So …when is a “bastard” not a “bastard”? Well … a bastard is sometimes used in a disparaging way about a child born out of wedlock,for example. I say, sometimes , because , let’s face it , it has lost that emotive nastiness because there are many who get along quite nicely outside of wedlock nowadays and would not consider their fine little offspring and issue of their loins, as anything other than little darlings. To use the word “bastard”in that context , these days would be seen as ….improper , I would imagine. Well…that’s how I’d see it. I wouldn’t recognise the word as a swear word , of course.In the end words are only abstract little bits and pieces of language .
Words are funny little things, grunted out in a variety of contexts by us little hairless apes, but when do they become obscene?To use the archaic term “bastard”now is to denote something other than illegitimate offspring. It is usually used to denote someone with a crooked and twisted agenda, or sometimes even in a humorous, gentle, curmudgeonly way . As in “You old bastard, you haven’t bought your round yet.”…between friends .
Rik Mayall’s wonderful Alan Beresford B’stard in “the New Statesman” immediately springs to mind. Rik’s creation , “B’stard” as portrayed satirically in this attack on the Conservative Government of the time, was portrayed as a selfish, greedy, dishonest, devious, lecherous, sadistic, ultra-right-wing Conservative .Now that’s what I’d like to think a proper “bastard” really was .So it’s a very malleable word, then. Why would anyone think of it as a swear word though? It’s only a word , yet Stephen Nolan had problems using it on the radio this morning, constantly calling it the “b” word, as though afraid of it . .
Apparently Gerry Adams used “bastard” in a vague reference to some of the bigots he has to deal with in everyday political life. Well politics is bound to be full of people who could be described thus.You have to be a certain type of individual to play that game in the first place. .He spoke of “breaking these bastards” and said that “equality was the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy”.In that respect I think all the “bastards” really do need a level playing field. It’s only fair, isn’t it? All bastards equal under the law. I would imagine that these bigots would not have the self-perception to imagine themselves as bigots, in any case , never mind see themselves as modern-day “bastards”. I’m not sure that they actually know what bigotry is. There is not a lot of self-analysis evident anyway. I suppose it’s in much the same way that the DUP sees its annual conference as the beginning of the pantomime season, replete with C list comedians that would have been rejected from even the most abysmal politically incorrect, bigoted and racist 1970s television sitcom. Politics always take second place at cack-handed attempts at broad comedy and we do live in a strange time-warp of the mind, trailing some forty years behind the UK.
Like I say , though , language is a funny grunting thing. There are many out there who not only have problems with the Irish tongue .They positively do not want anything to do with it. Of course , they also have certain difficulties and reservations with the English language too….Or should that be Anglo-Saxon?