Sorry the GOS has been a bit quiet lately. He's deeply involved trying to finish his boat-building while the weather lasts. There are other things in life, you know, apart from being grumpy. Mind you, some of our readers have really been keeping things going in the Grumpy Guest Book - well worth a look. Magnificently grumpy, and some of them can even spell.
But finally something has happened that forces the GOS to break his silence.
I refer, of course, to
To be fair, the old goat has apologised. But there's a problem with that, too, isn't there? Isn't the Pope supposed to be God's Vicar on Earth? Doesn't he speak for God to the human race? So if he offers an apology, isn't that the same as God Himself apologising? This is the same God, presumably, who banished mankind from the Garden of Eden because they were ever so slightly naughty about a snack? The same God who got fed up with men's evil ways and sent a bloody great flood to drown the lot except for that goody-goody Noah? The same God who bombarded Sodom and Gomorrah with fire? The same God that parted the Red Sea and then let it rush back and wipe out the entire Egyptian army? So … since when, exactly, does God back down? Perhaps some grumpy Catholic will write and enlighten us, because frankly we just can't see the point of being God if you have to pussy-foot around every crank who chooses to take offence.
It's a pretty good game, isn't it, this "taking offence"? Anyone can play - Muslims, Jews, Fundamentalist Christians, Catholic Christians, ordinary Christians, gays, disabled people, the poor, single mothers, bereaved people - in fact, anyone with a chip on their shoulder. And the rules of the game are simple:
Rule 1, if you're disabled, gay, Jewish, bereaved etc. you can talk as much as you like about being disabled, gay, Jewish or bereaved.
Rule 2, if anyone else says anything about being disabled, gay, Jewish or bereaved, you can take offence and demand an apology. (* see below)
Rule 3, any mention of anything vaguely related to being disabled, gay, Jewish or bereaved may also be deemed offensive especially if it's Ken Livingstone that mentioned it. Or a member of the Royal Family. Or the Pope.
The GOS wants to try an experiment. Here's a list of words.
"Allah", "autistic", "baby", "backward", "black", "concentration-camp", "crusade", "dead", "dole", "failed", "gay", "God", "illiterate", "Jesus", "Jew", "lavatory", "lunatic", "New Labour", "old", "senile", "stupid", "unemployed", "unmarried", "wheelchair", "woman".
How many of them do you find offensive? Only one or two? None of them? Well, as the last year or two have shown, somewhere in the world every single one of them has given offence to somebody - usually regardless of the context in which it was used (the odd one out is "New Labour" - that really is offensive).
Still, we have to look on the bright side, don't we. That's not a question, by the way. We do. We really do. Oh God, we really do have to look on the bright side, because otherwise …..
And the bright side is, hoorah, hooray, calloo, callay, oh, frabjious joy, we've got the bastards at each other's throats now.
In the red corner, the ex-Hitler Youth Papal Pitbull who rules over 1.1 billion ignorant souls, who governs the church that opposed every advance you can think of in scientific thinking, that spawned the Spanish Inquisition to torture people into believing what it wanted them to believe, that burned heretics at the stake, that condemned young unmarried Irish mothers to years of imprisonment in mental hospitals, that refused to speak out against Hitler, that year after year ignored the fact that its priests were buggering children.
And in the blue corner, the lunatic fringe of a lunatic faith, who can with one breath claim "it is impossible that jihad can be linked with violence, we Muslims have no violent character", and with the next scream vengeance against a world they plainly find incomprehensible, who demand understanding and respect for themselves while failing to understand or respect others, who believe that if they shout loudly enough the world will realise it owes them a living, who have no sense of humour or proportion, who cry miracle if the name of Allah is found on the skin of an apple but shout heresy and insult if they see it on the top of an ice-cream carton.
Brilliant. Should be a good fight. My money's on the old man in the frock.
* Here's a case in point. This letter from Kathryn Tope of Midsomer Norton appeared in this week's Sunday Times:
"As the grandmother of a four-year-old diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder I strongly object to the headline "Autistic Brown loses the plot" and the reference to Asperger's syndrome. The linking of perceived political behaviour to this condition does nothing to assist in the understanding of this complex disorder."
Someone needs to point out to Kathryn Tope that having a relative who is autistic does not mean that she now owns the word "autistic", or that we all have to tread carefully around her. Nor should we all feel compelled, because of her misfortune (not that it is her misfortune actually - it belongs more properly to the child's parents, and she is just borrowing it to fuel her own sense of self-importance) to "assist in the understanding ...". Frankly, most of us are not competent to assist in the understanding and aren't interested in doing so.
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