There are all sorts of reasons why I haven\’t typed anything here for a few weeks. One reason is that I try to write with some basic level of insight or understanding, and things are falling apart in the global system at such a dizzying pace that is hard to see what is happening, let alone make any sense of it all.
There\’s something else too. Every time I start typing something about the shrill and intolerant outrage that seems to dominate debate at the moment, I realise I am sounding like a Daily Mail writer, protesting about \’political correctness gone mad\’. And this is not a good sound. If you sleep with a dog you get fleas, true, but sometimes that\’s the only place to sleep.
This week has been particularly rich in its craziness. Jonathon Ross making jokes about sex with old people (and the grand-daughters of old people) was merely a warm-up act to Gollygate. Now, Carol Thatcher does not seem like the sort of person I\’d like as a neighbour. I can only cringe as I imagine her crass and self-righteous air of martyrdom as she refused to \’kowtow to political correctness\’, by apologising for her singularly oafish and offensive remarks. But this can\’t make it right to ban her from the airwaves.
Jeremy Clarkson is another person that I wouldn\’t want to spend much time with (though Top Gear is a guilty pleasure), but it is hard to see how referring to Gordon Brown as a \’one-eyed Scottish idiot\’ is so offensive to all partially-sighted people, let alone an entire nation, unless they are embarassed to be associated with the Prime Minister.
This fractious and factitious culture of complaint (to borrow the title of Robert Hughes\’ prescient book) is reducing a once-great institution to a punch-drunk pulp, incapable of distinguishing morality from manufactured outrage, or helping the hungry from helping Hamas. To mangle another Yeats line, the BBC lacks all conviction; its viewers are full of passionate intensity.
We are all going to hell in a handcart (as I believe is the the traditional closing sentence of such rants).