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I have just read the most ignorant, bigoted, classist pile of horseshit I've ever had the displeasure to clap eyes on-- and in The Sunday Times, too, a newspaper my family have regularly read for years!

The villain is Minette Marrin, a well-to-do, toffee-nosed journalist type who is constantly spewing her right-wing rubbish all over the place. Usually I ignore her articles but this one actually made me want to laugh at its sheer inanity. After the initial sickening rage, I wondered how this atrocity ever slipped past her editors.

The title? "Pretending all poor students are up to university-- that's unfair."

Let the rage-fest begin.

"It is unrealistic to imagine that any good university, still less one of the world's elite, can somehow wave a remedial wand at hopelessly undereducated teenagers who are not remotely ready for university education and instill in them the missing 13 years of learning and discipline."

The article is absolutely grounded on this assumption that students from working class backgrounds are instantly "hopelessly undereducated" and that state schools are incapable of preparing students for university. OK, then. Her privately educated children doubtless had every single advantage possible thrown at them from every direction, and no, I didn't have that. But that doesn't instantly make me "not remotely ready" for university, as if the higher education learnings will totally melt my poor, working-class brain. You're right, Miss Marrin! I should just go and work in the local Burger King.

"The only certain result of letting weak candidates into a university will be to bring about the decline of that university and of this country's place in international league tables."

Because that matters so much more than the education of our generation. Oh, please! Won't anyone think of the league tables? And again, here we are with the assumption that state-educated students are "weak candidates". Bloody hell, this lady is such a bigot it makes me hurt.

"[Nick Clegg] pointed out that while 18% of children are disadvantaged enough to be entitled to free school meals, they make up only 1% of Oxbridge students. [...] He demanded that universities "throw open their doors" and make more "differential offers": this is jargon for admitting underprivileged candidates with lower A-level grades than their more affluent competitors, on the basis of "contextual evidence" about their backgrounds and schools. Perhaps he is unaware that this happens a great deal already; many, if not most, university teachers are anxious to help clever children from lower-class comps."

And here we get to the meat of it. Oh no, a politician is suggesting that students that are vastly disadvantaged in comparison to your Eton-attending spawn should be allowed into universities with slightly lowered A-level grades! And as a student from one of the shittiest schools in England currently applying to universities, may I say that yes, the A-levels grades required of us are lowered slightly. From, say, AAA to AAB. And this is in a school in which my Biology teacher has shown up to about 75% of lessons and we can only have one shot at our practical coursework because we don't have the resources for another go. And what is with the whiny tone of that paragraph? "University teachers are anxious to help the filthy poor!" Probably to help us from the derision we face at the hands of people like you.

And don't you love the disdainful quotation marks? "He says we need to..." --big bunny ears-- "throw open their doors." Yeah, whoever's heard of such a terrible idea as encouraging universities to allow more working class students in? The shame of it! She does it again a little later on:

"[The government] announced that leading universities will be forced, if they charge the maximum of £9,000 a year, to accept fixed quotas of students from state schools and ethnic minorities and those with disabilities, so that these groups are more fairly "represented"."

So that they're-- big bunny ears-- fairly represented. What a ridiculous idea! And note: it's only the universities that are charging the new Conservative-governed maximum tuition fees of £9,000 a year that are even being asked for these higher fixed quotas. Top universities being asked to "fairly represent" students from state schools, ethnic minorities and those with disabilities? The horror. Wait, I'm from a state school and I'm an ethnic minority! Clearly they'll just let me swan in with three E-grades!

Except wait, real life doesn't work that way, Miss Marrin.

"It is astonishing to see a Conservative-led government behaving like old-fashioned, unreconstructed socialists."

I've been trying to remain relatively high-brow until now, but what the fuck? What the actual fuck is this? Yes, of course the Conservatives are acting like socialists, why didn't I see it before? Must have missed it while they raised university fees to £9,000, cut the Education Maintainance Allowance (a small grant for students from a poorer background attending sixth form colleges, which I received, being from a family earning under £25,000 a year) and cut the public sector here, there and everywhere while allowing the banks to reward themselves with millions of pounds' worth of bonuses! Oh, those sneaky Conservatives, they sure are good at hiding their socialist ways.

"It is wishful thinking to imagine that any but a few poorly educated teenagers from deprived backgrounds can catch up in just three years."

Well, excuse you! I'm from what would be called a "deprived background" and according to you, myself and countless others can never even dream of achieving the sparkling level of perfection you upper-middle class snobs can? "Catch up"? You realise that we don't spend our days eating our schoolbooks to stave off the hunger before getting to work chimney-sweeping, do you? I go to college and I learn things. Yes, even in a state school, I actually learn things! I don't need to "catch up"! I am poorly educated in relation to the private school kids, but that doesn't mean it's "wishful thinking" that I'll ever be as good as them. Jesus Christ.

The next quote continues directly from the last one:

"To imagine so is to ignore the evidence; all discussions on high intelligence agree that constant, repetitive hard study from a young age is essential and universal among the intellectually able. Contrariwise, those who have not developed such habits, even the simple habit of conversing with their parents, are at a lifelong disadvantage."

Aw, isn't she cute? Making more hideously wrong and bigoted assumptions! Because of course state-educated students never, ever study hard or talk with their parents in an intellectual manner. No, that's only for the rich kids. Studying? Psh, what's that? I spend my days shooting pensioners with BB guns, like all of us state-educated scumbags. I'm just... I'm at a total loss. What has this got to do with her point at all? Would she really be that surprised to discover that I discuss politics, philosophy and many other things with my parents? And that I work hard to attain good grades... yet, I go to a state school?

"It would be the most counterproductive kind of social engineering to imagine that such children ought to be included in fairer access quotas at good universities at 18; it would be a disaster for this country's universities. Is that what Clegg has in mind?"

Yeah, Clegg, is that what you have in mind? Giving "such children" a chance at education? You absolute bastard! Did you hear that? Letting us uneducated plebeians into higher education at slightly lower grades to make up for our disadvantages would be a disaster for this country's universities because we are so badly-educated and would definitely fail, whereas private school students never fail exams, ever, and are all born acutely intelligent and hardworking and good God, we are oppressing them. She finishes this paragraph like this:

"These children's problems start with their parents and their family background."

All I can respond to that with is a supermassive, "Fuck you." No, seriously, Miss Marrin. Fuck. You.

Her utter batshittery only gets worse from here.

"They may also in some cases start with their basic intelligence. This is a contentious subject, but it is an unquestioned assumption these days that intelligence is equally distributed across all socioeconomic classes. That may be true, but it is only an assumption. It is well documented that bright and successful young men and women tend to select each other, in a process bleakly called assortative mating, and tend to have bright children. The less bright tend to have children with others who are less bright and tend to produce corresponding children."

The sheer might of her ignorance is slaying me here, absolutely slaying me. Yes, prehaps "brighter people" do tend to pair up with other "brighter people", though that's not always the case, I agree that it is more likely that not. But the huge steaming shit of wrong in your nice clean toilet bowl of fascism? Intelligent people aren't always private school types or "successful", as you call it.

My parents are both highly intelligent. My mother is a dental hygeinist for the NHS, which pays a pittance but she works for the people who can't afford medical healthcare or who have issues pertaining to dentistry. She works in prisons. She works with people with disabilities who cannot use ordinary dental seats or are uncomfortable with usual dental practises and procedures. She works with children who are highly phobic of dentists. Her job is a thousand times harder than those who work in private practise yet she earns a fraction of their wage. She is a hero.

My father went to one of the worst primary schools in Bristol. He was the only child in his yeargroup to pass the SATs tests and make it to grammar school at the age of eleven. He went on to get a Bachelor in Education. He fought his way out of the situation he was born in. Our family are still not wealthy, no, but compared to the conditions he lived in as a child, I'm spoilt rotten. He's one of the smartest people I know.

So even if your fucked-up theory that clever people always have clever babies and stupid people always have stupid babies is correct, I have perfect proof that wait, actually, it's still horrifyingly wrong. There are intelligent people from intelligent "backgrounds" who aren't money-grabbing gobshites and cannot afford to send their children to private school. In fact, despite the fact that my parents are very intelligent, I go to one of the worst sixth forms in the area.

Maybe your answer would be, "Well then your mother should have gone into private practise to ensure you a place in private school! Your father shouldn't have quit teaching in order to be a stay-at-home dad to his kids!"

We're not all like you, Miss Marrin.

There is no sense in this article, no reason; and your points constantly contradict one another. It is a minefield of moronic assumptions and bigotry, as well as a healthy dose of what looks like willful ignorance. Or maybe you are simply that ignorant. Picking apart this article is like shooting fish in a barrel because the argument is badly-constructed and absolutely senseless. Such a pile of absolute bollocks should never have been published and allowed where the public can view it.

Please stop writing forever. Thank you.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
As a journalist (a student one anyway) one of the things we're taught is fair and balanced reporting and editorializing is a grave no-no. Editorializing is basically when you assert your own opinion into the article. The very first line I didn't see as so bad until I went through the rest of it. @_@

Just say what 'It's an assumption everyone is equally smart BUT I DON'T BUY IT' What rock did you crawl out from lady? Do you still wear your Donna Reed pearls and full petticoats while you clean the house and your husband makes a living for you both? Oh, I forgot! You're a journalist. You're a strong, independent woman that's a journalist and apparently has the leeway to spread your bullshit rhetoric. I didn't know there was a Fox News in England. @_@

The part that got me is 'Oh nuus! We have to let disabled students tart up our schools!' Excuse me. I didn't come from a life of privilege either but just because I'm not covered in purple spots you would have no idea I'm disabled. :| Pee Ess: I tested on the Gifted scale. Go on. Tell me I'm stupid. :|

You should write a letter. I bet you're not the only one pissed off by this. :O I'd write a letter too but I think she'd be v.v. confused about an American telling her what for. D:
Feb. 13th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
This article is an absolute steaming pile of shite that nearly made me choke to death on my breakfast. I don't understand who in the world thought it would be a good idea to publish it. It's atrocious. I disagree with her opinions, yes, but the article itself is also entirely circular and WTF and makes absolutely no fucking sense at all.

Yeah, the bit about the omfgsnarkyquotationmarks "REPRESENTATION" of disabled and otherwise disadvantaged students made me absolutely rage. I had to read it a few times to make sure I was even getting it right. The government is "forcing" those poor, poor top-level universities to take in more underprivileged people?


I would be very concerned if I was the only one pissed off by this. I'm considering writing a letter but I must let myself calm down a little first, sending her an email repeatedly stating how much of a bitch she is probably won't help matters. XD


I needed to get this off of my chest desperately.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 13th, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
Top-level schools in the UK have had scholarship programmes for the last twenty years or so, but they were never taken very seriously. Oxbridge specifically was almost exclusively private-school until embarrassingly recent times. Nick Clegg, because he has failed his lib dem followers so hard, has put his foot down and made it compulsory for universities charging the new raised fees to consider the backgrounds of students and, if they come from a crappy school, lower the grades they have to get in order to get into the university.

This has caused outrage amongst the toffs-- including, obviously, Miss Marrin.

Now, if I squint a bit and try to be very sympathetic, I can understand why they might be upset. Sort of. But this? This? I don't even know.

Also: used my Adele icon to express ragey-ness. XD
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 13th, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC)
This lady is absolutely backwards and undermines her own point several times. Here's another quote from the very same article to prove it:

Last week saw an outburst of furious attacks from ministers on universities and academic freedom, in the name of fairness. Nick Clegg angrily denounced them as "elite institutions"; a source close to him said that "universities should be the greatest agent of social mobility we have, but too often instead they are serving as instruments of social segregation".

She describes this as a "furious attack on universities", and then you read it and... it makes perfect fracking sense. Clegg is actually doing something slightly reasonable for the first time in his political career, she quotes him being reasonable and the uses this to apparently prove herself right.

My brain. It is broken.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 13th, 2011 06:56 pm (UTC)
Reading this article hurt. Seriously, it made me hurt inside. That is not healthy. All of the articles she writes, as far as I can tell, are pretty sickening... but this is the only one I've managed to read all the way through, and I was propelled by my disbelief and rage and my hoping that she was being ironic. My counter-remarks were my way of letting off steam. XD

It's horrible. I had more faith in humanity before I read this. Now, the thought of anyone thinking like this or agreeing with it... aarggh!

And sure, post away! Shove a link to my journal somewhere in the header or something and just paste the whole thing up. :3 I'm glad you liked the total character assassination, and I would be made very happy at the thought of more people reading this and realising what bigoted shitstains we have working in the media at the moment.

I've lost all faith in journalism. :(
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 13th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
OK, I'm going to try and retain my faith in journalism, slightly because it may one day be a career path I attempt to break into. But I swear, you have full permission to shoot me in the head if I ever write anything even resembling the atrocity of an article above!

My usual blind optimism has been clouded but I'm sure it'll recover eventually. XD
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 13th, 2011 05:02 pm (UTC)
wow...I don't know if there are even words to express how unbelievably awful this woman is. Somehow I missed this new scientific discovery that the money in your bank account (or lack thereof) can alter your genes and cause your babies to come out brilliant or stupid. Oh wait, no I didn't, cause she's pulling these ideas out of her ass. Apparently this is what she tells herself so she can feel better about herself? She was deservingly born to a better class and those of us who don't have a lot of money aren't in such a state because of difficult life events that set us back or left us with tough choices to make, nor because we have different values that led us to not so lucrative career paths (not to mention kids have NO control over what happens in their parents' lives). Obviously our lack of funds is strictly a measure of our brain power. (might as well round up everyone under a certain income and shoot them now before they can procreate, then we just won't have to worry about the continuation of the stupid genes) And don't even get me started on the handicapped. Best way of all to piss me off is to suggest someone mentally or physically different doesn't deserve a chance (thank goodness for the wonderful school system in my area). But however backward and stupid her reasoning, just what does she expect the country's future to hold if only a small portion of its youth gets an education and the rest are patted on the head and told to go work at Burger King? Seems to me like she's the one in need of an education, as she's expressing a knowledge of nothing beyond the basic ability to string words together. I think you should definitely send the paper a letter.
Feb. 13th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
I'll send something in and hopefully lots of other people will too, because this article blew my mind with simply how awful it was. The newspaper she's writing for isn't one that identifies as right-wing, either, though it has been slowly heading that way for a while now. I don't think I'm going to be reading this paper much longer. :/

It's vile and it's total nonsense. I really hope that she gets into trouble for spewing this disgusting article up. It just made me so angry!

Her weird assumption that intelligence directly correlates to wealth made me want to bang my head against a wall. Clearly, she assumes that all "intelligent" people will do all that they can to grab money in every way possible and will end up successful. As a rule. And that working class families are there because they're stupid, not the fact that the system is stacked against them.
Feb. 15th, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC)
Excuse me, but who does this abominable pig of a woman think she is, and what authority does she have to talk about education? She obviously lacks the intellect for the job. I mean, right off the bat she barrels away from any reasonable arguments and into BECAUSE I KNOW BEST. I was tempted to play the devil's advocate when she started on about minorities, etc. getting in regardless of grades, but OH WAIT, so do private school students. Actually, that's a weak argument too. If schools are anything, they're greedy, and letting in bad students = worse reputation = less money. And the bit about breeding? Really??? I'm sorry, this woman has to be an alien or -something-. My personal favorite was the part about state children not having study habits--because -of course- only people that pay through their nose for schooling actually try. For the record, I went to private school for junior high. Guess what? Idiots abounded! What a pretentious bitch. (Sorry about the massive text block. Damn my phone's enter key.)
Feb. 15th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
She hit every single one of my rage buttons. Aaargh! To start with I could scarcely believe what she was saying.

Her so-called point, which is that it's unfair for state schools (and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, etc) to be allowed into universities with slightly lower grade boundaries due to their disadvantages, perhaps stands. I personally disagree with her initial point, but I possibly could have been able to see where she was coming from. But the way she goes backing it up?

What the helling hell?! Rich and successful people having all of the intelligent babies, privately educated students being the only kids that study in their spare time and her grounded belief that it is (QUOTE) "wishful thinking" to hope that state-educated students would be able to catch up with priavely-educated students at university?


I was in full rage-mode when I wrote this, it's mainly the total lack of logic that made me mad but I think some overspill rage slipped into privilege in general. XD Never mind. Still raging!
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Well, yes. That tends to happen when what's being said is a pile of bull.

To be honest, her point, or whatever she was pretending was a point, is only valid in maybe a handful of cases--at least in my experience (which, granted, I don't have an enormous amount of). How is it unreasonable to give someone who has a disadvantage in one area an advantage in another as long as it evens things out? Sigh.

See, I can't see anyone buying that. At all. There are people that would learn in a puddle of mud and people that wouldn't even if Socrates was their private tutor. Sure, part of education depends on the environment, but most has to do with the amount of work you put into it. This woman is just, guh. "Toffee-nosed journalist" sounds about right. (Hi, I love your insults. XD)

It's fine--if anything warrants Nina Rage-Mode (TM), it's this crazy bitch.
Feb. 15th, 2011 04:43 pm (UTC)
(And don't worry about text blocks-- I am the text block queen when it comes to topics like this. XD)
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
(I can see that. XD Totally understandable in this case)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )