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Joey Barton: Victim of vicious and unnecessary mauling

Don’t know about you but there’s an anger in the wind lately that makes some of us wonder whether it might not be time to grow up – or at least to lighten up.

It’s a language thing. Not the foul kind, not even the ungrammatical kind but a prickly correctness which has suddenly sharpened its claws sufficiently to draw blood. And it’s worrying.

One of the latest victims of a vicious – altogether unnecessary – mauling was footballer, prolific tweeter and self-appointed philosopher Joey Barton.

Making his first appearance on the BBC’s flagship political discussion show Question Time, he put his right foot in it by comparing Ukip’s recent election success to the party being one of “four really ugly girls”. Oops!

Describing Ukip as the “best of a bad bunch”, he elaborated: “So if I am somewhere and there were four really ugly girls, I’m thinking, ‘Well, she’s not the worst’, because that is all you (Ukip) are, that is all you are to us.”

The inevitable ensued. Talons came out for Joey, the first attack being taken with relish by Louise Bours, one of Ukip’s newly-elected MEPs. She said the footballer’s comments showed he had “brains in his feet”... a remark at least as offensive as his, by my reckoning.

Jeremy Clarkson has also been in deep trouble for uttering an old nursery rhyme word that none dare mention in a filmed out-take nobody saw. And some poor BBC local radio presenter lost his job for playing The Sun Has Got His Hat On unaware of inclusion in the original of that same unmentionable word – which is, when all said and done, still only a word.

Barton apologised, blaming nerves. “Should have stopped at best of a bad bunch. I’m new to this,” he admitted on Twitter.

But to whom was he saying sorry? Louise Bours, Ukip as a whole, ugly women or women who aren’t ugly but thought to be by ugly men?

Beats me. I’m not known for missing a feminist trick when one presents a juicy chance to fight back. But really, what was the big deal here?

I wasn’t offended. I understood his analogy, it made me smile and I agreed with him.

I’ve yet to meet a woman feeling the anger expressed by Ms Bours. I’ve not yet found a woman sympathetic to the indignant outrage filling columnists’ pages in the national press after Barton’s alleged sin. There’s something we could all do to remember about offence.

It is important not to deliberately cause it. But often it is more important not to deliberately take it.

And I’ll wager that many a female complainer of sexist targeting has frequently generalised about common male stereotypes, expecting outbursts to be taken on the chin with good grace and amused recognition.

My guess is a woman saying something similar would have been thought rather clever.

So, what does that say about women who use deliberately taking offence to their political advantage, eh?

Have your say

I can't help thinking that JB was lured on to Question Time because of his potential entertainment value!On the day he didn't disappoint.I wonder how the BBC feels about their choice in retrospect?

Posted by John H on 27 June 2014 at 22:23

I agree totally with the article at hand. People in general are far too busy taking offence at anything and everything, and it just feels like a lot of people need to kick back and lighten up.

I feel nothing should be instantly "sexist" or "racist" unless we can somehow ascertain (or at least get close enough to ascertaining) that it is definitely malicious in intention.

People get so wound up when they perceive racism and sexism, but really it's not just those two, and I'm not quite sure why they get singled out. It's just prejudice, against anyone. Not just different races and not just gender, but people of different heights, weights, aesthetic appearances, ability, etc.

It all exists, yet sexism and racism seem to get the lions share of attention, to the point where we'll condemn Justin Bieber as a disgusting racist just because he said a joke which, to be fair, only works if you use the racial slur. Doesn't sound like a chainsaw noise otherwise! Don't get me wrong, I find Justin as annoying as many other people, but I think we have better reasons to condemn him than a silly little joke!

Posted by Brendan on 24 June 2014 at 11:47

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