Sunday, 8 February 2009

Golliwogs and things

The Thatcher woman's treatment after her use - off air - of the golliwog word still draws a lot of comment. This is mainly focused on the clear inequality of the way she was treated as compared to Jonathan Ross and his colleague together with similar incidents where they (mis)performed on air. Now Clarkson is in the frame for his attack on Brown.
This is all fine stuff for the potential chip wrappings but I see a wider concern. For me anyway. Where are we going with this censorship stuff? I was listening to a radio programme this morning. Christine Hamilton, that paragon of all virtues and Jane Goody of her generation, said that use of the word was offensive on the grounds that some found it offensive. I find her offensive - will that keep her out of the media eye? Apparently, there are some who find the word 'pig' upsetting. Even the image has been debated. So - are we to avoid it completely? Where does this end. Just how many need to object if we are to apply democracy to a banning? The problem was even highlighted in the very same programme by the very next contributor. This was Bob Crow, a trade unionist of some repute. He was talking about the financial situation as it was causing the closure of working mens' clubs. I homed in on this - working men. What was that about? What happened to matters of gender and inclusiveness? Do women not work? The last time I was in a working mens' club (for a leek-show just to set things right) it struck me as about as female friendly as the Members Lounge of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club. Of course - my questions are merely for illustration. If someone so much in touch with the proletariat as Crow does these things, how do the rest of us determine, in advance of putting mouth into gear, what will be offensive or what will get by?
Little tale to go in here. The word 'wog' was widely used by the great unwashed of Her Majesty's Army. It appeared in written orders of a regiment based in Aden and firm and threatening orders went out that it was totally and completely banned. Centuries of tradition written off by the stroke of a pen. However, within hours and without any discernible author, the word 'golly' spread through all the brown jobs and - sure enough - 'wog' was never heard again. It was not needed.
I have to add the Governor of Hong Kong. Sir Murray MacLeHose's arrival was greeted by the Army with an issue of a document detailing how his name was to be spelled, pronounced and used. Within, again, hours he was known right down to the thickest private as 'Jock the Sock'

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