To Dylan Sharpe: An explanation

Re: The Sun’s Head Of PR Apologises For Page 3 Tweet After Receiving Death Threats

I don’t really think that Dylan Sharpe doesn’t understand what he did wrong. But after reading the article above, I realise that he’s clearly not very bright, and it’s just possible that I’m misjudging him. So I thought I’d be kind and put together a quick breakdown of why people are upset at him and are calling him a cockwomble. (Great phrase, by the way). I’ve underlined a few key words to help make it easier to follow.

Dear Dylan Sharpe (aka Cockwomble),

1. Your newspaper, who you officially represent (being the PR person) has for years published pictures of topless women. Many people (men and women) find this demeaning and think that it belittles women. Some women have started a campaign asking the newspaper to stop doing it.

2. This week, your newspaper deliberately set out to trick those women into believing that it had stopped, then suddenly restarted. That sort of trick is intended to demean and belittle the person it is played on.

Before you say “but I did warn you that we hadn’t said we’d stop”, let me quote your “apology”.

Between late afternoon on Monday, until Wednesday evening, I refused to comment on speculation about the demise of page 3. That was my job and I executed it, despite upsetting a number of journalists I considered good friends.

Then, on Wednesday night, came ‘the big reveal’. Oh how we laughed.

Does that sound like someone who was trying to correct an unfortunate misapprehension, or someone playing a trick to make others look stupid? To belittle and demean them, in fact?

3. Then, having deliberately played a trick to try to make the “No More Page 3” campaigners look stupid, you tweeted some of them a picture of a topless woman – the very thing that (see point 1) they found demeaning and belittling.

4. Not content with that, you included another woman – Harriet Harman – who wasn’t even part of the campaign. She just, for no apparent reason, had a man tweet a gloating picture of a naked woman into her Twitter feed. She probably found that to be demeaning and belittling too.

5. Those women were angry at you. Other woman were angry at you. Lots of men were also angry at you. You thought this was surprising and unfair. Do you still think so?

I’m not sure if this helps to clear things up. If you can’t piece it together from this, then there’s probably no point trying to explain further. If some daylight is starting to dawn, however, maybe you could try apologising again, properly? It won’t undo the damage. But it might (might) make people believe you’re not a total cockwomble.


PS. Those death threats. Could you retweet a couple? Just so that we know you’re not lying? Because – no offence – you’ve got form for lying in recent days, and apparently you feel no remorse if you think it’s part of your job. So, while I hate to doubt your word, I have reason to do so. If you have genuinely received death threats, then that is of course unacceptable. You should report them to the police. They might follow up on them for you. Caroline Criado-Perez can walk you through the procedure, she’s been there.



Okay, so we’ve had Twitter for a few years now, and it has given us great insight into each others thoughts in a previously unparalleled way.

Based on the tweets of Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump, and Lord Sugar, I think we’re now on a position to agree that whatever personal quality led them to become successful multimillionaire businessmen, “merit” wasn’t it.

I think we can also rule out “intelligence” in any generic sense.

However, “blinkered refusal to consider someone else’s point of view or to admit when you’re very obviously wrong” is a contender.

Remember that next time someone assures you that you live (or work) in a meritocracy.

“That’s Just How It Is”

In the last week alone, I’ve come across a lot of variants of this phrase.
* That’s just how it is.
* That’s how it works.
* I’m just stating the obvious.
* I’m just being honest.
* Just stating the facts.
I’m sure you can come up with plenty of variants of your own. You’re talking about a problem and trying to come up with solutions, and someone – kindly or otherwise – points out that you’re not being realistic because “that’s just the way things are”. Accept the problem. Stop daydreaming and wishing things were different. Face facts.

Heck, I’ve even used the phrase myself. Sometimes you have to be realistic, right?

Well, no.

I DO have to face facts. I have to accept what life is like, here and now. I do not have to accept that this is how things will always be.

Look at it this way. Let’s take a fact. People can’t walk through walls. Question: is there a physical, chemical or biological reason that it must be true? Yes, there is a physical reason – walls are solid. Okay, then it’s a fact. People can’t walk through walls. I accept that.

Most of the times you hear the phrase, it will not be referring to that sort of fact. It will be talking about the current situation, based on our current behaviour. And unlike the laws of physics, our behaviour can change – and does, all the time.

So next time you hear someone say “that’s just how it is”, make sure you ask yourself the follow-up: “Is that just how it HAS to be?”. And if not, go right ahead and try to change things.