The Offence Game

Dianne Abbot suggested “white people” played divide and rule… Then David Cameron suggested Dealing with Ed Balls was like dealing with someone with Tourette’s syndrome.

Leave aside the vast gulf in the responsibilities of these two characters, the reaction to the “gaffes” is the same. The people who were faux-indignantly jumping all over Abbot’s tweet, were the next day defending Cameron’s “off the cuff” remark. Those who were staunchly defending Abbot’s anti-racism were opining that Cameron’s remark was “offensive” and demonstrating his “arrogance”.

Of course this is just a game, one I play from time to time. But this constant offence seeking is poisonous to discourse, by forcing politicians into a mode of speech wildly divorced from that used by you and me. If Abbot had said “the white establishment” rather than “white people”, she’d be expressing an uncontroversial and widely held view about the tactics of colonialism. The 140 character form therefore, where truncation is necessary (whether or not she had sufficient characters left to use the longer expression, brevity is the soul of Twitter) leads problems expressing thoughts accurately. Embarrassing, and fun to hoist a Labour politician on her Race-mongering petard, but no-one’s really offended.

Tourette’s syndrome is widely used casually as a descriptor of an aggressive and foul-mouthed person. The combative Ed Balls certainly fits. I doubt this is genuinely offensive to anyone with Tourette’s, outside the grievance industry. His remarks were no-doubt jumped on as enthusiastically as they were by the Twitter mob, in revenge for the Abbot storm a few days earlier.

Perhaps we’d have more respect for our political system, if we let our Politicians speak like the rest of us. Those who use twitter engage more intimately with members of the public than any politician in the pre-Internet age, and should be applauded. It’s fun squealing “offence” to discomfit our lords and masters, but perhaps we don’t want to scare them out of Twitter and off the Blogosphere.

Let’s let our politicians speak freely. Maybe then they’ll continue to let us…

2 replies
  1. Lord T
    Lord T says:

    but they don't let us. This is all their fault.

    Abbotts tweets had enough room to make sure that she could be clear. I think she was. While camerons comments were direct and in non PC days he would have been even more so.

    They are simply being hung on their own petards and I for one think that they should face punishment for it. I risk it, they should to. Screw them.

    There have been prosecutions of tweeters saying the same, racially revving engines and other such. Why should they be immune when they put this is place.

  2. JimmyGiro
    JimmyGiro says:

    The trouble with the 'sticks-and-stones' argument, is that today we are being physically threatend with the full violence of Zanu-Labour's evil devisive laws.

    The holy cows of gays, blacks, women, and invilids, are being used to devide our freedoms, and undermine our democracy.

    If we were all truely equal in the eyes of the law, then they who cast the first slander should be treated in kind. Any other pleading to a special case, makes a joke of 'equality', and runs a horse and carriage through egality; and can you have a stable democracy without either 'equality' or egality?

    "Democracy sits upon a stool of three mutually opposed legs: freedom, equality in law, and Justice; whereby each depends on the others for integrity. If all citizens were truly equal at the human level, democracy would be redundant, since one clone would be as representative as any other, hence voting would become needless after the first opinion; and if one clone was true and honest, there would be no need of law, since all would be guiltless. In our natural world, individual freedom is a bane to synthetic equality; therefore democracy is a perpetual dynamic compromise between its constituent antagonistic rights. To make democracy purposeful, individual freedom is necessary; and to stem the risk of chaos, brought about by our vain identities, just laws are imposed to contain our free impositions upon each other. True Justice however, requires artificial balance to ensure fairness via reciprocity, thus the accused must have ‘equal status in law’ to the accuser; which necessitates the presumption of innocence, until proven otherwise. By its very nature of compromise, democracy can never be perfect, hence it is a contradiction to utopia; but nevertheless is the best real solution for a just society that aims to maximise fairness in accord with the weight of public opinion."


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