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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Fake disgust at Michael Gove's Weinstein joke

The British Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, has just been summoned before (or hauled off to) the Politically-Correct Inquisition for his sinful faux pas (i.e., joke) on BBC Radio 4. Indeed the very wording of some of newspaper reports show this to be the case. One newspaper, for example, wrote:

Michael Gove has been forced to apologise after making a crass Harvey Weinstein joke.”

Note the word “forced”. Yes, Michael Gove MP has been forced to repent for his sin.

So what was Michael Gove's joke? This:

Sometimes I think that coming into the studio with you John [Humphrys] is like going into Harvey Weinstein’s bedroom.”

What hasn't been much commented upon is that the British Labour Party's very own Lord Kinnock also got in on the act by adding: “John [Humphrys] goes way past groping.” Not only that: the audience laughed at - and applauded - the joke! It's also strange that Lord Kinnock hasn't also been summoned to the Politically-Correct Inquisition.

For those who have no sense of humour, or who don't know anything about John Humphrys and Radio 4: Michael Gove's joke was a reference to John Humphrys (a BBC journalist) and his confrontational (or “in-depth”) style of interviewing.

Gove's joke is moderately funny. It's not a stroke of comedic genius, sure. Then again, he's not a comedian and he wasn't at a comedy club. In fact if he had been a comedian he'd have got away with this joke. That's because moral grandstanders and political activists wouldn't have been able to make any political capital out the joke had it been said by a comedian.

Thus it's very hard to believe that anyone was truly “furious” or offended. It's hard to believe that the comment – joke – was “crass”. And it's hard to believe that the joke was “clumsy”.

So what I believe is that people who're politically against Michael Gove anyway used the joke as an excuse to have a go at him.

In any case, Gove has predictably apologised. Indeed he got on his knees and apologised “unreservedly”. More concretely, he tweeted:

Apologies for my clumsy attempt at humour on R4 Today this morning -it wasn’t appropriate. I’m sorry and apologise unreservedly.”

We should have very little respect for those people who later apologise for what they, at the time, didn't see as a sin or a political faux pas . Gove and others should have the courage of their convictions. Having said that, I can see that such ritual self-flagellation is required in order to save one's career. So perhaps we'd all do the same thing if we were put in the same position. The problem is that if people keep on apologising for pretty harmless jokes, words or actions, then our Puritan Leftwing Age will become even more puritan and pious. So should we feed the crocodile which will eventually eat us?

Of course the joke wasn't “clumsy” at all. It was a joke which was said off-the-cuff. However, there is one way in which the joke can be seen a clumsy. Namely, it was clumsy because Gove should have know that political activists and moral grandstanders would have jumped on this joke to further a political cause, have a go at a politician they don't like, or to morally exhibit themselves. Thus the fact that Gove didn't foresee all of this did make his comment clumsy in that he clumsily threatened his own career (if only in a very small way) when he made this otherwise harmless joke.

In any case, the confession won't be enough for those who've only cried crocodile tears.

One politician who used Gove's joke for her own ends was the Labour MP Jess Phillips. (Phillips once said that the equivalent to the mass sexual assaults by Muslims in Cologne occurred every week – by white men - in a single Birmingham city-center street.) She's well-known for being purer than pure when it comes to these issues. That is, she virulently anti-“Tory” and also a massively self-conscious feminist and self-selling politician. She wrote:

Michael Gove just left the studio without his dignity.”

In other words, Gove's joke has been used for political ends and/or for moral grandstanding.

The main problem here is that we live in a Puritan Age. Our Politically-Correct Puritan Age is the way it is primarily because of leftwing morality and theology (i.e. theory). True, political correctness can sometimes run free of its leftwing grounding (or source); though leftwing morality and theology essentially brought about political correctness.

The Puritan Age's ultimate sin is to offend any “identity group” or designated victim class. However, some groups can be offended without even an eyebrow being raised – and such groups aren't always “majorities”. Namely, whites, men, right-wingers, conservatives, Christians, patriots, nationalists, American “rednecks”, “white-van man”, Brexiteers, “provincials”, those north of Watford Gap, etc. The list is long. Thus politically correct and incorrect groups are selected according to leftwing theology. That theology decides who or what we can offend.

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