Friday, 2 March 2012

Racist squirrels

"Who, me?"
I love those friends with whom it is almost impossible to have a boring conversation. Those people who reply to "how are you?" with "good, thanks, so I've been reading this book about Gandhi..." or "I have this amazing recipe for cheesecake" or "from a neuroscientific perspective, Jung's idea of the collective unconscious is both fascinating and completely unnecessary." So much more fun than "finethankshowareyou".

A lady I work with is a prime example. Being the two newbies and the two smokers in the office gave us ample opportunity to discover that we are both intelligent and interested people and so we never really waste time talking about the weather: typical lunchtime conversations will cover everything from theories of autism spectrum disorders based on how brains classify incoming data, with reference to Jung, Plato, and apples; systemic prejudice against people with natural Afro hair; the intricacies of incorporating waist shaping into a complex lace pattern repeat; and the peculiar simultaneous push and pull of weddings as bisexual ladies living in a patriarchal society. It is awesome.

So when she came over this morning talking about squirrels, my hopes were high.

You know when puberty begins its relentless assault, the pituitary grand starts sparking and you're more aware of your crotch than you've ever been before in your life - and suddenly everything reminds you of sex? Hayfever (trees spunking on your face!), crossing your legs a little too tightly, the pronunciation of the German word for 'six'. I remember actually getting aroused by an educational film we watched in Textiles class about cotton production. (Something about the motion of the mechanised looms was just really... thrusty.) Months pass in this bizarre la-la-land of giddy, glazed, hormonal lust.

Remember? Yeah? Well: getting interested in social justice is nothing like that.

But! I think this is what people who accuse us of Political Correctness think it is like. As if "trying not to be a dick" were this cool new fad, a perky obsession that inevitably fades with time; a pair of racism-coloured spectacles which make you see the entire world as Problematic. This version of events places the blame for oppression, micro-aggressions (or to use my preferred technical term, "fucked up shit") on the observer: if we wouldn't spend so much time looking for problems, everything would be fine! Because post-racial! Or something!

Which is obviously bollocks. This stuff happens all the time; social justice just gives you the theory to understand it and the language to describe it accurately

The squirrels, if you were wondering, had been accused of Coming Over Here And Taking Our Jobs/Women/Nuts. (There are also black squirrels, which come from Africa, and are more violent than delicate indigenous English Rose squirrels, who do not hold with foreign food or rambunctious behaviour. With the exception of the last clause, I AM NOT MAKING THIS SHIT UP.) Basically, this is the fauna-based equivalent of my current favourite Daily Mail article, the absolute culmination of 116 years of insular, frothing hatred: "IS THE PILL TO BLAME FOR IMMIGRATION?"


  1. I wish I hadn't clicked the link! That article made me say "what?" repeatedly at higher and higher pitch throughout. What an unpleasant specimen.

    Although it's quite nice, really - now we have the Daily Mail's attitude to life summed up in a few short paragraphs. I will save it to show to anyone who suggests that maybe "the Mail isn't quite so bad and you should get a sense of humour (ps. you're the PC police)".

  2. This is unrelated to your post but you know that sex-selective abortion ""investigation"", well one of the clinics ""investigated"" was one of my mum's and her doctor colleague is suspended and she had to spend her weekend writing a testimonial for the GMC investigation and I WANT TO PUNCH THE TORYGRAPH IN THE FACE.

    Also let me know if you fancy coming to Sundays in the Square sometime with me in the next couple of weekends...


  3. Ollie - isn't it a masterpiece! In a really awful way. I couldn't quite believe it was real; could only have been better if it had mentioned The Memory Of Princess Diana.

    Elll - arrrrrrgh, UNCOOL. Yes to leafletting, is it til Easter? Am at me mam's this weekend and New York the next (yay!) but free from then I think. Thank you for the specified number of kisses. I miss you! x

  4. That link...well, if I were to go into my analysis mode, which I'll try not to do too much, I'd say at the very least that their use of 'permissive' is very interesting. It's used twice in the article, once relating to the language of the act("vague permissiveness given by the language of the legislation") and once in the caption, relating to the pill ("encouraging a culture of permissiveness"). So linguistically, the author - or possibly editor, but the impact is the same - elides law into morality in a very telling way.