Poynted remarks

1 August 2022Comment

Our columnist reflects on US gun culture

‘Guns don’t kill people – people do.’ ‘The only thing that will stop a Bad Guy with a gun is a Good Guy with a gun.’ ‘If only all those teachers had been armed, no children would have died.’

No doubt you’ve recently heard these and similar statements. Oh, and not forgetting ‘Thoughts and Prayers’.

I think some people, well, let’s be honest, we’re talking about Americans here, have unrealistic expectations of what their guns can do.

I do wonder if some people believe that…

1 June 2022Comment

Why conscientious objection still matters in 2022

I’ve been a member of the International Conscientious Objectors’ Day organising group for a few years now.

The idea of having a stone dedicated to conscientious objectors to war (COs) began in 1976. After considerable efforts by Edna Mathieson, eventually the stone was unveiled at 2pm on 15 May 1994 in Tavistock Square, Central London. It was unveiled by the composer sir Michael Tippett, the president of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), who had been imprisoned during the Second World War…

1 April 2022Comment

Our columnist takes aim at 'whataboutery'

Yeah, so: ‘whataboutery’; where people argue that we shouldn’t campaign on a certain issue by asking ‘What about the men?’ or ‘What about poor white people?’ and so on.

‘When’s it International Men’s Day?’ used to be a common complaint on 8 March. I hope by now most people know that’s on 19 November. And every other day of the year, of course.

It’s only certain issues of course. Nobody whines ‘What about those with heart disease?’ when people are fundraising for charities…

1 February 2022Comment

Our columnist says: stop blaming the victims of male violence

Ashling Murphy. Say her name. Don’t forget it. When it’s confirmed that her killer has been caught, remember her name and not his.

A 23-year-old teacher went out for a jog and never came home. Another young woman murdered while going about her business in public.

She will likely (‘likely’ because we don’t know the full details yet) join the list of young women killed because some men cannot control their impulses. Because they believe they are owed women’s attention, a date,…

1 December 2021Comment

Our columnist urges you to check your facts

You may be familiar with the children’s, or parlour, game where participants line up, or sit in a circle, and pass a message along. Somewhere along the line, the message becomes garbled and the amusement is in comparing the result with the original message.

The typical result was along the lines of: ‘send reinforcements, we’re going to advance’. This became ‘send three and fourpence, we’re going to a dance’. That’s obviously more than 50 years old.

The name ‘Chinese Whispers’…

1 October 2021Comment

Our columnist surveys some common statistical pitfalls

‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’

We don’t know who originally came up with this. It wasn’t Benjamin Disraeli though some attribute it to him. Wasn’t Mark Twain, either, though he did popularise it.

When I was an undergraduate, we were recommended to read Darrell Huff’s How to Lie with Statistics, which I still have a copy of (indeed, I still have most of my degree textbooks). It’s worth a read, although it’s very old, written in the…

1 August 2021Comment

Our columnist develops an interest in football ...

I’m not much into football, though I do live with a football ‘fan’ and it’s sometimes on TV when I am in the room.

I’m usually reading or playing a game on my phone. Sometimes I get the headphones on and watch something on the iPad.

Same goes for the cycling: Tour de France, etc.

I’ve never been sporty and it’s not something I generally take much interest in.

This latest England team, though.

I’ve taken a bit more interest in the matches (in between reading…

20 July 2021Comment

Freedom of speech doesn't mean a right to insult, our columnist argues

Free speech and ‘cancel culture’.

Yes, it’s another of those current buzzwords/phrases, along with ‘woke’ (which appears to have replaced ‘PC gone mad’, ‘snowflake’ or ‘triggered’ (the latter always seems to require that quote from The Princess Bride: ‘You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means’)).

Universities in particular have also been accused of curtailing free speech by ‘no platforming’ resulting in ‘cancel culture’.

I cannot…

6 July 2021Comment

Our columnist identifies the 'most oppressed, side-lined, discriminated-against, group in society today'

Last year, I reviewed Men who Hate Women by Laura Bates. Since then, I’ve been thinking about the issues raised there more frequently than I would normally like.

Of course, I am aware that there are extreme misogynists, there probably always have been, but they’re more obvious these days and they have the opportunities to spout their opinions (to which they are entitled, I guess) where I can read them.

It’s unfortunate that I am unable to bypass the comments page, or…

4 July 2021Comment

Our columnist takes on the pandemic conspiracy theorists

How are you all? I hope everyone is well. I know there’s one or two subscribers who will be thinking ‘What does she mean? Is there a reason I won’t be well?’ because after all, this pandemic is a hoax. Isn’t it?

Well, no, it isn’t. Anyone who works in health care will tell you that’s nonsense. Anyone who’s had COVID-19 will tell you that’s nonsense, especially those suffering ‘long Covid’, which seems to be somewhat like ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

And as for ‘it’s just flu…

11 December 2020Comment

Our columnist takes on the 'why should I pay'-ers

‘Parents are responsible for feeding their kids, not the government.’ ‘If they can’t afford to feed the kids they shouldn’t have them.’ ‘Trouble is, some parents prefer to buy fags and 50” TVs instead of feeding the children.’

All these comments I have read recently. The poorest children in society today have long been given free school meals during term time (including my own child for a couple of years) and the suggestion that they should also be fed outside of term time seems a…

11 December 2020Comment

Our columnist on those who believe that 'charity begins (and ends) at home'

When the phrase ‘charity begins at home’ was first coined, the definition of ‘charity’ was a little different.

From Roman times up until recently, ‘charity’ wasn’t necessarily about giving alms. It was more of a state of mind, a mentality of kindness and benevolence.

The word ‘charity’, and the more general ‘love’, are both translated from the Greek word agape.

The point being, when people first started saying ‘charity begins at home’, what they were trying to get across…

9 December 2020Comment

Our columnist muses on UCL's ban on romantic and sexual relationships between lecturers and their students

A 2018 survey by the 1752 Group and the NUS found that four out of five university students said they were uncomfortable with staff having relationships with students, which they described as ‘predatory’. (The 1752 Group is a research and lobby organisation working to end sexual misconduct in higher education.)

When I was an undergraduate (in a London polytechnic), I remember one young woman in my year forming a relationship with a lecturer within weeks of starting there.

9 December 2020Comment

Our columnist vents on the Covidiot-shaming, statues and more.

If I read one more Facebook post complaining about #Covidiots and people ‘flocking to beaches’…

I’ve had the argument online. You cannot tell from a sideways-on photograph just how crowded that park is. An overhead shot might give you a better view.

I arrived at my local park a couple of weeks ago thinking it looked packed, but was pleasantly surprised to find everyone there behaving themselves and keeping their distance. But if you took a photo by the park gates, you could be…

8 December 2020Comment

Our columnist turns her attention to racism and royalty

I’ve just had an interesting correspondence on Twitter. It’s about the royal family. No, bear with me.

I am not a supporter of royalty myself, I’d prefer a more democratic head of state.

So the latest buzz in social media is: ‘Harry and Meghan, is it all Meghan’s fault?’ Or is it racism? And that is why I have been following this story.

The Twitter feed compares and contrasts press stories reporting the actions of Kate (a white English duchess married to one of the queen…