Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Look at me!

It's probably quite a hard sell, pitching an article to a commissioning editor about how one particular social or cultural group is inherently inferior, in appearance, dress and manner to all the others, and that any suggestion that it is 'discriminatory' to state so clearly is inherently ridiculous. I imagine that it might have been easier in the 1950s - articles like 'The Irish, they're all really thick' or 'Those Jews, how tight can you get?' would probably have gone down a storm. Nowadays, not so much.
So kudos should go to Sathnam Sanghera, for getting his article on why all right-thinking people should despise 'posh people' past the editors.
You should not look at who people are but at what they are, the argument goes. If you prick a fattie, a yoof or a toff, do they not bleed? Bigotry is bigotry.
Except that it isn't. Not all isms are equally offensive. To compare racial prejudice, the repression of women, discrimination against the disabled, homophobia and ageism against the elderly to posh-ism, fattism or youth-ism is like comparing Princess Bea to Princess Leia...
In general, they [posh people] are arrogant, insular, chinless, clueless, have a troubling predilection for green wellies and velvet hairbands, bray and honk, have silly hyphenated names, and big teeth that they don't part enough when speaking.
I'd have to agree with Danny Finkelstein, who describes this as repulsive. And inaccurate. There's no reason to get particularly worked up about it all - the article is really only a 'look at me! Look at me! I'm dangerously transgressive!' piece after all - but pieces like this leave a rather disquieting note. Danny notes that, in Rwanda, the Hutus thought the Tutsis were, basically, privileged "poshos", with many of the characteristics Sathnam abhors in their British counterparts, and you could throw in the kulaks for good measure. Irrational hatred of entire ill-defined groups of people on the basis of nothing more than ignorant prejudice is a recipe for disaster. Whether the targets are called Vanya and Gregori, Esther and Ishmael or Arabella and Hugo doesn't really matter.

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Blogger Blognor Regis said...

I give you Short People!

(I'm sure you get it.)

9:21 pm  

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