Social media has been filled with opinions on how Shami Chakrabarti’s interview on the Andrew Marr show went this past weekend. A large chunk of left-wing opinion seems to feel that Marr was bullying towards her in a way that may possibly have been sexist or even mysogynistic.
Having watched the interview a few times now, there is no way Marr is being sexist. There is never a point at which he uses any language that could be interpreted as such. I think this argument is just rubbish.
As for bullying, well, he goes at her pretty hard, this is true enough. But then, let’s consider two key things here. One, Labour’s Brexit position makes no real sense, and an interviewer such as Marr would be remiss if he didn’t attempt to expose the flaws in it while having a senior member of the shadow cabinet on his programme. The second thing is much more important though, and one I’d like to spend more time focusing on. Shami Chakrabarti is the Shadow Attorney General; if Labour were to win a general election, she would be the chief legal adviser to both the Crown and Her Majesty’s Government. It is a really important position, one that carries with it immense power and responsibility, all the more so at present due to the legal issues surrounding Brexit (for reference, look at how influential the actual attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, has become of late). As a result, she needs to be scrutinised by the media thoroughly whenever she makes an appearance.
So, here’s what bothers me about all of the complaints from the Left about Marr supposedly being bullying to Chakrabarti on his programme. They have set up a syllogism, aka a logical argument, that is unwittingly negative to all they supposedly believe in. It goes like this:
A. Those in positions of power need to be held to strict account by the media and the law.
B. Anyone who is woman should not be subjected to harsh interviewing techniques.
This gives you C:
C. Therefore, no woman can be in given a position of power within the government or the official opposition.
I know they don’t mean to set this syllogism up, but it is what naturally flows from their complaints. It leads to a very bad place, one in which institutional sexism is logically explained away by the Left.
Now, another argument can be made that Marr is harsher on figures from the Left than on those from the Right. Or that men like Dominic Raab get off comparatively lightly when compared to women such as Chakrabarti. But that isn’t the one I’ve seen dominating Twitter for the last 24 hours. It’s more along the lines of the A + B = C thinking outlined above.
Perhaps part of this is just the Left engaging is protectionism regarding its own, which I get. I just think they need to realise that their arguments have logical consequences to them, ones they often didn’t mean to make and which are possibly very damaging over the long term.