Angus Take House

Worst Take of the Week: UKIP's Black Death vs the Redistribution of Sex

What a bizarre week for hot takes.
04 May 2018, 1:33pm
Left image: Twitter; Right image: Tiago Zegur / Alamy Stock Photo

Welcome to Angus Take House – a weekly column in which I pit two of the wildest takes the world's great thinkers have rustled up against each other. This is your one-stop shop for the meatiest verdicts and saltiest angles on the world's happenings. Go and grab a napkin – these juicy hot takes are fresh from the griddle.

TAKE #1:

What’s the story? UKIP's complete collapse at last night’s local elections, gaining two councillors but losing 92 in initial results.
Reasonable take: Get in.
Charred remains: Quite like the plague, this. And I mean that as a compliment!

Last night saw a confusing set of results for the UK's major parties. Both sides are trying to claim the results as a victory, which probably means nobody has won. There was, however, one very clear loser as the vote count came in: UKIP. The party has been all but wiped out across the country, losing pretty much every seat they had to lose. By the time 99 of the UK's 150 councils had declared, Gerard Batten's barmy army had only managed to win two seats – both in Derby – and had lost 92.

Many are conceding that this spells the final end for the plucky gang of stock-brokers and military men who have facilitated a slide towards the far-right in mainstream politics over the past decade. Naturally, this is a time of reflection and sadness for the party, particularly for Paul Oakley, UKIP’s general secretary, who spoke on Radio 4's Today Programme, paying an emotional heartfelt tribute to the party he knew and loved:

"No it's not over at all. Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It comes along and it causes disruption, and then it goes dormant, and that’s exactly what we are going to do."

Nothing like a pep talk from old Oakley, is there? Really gets your blood pumping. Gathers the troops, clinks the side of his pint glass with a fork and compares them to the bubonic plague. Hell yeah! Really gets the blood pumping. Better still, Oakley went on to clarify that he meant his plague comparison as a good thing. The Black Death, he explained, led to economic growth and the Renaissance. Which I guess is true, chronologically, but I'm still not sure it makes the Black Death a favourable comparison. The Twix was invented after the bombing of Hiroshima.

That said, what do I know. Maybe Paul Nuttall is set to trigger the next great age of European art and culture. After all, Oakley was right in many ways. You’d struggle for a better epitaph for UKIP than "It comes along and it causes disruption and then it goes dormant." Genuinely moving.

TAKE #2:

What's the story? A van driver in Toronto killed ten people, after announcing himself an incel (involuntary celibate), sparking a strange debate about whether or not people have a right to sex.
Reasonable take: I'm sort of surprised we have to spell the "reasonable take" out.
Internet prawn: Sex for all. Whether you like it or not.

Sometimes a take comes along that is so gross and bewildering you have to question how we got to the point where this constitutes an op-ed. Since the Toronto attack last week, the conversation around incels – angry, young internet men who believe they have a right to sexual gratification from "hot" women – has been increasing in volume. And this week, Ross Douthat put the rage into raging debate in the pages of the New York Times.

Douthat's suggestion – which he cautiously doesn’t ever quite advocate – is that maybe a drive to "redistribute sex", like it were property or healthcare, among those with "less access" isn’t such a crazy idea. He posits that the sexual revolution of the 20th century has created winners and losers. The losers – the men who can’t have sex with their ideal woman – have been left angry and despairing. The solution, he says, will be a natural distribution of sex via sex workers, sex robots and other technologies – the market providing supply to meet the demand.

Which is pretty much the most skewed way of looking at the problem it’s possible to have. Sex, obviously, is not a commodity to be fairly distributed. Referring to sex workers in the same breath as robots groups all women as products, not people. Also, let’s not forget, incels are aware prostitutes exist. Their ideology is built on an insistence that they have a right to sex with "beautiful women" – it’s their understanding of desire that's dangerous here, not blue balls.

The bigger question is why, when it’s angry young men, has the conversation turned to trying to make them feel better? It's not a level concern we afford any other kind of terrorist or murderer. Pick any other violent group and the conversation is always about defeating and disavowing them. Apparently, when it's extreme misogynists, we are expected to try to meet them halfway. Instead of condemning the foundation of their horrible ideology, the appropriate response is apparently to embark on a lengthy hypothetical about a utopian future where every bloke gets to shag a robot?

PRIME CUT: No, Ross, don't Douthat.


Face-palm photo used on social media: Alex E Proimos / CC By 2.0, via