August 9, 2018 at 2:52 pm #5069
Without singling out any religious or ethnic group in particular I am wondering whether in today’s climate some minority and other groups who find themselves to be the butt of alleged racist, religious and similar remarks are in danger of taking themselves too seriously? Whatever has happened to good old fashioned banter and name calling? Of course there is a line which shouldn’t be crossed when the name calling is seriously abusive and nasty, but it seems that this threshold is becoming ever lower and some groups seem to almost revel in taking offence at the most minor of comments. Would it not be better if these alleged “victims” of abuse just turned the other cheek, shrugged and got on with their lives, or even God forbid, retaliated in kind with a bit of humour thrown in? Aren’t we British meant to able to take a bit of Micky taking without construing every comment to be abusive?
August 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm #5070
The vast majority of people in the UK, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation are, in my experience, happy to take the micky out of themselves and each other. The only exceptions are:
1. A small minority of unpleasant arseholes who know full well they’re being offensive and insulting, but claim it’s just friendly banter.
2. A small minority of po-faced arseholes with an axe to grind.
August 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm #5071
You are right, but occupying public office and having access to the media loudhailer confers a degree of responsibility not to behave as Joe Public does and such loudhailed insults bear greater weight and consequence.
August 9, 2018 at 2:54 pm #5072
There appear to be a lot of groups who seem eager to be offended on behalf of others. These groups are probably bigger than those allegedly being offended.
August 9, 2018 at 2:54 pm #5073
There is a big difference between “name calling” and sensationalist attention seeking on an international stage, “dog-whistle politics” chosen explicitly to elicit support from the faction who very definitely do harbor ill intentions and xenophobic ideas.
Even in the event that the name caller was just too bloody stupid to see that their name calling might be interpreted in any other way than “taking the Micky”, they’re still out of line. Some topics are sensitive ones and should be handled with a little diplomacy and tact when one is perched atop a very public pedestal.
There’s a time and a place; leave the comedy to the comedians!
August 9, 2018 at 2:57 pm #5077
There’s a time and a place; leave the comedy to the comedians!
Perhaps part of the reason some political clowns can get attention for this sort of thing is that the comedians have recently through various means, been effectively forced to avoid certain legally allowable topics. That was never going to happen without an ugly backlash.
August 9, 2018 at 2:55 pm #5074
It’s competitive political correctness.
August 9, 2018 at 2:57 pm #5078
If, as a member of a minority religious or ethnic group, you’d spend a large part of your life enduring ignorance, discrimination, or downright hatred, how willing would you be to put up with other people claiming you were taking yourself “too seriously” because its just “good old fashioned banter and name calling”?
August 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm #5079
Yes, it only seems to be people from the majority/luckiest group who tell others not to take things too seriously., and call it banter etc.
August 9, 2018 at 2:59 pm #5081
It would depend whether or not I thought they had crossed a line. I accept that is subjective,
August 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm #5080
Equality for all members of a diverse society is not easily gained. Just as we’ve moved away* from times when women or black people were the recipients of discrimination, abuse and much else, we have to be just as intolerant of discrimation and abuse directed at other groups in society; whether that’s on the grounds of religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, whatever.
There’s a fine line between good-natured banter between friends who know it’s not serious and the same comments directed at an outsider who may then feel threatened by what they consider to be abuse, or published in a newspaper by an Old Etonian who has a track record of saying unpleasant things and then claiming it’s ‘joshing’, or similar. Like walking across a frozen pond, you have to be very sure of your ground before taking a step that might land you in deep water.
As a society, we’re trying to evolve and become somewhere that diversity is valued, everyone of whatever race, religion, gender etc respected for who they are and are treated equally. The destination is a good one; but no-one said getting there would be easy and the journey will take a long time.
* there’s much still to do, of course.
August 9, 2018 at 3:00 pm #5082
I want to keep away from specific cases and look at the question of where we set the line, if that’s possible because it appears that the threshold at which the line is crossed is becoming harder to determine and more fudged. If the “old Etonian” is the one I think you are alluding to then I think he is an arrogant baffoon, but that wasn’t my point.. My point was more that we as a society are in danger of being unable to say anything controversial, however mild, for fear of upsetting someone or some group.
You make a good point about the difference between banter between friends and statements made by public figures.
August 9, 2018 at 3:03 pm #5084
My point was more that we as a society are in danger of being unable to say anything controversial, however mild, for fear of upsetting someone or some group.
This is a danger.
I believe that the solution is to stop treating people as groups. Once the group boundaries are erased and people are all included in society with some level of equality, perhaps the sensitivity of group-defining topics will be less.
Name calling is often one of the techniques with which people — frequently politicians and school-yard bullies — define groups. As soon as you label something, it becomes a thing. “We” label “them” and our labels become a flag to which others may rally. In our history, this has been done time and time again for religious, political and military reasons.
The old Etonian has a history and, given the character he has displayed in the past, I judge him guilty of crossing the line in this instance. He was not just joking; he was committing just another small act to reinforce “us” and “them,” likely with the intention of playing off that divide in his future career.
In truth, there is no dog-whistle, here, because these antics are out in the open for all of us to see, should we only choose to do so. Sadly, by accepting the flaccid excuse that this was all for fun, one voluntarily suspends their criticism of the politician and elects not to hear. The other bigots, racists, and xenophobes in society surely hear that whistle and rally to that flag.
“Sticks and stones,” was always the mantra of the bully, not the bullied!
August 9, 2018 at 3:08 pm #5090
Sticks and stones is what my mum used to say to me and siblings when I/we complained about others (usually each other) saying mean things. It’s definitely the mantra of the “bullied” and is intended to teach you that insults don’t matter – you’re not effectively bullied if it doesn’t bother you. Bullies would rather their victims were harmed by the words they’re using, that’s the point.
It is a radically different way of thinking to the way modern society seems to work.
August 9, 2018 at 3:08 pm #5091
I know the expression. I survived school, too, somehow.
In my school years, it was always the handy, dismissive, throw-away comment by parents and teachers that handed the bullies a free license to be total dicks at all times because they were only throwing “mean” words around and words can’t harm you. Frankly, that didn’t make my school life any more pleasant and I’m pretty damn sure that handing our politicians a free license to be total dicks at all times because they’re only throwing words around isn’t making the lives of the “minority and other groups” very pleasant, today.
August 9, 2018 at 3:09 pm #5092
Why did you say it was the mantra of the bullies then? Bullies never say it.
Anyway, you’re proving the point. You think that people should not be allowed to say bad words to you (because it makes your life less pleasant) and that authority should prevent them from doing so. You didn’t learn the lesson of sticks and stones
August 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm #5083
I know what you’re saying, and I agree with you.
Unkindness is never, ever justified, and compassion is one of the cornerstones of any civilised society. But let’s not debase true compassion by conflating it with sentimentality, sanctimony or self-righteousness.
August 9, 2018 at 3:04 pm #5085
If you don’t mind me saying so, you seem a bit conflicted.
You say “Of course there is a line which shouldn’t be crossed” and “the question of where we set the line”. This seems to presuppose that there is “a” (singular) line and a “we” that provide a consensus about where it is. It seems clear to me that a diverse society is going to have many lines and many overlapping groups that define them. There is no “a line” and there is no “we”.
It seems like you recognize this when you also say “it appears that the threshold at which the line is crossed is becoming harder to determine and more fudged” and “I accept that is subjective”. Which suggests to me that you might be looking for certainty in an environment that just isn’t going to provide it. I don’t think there has ever actually been a time when society would really be able to agree on where lines are drawn or who does the drawing – but, in the past, old-style print/tv/radio media did at least provide some illusion of consensus. Now, of course, with the net and social media, we hear everyone shouting at once. I suspect that we just have to learn that this is a better depiction of social reality than that one we learned to believe. And I think that learning this will take a generation.
One last selective quote: “we as a society are in danger of being unable to say anything controversial, however mild, for fear of upsetting someone or some group.” This isn’t new. It’s always been like this. But groups/individuals that were getting “upset” (aka oppressed, insulted, trivialized, ignored, etc) now have a louder voice. Some will have legitimate complaints, others are bad actors trying to gain an advantage. Again, I think we’ll figure out how to deal with this but it will take time. I don’t know how we collectively and individually get from here to there, though, but it’s going to need kindness and empathy and acceptance.
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