was bloody brilliant too.

    Even tory Shepherd’s reply to Ellis over at the punch was… good.

    • Yep. Someone has certainly educated Shepherd since that atrocious piece on how there’s no victim-blaming in Australia.

      I do like this bit in Dave’s piece: The central tenet of the piece seems to be a forlorn reminiscence of the days when casual sexual assault was the norm, and nobody seemed to mind.

      • This is a brilliant take-off the Ellis article. I’m still laughing.

        • I thought this bit was gorgeous: “Can’t we go back to how things used to be, when men were men, and women were women, and it was only you who had to be ashamed of that fact?”

          One upside (?) of this horror is that the lefty blokes seem to be squarely, and vocally, in our corner. So often we’re left bewailing the way they duck for cover when the issue is sexism, particularly if it emanates from a man with a reputation as progressive. I’m baking some cookies.

  11. Rhiannon Saxon

    Oh dear god I cannot believe I forgot to mention the bit (must have blocked it from my memory – too traumatic) in which he kindly suggests that paedophilia may even be as damaging as school bullying….

  12. Pingback: And they’re surprised that newspaper subscriptions are plummeting? « Seriously Whimsical

  13. This is sheer brilliance, I wish I had written it!
    Teaching Bob Ellis about action and consequence, Mummy style.


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