‘I am not a contrarian. I find contrarians annoying’
spiked editor Brendan O’Neill answers readers’ questions on everything from liberty and progress to drunken contrarianism and gay marriage.
Question: Don’t you think your contrary, antagonistic, disingenuous style of debate is more suited to drunk teenagers or the Daily Mail?
Answer: A Guardian reporter once described me as ‘a writer and contrarian’, and when I said I am not a contrarian, she replied: ‘That is such a contrarian thing to say!’ So I realise I probably can’t win on this issue, but here goes…
I am not a contrarian. I find most contrarians irritating. I dislike the word ‘contrary’, because where I grew up – in a pretty solidly Irish Catholic bit of north-west London – it was used as a term of abuse against anyone who simply refused to play by the rules or toe the line. ‘Contrary’ was really just a more acceptable word for ‘deviant’, for branding certain people as the opposite of civilised, as socially or morally unacceptable. I think it’s still used with the same intent by many people today…
This is a preview of a Q&A with spiked editor Brendan O’Neill in the November edition of spiked plus, our exclusive ‘magazine within a magazine’ for readers who make invaluable contributions to spiked‘s fundraising drive. To read the rest of the article, sign in, or sign up, to spiked plus here.
To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.