‘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.
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