On a Guardian editor’s ‘cretinous’ criticism of his readers

Guido Fawkes alerted us to a quite non-pc complaint by ‘Guardian Olympics’ Live Blogger (and deputy sports editor) Barry Glendenning.

His comment was in response to angry complaints from readers after the internet went down at Hampton Court, which temporarily cut off the live blog.


While we, at CiF Watch, have not spared Guardian readers their fair share of criticism (for rude, obnoxious and hateful comments beneath the line), I don’t believe we’ve ever characterized them as cretinous free-loaders. 

Evidently, Mr. Glendenning has second thoughts (or Guardian editors deemed his language inconsistent with their ‘community standards), as we later saw this revision – which, as you’ll see in the time beneath the text, was posted two minutes later, and is missing the original rhetorical abuse. 

In fairness, I’m sure Glendenning wasn’t conjuring the literal meaning of the word –  a serious congenital medical condition – but neither did his use of the pejorative represent a one-off at the Guardian.

Back in October, 2009, CiF Watch published a post titled “Georgina’s cretinous double standards‘, about a strap line in a ‘Comment is Free’ piece by Michael Lerner:

We added:

[This term] was repeated in the article itself.

As [commenter] speedkermit pointed out “[p]eople have been moderated om this site for using the word cretin as an insult, so I think it’s a bit hypocritical for the Guardian to run it in an article.”

So in jumps Georgina Henry (then, CiF’s comment editor) with this:

Evidently, their ‘Style’ editors were untroubled by the term, as Lerner’s essay (and the strap line) still, to this day, contains the two references to “cretin”.

Finally, of course, popular uses of words often change over the years, and it’s not fair to enforce a strict social code for language which doesn’t take our evolving lexicon into account.

So, I consulted, which provides a more popular, non-medical use of the therm, “cretin”:

“A Person that is: brainless, stupid, child-like, and full of pointless information that makes no sense and appeals only to other cretins. They can be found in abundance in every single populated internet forum…”

On second thought, it seems like Glendenning’s characterization of his ‘Comment is Free’ readers lurching beneath the line was spot-on. 

8 replies »

  1. We never characterized them as cretins.

    Now is as good a time as ever to start calling them cretins ….

  2. I like Urban Dictionary’s description of the cretinous Guardian’s posters (Berchmans in particular) Brainless Stupid Child-Like and full of Pointless Information that makes no sense and appeals to only other Cretins.

    This would have to be the best description of the majority of CiF posters Above and Below the Line.

    It should be Chiseled in Stone…….

  3. Urban Dictionary has some more in fact lots more descriptions of Cretins and every single one of them applies to the majority of CiF posters above and below the line…..

  4. Did we ever get a rather more coherent and meaningful apology from Georgina Henry about the “choir of ethical cretins” than her original?

  5. The term ‘cretin’ has long been used as a general term of abuse as well as referring to a specific medical condition affecting mental and physical development. The words ‘imbecile’, ‘idiot’ and ‘moron’ have all historically had specific meanings in the field of mental disability, although few would now object to their use as general terms of abuse.

    Whether such expressions cause offence seems to be largely a matter of fashion. ‘Spastic’ and ‘mongol’ are now generally frowned upon, for example, but not ‘idiot’ etc.. Interestingly, while the Guardian Style Guide has not got around to mentioning ‘cretin’ it does advise against the use of ‘autistic’ outside the medical context. Autism is of course the supremely fashionable mental condition, with numbers diagnosed on a steady upward trend.

  6. I saw Glendenning’s little quip as it happened, and cracked up laughing. Good for him. Deleting that instance of “cretin” was ridiculous.