“John Hennigan, from Harlow, Essex, was jailed for 18 months on Tuesday after pleading guilty to breaching his Asbo again in April last year when he made racist comments to a black woman shopper and her children in the town.”
There was a time when there was a thing called a “family newspaper” .This was supposedly an innocuous periodical that any person(usually a man) could bring into his home and read with the surety that there would be no salacious or blasphemous content therein which might somehow infect the minds of himself, his wife and maybe even a browsing child.That concept of information leeching in from the outside world is a somewhat anachronistic concept ever since the winds of the internet blew through every home and every personal cell-phone in the known universe, unloading content so diverse and all-encompassing that censorship is truly ,a ridiculous concept that could only be enforced by a purely totalitarian government closing down all access to the world wide web . It might work in somewhere like North Korea but it is unlikely to work in societies which we loosely call …”democratic”.
You might say that the “family newspaper”, in the digital age is fast becoming as antique as the gramaphone horn and will be every bit as much a victim of internet technology as has been the idea of the once “nuclear family”. You only have to look around you to see that families and people are interacting across a constant flow of radio-waves rather than face -to-face …even sometimes when they are dining together, which is an increasingly rare event in itself. The cell phone and the I-Pad are a constant companion and communication tool.Thus the very idea of censorship is something of a nonsense, especially when interacting on the web where decorum has long-since fled the scene and allowed human -beings to act…well as untamed and censoriously unharnessed human -beings would act in the everyday world in their everyday lives…and sometimes distastefully at that.Everyday speech can be filled with the grit and grease of supposedly obscene words.
I was thinking of all of this when I read a recent piece about a particular judge with a salty reach to her vocabulary, the equal to ,and possibly even more evolved , than the racist client she had to wrangle and exchange social pleasantries with .It is worth asking yourself , whether it is better to confront racism and what is perceived as obscenity, with whatever means available at your command ,or should we allow someone to disempower the force of a commonly- used word.; a word that at times is used as an unthinking punctuation mark in some people’s everyday speech and vocabulary ,with no passing conception or thought as to its providence or,worth or even proper meaning .
In the aforementioned “family newspaper “, hamstrung by the ancient social niceities of “good taste”the judge’s words would suffer the imfamy of censorship …a series of asterisks robbing them of their pithy forcefullness.
On the web ,and given that we have no such restrictions of thought or “taste” , we have the possibility of speaking honestly and of using every word ,in so many languages that might be available to better understand each other.
Judge Patricia Lynch, QC was the recipient of a racist tirade of abuse by a fifty -year old man called John Hennigan, after sentencing him for his ninth breach of of an anti-social order within a period of eleven years. You might imagine that this particular criminal had some previous “form”.. in the parlance of that brotherhood.He had convictions for some forty-seven offences involving racism and a variety of criminal endeavor. His response to sentencing was to emote that the judge was “a bit of a cunt” Her response was to parry …”You are a bit of a cunt , yourself.Being offensive to me does not help.” His retort to this quick slash was to shout “Go fuck yourself”..to which the judge parried again by saying “You too”.
This salty exchange of views did not sit well with Mr Hannigan who proceeded to take out his ire by loudly banging the glass panel of the dock and performing a Nazi salute accompanied by the legend “Seig Heil” which we all know well from episodes of “Colditz” and other war films .Then Mr Hannigan began to sing …”Jews, gas them all.”
His singing and sentiment obviously did not impress Judge Lynch one iota because she turned away with some sarcasm and said “We are all really impressed.Take him down.”…at which point his performance was brought to a close.
Many supported the judge’s stance and thought she had handled the situation with robust verve ,in the circumstances, but some may have appalled by her use of the word “cunt”.
Her fellow lawyer , Mr Matthew Scott, , said that speaking to a defendant in a language they obviously understand well ,is sometimes justified. but that ….‘As a general rule, it’s probably not a good idea for judges to call defendants “cunts” in the courtroom, but for every rule there’s an exception” . I don’t know what the rest of you readers think , but I find the entire event and the “proper “use of language , extremely humourous in this case ….and worthy of a “Monty Python ” satirical sketch. When dealing with racism , sometimes it is surely better to call “a spade a spade”(…. or….sorry…..that term “spade” might be construed as racist in itself…)So let’s just say that we can all agree that “a cunt is a cunt” and we’ll know exactly that it does not actually refer to the female genitalia in a derogatory way . It is now deemed a description of “a nasty piece of work”. .Indeed … then we’ll know that we really, really , understand each other.