Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
O dear. The “Hi Guys” greeting is now verboten according to a self-appointed language adjudicator. She's also a feminist, who objects to and gets offended by the term “Guys”. I also object. She can’t dictate how I should talk. Moreover, I’m baffled that she believes such silly actions will help her cause.
The lady in question is the BBC Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey. This week she tweeted “New rule- “Hi guys!!” NEVER say this. Unless you are the daringly informal guest speaker at the annual meeting of The Society Of People Named Guy.”
Garvey helpfully points out that she is a woman, in case you missed that. Fair enough. Except that “guy” is a gender-neutral term according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Yes, it can refer to a man. But in common use has no gender meaning. For Garvey, in the vernacular of the feminist movement, “guy” reinforces the patriarchy by imposing a male term on females. Is your head spinning? Mine is.
In fairness, Garvey attracted a fair bit of support for her stance. Other ladies also took exception. Yet, this is the kind of batshit nonsense that gives feminism a bad name. Only a professional offence merchant could get annoyed by the term “guy”.
Is this part of a broader trend of man-loathing feminists seeking to weaponise language in support of their agenda? I’m reluctant to go there because such a belief would lend legitimacy to this nonsense. Anyway, congratulations to Garvey. She has confirmed her position as a signed-up member of the acquired victimhood club.
It’s worth remembering that language evolves. In the past, the term "man" was gender neutral as “mankind” referred to all humanity. In the USA, its common for women to address groups of females as “guys”. They might not appreciate having their language policed by a minority of Puritans. I don’t know … what do you guys think? Sorry, I’ve done it again.
Meanwhile, the craziness continues on campuses. The policing of speech, art and even facts march on behind the SJW flag. Rudyard Kipling, the British writer and poet, is the latest target. His poem “If” has sage advice in the tone of the stoicism that typified the British “stiff upper lip” of the Victorian era. “If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you...”
The delicate darlings at Manchester University took exception to the poem on the wall of the Steve Biko Union Building. They obliterated “If” with white paint. To them, Kipling was a racist, who supported the British Empire by suppressing the coloured folks. In place of “If” is a civil rights poem. The university failed to deal with this act by explaining Kipling in the context of his time. Instead, the adults rolled over to capitulate to a bunch of ideological kids.
Fatima Abid, the general secretary of Manchester’s Students Union, wrote on Twitter: “Today, we removed an imperialist’s work from the walls of our union and replaced them with words of Maya Angelou. God knows black and brown voices have been written out of history enough, and it’s time we try to reverse that, at the very least in our union.”
What next Ms Abid? Burning books, maybe purging all whites from the campus? Ms Abid and her crew have many bedfellows, who adopt the same tactics. Hitler, Stalin and, in more recent times, ISIS engaged in destroying art.
To Ms Abid The merits of the poem count for nothing. Nor does the fact that Kipling was a product of his time. Are we to tear down everything that grew from our history as an Empire building state? Let's take this approach to a logical conclusion, curry must go from the British diet and tea. These products came to our shore through the avarice of conquering Empire builders. These men, it was mostly men, strode across the world being nasty to other races and earning riches. After all, earlier this year Manchester University banned a Sabra Hummus from the campus because of its connection to Israel.
I suspect the students won't be rushing to such actions. After all, its all about finding a cause to gain some attention and buff up your PC credentials. In the process, the students shouldn't suffer genuine hardship, because the underlying arguments are peripheral.
The power of these antics works both ways. Alt-right activists are trawling the Internet for offensive statements made by liberal types. Much of this stuff got uploaded years ago in a more innocent time by juvenile posters. These people have now risen to positions of influence. Even teenage nonsense gets resurrected.
One victim is Hollywood director James Gunn. He directed Guardians of the Galaxy plus other films in the Marvel genre. Gunn invited the wrath of Alt-right loons because of his anti-Trump stance. In revenge, they surfaced tweets he’d written years ago joking about rape. A couple of transphobic words added weight. Disney fired Gunn within hours of the tweets re-surfacing.
I am guessing most of us have said and done things we regret. Much of it was not captured by the Internet to be re-broadcast out of context in a different era. Meanwhile, it’s entertaining to see the snake eating its own tail. Liberal types in Hollywood have used such methods against people they perceive to be right-wing. Thus, to get one of their own caught in the whirlwind of manufactured outrage is a cruel irony.
Perhaps the message will finally sink in. The things people said and did in the past need viewing with context. Applying today’s standards as a yardstick is plain absurd. Otherwise, Diana Abbott must go from the Labour Party for her racist comments made in the 1980s. Likewise, Jeremy Corbyn for giving support to terrorists and antisemitic activities. I'm sure with a bit of effort you dig up stuff on most public figures. Suddenly, the sauce for the gander is not so tasty.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.