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.
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.