Roger Boyes interview

My visitor logs indicate that there's still a market for Roger Boyes bashing, so let's take another tilt at it.

Helsingin Sanomat interviewed The Times's man in Berlin a few days ago and now they've put a translation of the article up on the web. Boyes, as we all remember, wrote an asinine analysis of the Jokela school shootings and was subsequently flamed crisp. HS euphemistically describes his article as "streamlined text from a man who seems to be drawn to a psychological approach." In other words, it was a load of cobblers.

What did Boyes take away from his experience?

"I do not believe that I am communicating with an entire nation. It was more like an enclosed community of some kind. There was something hysterical in the answers."

Hysterical, you say?
"They did not want to tell their opinions, they wanted to kill me."


The great man noticed that some of his critics were Brits living in Finland. With characteristically keen insight and colossal condescension, he remarked,
"A typical Stockholm syndrome. A man is the hostage of his Finnish wife and identifies with her thinking."

An alternative explanation is that a man has lived in Finland and thus understands just how poor Boyes's analysis was. He knows, for example, that social lives are not put on hold in the winter; and that a kid living in a sleepy suburb might be lonely, but not due to physical distances separating lakeside farmsteads.
"People do not accept that any evil might come from within the community. It is always imported, in this case, caused by America, the Internet, or globalisation."

Of course, a central argument put forth in Boyes's article was that kids in Finland spent too much time on the Internet, chatting away with friends when they should be making human contact. (Internet friends, as we all know, don't count as humans.)
"But still, this took place specifically in Finland. The environment that allowed this to happen is Finnish."

So analyze the environment, then. Come up with some distinguishing features that separate the events in Jokela from numerous incidents in which armed non-Finns have gone amok. Make some bloody sense for a change.

Or, if that's too much bother, you might just come up with another wacky theory. Here's Boyes holding forth on why he was criticized so heavily:
According to Boyes, there are societies on the outskirts of Europe, where trust in the local media is low.

These include countries such as Romania and Hungary.

People in these countries seek information from foreign media - reliable brands such as The Times, Boyes says. At the same time these people are nevertheless plagued by an inferiority complex.

"They feel that they are treated with disdain in the foreign media, and therefore, react in an emotional manner."

Oddly enough, trust in the media is unusually high in Finland. Can't this guy get anything right?
"OK, OK, the comparison is shaky. ..."

This almost convinced me that the comparison was strong.
Very telling in the view of Roger Boyes were the comments of the teachers concerning Pekka-Eric Auvinen: he was an average pupil.

"That was all that they had to say. They did not say that he was isolated, or that he had strange thoughts."

According to Iltalehti (fi), a Jokela teacher described Auvinen as a militant radical who was interested in both the extreme left and the extreme right. He also said Auvinen was a better than average student. The police said (fi) that at least some of the teachers were aware that Auvinen had been bullied.

I don't blame Boyes for not knowing any of this. He doesn't speak Finnish or follow the Finnish media. But given that he knows nothing about the topic, might he show just a tiny bit of humility when coming up with his theories? Maybe he could - oh, I don't know - check his facts before spouting off. Perhaps he could do a web search or two. If he has some time on his hands, he could even interview a Finnish person.

(Here's how I imagine it would go:

BOYES: "Are there many farmsteads in Jokela?"
A FINN: "Nope."
BOYES: "What role do you suppose Ukko played in this?"
A FINN: "Zilch."
BOYES: "Thank you very much, Finnish person. Without your invaluable help, I might have made a complete prat of myself.")

PS: Markkinointi & Mainonta magazine had an amusing interview (fi) with Boyes. If you can't read Finnish, rest assured that the pattern of Boyes making some claim ("Finnish newspapers operate within a narrow consensus") without knowing what he's talking about ("So you've read Finnish newspapers?" "Well, no, ...") was repeated.

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