Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Only joking

People do come up with the most inventive excuses for naked prejudice. They make a totally insulting remark about Jews, Muslims, blacks, women, gays, or any other group they happen to loathe, and then when someone complains they act astonished and trot out some absurd and laughable excuse.

Fashion designer John Galliano's pro-Nazi insults, and excuses, have attracted a lot of publicity, but there are plenty of ordinary folk out there who dream up equally ridiculous explanations. Such as:

1) I wasn't thinking clearly because of work pressures
2) It was just a joke, it wasn't serious
3) The person I was speaking to wasn't offended
4) It's only the office culture, it means nothing
5) It was an off-the-cuff remark, take no notice
6) It's not prejudice, it's the fucking truth
7) Everyone's over-reacting
8) Everyone's just being politically correct

Er no, none of these pathetic excuses actually stands up. An insult is an insult, and any intelligent adult knows exactly how insulting they're being. They know perfectly well it isn't a joke, or a meaningless part of "office culture". And when they try to pretend otherwise, they're simply aiming to cover their tracks and defuse the unexpected outrage.

Is it really so hard not to insult someone? Is it really so tricky to consider the other person's sensitivities and not say something that obviously demeans and belittles them? And why does anyone need to demean and belittle other people in the first place?

Of course some individuals claim to be offended and insulted simply for ulterior motives, to prevent criticism of their religion or personal behaviour. But in general, if people say they're offended they are offended and nonsensical excuses are just an attempt to carry on behaving badly and get away with it.

People who delight in causing offence to others are no better than the little boy who delights in setting fire to puppies. They just like to inflict pain and distress for the sheer hell of it. And because puppies like being set on fire really.

PS: John Galliano is to be put on trial in Paris following a police investigation into his alleged anti-semitic remarks.

32 comments:

Scarlet Blue said...

Now I know you ARE Jeremy Vine because he has just been talking about this on the radio.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - I feel deeply offended and insulted that you're mistaking me for some cloned TV smartypants. Kindly apologise profusely or I won't lend you my magenta nail varnish ever again.

Grannymar said...

Nah! Scarlet he is really Andrew Marr.

e said...

What is worse about Mr. Galliano's comments is his connection to Dior. As another blogger pointed out, Dior would doubtless be upset to have his name and products associated with this.

You can send me some magenta nail varnish---anything on these hands is an improvement!

Nick said...

Grannymar - I wouldn't mind getting Andrew Marr's salary. Around £600,000 a year seemingly.

e - Dior have in fact sacked Galliano because of his comments. Natalie Portman for one demanded that Dior get rid of him.

Is there no magenta nail varnish in your locality?

nursemyra said...

Magenta is not really my colour. though I hold no prejudice against it

Nick said...

Myra - How about heliotrope? I wonder what your prejudices are? I shall sniff them out. Maybe you're prejudiced against soup spoons....

Wisewebwoman said...

My personal favourite response to one of those hateful utterances:

"Oh" *eyeroll* "You're so effing PC!" - said with a sneer.

Well, erm, yeah.

XO
WWW

secret agent woman said...

A nice, subtle pinkish shade for me, thanks.

I have always hated it when comedians tell some really ugly joke about an ethnic group, women, gays, ... and then claim they are only kidding and love everyone. Really REALLY?

Brighid said...

my current prejudice is the constant use of the F word, geez! ...I hate it when men use it and I really hate it when women use it, oh is that a naked prejudice!

Nick said...

W3 - This rabid obsession with so-called "political correctness" is very tedious. Since when did simple sensitivity and consideration turn into some sort of mythical dogma?

Secret Agent - A nice subtle pinkish shade? I'll see what I can find in my vanity case. That perennial "I was only joking" is equally tedious. One person's stupid joke is someone else's cringing embarrassment.

Nick said...

Brighid - I agree, it's totally over-used. It's all right now and again but why do people use it so relentlessly? Apart from anything else, using it as a swear word simply associates sex with violence.

Baino said...

Oops chronic 'f-bomb' dropper here. I agree, people who begin with the sentence, "I'm not racist but . . ." invariably are. My father's mantra was 'be nice' somehow it seems to be very difficult for most.

tattytiara said...

What offends me is talk of people boycotting the upcoming Dior show because of his words. The company took swift and decisive action by firing him, at this point the boycott is only damaging that company which did take a firm, public stand against the things he said. Boycotting their show of his designs - which it's completely too late for them to disinvest themselves of - is just misdirected grandstanding. It just fosters a business climate of damage control instead of decisive morality.

Nick said...

Baino - Ah yes, the old "I'm not racist but" defence. Which each and every time is a lie.

Tattytiara - You're right, a boycott of Dior is muddle-headed and pointless. As you say, Dior can't just scrap months and months of work. And yes, they're getting penalised for being ethical, when it's the less ethical companies that should be targetted.

rummuser said...

Having had to travel in the West, being at the receiving end of ethnic jokes on the mistaken notion that I was a Paki or just an alien, and seeing similar treatment to groups within india, I am in agreement Nick. How come you have not said anything about Sheen?

Nick said...

Ramana - Everyone with a black face used to be labelled a Paki. Nowadays it's probably a Muslim. Totally idiotic.

I usually ignore all these celebrity witterings, so I knew nothing about Charlie Sheen. I only knew about Galliano because it was all over the news outlets I usually follow.

kylie said...

i think it is part of the human condition to have prejudices and i wont blame people fo rhaving them but i dont think they should ever be given expression

Nick said...

Kylie - It's pretty bloody-minded to broadcast your prejudices if you know very well they're likely to cause huge offence.

newjenny said...

Is it necessary to persecute insulters, deny their freedom of speech and ruin their careers, do you think?

Nick said...

newjenny - Steady on! I assume you're referring to John Galliano. I do think Dior were right to sack him if he made such inflammatory anti-Jewish remarks, bearing in mind his high profile and the many Jewish customers of Dior.

The right to freedom of speech has never been absolute, it's always been balanced against the interests of the wider community.

And I doubt if his career has been ruined. Everyone said Kate Moss's career was ruined after the so-called cocaine scandal, but if anything she's more in demand than ever.

newjenny said...

I'm worried about the intrusion of the media and the law into private life. It wasn't Galliano who broadcasted the offensive remarks to millions.

I think it is it is a test of liberal tolerance whether one advocates prohibition of what one finds deeply objectionable. I do believe there should be censorship of what is publically broadcast. I think that the right to freedom of speech should be absolute in private life.

rummuser said...

Newjenny, what is a private life of a very public, attention seeking celebrity? His tirade was in a public place and totally unexceptionable. Please read http://antisemitism.org.il/article/63402/john-galleano-ordered-macchiato-and-called-me-jewish-whore

Nick said...

newjenny - I also object to the media intruding into people's private lives, even if they're attention-seeking celebs. But as Ramana says, these remarks were made in a public place and could be overheard by many people.

There should certainly be some censorship of public statements if they're blatantly offensive, like the remarks in question.

Ramana - Do you actually mean unacceptable? Suggesting that Jews should be gassed is not unexceptionable....

newjenny said...

Yes, I agree. I've changed my mind.

Nick said...

newjenny - Goodness, I must have been very persuasive! I think there are circumstances where offensive remarks can be overlooked, but this isn't one of them.

rummuser said...

I stand corrected. Sorry about that Nick.

Nick said...

Ramana, no apologies needed! Unlike a certain Mr Galliano....

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The house of Christian Dior deserves kudos for firing Galliano, as does Natalie Portman for expressing her disgust with his behavior.

I suppose he'll be trotting off to Bigots Anonymous like Mel Gibson now. Drunkenness is often the cited excuse for prejudice, too, but I believe "in vino veritas."

Nick said...

Heart - They were absolutely right to throw him out. However beautiful his clothes, his remarks were utterly crass. And you're right, "it was the drink talking" is another popular excuse.

Liz said...

If you're addressing someone and that person is offended then it's definitely wrong but sometimes we can say in-politically correct things to friends or people we know won't take us seriously. I have no real problems with the English but come rugby time you wouldn't think so; is that wrong?

I'm probably very guilty.

Nick said...

Liz - Oh, I think we all make decidedly dodgy jokes to people we know well who know the joke doesn't reflect our real opinions. I'm sure your jokes about the English come into that category.