Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pot shots

One of life's little mysteries is the way people condemn things out of hand. Things they don't understand and don't want to understand.

How can you decide that something is sinful or immoral or damaging purely on the basis of some knee-jerk reaction, some blind instinct totally detached from the facts?

People who slam a play without seeing it, or a book without reading it. People who condemn immigrants or refugees with no comprehension of the circumstances they find themselves in. People who sneer at alternative remedies or veganism or psychotherapy without knowing the first thing about them. People who knock teachers when they haven't set foot in a school in 40 years.

On the basis of a few tabloid headlines, or neighbourhood gossip, or a dinner-party anecdote, they casually let rip at anyone or anything they fancy, oblivious to the distress and alarm they might be causing to those on the receiving end. It never occurs to them that they might be totally misinformed, prejudiced, wrong-headed.

Personally I try not to condemn anything I know very well I'm ignorant about. If I'm not sure of the facts, I prefer to keep my mouth shut until such time as I am. I'm not going to pontificate simply to impress an audience.

If I don't understand something, I'll confess to being puzzled, or being uncertain, or being undecided, rather than feign knowledge I don't have. I'll try to find out a bit more about the subject and road-test whatever half-baked preconceptions and stereotypes are floating round my head.

But I think a lot of people actually feel embarrassed or uncomfortable at the idea that they're ignorant about something. Instead of admitting their ignorance, they parrot the latest fashionable opinion and hope nobody examines it too closely. All I can say is, I'd rather stay silent than talk out of my arse.


  1. I hear that play was a sell out last night!

  2. Many times, it's good to just listen instead of talk.

    Is this in response to some negative publicity about a play?

  3. Grannymar: Yes, the banned play was something I had in mind!

    Bijoux: Some Bible-bashers got a play banned at a theatre outside Belfast on the grounds that it was blasphemous. Then the play was reinstated and was a total sell-out for the two days because everyone wanted to see what the fuss was all about! And nobody thought it was blasphemous, they just thought it was very funny.

  4. People find it easier to see in black and white
    Grey is a crap colour for many

  5. Grey => Gray => Crap?
    Was that intentional? Haha

    Nick, I have no problem admitting that I don't know...crap...about a lot of things.

    Good night.

  6. John: True, a lot of people just aren't comfortable with ambiguity or uncertainty. They like things to be cut-and-dried. Actually I think grey has had its phases of being THE fashionable colour!

    Susie: Are you trying to insult my good friend John? Saucy minx. Glad you're also happy to admit it when you know zilch!

  7. We have the great instance of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, which was not read by most Muslims but was banned by other morons who too had not read it and a less than mediocre book ended up selling at premium prices in the black market prices.

  8. Yes, I find this extraordinary - the pontificator who hasn't a clue but will, well, pontificate on something (s)he knows nothing about.
    Glad you enjoyed the much touted play, the publicity was excellent.


  9. Ramana: Indeed, the Satanic Verses furore. I tried reading it once, but I didn't get on with it at all. As you say, all the publicity simply sold more copies.

    www: I didn't see the play myself but plenty of people did! And the protesters still maintain it's blasphemous and anti-Christian. Narrow-minded killjoys to the end.

  10. "Bible-bashers"? (in your response to Bijoux). Not, of course, that I would criticize your choice of word and therefore prick the little bubble of self righteousness you live in.


  11. Ursula: Oh come on, it's a very commonly-used colloquialism that doesn't necessarily imply condemnation! And if anyone's being self-righteous, it's those self-appointed moral guardians who decided nobody should see the play because it was un-Godly.

  12. I've always heard "Bible-thumpers." And once, I had a man join his wife for a session and literally pound on the bible he brought as he shouted about her role as a submissive wife. I had a hard time not laughing.

  13. Agent: That must have been an entertaining scene! People just don't realise how absurd their actions sometimes look to other people.