Why are we wasting our time with this shit?

Whichever way you look at this issue, all actors look ridiculous. Worse still, both sides have acted to polarise the debate. Their words have only served to reinforce the prejudices of those with the opposite viewpoint. What a waste of time.

Islamophobic – anyone who objects to having their transport blown up on the way to work.

I know bloggers like to think that they occasionally have an impact on politics and the mainstream media, but tonight, please God, what happens in the blogosphere must stay in the blogosophere.

I don’t know what annoys me more: Inigo Wilson’s ill-advised Lefty Lexicon at Conservative Home, or the ill-advised attempt by MPAC to have the man lose his job at Orange.

For the majority who remain blissfully aware of the ‘controversy’, the aforementioned lexicon was posted by Mr Wilson a couple of weeks ago. Its unfunniness is mildly annoying, but the lack of any depth to the apparent satire renders it totally harmless to actual debate. At no point does the ridicule actually change someone’s mind – those who are fed up with Political Correctness will applaud; and those of us who believe that, say, ‘instituional racism’ exists, will continue to do so.

As an aside, I find the piece has added annoyance, due to the fact that any criticism that one might possibly level at it would automatically be met with gleeful cries of either “Lefties can’t take a joke!” or “looks like I’ve hit a nerve” or some such retort. “If I’ve annoyed a Lefty, I must be doing something right!”

Whatever. The piece isn’t meant to be debated. The impossibility of engaging with it, on any level, is built into its very construction. Its just a line in the sand for people to dance about, a midweek distraction for the lazy. Why ridicule actual government policies when you can attack a straw-man wrapped in a cliche?

More annoying, however, is that a week later, someone began agitating for Wilson to be sacked from his job in the communications department at Orange. Via Pickled Politics we hear that he has now been suspended.

How ridiculous. Provided the guy does not allow his political viewpoint to prejudice a customer or employee, it’s nothing to do with Orange! There is no suggestion that when Wilson writes on a conservative blog, that he is doing so in a professional capacity. He should be allowed to write what he wants, even if he is “a rancid, braying little tick”. By lobbying Orange, MPAC are either misunderstanding the nature of free, political speech… or they are engaging in a cynical publicity stunt. Foolish or opportunistic? Personally, I suspect the latter. If they succeed, Inigo Wilson could become a martyr to political correctness. And no-one wants that.

Instead, it is Conservative Home that should do the ‘sacking’, because it is only there that his political views count. Such crass humour reflects badly on a site that seeks to become influential in Cameron circles, and a wise editor would not have allowed the article to be published. As it is, the entire site loses some credibility for carrying the lexicon in the first place. It then loses some more, due to the lack of contrition at publishing something so tired. Bizarrely, they show no embarassment at their mistake.

Whichever way you look at this issue, all actors look ridiculous. Worse still, both sides have acted to polarise the debate. Their words have only served to reinforce the prejudices of those with the opposite viewpoint. What a waste of time.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Wilson does actually work in PR for Orange. As Stuart’s Soapbox says,for a professional communicator to not understand the consequences shows either an amazing degree of ignorance or a wilful disregard for the damage it could cause. So perhaps it is Orange’s business after all…. but I still think it is distracting from actual debate.

10 thoughts on “Why are we wasting our time with this shit?”

  1. Robert,

    I’m afraid that is the point of satire: if the target of satire has sufficient ability to see themselves as others see them and indeed to laugh, the satire would not work. Besides, humourlessness is one of the radical left’s defining features.

    “The piece isn’t meant to be debated. The impossibility of engaging with it, on any level, is built into its very construction. Its just a line in the sand for people to dance about, a midweek distraction for the lazy. Why ridicule actual government policies when you can attack a straw-man wrapped in a cliche?”

    Because this lampoons the underlying philosophy and principles that underpin the left wing thinking that go on to determine government policy and most actions of the public sector. To challenge the individual policies is pointless (and a sisyphean task and jaw-droppingly boring) if you do not address the woolly thinking at its source.

    On that note, it is fascinating that you choose to use the Islamophoic definition at the top of this article. This is apt: when even the likes of Polly Toynbee is declared Islamophobic, you know you have got some problems on your hands. The problem is that no-one on the “mainstream” left appears to want to challenge this ridiculous behaviour. And when you do, you get labelled “racist”.

    All of that said, your conclusion is largely correct: “Their words have only served to reinforce the prejudices of those with the opposite viewpoint. “

    It’s the people without the prejudices, the swathes of people who voted for Blair in 1997 and may have continued to do so whilst holding their noses ever tighter – “middle England” if you like – to whom this will ring true. Who gives a stuff about the viewpoint of people who really do believe that “Stigmatise” is “what we do to anti-social people if we ask them to stop.”?

    And in all of this, the greatest tragedy is the appalling manner in which the word “liberal” has been hijacked in support of some profoundly illiberal ideas.

  2. Good points. I guess my issue is that I think of myself as precisely one of those on the “mainstream left” who do challenge those notions. So to have the Far Left held up as ‘typical’ is clearly a communication problem for The Left.

    But it is also disingenuous of the likes of Wilson on the right to propogate that myth. The abuses of concepts like political correctness are an excuse to discredit the entire concept. In a neat symmetry, this in turn provides cover for the Far Right to carry on peddling their bigoted ideas.

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  4. “The piece isn’t meant to be debated.” say what? and yet it has certainly been debated – there were almost 100 comments on his original post before comment was closed, and the subsequent post on that blog which carries the topic on has already more than 200

    grant you, blog commenting gets a low rank as ‘debate’

    be well

  5. Hmm, most of them weren’t debates, so much as messages of either a) support or b) vilification. It certainly don’t think it was a post that anyone from the left could engage with. The sneering tone would preclude someone like me from making a comment.

    PG has pointed out that there is a problem with the way language is used to stifle objections, and the way people abuse certain ideas and policies. If Wilson had posted something more constructive, teasing out the absuses and abusers from the genuine concerns of the moderate left (c.f. my Political Correctness posts). Then it would have been a helluva lot more interesting, and he would have convinced members of the moderate left that the current political language is in need of change. It would have certainly been more beneficial to Cameron’s wider agenda. Instead, he just reinforces prejudice.

    Jon Stewart knows what I’m talking about.

  6. i apreciate your striking the minimally creditable position.

    i’ll also note that these two things come together with satisfying results given the context:

    1) robert – “Hmm, most of them weren’t debates, so much as messages of either a) support or b) vilification. It certainly don’t think it was a post that anyone [who’d dissagree] could engage with. The sneering tone would preclude someone like me from making a comment.”

    2) “Jon Stewart knows what I’m talking about. “

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