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.
[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 Urbandictionary.com, 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.
- Is the Guardian ship sinking? Austerity, retrenchment & the Alan Rusbridger-style 1% (Updated) (cifwatch.com)
- “Bad taste” & “Wrong on so many levels” – Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ (cifwatch.com)
- A Guardian-Baathist Alliance? Syrian gov’t uses CiF essay for pro-regime propaganda (cifwatch.com)
- The Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood dramatically inflates the number Israeli “settlements” (cifwatch.com)