AS I’M NOT a follower of that tediously over-hyped game known as football I missed the initial outburst of horror that came when a manager of some club made some post-interview comment to some female journo which rocked the whole of western civilisation to its rapidly-decaying foundations because it was (don’t wait for it) sexist and “wholly unacceptable”.
Putting on my fake journalist hat I did some in-depth investigative work on this and found that the manager (whose name is David Moyes; his club is called Sunderland Association Football Club) said to Vicki Sparks (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Mx mxs, is unclear), a BBC journalist (In proper modern journo style I have just copied, edited and pasted this):
Just getting a wee bit naughty there at the end, so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman. Careful the next time you come in.”
I have no idea what he was talking about, but, as the BBC itself reported, it must not have been much:
Both Moyes and Sparks were laughing during the exchange and the former Everton and Manchester United manager later apologised to the reporter, who did not make a complaint.
But to follow the script: of course we totally abhor any suggestion that a man should threaten violence against a woman — because that is what he was really saying he would do, wasn’t he? If he were threatening the same against a male reporter, that might be a different thing, especially if said journalist were an open Tory or Ukip supporter, because that would be sort of acceptable, even though being an employee of the BBC it isn’t likely since the BBC is a beacon of left wing impartiality.
No, we abhor, disavow, condemn and repudiate such self-justifying male chauvinistic piggishness because it’s almost as if Mr Moyes were himself responsible for the fact that two women every week are murdered by their partners or ex-partners, and he may as well be Jack the Ripper himself for representing a dark cornerstone of complacent misogynist culture, etc. My, how things escalate.
As we all know, this sort of thing has to play out in a predictable if unwritten way. It’s a ritual. It’s part of the PC religion. Comment. Outrage bandwagon: media, NGOs, charities, special interest groups, Twitterbitches and associated celebrities flaunting their moral credentials, maybe a clueless politician chipping in, that sort of thing. So Mr Moyes has apologised, but that’s not enough. It’s never enough. His own club have supported him but the case has been referred to a Higher Authority. There always has to be a Higher Authority so punishment can be administered. The Football Association has taken it up and this is where my interest in the whole bag of baloney peters out. I don’t know whether he’s been given the obligatory ideological slap on the wrist and sent home in mild disgrace or what, and I don’t care.
We are now at a stage in public life and private life where we have to pretend we’re not grown-up enough to understand jokes, language or context. We have to pretend that words are actual things like sticks and stones. We need Nanny to give us a slap for being bad children (but mainly bad boys) who say bad things, while the bullies and their sneaky little hangers-on point their fingers saying, “It was him, Miss, it was him. He was the one who said it.”
Welcome to the PC kindergarten, kiddies.
Currente Calamo columnist, poet, writer and lecturer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire . From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Fortnightly Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.