31 January 2011

Tory Jew Eat Yet?

It happened to Alvy Singer. It happened to Jonathan Hoffman. Now NUS leader Aaron Porter has allegedly been called a Jew in a contemptuous, pejorative way. In all three cases, most obviously the first, it didn't make a lot of sense in the context. "Jew eat yet?" makes very little sense. Hoffman was heckled following a speaker who quite openly referred to herself as Jewish. Since Tony Blair, "you're a Tory too" has been just below "Westlife-loving Nazi paedophile" in the left-wing insult armoury. (I could add at this point that Aaron Porter isn't actually Jewish, but as I've argued before, anti-Semites don't much care if you like lokshn or gefilte fish, what religion your mother was or if you still go to shul).

Trouble is, the word 'Jew' is a very, very simple one. It's basically two phonemes: /dʒ/ and /uː/, or in non-language-geek's terms, the 'j' and the 'oo'. The 'oo', /uː/, is a very common, very recognisable sound and an easy one to draw out. The /dʒ/ is not only common for 'j', 'g' and 'dg', but also for /dj/, when you have a 'd' next to a 'y' sound. Say "good yoghurt" quickly a few times. So you can find the word Jew in a contraction of 'do you', a kind of jitsu, the wet stuff on the ground in the morning, the wet stuff in oranges, a massive planet and two months of the year - including the anti-Semitic smear "Jew lie".

It all seems very obvious, but it's just naturally very easy to hear the word Jew where it's not there at all. A lot of words sound a lot like it, and a lot of jokes have grown out of this. And so, for want of a longer name, never in human history has a people suffered so many half-arsed puns.

28 January 2011

This Gay Agenda is Fucking Stupid

A few words on the gay agenda to turn all our kids gay. Since lesbians confuse and frighten me, I will limit my analysis to gay men, but the principle applies to both.

I am a straight heterosexual man. It is, therefore, in my interest that there be as many heterosexual women about as possible, and as few heterosexual men. Basic numbers game. It is in my interest that, ultimately, there is one woman superfluous rather than one man, because, let's face it, with my levels of charisma, that man could well be me. Furthermore, the greater the superfluity of women, the more desperate they will be, which obviously works in my favour. Making sure young girls turn out normal is vitally important. This is without even taking into account three-ways.

The same does not hold for gay sex. Requiring, as it does, no women and at least two gay men, simply increasing the pool does nothing. Think about it. You convert some taut young chicken, but what's to say he'll proffer his lovely smooth buttocks to you and not your drooling civil partner? Unlike with heterosexual numbers, the number of potential partners increases in perfect lockstep with the number of competitors for them. Simply put, recruit two or more gays outside the school gates, and the chances are they'll just bum with each other. They are younger and perkier than you, after all. The optimum number for gays is not maximum, but even (or divisible by your preferred orgy permutation).

So for heaven's sake, stop this silly campaign to turn our kids gay. It does no-one any favours, least of all yourselves. By all means attack homophobia - not only will it make drunk straight boys potentially more curious, but if you do find a specific young man you really want to
do it with, it'll probably help if he doesn't kill himself with remorse or enter into a long and sexually unfulfilling sham marriage. But stick to that, and only convert kids if you need to make up the numbers.

You got that lads? Limit your agenda to cocks, other men's bottoms and even numbers. You're wasting your time turning our kids gay. I can barely believe you're doing it at all!

25 January 2011

Ideology

Ok, we're all familiar with this Melanie Phillips thing, right? Professional shrieking anti-gay hate-fountain shrieks a fountainful of hate at gays. Then there's the customary Twitstorm, because half of Twitter are unable to contain their rage and the other half, well, we like a sadistic giggle at the sight of a terrified old woman having a brainal meltdown in print. Yet, I don't begrudge our Mel her spurts of paranoia at the modern world, as it's pretty much her job and she's doing it very well. She made the mistake of an apology though, for free on her own time, and it's one of these beautifully desperate attempts to save face that I can never resist.

Highlight:
As for the issue of the teaching materials I would have thought that, given your readers’ concern for civil liberties, they would be disturbed by any manipulation of the school curriculum to promote a particular viewpoint about any group.
Look at this funny bit about "promoting a particular viewpoint". Now, I would have said a school mentioning exclusively straight, birthsexual, sexgendered couples into strictly vanilla shit is kind of promoting a viewpoint. It's making a tacit point about what kind of fucking is normal and what kind should be swept under the rug by anyone with the slightest shred of decency. Melanie doesn't notice the promotion of this particular viewpoint, because this particular viewpoint is a) the established arrangement of the world and b) hers.

The same process happens with "political correctness" politicising language, as if there was not a shred of politics in the way we speak before Germaine Greer founded the Politically Correct Brigade in 1986. For those dedicated to enforcing normality, language is only "political" when the politics are politics of change, and someone else's. Unfortunately, this isn't limited to paid Daily Mail reactionaries. We see it as well when demonstrators opposed to the cuts refer to them as "ideological", as a synonym for "unnecessary". The belief that cuts need to be made is "ideology", as is the belief that they need to shit on the poorest and most vulnerable to work properly. The belief that the deficit needs to be reduced is also "ideological". So is the belief that a society needs a healthy economy to function. So is the belief that education is beneficial, that the earth goes round the sun, or that eating food every day is good for you.

Ideology is not a synonym for "stuff wrong people think is true". Ideology is stuff anyone thinks is true. All truth is ideological, even the bits that are almost certainly true. Ideology, you see, is one of those funny irregular nouns that only gets used in the third person:
  • I take a stance
  • You hold beliefs
  • He subscribes to an ideology
Simply describing the cuts as "ideological" is not enough. We need to say exactly what this ideology is and why it's wrong. We need to spell out our ideological agenda and why it's the right thing to do. When ideologues like Phillips accuse us of trying to insert our ideologies into the national curriculum, we point out that it's already fucking dripping with theirs. An ideology with a bit of power becomes invisible, which is why Mel's Martyrs notice B&B owners in court, but not Bishops in the Lords. So the first thing we need to do to challenge any ideology is point it out. Meanwhile, if, in the horrifying paranoid delusions about gays and Muslims you put yourself through to pay the mortgage, you see ideology in the national curriculum, you can rest assured it's nothing to be scared of.

Update: the presenter on this week's really good episode of Horizon just said non-scientists' contributions to scientific debates might be "ideological". Forgetting that pretty much everything he or any of his colleagues has ever achieved is thanks to the ideology of empiricism. Ingrate.

04 January 2011

Ellipsis and Privilege

By way of an introduction I'm going to geek out a bit here. One of my favourite things about learning foreign languages is getting to grips with a different system of ellipsis - different conventions about what can and can't be omitted. This can be words, as in Wikipedia's example - John can play the guitar and Mary (can (play (the guitar))) too. But we can also omit information, and especially in English we frequently do. The word 'have' can be used for anything from 'possess' to 'eat' to 'do' to 'conceive and give birth to'. It gives the bare minimum of information, but, when you say "I'm having lunch", does anyone really need to be told what you're doing with it?

One way this differs in German is if you take the sentence "I drink a cup of coffee in the morning"/"Ich trinke morgens eine Tasse Kaffee". The usual (but by no means only) way to say this in English is "I have a cup of coffee in the morning", whereas in German, you get "Ich trinke morgens einen Kaffee" - "I drink in the morning a coffee". Germans aren't idiots. They don't need to be told about the cup, as if you might drink your coffee out of a shoe or something. Similarly, we don't expect you to pour it down your trousers, and there's no need to specify drinking in English.

That's cups of joe. With cups of char it's a whole different matter. You don't even need to mention the drink in English. Say "a cuppa" to anyone in Britain and we'll know you mean tea. Say "brew up", "put the kettle on" or "milk, one sugar?" and we'll know what to expect. It's quite obvious that, so entangled are Britain's routines with our quaint leaf-drink, that in any situation with a hot drink, tea will be assumed. Bearing this in mind, only a complete fucking idiot would believe that we say "cuppa" because we are embarrassed about our culture, hate tea and have given over our heritage to pro-cocoa extremists.

Which brings me to the Daily Mail. Winterval getting old, they've got a little bee in their bonnet about "Season's Greetings" now. Despite being no strangers to ellipsis themselves, the Mail and its arsewit readers have eagerly laid into John Reid, David Cameron and the world at large. In the last one, we see the process in action:
Would anyone dare tell the Hindu and Muslim minorities that they can't say 'Happy Diwali' or 'Happy Eid' but have to say 'Season's Greetings' as well?
The question though, is not could you tell them not to, but could they if they wanted to? If a Hindu says to you, in Britain, around mid-November "Season's Greetings", are you really going to assume he means Diwali? The reason Christmas can be omitted from greetings and cards, the reason you can take pretty much all of the Christ out of Christmas and still have the secular festival everywhere from October onwards, is because everyone knows what season merits the greetings.

There's a festival this season that has a monopoly on seasonal festivities. Clue: It's not Hanukkah. Failing to state something outright is not a sign of hate, discrimination or embarrassment, or else Christian Voice would never even mention gays. We ignore things we take for granted. The fact that straight, white, C of E males, with fully functional bodies and minds, the genitals they were born with and the sexual identity to match, the fact that they're so often omitted is proof positive of their privilege, because no-one's favourite crisp flavour is fried potato and nobody talks about wallpaper.

Hope you had a good one.