Thursday, 19 December 2013

Graeme Swann and his rape metaphor: he has nothing to apologise for

Years ago, I had to attend an inter-departmental BBC meeting with our head of finance, who'd only just arrived from the commercial sector. It turned out to be a spectacularly unpleasant bout (News were in the red corner, and, to quote The Sweeney, they evidently hadn't had any dinner). As we headed back to our temporary office on Shepherd's Bush Green, my companion suddenly exploded, "Just when you think you've got everything sorted, life comes along and ****s you up the ****!" As this wasn't what I'd been expecting from a seemingly mild-mannered accountant, I couldn't stop laughing.

I stand before you a contrite man: I have subsequently been known, in extremis, to use that very phrase. In addition, I have employed anal rape as a metaphor for what the EU, various chancellors of the Exchequer, criminals, bankers, union leaders and Muslim hate preachers have been allowed to do to the law-abiding taxpayers of this country.  I’m careful not to use this sort of expression in front of people who might be offended, and I use them sparingly – once or twice a year, probably – and only when I’m severely irritated.

Does this make me a bad person? Perhaps – I don’t claim sainthood - but I prefer to see myself as someone who expresses himself forcefully and, sometimes, a trifle colourfully, and, besides, such language often makes me laugh when others use it. Are we belittling the crime of anal rape? Certainly not: it’s an utterly horrific violation that should, at the very least, result in the perpetrator being locked away until they’re too old to repeat the act (I'll draw a discreet veil over how they might be hoist by their own petard in prison).

After reading on Facebook that his brother had been to an enjoyable pop concert back in Britain, the England spin-bowler Graham Swann posted the comment, “I’d rather be there than being arse raped in Perth!” Perth was where the Third Test took place, which resulted in England losing the Ashes, and in which Swann bowled badly and was punished by the Aussie batsmen - 22 off one over to Watson (English or Australian readers will not need to be reminded of these deeply painful facts). As this might very well signal the end of Swann’s England career, I’m not surprised he reached for a metaphor which reflected the brutality of his treatment and the utter humiliation he must have been feeling: he wasn’t minimising the seriousness of anal rape – just the opposite. 

I correspond regularly with my brother and other friends via email and I sometimes use language and express opinions which I’d be slightly embarrassed to see aired in public with my name attached (otherwise I’d use them on this blog). And, given that the police – having cleared up all the really serious crimes - now seem to delight in hounding people for making off-colour remarks (the latest examples concerned some tasteless “jokes” about Mandela’s death on Twitter and a Court of Appeal judge ruling that referring to the Robertson’s golliwog in the presence of a black person constitutes racial harassment), I wouldn’t be surprised if I hadn’t occasionally transgressed some of the ridiculous hate-crime laws that have destroyed this country’s centuries-old tradition of free speech. (Contrariwise, as Sean Thomas pointed out in a Telegraph blog yesterday, a certain Muslim hate preacher would appear to be above the law – read his excellent article here.) But as long as I’m not trying to get my brother – or my friends – to commit crime, why is what I say to them anybody’s business? Okay, a Facebook page is a semi-public place, and Graeme Swann is famous, so I suppose he should have been more careful. But, hell, the bloke must be in absolute despair at his dire performance and what it's done to his career, and he's probably thinking as clearly as he's been doing while bowling recently. And it’s not as if he was advocating anal rape, is it? Of course Swann could have written, "I'd rather be there than having my bowling punished by the Australians in Perth", but that's an exceptionally dull remark to make.

There seem to be double standards operating here. If I had a quid for every time some leftist politician or commentator had claimed that their various pet victim groups were being “raped” by all and sundry, I’d be living in Eaton Square. While we're at it, why is the endless repetition of the phrase “a cancer eating away at the heart of our society” (usually in reference to some perfectly harmless phenomenon) not considered deeply offensive to cancer sufferers?  

What a bunch of sissy marys we’ve turned into. I'm not suggesting we should all run around looking for opportunities to be crude and offensive - let's leave that sort of behaviour to left-wing "comedians" - but we really need to recover our robustsness. And that goes double for the bloody England cricket team!

No comments:

Post a Comment