Thursday 25 November 2010

The Pet Collectors.

These days, people get mightily upset over name-calling that isn't directed at them. The Squeaker was the butt of several jokes recently, and if you're in public life at all, you have to expect that. I'm not in public life, in fact I have moved as far away from public life as it's possible to get without living in a cave, but I've been called names anyway. I don't care - it causes no pain, unlike being whacked with a stick, and is easily forgotten. Unless I'm called something really imaginative in which case I'll steal it and use it myself. Not that I would ever resort to base name-calling.

Tefal-foreheaded Shiny Dave took some time out from his part-time job as a reflector for an astronomical telescope to repeat a joke made to, not about, the Squeaker. This wasn't some spiteful jibe made behind the little man's back (not that there's room for much back there) but a retort made to his face.

Mr Cameron recounted to his audience how Health Minister Simon Burns had recently backed his ministerial car into the Speaker’s official limousine in Speaker’s Court. An angry Mr Bercow descended from his state apartments, Mr Cameron said, and shouted at Mr Burns: ‘I’m not happy!’

To which Mr Burns replied: “Well, which one [of the Seven Dwarfs] are you?”.’

A car accident. A short guy. What made Mr. Burns (oh, the image this conjures!) think of that retort? It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to use this joke in its true context. Here's the original, from 2007.

So it wasn't a spiteful remark. No malice. There seems to be no evidence that the Squeaker was offended at all. If he had seen that Jethro clip, the likelihood is he would have recognised the situation and found the humour in there. It is even possible that he delivered the 'feed' line deliberately. The only interesting thing here is that while Jethro's audience, and the 'eeexcellent' Mr. Burns needed no explanation in square brackets, the Telegraph think their readers are too dim to get it without adding in a reference.

It was a coincidental replay of a fictional comic situation in real life. Who could resist that line under those circumstances? I couldn't. The line is not offensive to 'dwarves' or to 'short people', at the most it could offend the one it's aimed at. Those overhearing this, or hearing about it, would either laugh or tut, and then it would be gone. As the wise Rafiki said when Simba asked why he'd whacked him with a stick - 'It doesn't matter. It's in the past.' Not these days. We have equality laws now, anyone can be offended at anything, and get loads of lovely compo too. They don't even have to be present at the event.

Mr Burns had to apologise to dwarfism charities after being heard muttering in the Commons earlier this year that Mr Bercow was ‘a sanctimonious, stupid dwarf’.


Mr Cameron’s joke didn’t go down too well with John Connerty, co-founder of the Walking with Giants Foundation, which represents those with primordial dwarfism.

‘I would like Mr Cameron and his ministers to sit down and listen and speak to people of extreme short stature and hear what they think about these sorts of remarks,’ he said. ‘These people are in a position of influence and it’s very disappointing when they legitimise these jokes for other people.

Ministers of the crown apologising to charities? A group declaring that all short people will be offended by this remark? All? Have they not seen the late David Rappaport's work? Or Verne Troyer's? Actually, probably not, because Rappaport smoked cigars in 'Time Bandits' so it's probably been banned by now. Besides, members of That Group cannot be smokers. It stunts your growth. I don't hear that line any more. Has it gone out of fashion?

Once again, the charity forgets that it is dealing with people. Not dwarves. Not midgets. Not shortasses. People. They are not cloned into one mindset by their smallness. I have met very few such people but I have not met one who is morose and introspective and humourless. Just the opposite, in fact. When you're odd, for whatever reason, you are a target for bullies from the outset. If you're small, fighting back against a bully with his gang is a bad idea because you'll just get minced. So you get out of trouble with fast-talk and humour. That's what I learned to do, it's what most oddities learn to do and it really does work.

Then along comes a charity and declares that you're not a person any more, you are a 'case' and you have to act and think like all the other 'cases' in your group. All charities are guilty of this. Once they have you, you are not an individual. You cannot think or speak, the charity must do that for you and you must agree. Disagree and they will be shocked and disgusted. They don't see you, only your body form/sexuality/disability/whatever. They don't believe you can possibly have thoughts or opinions that are different from the ones in their handbooks.

It's everywhere. Alcohol 'charities' see people as alcoholics or as abstainers. Nothing in between. Antismoking 'charities' see us as chainsmokers or as vehement antismokers. Nothing in between.

These organisations are run and staffed by extraordinarily unimaginative people. Once they have made a pet of you, you will fit the manual's description and that is that. Someone makes a remark they deem offensive to you, and you must be offended. Note that Mr. Burns had to apologise to dwarfism charities, not to dwarves. The charities demanded the apology on behalf of those they try to control. Most of the small folk, I am willing to bet, didn't give a damn. It was the Squeaker he insulted, not them.

I have an uncle, I assume he's still alive, who is one of those who is Not Mentioned at family gatherings. You know the type. Most families have at least one. No, he's not a politician, it's not that bad, he's only a criminal. So if you refer to him as a criminal, using his ethnicity and heritage in the description, should I be offended? He is the same ethnicity and background as me. But you wouldn't be talking about me, you'd be talking about him. I am in the same 'group' but I am not the same person. In fifty years, my criminal record extends to one parking ticket. This uncle is way out of my league. Insults directed at him are not going to trouble me.

It is a strange mindset that puts people into uniform groups based on physical appearance or any other single attribute. To then extrapolate that one similarity into a gross uniformity of thought and reaction is astounding in its insanity. These charity people are in need of help.

Perhaps we should set up a charity for them. It wouldn't be hard because in this one case, like no other, they really are all the same.


Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of name calling Leggy. In today's Metro there's an article about Duncan Bannatyne calling someone a paedo lover for taking him to task on his anti-smoking stance. Can't get the link just yet, I'm sure someone will find it for you.


David Davis said...

The mind-set of these people has a name: it is called Nazism.

I am Stan said...

I`ve had pets all me life Leggy,my first was a gerbil called Ripper,a gentle and loyal pet he doors cat ate him!

Scooper said...

I am 6'5" tall and am expected to enjoy endless tedious people stating the fucking obvious to me. I can't even guess how many times I've had somebody say 'You're tall' as if I wasn't aware of the fact or it was the first time I've ever heard it. A sarcastic reply usually goes down badly, but there again they started it.
In the past 30 years since I've achieved this height, I have not heard one original remark but I am still expected to politely say something in response - I still haven't worked out what the response should be - 'well spotted', 'your powers of observation serve you well', 'that's why I keep banging my head on door frames' etc etc. It really is rather tiresome but we still have to behave like we enjoy the joke.
I don't take offence, it's just the lack of originality bores me.
On one occasion, a chap who must have been 5'3" met me and said 'I bet you don't need ladders to clean the windows' and my reply was 'I bet you do' at which point there was consternation that I was picking on the little bloke. I was quite happy to ignore his lack of stature.
I can't help being outside of the range of what is considered to be average size any more than a short arse or dwarf but if somebody feels the need to comment on my size, then they should be prepared for me to reciprocate. To complain that it is offensive would be ridiculous as far as I'm concerned and in my view a quick witted humorous quip puts people in their place rather than trying to take the moral high ground.

Chief_Sceptic said...

Fucking nonsense ...

Bercow IS a dwarf - DOPEY ! ...

Leg-iron said...

Stan - that means you now own a part share of the cat, surely?

Leg-iron said...

Olly - I'll have to hunt for that.

The mini-me charity plans to prosecute Cameron under the anti-humour equality law he's just brought in. It would be most amusing if he was the first casualty of Harman's deranged ramblings.

It might begin the process of getting the wasters to actually think.

Leg-iron said...

The small people collectors have said that comparing Bercow to one of the seven dwarves is derogatory.

The dwarves in the story are independent of any outside help, work hard and run their own successful business, and were exceptionally kind and generous to a stray waif who broke into their house while they were away.

Comparing people to them is derogatory?

Or is it more that the charity doesn't want that image put around? Might be bad for business if their pets started to realise they can do pretty much anything taller people can do.

Leg-iron said...

Scooper - if I were your height, I'd be less kind.

'I bet you don't need a ladder to clean the windows'.

'Why clean them? You're not tall enough to see out of them'.

As you say, only one side of that discussion would be deemed offensive. One-sidedness is enshrined in law now.

JJ said...

A bounce too far

Leg-iron…I’m rather ashamed by this post, but I must now come clean. If you want to accuse me of most wicked dwarfism then so be it.

About 3 years ago I was given 4 tickets to a ‘Dwarf Throwing Afternoon Of Raucous Good Fun’. At first I was a little dubious about this, but then I thought what the hell…I’ve never thrown a dwarf before, this could be a heap of fun.

Our tickets allowed us to pick our own diddy vertically challenged human entity, the whole ensemble of dwarves were called Chumps…the idea of the afternoon was to ‘Chuck A Chump’. We could swing them on ropes through 360 degrees where they would experience about 5g, throw them over walls, throw them into thick prickly bracken, or bounce them up and down on a trampoline until they passed out.

I chose the trampoline bounce…and I couldn’t wait to start bouncing my tiny Chump. Our particular Chump was called Diddles…I remember how grotesque he looked with his huge head and enormous teeth. For effect he was dressed in a red baby’s romper suit, and I must say he looked rather sweet.

I took first turn and began bouncing Diddles heavily on a very bouncy trampoline, looking back I was perhaps a little too enthusiastic, I was slamming him as hard as I could…and he began bouncing higher and higher…one of my friends was shouting…”bounce him into outer space…” bounce, bouncy…bouncy, b-b-b-bounce…then horribly he flew off the trampoline at around 25 mph and at a ludicrous angle of about 33 degrees. He landed a good 40 metres away north east of the trampoline in a tangle of builders’ rubble and welding gear. We ran towards Diddles…but then inexplicably (please forgive me) continued running…making our escape to a nearby pub and sadly leaving a badly bruised and battered Diddles to be rescued by paramedics.

I take no pleasure in my actions…and yes Diddles spent 6 months on traction, which worked out badly…but perhaps they shouldn’t have included the trampoline bounce – eh?

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