Second Opinion by Theodore Dalrymple
Dalyrimple is a doctor who divides his time between a hospital on one of the lower socio-economic rungs of British society and a prison. He is also an inveterately grumpy old man who firmly believes that eyebrow piercings are a sign that fighting in World War Two was a waste of time because Albion is irrevocably doomed and being dragged to hell by anyone under the age of sixty.
Normally I have a very low tolerance for the spittle-flecked ranting of people who bemoan the passing of the Good Old Days™ simply because, if you actually read the history books, said good old days were usually filled with crotchety social commentators vociferously complaining that things were better fifty years ago. Three things save Dalrymple from this sort of condemnation:
1) The man is a gifted writer. His prose never descends out of the readable, but is powerful and entertaining.
2) He’s mostly right when he says that people are scum and that the education system and modern government are failing people.
3) The fact that he has dedicated his life to helping these people means he gets a free pass to insult them. I remember back when Tardblog was still operational, and there was a bunch of hate mail along the lines of “how dare you call these precious children of God retards?” As was pointed out on the blog: the author spent all of her day wiping their drool (and other far, far less pleasant secretions), hugging them when they were upset, and otherwise trying to teach them how to survive in a world that wasn’t built for them. And she did so of her own volition. You didn’t. Which meant that she got to call them whatever she wanted to, and you got to shut up. (I’m paraphrasing here – I think the blog was actually far more polite than I’m being.) Dalrymple may hastle his patients, and blame them for the downfall of society, but he didn’t have to work in that neighbourhood, or the prison next to it. He does, which give him the right to mouth-off as much as he likes.