Monday 25 September 2017

Curtains, please.

George "Spluttering" Hook has been at it again heaving himself up to the microphone to say something deeply anachronistic and/or offensive. I caught up with him in the Spring using infantile rhetoric to defend the intrusion of mandatory prayers in the Dail.  He used to host the tea-time programme on Newstalk FM and called it The Right Hook to imply that his political interviews were hard-hitting. But do we really want to use the metaphors of licenced assault and battery boxing in public discourse? If we can't cherish our golliwogs anymore because of the implied racist insult and because we no longer allow slavery then why is it legitimate to celebrate pugilism, that other 19thC institution? I've been here before and before that. You can get a flavour of the old buffer (two minutes will be plenty for a life-time's exposure, we usually only have to listen to him not see his spittle) laying into an articulate young singer song-writer called Blindboy Boatclub for describing the eucharist as 'haunted bread'. If the church or christianity needs George Hook to row for them, then they and their arguments are in trouble. Here's BbBc taking a stand for feminism as a solution to the problem of lost boys who are topping themselves. Did you listen to the lyrics of the Rubberbandits song about hanging last Sunday?

One of the most cringey interplays on Irish radio recently has been between Dr. Ciara Kelly and the said George Hook. He used to invite her on to his programme for a regular health check slot where listeners wrote in about their wens, cysts and discharges. Hook would read the incommming message and give his ideas on the matter: unresearched, often ignorant but occasionally relevant: as an old chap he has his share of crocked up ailments. Dr Kelly, a grown woman with her own GP practice and raising a family in parallel would then give an informed and authoritative answer which frequently included "you really should see your doctor". What was horrible was the sort of girlish simper that the Good Doctor adopted towards her host "Oh  <flutter; hits him with her fan> George, you can't say that".

Let's park George there for a while. Meanwhile back at The Institute, my roomie and I, who have both been working part-time at some stage, have received a bill from the government to make us pay more social security contributions now to make up for the short-fall of being part-time, on partial pay and so not having paid full whack towards our pension. She went down to make arrangements and came back with the news that she, and by implication I, could work on at our Public Servant jobs until we dropped or decided to call it quits. If we'd started at few years earlier we would have been severed from our billet automatically at the age of 65 . . . but could retire at 60. If we'd started a few years later, the case would have altered to mandatory work until 65 with the options to continue on until 70. I sort of knew this already but it was nice to have independent confirmation. Am I going to work until I drop? I am not! As I articulated before the Summer, my generation have robbed the patrimony of the next in far too many ways already: making home-owning impossible, for a start. My desk should be vacated asap for a younger teacher, preferably a woman, so that she can start a fulfilling and inspirational career in science.

Meanwhile back to George Hook, who was commenting 2 weeks ago on a case before the British courts where a young woman met a bloke in a bar, took him up to her room, had sex with him and passed out from the drink. The bloke is then alleged to have passed her on to his pal who is then claimed to have raped her comatose body. I may not have the details correct; indeed, as the case was brought to court more than a year after the event, the correct details will have been reconstructed by all the relevant parties to make it easier to live with themselves. Of all the events in all the world, Hook doesn't have to comment on sordid events in another jurisdiction, but he chose to do so, One of the problems with radio broadcasting, in contrast to TV, is that there is no place for silence - listeners start shaking the radio if it goes quiet. Broadcasters are selected on their ability to keep the patter pattering until the next ad-break. Hook chose to give us his two minutes (= 260 words full text) worth of opinion, deciding that the young man was a scum-bag and should go to jail. He has no locus standi to make those judgments on hearsay and news reports but because he's an opinionated old man he can't shut his gob. But in the middle of his tirade of blame he remembered "keep it balanced George" and wandered off for another target "But is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?".  >!cue sound of shit hitting fan!< Sorry George, that sort of comment is a) called victim-blaming b) not allowed and c) not helpful. It perpetuates a stereotype that girls dress-up and go out to have sex with blokes, rather than dress-up to make themselves feel good and go out to have fun with their friends. Senator Lynn Ruane [bloboprev], my favorite young female talking head because Caitlin Moran [multiprev] is now over 40, had this to say [I paraphrase]. The correct response when you find a young woman of your acquaintance passed out on the bathroom floor is to ensure she is still breathing and put a pillow under her head; not to have sex with her.

The next day, having been told by everyone including his wife that he was a doofus, Hook issued a fulsome and contrite apology for letting mouth express what his visceral mind truly thought. The day after that, the commentariat remembered earlier instances where Hook had made similar comments. When you get old, all sorts of systems fail: your heartbeat and BP get irregular; blood sugar goes all yoyo; hair sprouts out of your ears; and urine leaks from your bladder. Then, or even earlier, you should consider taking a curtain-call and stepping off the stage. Not here though: after a two week suspension, Hook has been sacked from his current lunchtime slot . . . but will return in December for a new week-end show. Aaaaargh will broadcasting companies please not be so risk averse? Let the old chap go, we've heard everything he's got to say, even if we agree with him. It's clear that Hook can get bums on seats to deliver them to the advertisers, but there are other different people who could do the same and a change of voice is always welcome. One of the twitterati defended the solution "George Hook not getting fired is a victory for free speech and a crushing defeat for the pc brigade." This free speech position is really pernicious nonsense. There is an infinite number of topics you can talk about and an infinite number of ways we can address and articulate those topics. Free speech allows people to deny the holocaust, advocate slavery, adulate Katie "The Fists" Taylor and sell additives in the guise of food. Responsible speech engages brain before opening mouth and reflects on the likely consequence of each utterance . . . especially when the voice goes beyond the pub or the kitchen and gets broadcast across the country and to the diaspora on the web.
I pray you, speak not. He grows worse and worse.
Question enrages him. At once, good night.
Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once.
Lady M.

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