A quick visit to Absurdistan

Our times are so rich in absurdity that it’s almost embarrassing. Not because public figures embarrass me when they’re being ridiculous. I love that. It’s the embarrassment of being given too much good stuff. You know—this can’t all be for me.

Some historian (don’t ask who; I almost never know who I’m quoting) said that revolutions happen when countries become ungovernable. I heard this back in (I’d guess) the early sixties, which were really an extension of the late fifties. I was not only living in the U.S., it had never occurred to me that I’d live anywhere else. Life looked infinitely stable and my imagination couldn’t stretch far enough to understand how a country could be ungovernable.

Now though? No problem. Neither of my home countries is at that point yet, but I have no trouble imagining it.

Irrelevant photo: hydrangea.

Irrelevant photo: hydrangea–an apparently stable one.

So, what’s falling apart?

Let’s start with the Labour Party, which is in the middle of a highly public nervous breakdown and recently kicked out a member—no one prominent; just a member—over a Facebook post.

What did the member write? “I fucking love the Foo Fighters.”

She also posted something about animal-free cosmetics and veganism, but the Foo Fighters quote gets top mention in everything I’ve read about it, so apparently that was her real transgression.

Since I’m a thousand years old and not only never listened to the Foo Fighters but don’t even feel bad about it, I went to YouTube and—well, you know what it’s like when your expectations are set by a band’s name? I mean, what’s foo anyway? A weapon? An ideal? If it’s an ideal, are they for foo or against it?

What does it all mean, bartender?

Anyway, I figured that if they were fighting with, for, or against foo, they’d scream a lot, and I hate screamy bands. But they don’t scream. At least not compared to punk or new wave, both of which I survived, although I didn’t listen to any more of either one than I absolutely had to.

The Foo song I listened to (most of) starts with a single guitar, and it’s not even over-amped. True, the lyrics do mention an arsonists’ choir, the chorus does use the word fuck—a lyrical word if there ever was one—and by the time the other guitars and the drums get to work it does all get kind of loud, but are our sensibilities really so delicate that somebody should be thrown out of a political party over it? Or was the problem not that the member loved the band but that she fucking loved it?

I’m old enough to have worked on an underground newspaper, back in the late sixties, that lost a printer because one article used the word fuck. But that was a long time ago. Surely times have changed.

By now, of course, I’m wondering how many readers I’ll lose over using the word fuck so much here. Be strong, folks. It’s just a word. We’re not even talking about sex.

What’s behind this member getting the heave-ho? If you’re not British, you need some background: The Labour Party used to be leftist. Then it went centrist under Tony Blair’s leadership. Or center-left, but most definitely center. (There are nuances to all this that I’m skipping over and/or don’t know. It’s a quick summary, so don’t worry about them. Unless, of course, you want to comment about them, which would be wonderful.) By the time Blair moved on, the party machinery and most of its Members of Parliament were solidly rooted centrists. Then a bunch of stuff happened and I’ll skip over it or this would go on forever but at the end of it all Jeremy Corbyn—a leftist—was elected the new head of the party. If you’re American, you can think of him as Bernie Sanders, but with a beard and an accent you won’t hear in American election battles.

To people who feel disenfranchised or disengaged—okay, to some of them—this was exciting stuff and the party picked up a raft of new members. Some are my age and left the party over the Iraq War, but others are young and new to politics. Still others are—oh, never mind. We’ll toss them in with the nuances and the stuff that would take too much time to go into.

Parties usually like having members, but this batch threatens to bring change, and the MPs and party bureaucrats are furious—at Corbyn, at the new members, and probably at Bernie Sanders for being a point of comparison. Or for quite possibly liking the Foo Fighters. Or for not having a beard. Who knows. They’re not in a good mood and this isn’t the best time to ask. So they set up an election that was supposed to force Corbyn out but Hawley’s Small and Unscientific Survey of British Political Opinion reports they’re going to lose. Massively. Even though they’ve kept a whole bunch of new members—presumably Corbynistas and possibly even Foo Fighteristas, but who can tell since no one’s asked?—from voting.

So throwing someone out for posting that she fucking loves the Foo Fighters? Hell yes. It won’t tip the election, but you have to know it felt good to whoever made the decision. Before, that is, it got into all the papers and made the party look incredibly silly.

Without getting heavily ranty here, I want to say that I don’t fucking love the Foo Fighters, but I don’t hate them either and I do swear a lot and if anyone would like to throw me out of the party for saying so, I’d just love it. I can’t think of anything more entertaining. And if you’re going to toss me out for any of that, let’s do it as publicly as possible, okay?

But it’s not just the Labour Party, or even just the left, that’s having a nervous breakdown. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation is also turning on itself, although it’s not clear what the fight’s about.

This being a gun organization, one person has “been accused of saying” (notice how wishy-washy that wording is; everyone involved denies saying everything) that “the only thing that cunt wants is a bullet between the eyes.”

Another “is said to have said,” “I swear I will kill you, you cunt.”

I’d like to point out that both threats are grammatically correct. Grammar’s important when you’re threatening people. You could add a comma after “I swear,” but the rules of punctuation have loosened up in these degenerate days of ours and it’s not strictly necessary. Besides, they were spoken threats, so that’s some reporter doing the punctuation.

In addition, the threats are either sexist or extremely sexist. There’s a certain type of man who thinks that possessing female body parts is inherently humiliating, and although in my experience people who are called cunts tend to be female, since—. I don’t really need to explain that, do I?

I didn’t think so. Anyway, as far as I can figure out the British are happy to call both men and women twats. That may carry over to calling people cunts. I’m not sure and I look forward to someone enlightening me on the subject. The point is that the article I read is worded so that I can’t be sure if the target’s male or female. Or, now that I think of it, even if it’s one person or two.

It’s an odd thing, but calling a man a cunt is offensive whereas calling a woman a cunt is considerably more offensive, at least if my reactions are anything to go by.

Back to our story, though: All this is happening in a country with minimal gun crime and strict gun laws, where shootings are genuinely rare. But it’s okay, kids, because guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

The lone moderate in the fight is quoted as saying—sorry, as allegedly saying—“You will live to regret this.” I have no idea what the this is, but someone is said to have “breached fiduciary duty.” In other words, money’s involved.

Money’s almost always involved, isn’t it?

Just to clarify things, a staff member (who very sensibly didn’t want to be named and who may be male, female, both, or neither) said it’s not clear who’s resigned and who’s been suspended but that the situation’s toxic and anyone who questions “them” gets a threatening letter.

Who’s them? No one’s named in the paper and we might just want to stay out of this fight.

Anyway, the BASC says its primary aim is to foster “a strong and unified voice for shooting.” That’s good, because I can’t think what they’d be like if they weren’t unified.

86 thoughts on “A quick visit to Absurdistan

  1. So, yeah, the insanity of the Labour Party. A friend of mine is a major player in UNISON which is a major labour union (possibly the biggest). They support the Labour Party, naturally.

    She got an (official) email at 11:35pm a couple of days ago telling her she’d been kicked out of the Labour Party.

    No reason given. No reason available after enquiring and she can’t appeal for five years. I kid you not.

    It’s kafkaesque.

    What we’re looking at here is a bunch of people (we might call them “the Labour Party leadership”) who thought they had a job for life running the Labour Party (because, you know, it belongs to them), and that was all nice and cosy. Along comes this bloke Corbyn who threatens to upset everything. He has principles (heaven forfend) and even worse: people like him.

    Their whole future as significant world leaders (ha!) is being threatened. They might lose their jobs and it’s terrifying them. As a result they have completely lost it. (Assuming they really had it in the first place, which is doubtful.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s always fun to stop by on Friday and discover what’s absurd over there. We’ve pushed absurd to news heights over here, we eithe need a new word or we need to use USabsurd for clarification. What amazes me is that the people who are offended by social media seem to forget that it exists, and that their absurd comments will end up in that stream.

    BTW, im not throwing you out of the blogs I follow for using those two words.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I heard the word “party”…..there’s a party? Where? I don’t think I’ve gotten my invite yet. Is it in the post? Yes. I that’s most likely where it is…in the post. I’ll wait…in the kitchen. Going to make tea whilst I wait. Humming now whilst making tea and…..waiting. Biscuits, anyone?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hilarious! Great way to start my day with a belly full of coffee and laughter. I needed this rational take on the doings of the Labour party. We modern humans don’t build physical forts or castles anymore but I get a strong mental image of Labour MPs madly shoveling up walls to keep out those nasty leftists to maintain their fancy Blairy power. Trouble is, I suspect that’s sand in those shovels. I would love it if the NRA had “shooting” in their name. It is such an action word while National Rifle Association brings me images of highly polished, slightly dusty weaponry hanging on the wall in some posh private library or museum.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’ll probably be interested in adaddinsane’s comment about what’s going on in the Labour Party, and why.

      By now, I’ve been here long enough that when I hear about a shooting organization, I think of men dressed up in silly clothes shooting at semi-tame pheasants. Not, mind you, that I’ve ever been to a shoot, so I may have the picture wrong. In fact, I may have been watching too much TV.

      Like

  5. Where do I begin? Your homeland is in turmoil, the US is in turmoil. Everytime I turn the tv on I am bombarded with rantings from Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. If I may take a moment to quote the fucking group, Green Day, Ellen, “Wake me up when November ends.” Loved your trip to Absurdistan. I must visit. Right now I am currently on holiday in Preposterous City.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This read was too funny, but sad at the same time. We are all in the same basket and we are all headed into he(double hockey sticks)….hahaha. Thank you for this “reality” check. England is not alone in absurdity…great read. Enjoy the tea and biscuits.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Definitely more fuck than foo.
    As for the difference between twat and cunt. Someone drives past your car and gives you the finger and you call them a twat. Someone drives deliberately into your car, you call them a cunt. (And probably don’t just leave it at words.)
    As for the labour (and any other UK political) party… gawd.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Okay, so both are non-gender-related when used as insults. Useful to know, although my best guess is that when someone drives into my car I’ll find something equally offensive but other-than-cunt to call them. I’m not going to work up an explanation for that, or even a reason why it makes me a better person (although I’m sure it does), it’s just not what comes to mind first.

      Thanks for being the first to enlighten me. I’m in your debt.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Tosser is so thoroughly British that I’ve never been able to use it with any conviction. Or–now that I think of it–without conviction. It just isn’t quick enough to spring to mind when needed. But I do love a good non-gender-specific insult, and it is vivid.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Tosser’s best said in a cockney accent! The thing with the supposely gender-specific insults is that they’re no longer really gender-related. It’s just the way the language has evolved. I think it’s far more, these days, about how the word sounds than its meaning. (For instance, a lot of people find ‘fuck’ offensive because they are firmly attached to the idea that it’s making ugly the act of making love, but it’s the ‘uck’ sound that delivers the insult. Ditto ‘cunt’. :)

            Liked by 1 person

            • I agree about the sound delivering the insult, but I’m not convinced about gender-related insults. I have yet to hear a woman called a prick. Somehow it just–well, it stays gender related. I’m fascinated that cunts can be of both sexes–or even, as BRH suggests (above? below? somewhere), become the BASC’s new equivalent of comrade–but I don’t think that’s happened across the full spectrum of gendered insults. Yet.

              Liked by 1 person

  8. Hmm. I wonder if the Shooting People are also Foo Fighters? Or if they are behind getting the Labour Party person booted because she (cunt implied, there) also said pro-animal things in that email? I’ve heard conspiracies abound in Absurdistan.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The BASC situation is a non story really, you have to be some sort of c**t to want to join an organisation that promotes the sport of shooting living things as an enjoyment and adding Conservation to the name to make you think it seems a nice thing anyway instead of the Conservation actually being that of the species they are going to shoot in a minute anyway. I suspect this is just a form of address they use for members such as ‘Cormrade’ will be in the Labour Party again soon.

    As an aside, it wasn’t so very long ago that all British newspapers would print swear words like I have typed above, even when in a quote, spoiling forever the fun game around the breakfast table of your Dad explaining to his innocent 7 year old boy that the word ‘obscured’ by the newspaper was a naughty one. It also spoiled the boy then thinking he was being pretty – insert whatever ‘street’ or ‘cool’ was in school playgrounds in the mid-seventies – looking a complete twat by going around all day calling everyone a clot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, yeah, it would kind of undermine your street cred to mix the two up. On the positive side, the odds are that no one knew what you (and I’m making a leap here in assuming that you were the 7-year-old) thought you were saying.

      I’m going to be laughing all day at the picture of a meeting full of hunters addressing each other, in the most fraternal possible way, as cunts. Thanks for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It seems as if Absurdistan is every country on earth, these days.
    Yeah, I don’t like seeing the “F” word in print, or hearing it either. But to get fired for having it on your personal FB page??
    When you are talking about politics, all I saw was “blah, blah blah, BLAH, blah blah BLAH!”
    At least no one was shot over the contretemps! Here in America, someone would have been, sad to say.
    Inspire Me Monday

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Isn’t it sexist to limit your application of a word that has ceased to be gender specific to one gender? We must take care to be politically correct in this politically correct country of ours, or it could be the beginning of the end.There could be a total breakdown of confidence in our fucking government and our whole fucking way of life. We’d have anarchy. Mmm… anarchy…
    All the women in the Conservative party are cunts. The men are pricks.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I really enjoyed this look at our crazy politics from a different point of view.
    I can’t wade through all the comments to see if anyone confirmed your theory, but both men and women can be cunts. It has lost its biological relevance over the years, and has just become the general swearword you hear everywhere. (Though maybe not just yet on the BBC.) It is also widely expanded to ‘Cuntish’, and ‘Cunting’. But that might be more so in London, I don’t know.

    As for the Labour Party, I joined it a very long time ago, when it was still considered to have a Socialist agenda. But it was not far enough to the Left for some of us. So we joined a splinter group, Militant Tendency. That got us expelled at the time. We were too much like Socialists, apparently. I won’t be applying to re-join.

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow. I can’t believe someone (or someones, plural) would use the C Word like that. I can believe about the threatening-to-shoot thing, since that has happened Over Here in your First Adopted Country. But you knew that. BTW, I just LOVE the irrelevant photo. I may have to steal, er, ‘borrow’ that idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Absurdistan is brilliant, as are you Ellen! TY for the hearty guffaw. I was reading our US news and feeling rather dejected about it all. Does a place of sanity exist? I don’t think so…Thanks for having me equal on scared and laughing! Bravo! M’wah! <3

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Pingback: How people find a blog, part 5ish | Notes from the U.K.

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