What a week of disappointment this has been.
I’ve not only been let down by the BBC in the revelation that Buckles was ‘H’ but more seriously, I’ve also been let down by a mob of islanders who took so much offence to a letter from C Davey of the Vale that I was concerned they would be out with their pitchforks and flaming torches seeking revenge for a ‘crime’ which wasn’t even committed.
I had read the letter before encountering the social media pushback. It certainly made me chuckle and it was obviously written by someone brought up in another age who hasn’t got his head around where society is now. I saw him as a sort of JR Hartley sitting in a high-backed winged armchair in front of a fire, reading a book on angling while sucking a Werther’s Original. And I processed his letter on that basis as well-meant, truthful and with no hint or intention of malice.
Good Lord, that’s not how others interpreted it at all. The sexism, racism, misogyny and homophobia read by so many just totally went over my head. There was a good reason for that because it obviously just wasn’t there for readers pure of heart like myself.
We live in a strange world which becomes more difficult to comprehend as we grow older. It’s not just coping with new tech and the internet but also with the very rules of civilised living, which have changed beyond recognition in only two or three generations. Is it right therefore that we criticise those who grew up and lived a full life under very different beliefs and manners for expressing views based upon their long lifetime experience?
And what was even worse, some social media commentators questioned why this newspaper provided a platform for a nonagenarian to express his opinion. The cancel culture is one of the less wholesome new rules for living and I have to say the comments clearly prove that silencing views that aren’t yours is rife in Guernsey – and perhaps schools could do something to promote freedom of speech?
Talking of education, I was truly astonished to read several social media posts suggesting that Mr Davey needs to be educated on modern social mores. Are we communist China? Do we need re-education camps for dissidents? I suppose we could repurpose the Castel Hospital as a detention centre where all those who still adhere to the customs and hold the beliefs of previous pre-woke decades can be concentrated to ensure that modern society isn’t undermined by constant reminiscing of better days and better ways.
My own children, who are themselves getting a bit longer in the tooth, regard me as some sort of dinosaur but I haven’t yet heard them calling for me to be silenced for my old fashioned beliefs. I expect even a term in a re-education facility wouldn’t actually change my views to be more acceptable to the younger people.
I have mentioned before the copy book headings which were common in my early schooling. The proverbs and sayings that had accumulated over centuries and were passed down as the wisdom of previous generations for us to totally ignore until our own life experience reminded us just how right they were.
I will accept that not all can survive modern scrutiny. I put the one about beating women, dogs and walnut trees into that category. However, ‘a stitch in time’ and ‘ne’er cast a clout ’til May be out’ are just as good advice now as they were centuries ago.
However, now I will drift into C Davey territory and list some of my truths which are no longer politically correct. Firstly, ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me’. I totally believe in this saying and tried very hard to embed it into my children. Totally unacceptable to many now who cannot see it as the helping mechanism it is meant to be. I expect a certain amount of pushback on this one.
What about another one of my live-by tenets, ‘the world owes no one a living’? I will group that with my fervent belief that ‘work is the way out from poverty’ and that a man should support his family. I am aware that all three are no longer considered fit for purpose in the 21st century, but I expect I will still believe in them as I take my final breath.
I have lived my life by the copy book headings of my childhood and I am not ashamed of doing so. I expect that if by some miracle I had my life to live again, I would live it in the same way. That is if I could avoid the re-education brainwashing to bring me up to date with modern ‘progressive’ ways.
I notice that even my grown-up children in a family context do not speak as freely and openly as I do. It is as though Big Brother is listening all the time and they watch their words to ensure no innocent or malice-free comment is confused as hate speech.
Oddly enough, I have the perfect example of a completely innocent question asked in a caring way during a family get-together which I can’t use here because the people involved will not give their consent for me to use it for fear of how it will be taken.
Really? Just how far have we descended into La La Land where grown adults watch their words for fear of them being interpreted as offensive hate speech? Some of you may find that progressive, but I tell you now I certainly do not. If I set out to offend, then believe me the recipient will be in no doubt of my intention. The same if I ever intend to direct hate in a certain way for the first time ever, then I’m sure it would be clear that is my intent.
Until I’m carted off to the Gulag I expect to stay true to myself – and on that theme, I will pledge now to stand by C Davey and support his right to not only share his opinion but also to praise him for expressing it. As out of date as it may be.