Thursday, 13 September 2007

There was an Englishman, a Scotsman, and, um...a censorious liberal cretin

In the village of St Breward, Cornwall, they have a parish magazine. Until recently, it was edited by Denis Lusby, who also runs the village shop, and is chairman of the parish council. Exhibiting a sense of community pride which impresses and bemuses in equal measure, he gradually, over eleven years as editor, built the magazine up from being a flysheet, to being a fifty-six page monthly publication, selling five hundred copies.

So, why is it that Mr Lusby is no longer the editor of the magazine? Well, it seems he fell foul of the head of Cornwall Council's "Equality and Diversity Service", Ginny Harrison-White, after he published a number of jokes in the magazine, including a couple of Irish jokes. None of these was particularly vicious, and since Mr Lusby is himself a Northern Irish Catholic, one might have considered it self-evident that he was not, in fact, a wicked racist harbouring a deep-seated hatred against the entire Gaelic race.

Ms Harrison-White thought otherwise, however. She was particularly concerned that schoolchildren might read the jokes, and thereby be driven to go and bomb Dublin, or something along those lines. Accordingly, she wrote to local schools, describing herself as a "concerned local resident", and demanding that they refuse to allow Mr Lusby to publish school news in his magazine. As she put it:
There are three items which are distasteful and two of them use racist language or ridicule based on race as defined under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and which may have an impact on the attitude and behaviour of the children and the wider school community.

I am asking if you feel it is appropriate for the school and church to have their articles, which demonstrate and promote respect and celebrate achievement, published alongside such derogatory material.
The "racist language or terms of ridicule based on race" consists in the fact that characters in the jokes Mr Lusby used had the names Paddy and Murphy. Apparently, this was not the first time that Mr Lusby had had a run-in with Ms Harrison-White: she had previously written to object to the inclusion of Essex girl jokes in the magazine. After this latest complaint, Mr Lusby felt driven to resign by the woman's interference.

There is a common liberal stereotype of conservative Middle England, exemplified in the apocryphal correspondent "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells". However, far more common is the "concerned local resident" in the Ginny Harrison-White mould. The kind of sanctimonious, often nimbyistic, always interfering, upper middle-class liberal, equipped with an endless stock of self-righteousness, and a complete and utter absence of anything approaching a sense of humour. I believe that more than half of the politically-correct censorship that goes on in this country is brought about on a purely local level, by people like this. It was exactly the same kind of smug white liberal, no doubt, who disrupted the village fete in another Cornish village, St Columb Major, because some participants made mild fun of Muslims.

Perhaps it was Ms Harrison-White herself who kicked up a fuss about the fete. Certainly, it seems that she is something of a professional do-gooder. Aside from her (completely unnecessary) job at Cornwall Council, she is also president of the (completely unnecessary) National Association of Teachers of Travellers, in which capacity she called in May for Romany, the language of the gypsies, to be taught in schools, in order "to [increase] knowledge of gypsy communities and help break down barriers of prejudice". I wonder if she's even come close to doing anything vaguely useful in her entire life?

Anyway, here is Denis Lusby's finest Irish joke:
Father Murphy [note that the use of the name Murphy caused particular offence to Harrison-White - FR] walks into a pub in Donegal and says to the first man he meets: "Do you want to go to heaven?" The man said "I do, Father."
The priest said: "Then stand over there against the wall." Then the priest asked the second man: "Do you want to go to heaven?" "Certainly, Father," was the man's reply. "Then stand over there against the wall," said the priest.
Then Father Murphy walked up to O'Toole and said, "Do you want to go to heaven?"
O'Toole says: "No, I don't Father."
The priest said: "I don't believe this. Do you mean to tell me that when you die you don't want to go to heaven?"
O'Toole said: "Oh, when I die, yes. I though you were getting a group together to go right now."
The mark of a crypto-fascist bigot? Or simply a rather amusing bit of humour from a good local magazine? Which do you think?


JuliaM said...

Definitely the latter.

And in describing herself thus: "Accordingly, she wrote to local schools, describing herself as a "concerned local resident", and demanding that they refuse to allow Mr Lusby to publish school news in his magazine." isn't she misrepresenting her council position, and thereby bringing them into disrepute...?

Fulham Reactionary said...

I assume she was acting in a private, rather than a professional capacity. She just happens to be very lucky, in that her job (interfering PC do-gooder) is also her hobby.

AgainsTTheWall said...

Is it just my long-held, deeply ingrained misogynism or are women disproportionately represented amongst our political commissariat?

Fulham Reactionary said...

You know, I was thinking exactly the same thing. I'm not sure if they are actually over-represented, but I do think that many of the most irritating ones are women. My theory is that while PC liberal men are merely smug, PC liberal women possess a sort of false piety, which is far more irritating than smugness, and tends to lead them to do things like this.

Actually, the perception of shrill upper middle-class women as composing the majority of do-gooder types goes back at least as far as Dickens.