Julian Ruck versus Christopher Hitchens

Posted by on November 30th, 2012

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the author Julian Ruck, who has darkened our hallways before. Ruck now has a newspaper column, for the Llanelli Star, and has even promised to write – at some point – about myself and David Hewson, presumably because we were both outspoken about the failure of his ebook festival, long after he’d privately exasperated at least me with his offensive and unprofessional antics.

Anyway, he has his column. His latest is called “Why aren’t women funny?” – and you can read it online here. From the title, you can imagine that it’s awful, and it is. But you can then read the article “Why women aren’t funny”, by Christopher Hitchens, here. It is also awful, although at least it has, in common with most of his stuff, a little flair. Hitchens’s article was written over five years ago, and is reasonably well-known. Let us compare it with Julian Ruck’s article, published two days ago.


Julian Ruck:

“ARE women funny?

One often hears women saying: “Oh, he’s a good laugh” or “He’s so funny”, but does one ever hear men saying the same thing about women?”

Christopher Hitchens:

“Be your gender what it may, you will certainly have heard the following from a female friend who is enumerating the charms of a new (male) squeeze: “He’s really quite cute, and he’s kind to my friends, and he knows all kinds of stuff, and he’s so funny … However, there is something that you absolutely never hear from a male friend who is hymning his latest (female) love interest: “She’s a real honey, has a life of her own … [interlude for attributes that are none of your business] … and, man, does she ever make ’em laugh.””


Julian Ruck:

“So why then do women, who have all us men at their mercy, struggle to be funny?”

Christopher Hitchens:

“Why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny?”


Julian Ruck:

“It’s probably just as well I suspect, because let’s face it, these days all we men have left, is our sense of humour. At least, when it comes to impressing the ladies.

Make no mistake, women have out-careered us, out-moneyed us and outsmarted us.

The thing is that women, have no corresponding need to “pull” men in this way.

They hold all the cards, whether men like it or not. A shapely bosom, a fine pair of legs and even a pretty smile (in that order) and we men are off with the fairies!”

Christopher Hitchens:

“Women have no corresponding need to appeal to men in this way. They already appeal to men, if you catch my drift.”


Julian Ruck:

“Scientific research would have you believe that women have less expectation of a reward, which in this case is the punchline, so when they finally get the joke they are apparently more pleased about it. Yes I know, don’t we just love our modern “Cosmo” little insights!”

Christopher Hitchens:

 “”Women appeared to have less expectation of a reward, which in this case was the punch line of the cartoon,” said the report’s author, Dr. Allan Reiss. “So when they got to the joke’s punch line, they were more pleased about it.” The report also found that “women were quicker at identifying material they considered unfunny.””


Julian Ruck:

“An average man then, has only one weapon left in his masculine arsenal — he sure as hell had better be able to make the lady laugh! If you can make ’em laugh, and I’m talking here about the peals of delight, head-back, every tooth on show, and deep-throated mirth variety, then nine cases out of 10, you’re onto a winner.”

Christopher Hitchens:

 “An average man has just one, outside chance: he had better be able to make the lady laugh. Making them laugh has been one of the crucial preoccupations of my life. If you can stimulate her to laughter—I am talking about that real, out-loud, head-back, mouth-open-to-expose-the-full-horseshoe-of-lovely-teeth, involuntary, full, and deep-throated mirth; the kind that is accompanied by a shocked surprise and a slight (no, make that a loud) peal of delight—well, then, you have at least caused her to loosen up and to change her expression. I shall not elaborate further.”


Julian Ruck:

“I’m not saying there are no decent female comedians about the place, but there are without doubt, more awful female comedians than there are male, and like it or not the good ones are usually either boiler- suited or Jewish — or a combination of the two.”

Christopher Hitchens:

“This is not to say that women are humorless, or cannot make great wits and comedians … In any case, my argument doesn’t say that there are no decent women comedians. There are more terrible female comedians than there are terrible male comedians, but there are some impressive ladies out there. Most of them, though, when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.”


Julian Ruck:

“Finally then, quick witted and incisive humour is I am told, a sign of intelligence, and many women (at least those of more mature years) still believe that appearing to be too bright can be rather off-putting to those men showing an interest as it were.

Either this, or men just simply don’t want women to be funny.”

Christopher Hitchens:

“Precisely because humor is a sign of intelligence (and many women believe, or were taught by their mothers, that they become threatening to men if they appear too bright), it could be that in some way men do not want women to be funny.”


Ruck ends his piece with a plaintive “You decide.” All right – I will. I decide that, aside from being sexist and unpleasant, Julian Ruck is a plagiarist. I look forward to reading whatever he eventually writes about me – assuming, that is, I haven’t read it somewhere else before.


This entry was posted on Friday, November 30th, 2012 at 9:58 pm and is filed under General, Julian Ruck, Plagiarism, Rant. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


20 Responses to “Julian Ruck versus Christopher Hitchens”

  1. Ramsey Campbell Says:

    At least Hitchens knew how to punctuate!

  2. Iain Rowan Says:

    Why do people do this, in the age of the Internet and the ability to google text, why do people do this?

    It’s not just the plagiarism that baffles me – how hard is it to write your own piece on a subject like that – it’s the blithe assumption that no-one will notice.

  3. stevemosby Says:

    It is extraordinary – to plagiarise Christopher Hitchens, of all people, as well. I actually only noticed it because Helen Fitzgerald tweeted a response to the subject matter in which Hitchens was quoted. (It’s a good article: http://www.susancalman.com/category/blog).

    It’s worth noting that I did post the substance of this on Julian Ruck’s blog; he initially allowed the comment, and there were a number of responses. They have subsequently been deleted by Ruck, but I got a screenshot of one. (Here: https://twitter.com/stevemosby/status/274854956392128512/photo/1).

    His explanation appears to be that, writing so many words a week, the article went off by mistake without including an attribution to Hitchens, and that an apology will appear in the Llanelli Star next week. I struggle to see what possible attribution there could be, when he has taken the structure and words of a good part of Hitchens’s essay to form the whole of his own – it’s a blatant piece of plagiarism – but I suppose he has to say something.

  4. Ramsey Campbell Says:

    Here are some more of Mr Ruck’s thoughts on women.


  5. stevemosby Says:

    Yes – see also this: http://julianruck.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/bums-bosoms-and-all-who-sail-in-them/

    There’s a lot more, as well. There’s something very seedy about him.

  6. stevemosby Says:

    Julian Ruck has responded to some points in the comments below his blogpost here. He is responding to Gordon Harries’s comments.

    Some choice quotes:

    “for the record, an apology and explanation will appear in my next column on Wednesday 5th December (it was drafted last Wednesday morning).”

    I look forward to this, although it should be done sooner.

    “PS Cowardice is not my style, nor has it ever been, which is a damn sight more than can be said for all those who use anonymity and computer screens to hide behind.”

    My name is at the top of the blog. *Waves*

    “Right Gordon, it’s as simple as this. I am a fan of the late Christopher Hitchins. I recollected his views on women and humour. I wrote some brief notes with all due attributions ie it was my ‘take’ on his article and that I was paraphrasing said article.”

    This makes no sense. Ruck’s piece takes the structure of Hitchens’s essay and – deliberately, I would suggest – uses many of the same words in a slightly different order to hide the source. See, especially, points 5 and 6 above. There is certainly no obvious way attribution could be given, beyond the straightforward replacement of Ruck’s entire article with a link to Hitchens’s Vanity Fair piece.

    “When I came to write the column, I was in a hurry (I write thousands of words a week) and it had to be sent off sharpish to meet deadlines etc. It went off without the correct and proper attribution and note of ‘paraphraising’ re Hitchins. If you want to call it ‘plagiarism’ then so be it.”

    Okay – it’s plagiarism, and he’s a plagiarist. No inverted commas needed.

    “Now, as far as I am concerned the matter is closed, and if you and others wish to hang draw and quarter me for what is hardly a criminal offence or indeed anything particiularly unusual in the writing game, then please be my guests.”

    Worse things happen at sea! Nobody saw me do it; you can’t prove anything. A big boy did it and ran away.

    “And if you are wondering why Steve Mosby and David Hewson’s posts were deleted from my blog, it was because both have been on a crusade of personal insult and abuse for some months now and God alone knows why.”

    It’s not a crusade. I’ve mentioned Ruck in two blogposts (this is one of them), although I have tweeted about him from time to time, most of them conversational. I tweet quite a lot, and I’d imagine the subject of Ruck amounts to about 0.000001% of the total.

    “Dig deeper into Google Gordon and you will discover Mr Mosby’s response to a polite invitation to my ebook Festival. He apparently found the option of ‘sticking fxxxxxg pins in his eyes’ more preferable to accepting said invitation.”

    That’s completely true.

  7. d. rodway Says:

    Let me add for your delectation this morsel from Julian’s own blog:

    “…I was about to write ‘…..And so to bed’ but thought better of it. Plagiarism has never quite been my style and following in the footsteps of our Samuel is far too intimidating a thought (have you read his diaries?)…”

    see here http://julianruck.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/peeping-at-pepys/

    “Plagiarism has never quite been my style” indeed. The man is beyond parody. Also, plagiarism is a pretty disgusting game, and no different from theft. At least he doesn’t plagiarise his novels – these are quintessentially shitly written, and bear his unmistakable hallmark.

  8. stevemosby Says:

    I am a musketeer: http://julianruck.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/to-three-musketeers-steve-mosby-david-hewson-and-catweazle-lookalike-john-abel/

  9. Ramsey Campbell Says:

    Oh dear, and I thought I was being polite and reasonable:


    “In my view Steve Mosby is a very talented novelist. Indeed, I wish I were as fine a writer.”

    December 7, 2012 at 8:42 AM
    “That does not excuse behaviour that would shame a New York slum. And as you are happy to condone such conduct, then please don’t comment on my blog again. If you do, your comment will be trashed.”

    Apparently drawing attention to plagiarism is “behaviour that would shame a New York slum”. Meanwhile, call me D’Artagnan!

  10. Ramsey Campbell Says:

    Given Mr Ruck’s gibe about not seeing your books in a branch of W H Smith, I had a look at the availability of his books on Smith’s web site, and then how yours are represented. It’s an interesting comparison, and Waterstones gives us another.

  11. stevemosby Says:

    Ramsey – I saw your comment. It was very gracious of you, thank you. It’s surprising he allowed you to comment at all. He’s very precious about who he allows to post. For the record, Julian Ruck is more than welcome to come below the line here and defend his actions. Of course, he won’t.

    As for the sales thing, I’m not in Smiths – but then, neither is Ruck, except as a local oddity. It’s silly, really, and I had the same thing with Stephen Leather. When people can’t answer points, they grasp for any line of attack, however irrelevant, rather than admit they’re wrong. I can sympathise, to an extent. Plagiarism is one of the shittiest things a writer can admit to, so the natural inclination must be to do what Ruck is doing – deny it, make light of it, hope it blows over, breathe a huge sigh of relief over a dodged bullet when it does.

    For what it’s worth, his “apology” appeared at the end of his column on Wednesday: http://julianruck.wordpress.com/media/llanelli-star-weekly-column/jrcolumndec512/

    He can’t even spell Hitchens’s surname properly. That aside, it is obviously weaselly and evasive. Julian Ruck is a plagiarist. Maybe not the worst in the world ever, but a plagiarist all the same. He wouldn’t know “journalistic propriety” if it was a brand of fucking hair gel.

  12. Ramsey Campbell Says:

    Alas, I do indeed appear to have been banished by Mr Ruck.

  13. stevemosby Says:

    That does happen, Ramsey. He’s quite fond of talking about other people’s cowardice in his blogposts, but he’s not prepared to publish and counter any kind of real criticism. (Which you didn’t even give). Behaviour that would shame a New York slum, indeed! I am honoured.

    His latest column is here: http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/gloves/story-17564941-detail/story.html It’s an open question as to whether the casual homophobia or misuse of commas is the most offensive aspect, but it’s bewildering that a newspaper gives this clown column space. There are undiscovered tribes, who have had no previous contact with the outside world, whose members could write a more coherent article.

  14. the left room» Blog Archive » defending our good name Says:

    […] first is of no consequence. The second is here. That’s the one where I accuse Julian Ruck not only of writing a pathetically sexist column […]

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