insults and anger

Under the headline “The demon head,” today’s digital edition of the (UK) Metro is running a story about a primary school headteacher banned “after a torrent of racist outbursts.”

The disciplinary panel chairman is reported as saying that the headmaster demonstrated ‘racial and religious prejudice’ and made ‘offensive and derogatory’ comments, and the Metro claims that:

the catalogue of foul-mouthed comments […] included calling a prospective teacher a ‘P*ki’

The main reason this caught my attention is that the last person I heard use the word ‘Paki’ was being interviewed at the Puerta del Sol protest camp in Madrid. It was on the television programme El Intermedio on May 26th, and I admit that it startled me.

As far as I can remember, the guy being interviewed was saying what a wonderful atmosphere there was at the camp, how everyone was pulling together, and how “los chinos y los pakis” had contributed by turning up with bottled water and sandwiches for sale. There was absolutely nothing insulting intended by the word, which confirms what I said recently about names and labels having different connotations in different places.

I think it was on the same programme that the presenter said que no sabía si había más perros o flautas – he didn’t know if there were more dogs or tin whistles – at the camp, with reference to the suddenly popular word perroflauta. (A word used “para referirse a un tipo de persona, habitualmente joven y con aspecto descuidado, que puede verse como un hippy en su acepción más moderna.“)

And just looking around and researching that word has led me to the website of Fundéu, la Fundación del Español Urgente, an organisation patrocinada por la Agencia Efe y BBVA, asesorada por la RAE, cuyo objetivo es el buen uso del español en los medios de comunicación. How marvellous – an organisation intended to further good use of language in the media! What a pity it isn’t the English language.

On the subject of the protest camp with its perroflautas (Fundéu say the form perrosflauta is incorrect, although surely it’s more likely for a person to have several dogs on strings and only one flute, rather than several flutes and a single dog), I did get there briefly when I was in Madrid last week. I can’t say I was impressed. By then, the local and regional elections were well over and the urgency of the protest had been lost.

I’m not a violent person, but I can understand those who think that the only way to change the status quo is by revolution.

The camp in Sol seemed altogether too placid to achieve anything and I suspect that all the ‘alternative lifestyle’ advocates weren’t doing anything to help. How can anyone hope to maintain the anger necessary for political activism when the person in the tent next door is running meditation sessions while on the other side there’s a group determined to iron the kinks out of everyone’s auras with reiki?

I have a vague recollection of someone suggesting years ago that the best way to calm an over-enthusiastic military was to supply them with dope. Can there be any connection between public dissatisfaction with government and the recent call to end the war on drugs?

Incidentally, reading more about that headmaster, I’m not sure he was racist at all:

Metro clipping June 3, 2011

If he was disrespectful to “governors, pupils, parents and past, present and potential members of staff,” wasn’t he just rude about everyone? To be racist, sexist, ageist etc., don’t you have to discriminate against a group, rather than ‘everybody else’? Surely the guy was simply a misanthrope?

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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