Monday, December 20, 2010

Homosexual Frogs (5)

But, of course, language is sometimes used to create a consensus were no consensus in fact exists. 

If I describe someone as "a black person" (rather than "negro" or even "n----r") you correctly infer that behind my use of the word "black" lurks the assumption that black people are just as good as white people; that skin colour and heritage don't matter very much; and that even if they did  matter it  still wouldn't be nice to use words which upset people. 
 
But it would be quite odd to describe the word "black" as Politically Correct. There really is a consensus. The word is based on a set of assumptions we really do all share. Yes, some people do routinely use the n-word. In doing so, they rule themselves outside of polite discourse. Society includes a handful of racists. It also includes a handful of nudists. We treat the guy in the pub who calls black men "n-----s" the same way as we treat the guy in the pub who gets his willy out. We ask him to leave. If he doesn't, we call the cops. Or the bobbies. Or... 

If I describe someone as "a bobby", rather than "a pig", or "the filth" then you rightly infer that behind the word lurks the assumption that police officers are rather cute, rather honourable, rather innocent, if perhaps not always terribly bright people, whose job it is to help us out when we are in trouble. And it would be quite reckless of me to assume that everyone, or even most people, agree with me about that. For all I know, you might think that so-called police officers are sinister agents who are paid by the state to coerce free people into behaving in whatever way the government of the day finds convenient. Or you may think that police officers are overwhelmingly thugs who get off on the exercise of petty power -- who get their jollies from yelling at people and telling them what to do. And handcuffs, of course. Handcuffs are sexy. Or you may think that black people are much more likely to be stopped than white people, or that the police are somehow always too busy to help when your mobile phone is nicked but thousands of them can be spared to cavalry charge harmless students complaining about government education policy. And that when one of them murders a protester, the establishment closes ranks and lets the officer get off stop free. 

To say nothing about the summary execution of innocent people outside tube stations.

But who ever described the word "bobby" as an example of Political Correctness, mad or otherwise?

If you say "serviceman" (or "our-valiant-service-men-and-women", or simply "heroes") then you are using P.C language to impose your idea that soldiers are brave, self-sacrificing individuals with a vocation to keep the world free from terrorism and safe for democracy -- rather than the worst kind of thug, little boys with nasty toys propping up the west's imperialistic enterprise in the middle east without thinking about the implications because they're not capable of getting a job in a civilized society. 
 
Never mind which side you agree with, of if you think I have possibly unduly polarized the two positions. Never mind if it's possible to oppose stupid wars but still respect soldiers.  "Bobby" and "War Hero" are ideologically loaded terms  in a way that "Chairperson" and "Lone Parent" really aren't. There is far more monolithic social pressure to wear a poppy on November 11th than there has ever been to say "Season's Greetings" rather than "Happy Christmas". 

It is the right, not the left, who assume a consensus which does not really exist. It is the right, not the left, who seek to colonize language and make it impossible to even think that "law and order" "democracy" "patriotism" "freedom" "liberty" may not be  quite as good as they're cracked up to be. It is the right who have come up with Politically Correct euphemisms like "extraordinary rendition" and "enhanced interrogation" in order to imply that everyone agrees that torture is sometimes okay, when they really, really, really don't. And it is, of course, the right who overwhelmingly control the media, mainstream or otherwise. 

I don't, in fact, think that Bill Windsor is a parasitic little shit whose gormless good looks give spurious credibility to a repressive institution which makes Britain a laughing stock in the eyes of the rest of the world and whose wedding should, at best, be given the same coverage as any other "celebrity" or "society" wedding. 

But if I did say such things the Common Sense Brigade would be be down on me like a metric tonne of bricks.

49 comments:

SK said...

The right control the media? Really? In TV, the BBC is leftie & the Channels 4 even more so; I don't know if Five or ITV have political positions, but they don't seem terribly pronounced. And that's all the TV stations except the subsctiption channels with negligable audience share.

In newspapers, on the other hand, admittedly broadsheets are 100% Tory now but that's because there's only one left; if you include ex-broadsheets it becomes two leftie to one righty to the Times, which is more populist than anything else.

I don't know much about tabloids, but the Mirror is still leftie, isn't it?

I'm not seeing this 'control'...

Andrew Rilstone said...

The BBC is not left-wing. The Tory Party whine about the Bolshevic Broadcasting Company, but the Mandleson party whined that BBC hated them, particularly the Today Programme, which dared to ask them questions. So probably the BBC is doing quite a good job of being netural.

ITV is necessarily controlled by advertisers, so probably on the right.

C4, couldn't say. Seems to be quite intellectual, so that probably makes it leftie.

C5, owned by the same person who owns the Daily Express.

Guardian - Liberal. Told us to vote Lib Dem. Doesn't like the Pope.

Independent - Neutral. Told us to vote Lib Dem. Doesn't like the Pope.

Telegraph -- Hang em, flog em, keep the Queens head on stamps.

Mirror -- Supports the policies of the Labour party, whatever they happen to be that week.

Times -- Owned by Rupert Murdoch

Sun -- Owned by Rupert Murdoch

Star -- Owned by Rupert Murdoch, but doesn't really deal in news.

Mail -- Slightly to the right of Hitler

Express -- Slightly to the right of the Mail


(As we all know: The Times is read by the people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by the people who think they ought to run the country; The Mirror is read by the people who really run the country; The Financial Times is read by the people who own the country, and the Daily Mail is read by their wives; The Morning Star is read by people who think this country should be run by another country; and the Telegraph is run by people who think it already is. And Sun readers don't care who runs the country provided she's got big tits.

JWH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SK said...

Oh, no, the BBC is certaintly leftie; it's a fine example of wgat you get if you stuff an organisation full of liberal intellectuals and media studies graduates and then leave them to recruit more people like themselves. Did you read the first BBC Trust report? There are producers who are happy to be qyoted saying that they see their job as to make people more liberal. Mandelson only hated them because they attacked the Labour government, and they did that not because the BBC is neutral but because they saw New Labour as not being left-wing enough.

And the worldview that can see the Indy as neutral really eurprises me; isn't it even more leftie than the Guardian?

Is there likely to be anyone reading this who can't recite both Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister by heart?

Andrew Rilstone said...

Would replay to this, but am heading off to storm the winter palace due to a secret code word in The Nativity.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Could you actually give me a positive example of the BBC being left wing? David Attenborough? The Royal Wedding? Rev. Peter-Owen Jones? In the Night Garden?

SK said...

The Vicar of Dibley? Jimmy McGovern? The general relentless upholding of liberal values and portrayal of any dissent as from liberal orthodoxy as a mark either of comic foolishness or villany?

Marcus Briggstocke?

Andrew Rilstone said...

The Vicar of Dibley?









Invasion of the Marxist Frankfurters!!!!!

SK said...

Yes, The Vicar of Dibley. Are you going to deny it proceeds from about as woolly-liberal a worldview as exists? They turned an entire episode over to an advert for Make Poverty History, of course (and got raped over the knuckles for it -- Make Poverty History, however laudable it may be, being a left-wing political lobby group, not a charity) but even before that -- right from the start -- its whole paradigm was the barely-Christian vicar showing how much more sensible her liberal views were than those of the upper-class twits she found herself surrounded by.

Heck, can you think of a woollier liberal than Richard Curtis?

The more recent example, of course, is Rev, where while the vicar is slightly more realistically drawn, yet again there's a clear distinction set up where liberal = good and non-liberal = bad.

I never said the BBC was Marxist, I said they were leftie -- Urban-liberal-left-intelligentsia-types.

Andrew Stevens said...

These are always rather pointless conversations. The person grading the political bent of the media is almost invariably casting himself as "the sensible center," so he's really comparing the media to his own opinions, not to the opinions of the country. Mr. Rilstone, of course, has been attacking Tony Blair from the left for a very long time now, so he's obviously well to the left of his own country so it's hardly surprising that he thinks the media is to the right. It would be to the right of him even if it were perfectly centrist or even somewhat on the left. I assume SK is the opposite. The answer, quite frankly, is to poll the country. "Do you think the BBC is too liberal, too conservative, or just right?" The "too liberal"s and "too conservative"s ought to balance and, if they don't, then the "winner" is right de facto.

The idea that corporations and advertisers are necessarily on the right is no more true than intellectuals being necessarily on the left. Here in the U.S., financial corporations are all for affirmative action, "green" energy policies, ending the war, and electing Obama, well in excess of the general population. (Of course, they have plenty of right wing issues as well.)

Also, I'm sure the Times, the Sun, and the Star are all right-wing, but simply asserting ownership doesn't actually prove that a paper's bent is that of its owner. For years, the Wall Street Journal was owned by a conservative and their editorial page was indeed well to the right, but the news pages were conventionally left-liberal (since most wordsmith intellectuals are conventionally left-liberal, including the great majority of print reporters) since the Journal enforced a strict separation of editorials and news.

Andrew Rilstone said...

The other problem is that the larger the output, the more plural it will be. The Guardian runs to, what, 80 pages a day, 6 days a week, and prints a 1/4 page colum by the undoubtedly left wing Polly Toynbee once a week. Does that 0.05% mean that the Guardian supports the views of Polly Toynbee? Up to a point: the Daily Mail simply wouldn't give her house room. But the slippage between "the Guardian says" and "a writers, with a by line, who the Guardian pays to be controversial, say..." has to be guarded against. With the BBC, its even more pronounced: does a two-minute stand up comedy routine by Marcus Brigstock on the Now Show imply that he is speaking for the corporation? Granted that you think that "weather is not the same as climate, you dullard" is a "left wing" viewpoint. I've seen Jim Davison on the BBC, and his jokes are far more nakedly party political than Marcus Brigstock. I've also seen Jimmy Carr on the BBC, and he's notoriously un-"PC", making jokes about rape and disability.(Clever ones, in my opinion, but that's another question.)

I do think that satire will always appear "left-wing" in that it cocks a snook at those in power -- it's very hard to get a laugh out of saying "Isn't the Emperor doing a terrifice job." The same goes for good political journalism: we don't, I think, want an interviewer to say "What would you like to talk about next, sir?" to a politician. But it would be hard to spot ideological, or party political bias in the way John Humpheries or Jeremy Paxman do their interoggation.

SK said...

But while whether something is 'too liberal' might depend on where on is on the spectrum, surely the word itself has enough of a meaning that we can identify it when we see it? That is, both a liberal and a conservative should be able to talk it out, give examples, and come to a conclusion about whether the BBC's output does almost exclusively exhault liberal values over the alternatives -- though they will of course disagree over whether this makes it 'too liberal' or 'exactly as it should be' (or maybe even 'not liberal enough').

The volume of output is a good point, as is the observation about the nature of satire. However Humphies and Paxman are bad examples: as part of the news side, they are under more scrutiny and more of an obligation to be seen to be impartial. They also have the smallest audiences, so are the least important. It's the comedy and drama where the position will come out, and which will have most effect.

So. I'm fairly sure I could point to mant, many examples of heroic liberals and demonised or mocked non-liberals, from the ecclesiastical comedies previously mentioned to, say, Being Human; can anyone think of three heroic non-liberal characters on the BBC recently? I can think of just one, martin Shaw's priest in the rather good Apparitions.

Any more?

Andrew Rilstone said...

Just to be clear: because Adam Smallbone was represented as the kind of clergyman who was happy for a Muslim school to use his church hall for Koran lessons (but unhappy for a strip join to open opposite his building) he was a "leftie" and the programem had "leftie bias"? (I'd also query whether he was "heroic": we were supposed to be sympathetic towards him, but surely his handwringing attempts to do mutually contradictory right things was frequently ridiculous. Which was why it was, like, funny.)

culfy said...

[b]can anyone think of three heroic non-liberal characters on the BBC recently? I can think of just one, martin Shaw's priest in the rather good Apparitions.
[/b]

DCI Gene Hunt?

Sam Dodsworth said...

If the phrase "well to the left of his own country" isn't implying a consensus where no consensus in fact exists then what is?

BBC Light Entertainment as a Marxist conspiracy is a thing of beauty, though.

Gavin Burrows said...

"Mandelson only hated them because they attacked the Labour government, and they did that not because the BBC is neutral but because they saw New Labour as not being left-wing enough."

An organisation to the Left of New Labour? We're through the looking glass here, people!

"Mr. Rilstone, of course, has been attacking Tony Blair from the left for a very long time now, so he's obviously well to the left of his own country."

Well, in frequent polls Blair was shown to be to the right of the country. People don't like private finance involvement in schools and hospitals, are concerned about the growing wealth gap etc. Just looking at who's in Government would make for a very skewed barometer.

"Granted that you think that "weather is not the same as climate, you dullard" is a "left wing" viewpoint."

I would like to think even right-wing people can tell 'day' apart from 'decade'.

I watched this BBC interview of a disabled protester assaulted by cops and was trying to imagine Camilla being interviewed in a similar style. "Surely, ma'am, you must have wound those demonstrators up. Did you wave a twenty at them and shout 'that's my mum-in-law, that is'?"

Sam Dodsworth said...

I watched this BBC interview of a disabled protester...

Ah, but you're missing the point. They gave airtime to a self-confessed revolutionary. A properly objective broadcaster would have denied him the oxygen of publicity while deploring his vicious attack on our brave police.

Gavin Burrows said...

"Here in the U.S., financial corporations are all for affirmative action, "green" energy policies, ending the war, and electing Obama, well in excess of the general population."

One of the chief features of the Bush era was how cronyish it was. While the invasion of Iraq was widely depicted as being for American interests, it would be more accurate to say that it was in the interests of a handful of corporations. (Who won 'reconstruction' contracts without even any sop to a public bidding process.) It was, of course, completely a coincidence that these corporations were connected to Bush and his Cabinet.

So anyone not in on the rather narrow deal was better off backing another horse altogether.

Legal companies also tended to be anti-Bush, as he tried to make it harder for individuals to sue corporations (such as people injured at work),and they figured that would eat into their caseload.

Gavin Burrows said...

"They gave airtime to a self-confessed revolutionary. "

I sometimes wonder where all the self-confessed bankers and politicians go to? All we ever seem to see are the regular kind.

Prolegomena said...

It starts to seem like the point is that the whole idea of telling people what is going on is a liberal one; perhaps the right wing way is to keep everything a secret while exclaiming that all is well.

Sam Dodsworth said...

It starts to seem like the point is that the whole idea of telling people what is going on is a liberal one

I guess if conservatives oppose change then the very fact that things are happening is anti-conservative?

SK said...

Smallbone was certainly firmly in the tradition of the liberal leftie CoE vicar (witness his desperate attempts to not ever offend anybody, such as the knots he ties himself in on TV over trying to walk the line between the approved liberal position on homosexuality while still keeping to the church's official position - yes, the source of the humour) but what I was really thinking of was the Evangelical vicar in the second episode, where 'evangelical' was equated with 'unwelcoming' and he became the closest the series had to a villain (every other one of Smallbone's antagonists being given a moment where they showed themselves to be not that bad really, or at least understandable - the Archdeacon's support of Colin, the PR priest's confession of lonliness - but the one with the conservative views us bad through and through).

guy.jackson said...

*delurks*

"It is the right, not the left, who assume a consensus which does not really exist. It is the right, not the left, who seek to colonize language and make it impossible to even think that "law and order" "democracy" "patriotism" "freedom" "liberty" may not be quite as good as they're cracked up to be. It is the right who have come up with Politically Correct euphemisms like "extraordinary rendition" and "enhanced interrogation" in order to imply that everyone agrees that torture is sometimes okay, when they really, really, really don't."

I think you may have fallen into something of a false dichotomy here, Andrew -- "The Right do these things, therefore the Left don't". In reality, I think that both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of this sort of thing; whilst right-wing governments have certainly done this, as you point out, I can think of plenty of examples of left-wingers changing terminology to suit their ends (cf. the way lots of Labour politicians and Guardian columnists call the government the "Con-Dems", for example).

"I do think that satire will always appear "left-wing" in that it cocks a snook at those in power"

Not necessarily -- Juvenal, for example, "cocks a snook" at the Roman aristocracy, but seems fairly conservative, if not outright reactionary. I think it depends on what the motivation behind the satire is; Juvenal does criticise those in power, true, but in many cases he's criticising them for failing to uphold traditional Roman morality, and so his satire comes across as rather conservative.



Anyway, I think that this discussion might be improved if we first decide what we mean by "right-wing" and "left-wing". Andrew's statement that "it's very hard to get a laugh out of saying 'Isn't the Emperor doing a terrifice job'" implies that he thinks "left-wing" means "sceptical of the government" and, by implication, that "right-wing" means "supporting the government" (apologies if I've accidentally misrepresented your actual views). But I don't think that this is a very good defenition: among other things, it would make parties such as UKIP and the Libertarians left-wing, whereas the Communists would be right-wing, which would go against the usual way of classifying them. Also, there's a stronger liberal tradition in the Tory Party than Labour, but I don't hear anyone suggesting that the Conservatives are "really" further to the left than Labour are. A possible alternative definition (and one more in keeping with the original meaning of the word) would be "right wing = generally in favour of preserving the status quo; left wing = naturally inclined to try and change things to bring about improvements in people's lives".

Anyway, just my two pence -- keep up the good blogging work! :)

guy.jackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Stevens said...

Yes, yes, Thatcher and Blair are all way, way to the right of the "real" United Kingdom, making everybody else in the world wonder why they kept getting re-elected.

SK said...

Well, Thatcher kept gettingbelected because people who, when asked by opinion pollsters who they would vote for said 'Labour', acyually when they got into the voting booth voted for her.

Which suggests that actually it is the 'real' United Kingdom which is to the right of the illusorarily-left United Kingdom that people like you believe in?

Andrew Stevens said...

Well, in frequent polls Blair was shown to be to the right of the country. People don't like private finance involvement in schools and hospitals, are concerned about the growing wealth gap etc. Just looking at who's in Government would make for a very skewed barometer.

This just shows that the majority was to the left of Blair on some issues. Which it should be if Blair was genuinely representative. It should also be to the right of Blair on other issues and I'll bet I could find polls which showed that this was true as well. To clarify what I believe here (and I'm not saying I'm right - while I have no bias on U.K. politics and this obviously helps, I also lack a great deal of specific knowledge): I believe Thatcher was somewhat to the right of the country (operative word: somewhat), but obviously not that far or she wouldn't have been re-elected over and over. I believe the country moved somewhat to the left post-Thatcher and Blair was broadly representative of the country. I believe the country moved somewhat further to the left after the Iraq War and Blair may have been a bit to the right at that point. Operative words: "a bit."

Claims that Blair was far to the right of the population's opinion just aren't very credible. I am reminded of some elements of the American right who are convinced that George W. Bush's problem was that he just wasn't nearly right-wing enough. (The left in the U.S. is rarely this delusional, full well knowing that popular opinion is to their right, though some elements of it started to be after the 2008 election.)

Sam Dodsworth said...

I am nearly as fascinated by the idea that the most representative leader is one everyone disagrees with as I am with the idea of an invisible "real" United Kingdom.

Gavin Burrows said...

”Well, Thatcher kept gettingbelected because people who, when asked by opinion pollsters who they would vote for said 'Labour', acyually when they got into the voting booth voted for her.”

Um, no. That happened for the John Major election. Margaret Thatcher wasn’t standing in that. Some scholars believe that is why it is called “the John Major election.”

”This just shows that the majority was to the left of Blair on some issues. Which it should be if Blair was genuinely representative. It should also be to the right of Blair on other issues and I'll bet I could find polls which showed that this was true as well.”

Bit hard to follow this, but I’m assuming you’re saying for Blair what Andrew has already said for the BBC – if slagged off by the left and right you must mark a midpoint. But then you say...

”I am reminded of some elements of the American right who are convinced that George W. Bush's problem was that he just wasn't nearly right-wing enough.”

...so I’m not clear why you don’t think Bush was a centrist as well.

But anyway, back to homosexual frogs. Isn’t the point of language that, to use it, we make the assumption that it’s like the streets and parks – shared property which everyone is agreed on how to navigate? To engage in disagreement with someone assumes you have enough shared language to express that disagreement in a mutually comprehensible way. (I had a flatmate who told the cat repeatedly it wasn’t allowed to catch butterflies. This didn’t go in very well.)

So when this breaks down (or more accurately is exposed) everyone gets upset and accuses the other side of enclosing some section of the park for their own private sunbathing. When the Falklands war was on, I tried to bridge this divide by coining the compromise term between Falklands and Malvinas of ‘Malklands.’ This antagonised both sides. Which, as it so happens, was my intention all along...

Andrew Stevens said...

The fact that there are some people to your right and some people to your left doesn't make you a centrist, but if the majority are to the right of you on half the issues and to the left of you on the other half, then there's a good chance you're a centrist, and I believe Blair fits that description pretty closely. (For what it's worth, George W. Bush was to the left of the country on a number of issues, immigration for example, but not enough that I would describe him as a centrist, though his father was.)

I am nearly as fascinated by the idea that the most representative leader is one everyone disagrees with as I am with the idea of an invisible "real" United Kingdom.

I'd be happy to engage this, but I honestly have no idea what you're talking about.

Sam Dodsworth said...

I'd be happy to engage this, but I honestly have no idea what you're talking about.

The first part was directed at you, and was meant to say that you seem to have confused "centrist" with "representative". The second part was directed at SK, who appears to be in the process of reinventing the "silent majority".

Andrew Stevens said...

Obviously, a one-dimensional political model isn't ideal, but it's what we've got. And, within that model, the center is obviously the most representative spot. What else could one mean when one is discussing whether a media outlet is to the left or to the right? First we have to find the center of the country of origin. Otherwise, we're just talking bafflegab or describing whether it is to the left or right of us.

I'm saying that the best evidence that I have indicates that New Labour under Blair was more or less the political center of the United Kingdom. If the BBC genuinely was attacking New Labour from the left (and I don't know that this is true - it was simply asserted by an earlier commenter), then that would indeed indicate to me that the BBC is to the left. Mr Rilstone was arguing that if the BBC was attacking both the Tories and Labour then it was probably pretty balanced, but Ralph Nader attacks both the Democrats and the Republicans and I don't know anybody, including his supporters, who believes Ralph Nader is in the center of U.S. politics.

SK said...

The margin of victory for Thatcher in the '87 election was also much greater than predicted by pollsters (the one before that was rather skewed by aftermath of the Falklands War).

But, if it's not opinion poll, on what basis are you claiming that Thatcher was to the right of the UK? The fact that the UK, when actually asked, kept electing her, rather suggests the opposite; so where are you getting your data for the rightness of the 'real United Kingdom'?

Gavin Burrows said...

"The margin of victory for Thatcher in the '87 election was also much greater than predicted by pollsters."

SK, you are shifting the parameters. First you said Thatcher "kept getting elected" because of this factor. She didn't, only John Major did. For all the Thatcher elections the polls predicted her to win. Sometimes they got the margins wrong, something which is already well known by anybody with a passing interest in the subject. Can we look forward to you regaling us with fascinating tales of how the Liberals merged with the SDP, and initially won promising results in by-elections?

"But, if it's not opinion poll, on what basis are you claiming that Thatcher was to the right of the UK? The fact that the UK, when actually asked, kept electing her, rather suggests the opposite; so where are you getting your data for the rightness of the 'real United Kingdom'?"

Firstly, I never used the term 'real United Kingdom.' The answer to the second point would be a mind-numbingly obvious list of things such as the distorting effect of the media, our rigged system of constituency boundaries, that everyone is not elegible to vote, and that people who are don't bother voting because governments don't hold real power anyway. Sun rises in east, Popes generally Catholic and birds fly south for the winter.

But anyway, do you know what I read the other day? A new blogpost by Andrew Rilstone in his recent series on political correctness. Anyone else around here read it, or would like to say anything about it?

JWH said...

It is an excellent bit of writing?

JWH said...

Surely what 'the right' is doing isn't so much 'creating' the illusion of consensus but trying to 're-create' it - or maybe even 'restore' it? An important psychological difference for them, I imagine.

JWH said...

One 'PCgonemad' story that bemused me was the brief 'Nigger' controversy in the proposed 'Dambusters' remake. There seemed a reasonable amount of effort expended trying to make sure the dog didn't have a name change or be airbrushed out. In my innocence I would have thought that changing the name of one of the hero's hounds from a currently very racist and offensive term would serve the right-wing press' agenda, but clearly not! Far better to try and make sure the film (about fighting Nazi Germany FFS) had a nastly little dig in at black people. Or perhaps it was a real BNP point - your freedom was only saved by people who are as horrible as us - even though there is every chance that, in the era of the B&W Minstrels, Wg Cdr Gibson thought it was mildly amusing rather than hideous and nasty.

SK said...

'I never used the term "real United Kingdom.'"

Then is it not perfectly obvious that it was not you I was addressing, but the person who did, to whit;

'Thatcher and Blair are all way, way to the right of the "real" United Kingdom'

?

Andrew Rilstone said...

Now, now, if we're going to start calling each other twits, we'll never get anywhere.

Andrew Stevens said...

SK, that was me who said that and I thought it was perfectly obvious I was being ironic. The tone of the comments to that point (other than your own) seemed to be suggesting that virtually everybody here thought that the U.K. was well to the left of both Thatcher and Blair, leaving me scratching my head as to why both of them just kept getting elected over and over and over again.

Pearce said...

What's up with the random comparison of "racist" with "nudist"?

Andrew Rilstone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Rilstone said...

Oh dear. The bane of my rhetorical life is the confusion between ANALOGY and COMPARISON.

"Kittens are to cats as calves are to cows".

"Oh, come off it Andrew, have you ever tried milking a cat?"

So, for example, I was probably not saying that going to clothing optional beaches was as despicable as thinking that people with dark coloured skin were inferior to people with light coloured skin. I was probably saying that people are free to do what they like in private, but that some kinds of behaviour are very strongly tabooed, and may even have legal sanctions attached to them in public. Examples of behaviour which is taboo in public is are a: exposing your genitalia and b: using certain racial slurs. I did drop a fairly broad hint that this was what I meant, by, er, actually saying so.

Pearce said...

I did understand; I just thought it was a bad comparison. Someone who is only nude in private is not a sex offender; someone who is only racist in private is still a racist. Whatever. Everything else was good, I'm not even sure why I brought it up. Sorry.

Andrew Rilstone said...

I think the point was that, under most "P.C" laws, you are quite free to express racist views and use racist terms in private. "P.C" laws, like decency laws, are about how we behave in public spaces.

SK said...

Credit where it's due: Tony Jordan's Nativity was rather good and not at all what I expected.

Steve H said...

Andrew, sweetheart, do take your head out of your arse.

You started off pretty shakily. We MAY indeed presume from your use of the word "black" that you think in a certain way. But you've no reason to suppose that we DO presume that. If we presume anything about your view of black people, it's more likely to come from your other writings than from your use of the word "black". Indeed, my own first reaction was to wonder why you were defining these people by the colour of their skin but I charitably presumed that you didn't intend to be offensive.

You get on to stronger ground with the "bobbies" bit but then fall totally arse over tit with the line about "it's the Right who do this, not the Left" when anyone knows that it's actually both the Right and the Left who attempt to colonise language.

It's a pity that, by loading all ills onto one target and ignoring the other targets who do exactly the same (in order to fit your own views), you briefly turned your blog into a mirror image of the Daily Bleeding Mail.

Maybe, if you had fewer people blowing smoke up your arse and telling you what a genius you are, you might stop and think more before putting fingers to keyboard.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Well, gosh. I like that picture of me, surrounded by accolytes hanging on my every word, and saying "Yes, Oscar, that is indeed the guess." The second most flattering thing anybody has said about my writing all year. (The most flattering thing was the elderly couple at the Bath Folk Club who said "You obviously know a great deal more about this than you pretend to.")

I don't know if you've ever come a cross a fellow named C.S Lewis? He once remarked that 95% of modern criticism was based around coming up with biographical theories about why a writer wrote in a particular way, rather than explaining why a particular piece of writing was good or bad. ("Feels forced" "His heart wasn't in it" "Spontaneous" etc.) Lewis said that in 40 years of being reviewed, whenever a critic had ventured an opinion about WHY one of his essays or stories was good or bad, they had never once been right. (On one occassion, the one essay in the collection which he really cared about and put his heart and soul into was universally judged to be the one that he wasn't interested in but was churning out because the editor asked him to.)

So be a little bit careful of telling me which of my pieces I've thought about before writing, and which ones I've just typed in without think about. You are almost certainly wrong.

Although I freely admit that I use writing to think about and explore ideas, not necessarily to put down my settled will. I rarely write a piece knowing what conclusion I'm going to reach. Where would be the fun in that. Give the paper the colourful coleslaw of your consciousness, as the chap said. Chap-ess, actually.

Do you honestly think that a person's choice of "black" "negro" "coloured chap" "person of colour" "British African" "person of Afro-Carribean heritage" "immigrant" or "darkie" (to say nothing of the more extremely offensive terms) has nothing to do with their beliefs about race?

Stephen said...

I just wanted to mention that this American reader took about thirty seconds to figure out who "Bill Windsor" was (even though I've definitely heard of "Prince William", and am even aware that he's engaged to be married). I had just decided that it probably wasn't worth the bother of googling it when I got it.