Tuesday, July 15, 2008
James May, I notice, describes Top Gear as 'a pikey car show with three daft blokes on it'. 'Pikey' is a term for gypsy or, more properly, traveller. Another motor man, Martin Brundle, also used it. Pikey is, says the Equality and Human Rights Commission, 'highly derogatory'. Meanwhile, the Fabians - amazing they still exist isn't it? - want 'chav' banned as it betrays a 'deep and revealing level of class hatred'. No it doesn't. You see, dear, antique Fabians, every group in society is identified by one or more such words. I am a hack, a yid (half), a bourgeois and probably many other things. Now, if everybody has such a tag, presumably the ancient Fabians, if they are to be consistent, should be demanding a mass suppression of hundreds of words in common use. Ah, they might say, but there is a difference between, say, 'nigger' and 'hack'. Some would disagree. I seem to remember Trevor Nunn saying the word 'luvvie' meaning actor was as offensive as 'yid' meaning Jew. Nunn is right in one sense - there is an equality between 'luvvie' and 'yid' - but he is wrong to get upset about it because nobody should get upset about any of these things. Those obsessed with supposedly offensive words deepen the divides they aspire to bridge. They do so by picking one offensive word rather than another and thus creating a conflict where none previously existed. But, if everybody has such a label, surely the grown-up thing to do is shrug and move on. I'm a yid, you're a nigger, he's a chav. So in the real world, what? It is the decision to take offense that creates the offense. I don't take offense and I hope I'm at one with all thinking pikeys and chavs... if there are any. Oh, lighten up, it was a joke.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 5:21 am