Category Archives: vulgarity correspondent

On fuckery

Roger Hallam

Crudity will set you free

Dalrymple writes:

Secular holiness is an unpleasant trait, and it is always a pleasure to see the unfrocking of a secular bishop.

Roger Hallam is the founder of his evangelical church, the Extinction Rebellion. In an interview with the Hamburg newspaper the Zeit, Hallam declared that genocides were

like, a normal event. [Das ist ein fast normales Ereignis is the Zeit‘s translation.]

The Belgians, for instance,

went to the Congo in the late 19th century and decimated [sic] it. [Die Belgier kamen im späten 19. Jahrhundert in den Kongo und haben ihn dezimiert.]

In this context, the Holocaust was

just another fuckery in human history. [Nur ein weiterer Scheiß in der Menschheitsgeschichte is the Zeit‘s elegant rendering.]

Jean-Marie Le Pen

Dalrymple comments:

Hallam might appear to have joined the camp of the anti-Semites such as Jean-Marie Le Pen, who called the Holocaust a detail of history, but he was not claiming that the Holocaust did not happen or that it was not serious; he was saying that it was not unique and that we should not continue to say it was unique. There has long been debate as to whether the Holocaust is typologically comparable to, for example, the Armenian genocide or the mass killings in Cambodia. No doubt something can be said on both sides of the question; I do not think anything important turns on it. The Rwandan genocide would be neither better nor worse than it was, whether it were the same as, similar to or distinct from the Holocaust.

What is appalling about Hallam’s words, Dalrymple avers,

is their crudity. The vulgarity of his expression was matched by the imprecision of his thought. The word fuckery is extremely lazy, especially when used by someone with pretensions to seriousness. It is a bit like seeing the Himalayas and saying ‘Very nice.’ A cup of tea and Bach’s St Matthew Passion are also very nice.

Nice.

It is hardly to be expected, Dalrymple says,

that a man using such a term to describe the wilful murder of millions of people with a view to exterminating their kind would be a very clear thinker.

A fucked-up educational system

But it is indicative of a

a reduction in basic educational standards. People have always written tosh, but after many years of compulsory education of the entire population, one might have hoped for a better mastery of language and grasp of what constitutes an argument.

Dalrymple says that to be reduced to using the word fuckery in the face of a catastrophe in history of any scale is symptomatic of

  • debasement of language
  • limitation of vocabulary
  • stunted imagination
  • impoverishment of thought or inability to think

The degradation of public discourse in the West

is evident, and one is tempted to say planned and deliberate. It is as if the educated classes had been trying for years to demonstrate their sympathetic identification with the lower orders by adopting what they supposed, wrongly, were their vulgar habits of speech.

Linguistic Luddism

Take Tribes, by the highly praised playwright Nina Raine, in which she depicts life in an upper-middle-class household for the benefit of an upper-middle-class audience. Opening the script at random, to page 28, Dalrymple finds the following expressions within the space of 15 lines:

  • ‘I want my fucking pen back.’
  • ‘You thieving little shit!’
  • ‘Fuck you!’
  • My arse!

Dalrymple comments that such language, more or less constant throughout the play, is the reverse of expressive except in the most primitive sense, but the intelligentsia would probably consider that to draw attention to the fact is

  • absurd
  • retrograde
  • censorious
  • sanctimonious
  • trying to turn the clock back
  • narrow-minded
  • bigoted
  • linguistic Luddism
  • inhibited

He concludes:

On this view, refinement will constrain or imprison you. But, then, we should not be surprised by a man who cannot tell the difference between genocide and pollution.

Scheiße for brains

Coarseness and vulgarity of thought and of language

‘It sets upon a pedestal promiscuous and adulterous intercourse’: Mervyn Griffith-Jones

Dalrymple writes that in R v Penguin Books Ltd, the prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones,

seemed not to have noticed that society had changed since his upper-class youth.

Griffith-Jones

opened the case with such pomposity that he became a figure of fun ever afterwards,

and is remembered only for what he said in his opening remarks to the jury:

It does tend…to induce lustful thoughts. It sets upon a pedestal promiscuous and adulterous intercourse. It commends…sensuality almost as a virtue. It encourages…coarseness and vulgarity of thought and of language…It must tend to deprave…One of the ways in which you can test this book, and test it from the most liberal outlook, is to ask yourselves the question, when you have read it through, would you approve of your young sons, young daughters—because girls can read as well as boys—reading this book? Is it a book you would have lying around in your own house? Is it a book you would even wish your wife and servants to read?

The court erupted in laughter, Dalrymple reminds us, and

later, after the not guilty verdict, in a debate in the House of Lords on an unsuccessful motion to strengthen the law of obscenity, one of the noble Lords was reported to have replied to the question of whether he would mind if his daughter read Lady Chatterley’s Lover that he wouldn’t mind in the least, but he would mind very much if his gamekeeper read it.

How the British are manumitted

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 23.17.38The attitude of mass-circulation British newspapers to vulgarity tends to be ambivalent, writes Dalrymple.

In theory, they are against it. In practice, they do much to advance vulgarity’s cause.

As vulgarity correspondent for one of these papers, Dalrymple is sent to the Spanish island of Ibiza, where he witnesses

nightly drunken Saturnalias on the beaches and in the streets.

The British holidaymakers there are

proud of their disgusting behaviour, exhibitionistic of it.

He notes that one of the nightclubs is called Manumission, and asks what kind of slavery it is from which those who enter seek release. Perhaps it is

  • the slavery of having to earn a living, often in a capacity below that which their education had led them to expect or hope for
  • the slavery of social convention (though, acting in crowds, they are deeply conventional people)
  • the slavery of consciousness, the sheer inescapability of thought

Another nightclub is called Amnesia. Dalrymple says:

If I were opening a new nightclub in Ibiza in competition with Amnesia, I would call it Anæsthesia.

Any of you fuckers out there got any fucking drugs?

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 23.23.41This is what one of the Gallagher brothers (of the band Oasis) asked the audience halfway through a concert attended by Dalrymple, who was serving at the time as ‘vulgarity correspondent’ of a British newspaper. Dalrymple reported:

Gallagher’s attitude of untouchable snarling insolence was not lost on his audience, of course; and neither will have been its effective endorsement by [then prime minister Tony Blair’s] invitation. What is the point of restraint and circumspection if such stream-of-consciousness vulgarity can win not merely wealth and fame but complete social acceptance?

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