Yesterday morning I posted a blog about the minimum pricing of alcohol in response to reports that the government might not proceed with this policy, a policy I think David Cameron was right to pursue. I tweeted a link to the blog and that is when the ‘fun’ started.
A former parliamentary candidate for a minor political party tweeted an extraordinary response: “Stuff your minimum pricing up your arse – socialist c*nt”. People seemed to like my response: “I’m overwhelmed by thoughtfulness of your argument”.
I can’t say my response was original nor as cutting as that of Stella Creasy MP who, when subjected to vile sexist abuse on Twitter, responded with this devastating riposte: “Your mother must be so proud of you”.
I was surprised by Mr P’s response to my blog, and confused by his subsequent bizarre question to me: “How many NHS patients have you killed?”. (For the record, and for the avoidance of any doubt, none!).
Suggesting that one “stuff your minimum pricing” where the sun don’t shine was not the most constructive intervention, unlike the much more thoughtful and challenging arguments set out by Cllr. Graham Cox on his blog.
Today’s post looks at the phrase “socialist c*nt”. As for being a socialist, some know about my political background, but others might debate whether I have become a poacher turned gamekeeper. I don’t regard socialist as a dirty word although some use it as a sloppy denunciation of a general political outlook, in the same way as the shock jocks in the USA use the phrase ‘liberal’.
It is the use of the C-word that causes particular offence to many people. I am angered and saddened that this insult is used so freely in social media.
According to Wikipedia, it is “a word for the female genitalia, particularly the vulva, and is widely considered to be vulgar….. Scholar Germaine Greer has said that “it is one of the few remaining words in the English language with a genuine power to shock.” (It) is also used as a derogatory epithet referring to people of either sex….. (It describes) “an unpleasant or stupid person” in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, whereas Merriam-Webster has a usage of the term as “usually disparaging and obscene: woman”, noting that it is used in the U.S. as “an offensive way to refer to a woman”.”
I don’t expect the C-word to be used in BHT, either as an insult or in ‘jest’, EVER.
There is no equivalent for men or for male genitalia, nothing that carries the same viciousness. Words like ‘knob’ and ‘dick head’ are laced with humour.
We have moved on as a society and today it is less likely that people will use the grossly offensive and racist N-word to describe black people, and similarly language has evolved to respect rather than insult gay men and lesbian women.
I have thought about how I should have responded. I tried humour, perhaps not very well and perhaps not appropriately. I did condemn his grossly offensive and sexist language, as did others. Mr P’s language attracted wide condemnation which is encouraging.
I finish with reference to a response, on a par with that of Stella Creasy, by Gina Harrison, now sadly dead. She lived in Norfolk Square. She always defended the right of street drinkers to drink in the old tram shelters (now sadly demolished) because there was no where else for them to go, but she never gave them money. One day when she refused to give a drinker any money, he called after her: “You old whore”. Gina, then well into her eighties, slowly walked up to him and said: “Less of the old, if you don’t mind.” Now that’s style.