Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Equine Outrageous

Gerry Adams's recent comments about "bastards" and "Trojan horses" have attracted widespread comment. It is a fact of life in Northern Ireland, and of politics everywhere, that quite a lot of the people consider quite a lot of their elected representatives bastards quite a lot of the time. Indeed, that would apply as much to Gerry Adams himself as to anyone else. In this case, it seems clear enough that he was referring to Gregory Campbell and people like him rather than Unionists in general. Many Irish-speakers and Catholics, the overt and covert targets of Mr. Campbell's childishness, will share that view — even if they may well think it peculiarly impolitic to air it in public.

On the other hand, it is difficult to find any excuse for Mr. Adams's comments about the pursuit of equality being a "Trojan horse" intended to "break" his opponents. Surely equality should be sought by and for everyone whatever their background, even if they have trouble agreeing about what that might actually constitute. The phrase is also alarmingly reminiscent of Unionist criticism of the civil rights movement at the start of the Troubles. The only potential mitigating factor that the Blether Region can think of is that Mr. Adams may have been trying to assuage dissident Republican sentiment through martial hyperbole. Whatever the truth, it seems certain that the phrase, like "bullet in the freedom struggle" before it, will be used against Nationalist Irish-speakers for many years to come.

As an aside, the Blether Region recalls that 20 years or so ago the Conservative Prime Minister John Major made similar "bastard" comments about the Eurosceptics in his own party. At that time, the BBC was quite content to write out the offending word in full. Not so on this occasion, and one cannot but consider the resulting splay of asterisks a bizarre concession to prissy evangelicals and their topsy-turvy concerns.

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