So the execrable Foxy Ken Livingstone is to be suspended from being Lord Mayor of London. Many people are probably quite pleased that this embarrassing arse has finally got some sort of come-uppance. If only we could get Tony Bliar banned as well ….
But, putting aside our completely justified and reasonable loathing for the man, there is something very worrying about this news. The first worrying thing is that some faceless little cabal which has NOT been authorised and selected by the electorate, can depose an official who has been legally- and democratically-elected by that electorate. It sets at nought the rights of voters. This is the kind of thing that happens in dictatorships, not in so-called democracies.
It's also patronising and insulting to that electorate. "Yes, we know you chose this man, but we don't think you made a very good choice, so we're going to ban him for a month. It's for your own good, of course ….."
But what concerns the GOS far more is that this is a victory for plain, old-fashioned stupidity. We've written about this before, and no doubt we shall do so again. Ken Livingstone is being deposed because he is supposed to have insulted the Jews. The plain fact is that he did not do so. People simply don't have the command of language to understand what he actually said - and they have persisted in deliberately not understanding for months.
Livingstone was set up. He was being bothered by a journalist who he didn't want to speak to - one who had bothered him before, I think. The journalist happened to be Jewish. A man in Ken's position and chosen walk of life ought to be prepared to put up with sort of thing, but Ken was rattled and spoke without thinking - not for the first time! When the annoying journalist said that he was "just doing his job", Ken likened him to a concentration-camp guard. The actual exchange went …
Ken Livingstone: "… you are just like a concentration camp guard. You're just doing it 'cause you're paid to, aren't you?"
Journalist: "Great. I've (got) you on record for that."
Now this was rude, but fair enough. At the war crimes trials after the second war, many Nazis tried to defend their actions by saying they were only doing their jobs, or that they were just following orders. Since then they have become a symbol for all those who do unpalatable, unpleasant, unfair or downright wicked things in the name of "just doing my job", or "just doing what I was told". The traffic warden who booked an ambulance attending an emergency, the police in North Wales who spent £10,000 to pursue a woman who was eating an apple while driving, the Rochdale social workers who in 1990 abducted dozens of children from their families in the so-called "satanic ritual abuse" scandal (one boy was kept from his home for ten years, see here) were all "just doing their jobs". This expression signifies an abdication of responsibility, a refusal to judge one's own actions, a negation of every man's duty to make sure he behaves in a just, fair and intelligent manner towards those around him.
So by hiding behind "just doing my job", the journalist was behaving in the same way as those concentration-camp guards. The fact that he was Jewish had nothing to do with it.
What are we supposed to think? Are we really supposed not to mention the holocaust or concentration-camps to anyone who is Jewish, for fear of insulting them? Why should they be insulted? - these things happened, didn't they, whatever that tosser David Irvine says? Or are we saying that because these things happened, we shouldn't ever criticise a Jew? By that token, we shouldn't criticise any coloured person because slavery happened, or any Australian because of transportation. To even things up, no Australian should criticise anyone of aboriginal descent because of what the white settlers did. And we should all lay off the Americans, because most of them are the descendants of persecuted minorities or starving Irish.
The GOS doesn't care too much for Foxy Ken, but he does care about the English language which, properly used, is a precise and very beautiful tool for expressing thoughts, opinions, emotions and facts. And he does care about intelligence. Everyone has a duty to behave, or try to behave, intelligently and thoughtfully. The people who caused this furore (Oliver Finegold, Baroness Sarah Ludford, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Adjudication Panel) have done neither.
Finally, the GOS would like to make it plain that it doesn't matter how much you disagree with what he says, or how offensive he may be to any group or individual, because he's just doing his job. So that's all right. By the way, he is Anglo-Saxon, so far as he can judge, so please don't mention the Norman Conquest because it's insulting to his race.
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