Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

'Cool! Andrew Bolt has slagged you off before you even get to Australia!'

…Sez husband, as we box up the contents of the house in preparation for a year Down Under…

I wouldn’t have known Andrew Bolt from a hole in the ground until a day or so ago. Husband summed him up as a kind of Australian Gary Bushell, which sounds appealing. But then I was directed to a column he wrote recently for an Aussie rag called the Herald Sun. It’s a yawn-a-minute anti-environmentalist rant which has a go at comparing eco-activists to the Hitler Youth (anyone looking for fascist attitudes would be better off taking a look at some of Bolt’s comments on immigration). But rather entertainingly, I get a mention, viz:

“Sarah Irving, from Ethical Consumer magazine, sterilised herself because it was “the most environmentally friendly thing I could do in a warming world”.

The background to this is that several years ago husband and I gave an interview to a Daily Mail hack for a piece on people choosing not to have children for reasons associated with climate change and other environmental issues. Unsurprisingly, what we actually said in the interview bore little relation to what got printed by the Hate Mail, but hey, what do you expect, and we gave half our fee to the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns. The main surprise was the torrent of venom our choice unleashed in the comments page of the Hate Mail and even from a number of people, including a little league coach from somewhere in the Midwest, who bothered to track down my email address and write to tell me that we should kill ourselves if we were so bothered about reducing the world’s population. (Which, for the record, we’re not. We have other environment-related reasons for not wanting kids. But I’m not going into them here).

But in an intriguing internet variation on  Chinese Whispers, even the inaccurate version of our comments coughed out by Morag Turner has gotten warped and twisted. The first example of this I came across was a blog post called ‘Destructive Environmentalists‘ by a self-confessed Conservative from Texas (scary enough right there) called Eddie. He’s a pastor, too, which means he gets to peddle his rubbish to a congregation. He also manages to describe the Sierra Club as extremist, which is impressively weird. In his rant, from early 2010, Eddie uses this sentence:

“There’s Sarah Irving, from Ethical Consumer magazine, who sterilised herself because it ‘was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do’ in a warming world.”

Look familiar? He cites… one Andrew Bolt, in an earlier version of his rant from a couple of weeks ago. He uses exactly the same phrase in a 2008 article about an ABC website – an article in which Bolt (the renowned climate scientist) claims that climate change “actually halted in 1998.” But good to see that despite his distaste for environmentalism, Bolt is at least willing to recycle… his own text.

I initially thought that Bolt had used the Texan redneck’s blog as a source for his bonkers claim that I ‘sterilised myself’ (neat trick, that, while under anaesthetic…) rather than the redneck quoting an earlier version of Bolt. So I admit that, on this point, I was wrong (oh but actually, husband had a vasectomy, so apart from it being a different operation on a different person, Bolt was spot on). But apparently, Bolt is able to churn out inaccurate and unchecked facts, based on his inability to read even the most halfwitted tabloid article properly, without any help from the Sarah Palin brigade.

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