Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Where sheep may not safely graze!

Let's end April as we began it: with a silly story - alas, not made up 

From today's newspaper of record, The Sun [here]: 

"AN ENGLISH holidaymaker has admitted racism after calling Welsh people “sheep-shaggers”.
Anthony Taaffe was accused of shouting and swearing while drunk at a holiday park near Prestatyn – where kids were also present.
But the 47-year-old from Bolton told a court: “Calling someone a ‘sheep-shagger’ is a term for people living in the countryside.”
Prosecutor Gareth Parry said security staff and an off-duty policeman intervened but the benefit-claimant called them a “bunch of sheep-shaggers”.
He also pleaded guilty to a second similar offence when he called a cop at a police custody unit a “Welsh sheep-shagger”.
Phillip Lloyd Jones, defending, said Taaffe had been restrained on the ground and sat upon by the security staff and an off-duty officer.
Taaffe admitted racially-aggravated disorder for his foul outburst at Llandudno Magistrates court.
He accepted he was insulting and apologised before being fined £150
As someone, then, on the above evidence, who could well become a victim of  this kind of alleged 'racism,'  I'd like to ask a simple question: in what way does the addition of the (dubiously accurate) description, 'racially-aggravated,' add to the seriousness of the kind of foolish anti-social behaviour being described? Again, I imagine, because of the category of the offence, there would have to be yet another set of complicated, time-consuming forms for the arresting police officer to have to complete, not to mention the inclusion of this rather doubtful statistic among those recorded for racially aggravated crime. 
Is there no end to this kind of absurdity? The possibilities for outraged complaint are endless, from calling Somerset people 'moonrakers' to polite enquiries as to what Scotsmen wear under their kilts ...  after all, as the law admits, it is a matter of perception...

In a more civilised age, being drunk and disorderly by itself would have been enough to earn both universal social disapprobation and the swift intervention of the constabulary. 
Now, when at night at weekends the streets of even the most decorous of country towns resemble scenes of bacchanalian orgies, clearly we need to qualify both the drunkenness and the disorder in order to justify any kind of intervention. 

A British country town at night

And, (Spring is late this year) continuing the first of April theme with -  astonishingly - one of the leading stories on national BBC radio this morning. A casual observer of the contemporary scene might be forgiven for thinking that for a major sportsman or any potential public 'role model' in the U.S. A. (or beyond) to 'come out' as a social conservative could now be be far more detrimental to his (or her) career or business prospects than any possible declaration about the nature of his sexuality; it certainly wouldn't lead to congratulatory 'phone calls from present and former incumbents of the White House. 

As radical feminism demanded, the personal has truly become the political - 'the world turned upside down' indeed...

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