Thursday, March 24, 2005

And next, the room was full of wild and angry men; they seemed to hate this man

It troubles me that decidedly Orwellian-sounding "Anti-Social Behaviour Order" citations are apparently issued frequently enough in Britain that the slang "asbo" exists to describe them. Moreso, however, because of what it's being issued for: A man who was made subject to an Anti-Social Behaviour Order for putting up a sign saying “porking yard” in his pub car park, because it was offensive to Muslims, today described the court action as “a joke”. [...] He said the sign was intended to commemorate the large number of butchers’ shops that used to be located in the area and he had never intended to cause any offence. He said: “We ran a competition in the pub to think of a funny name for the car park and one of the customers came up with the name ‘the porking yard’. “I grew up in Bristol so I know that this area has traditionally had a lot of butchers. It was always known as ‘pork alley’ so ‘the porking yard’ just seemed to fit. “There’s a butcher across the street that has been here for more than 100 years. It’s political correctness gone mad. “At the end of the day to receive an Asbo for this is a joke. We had no intention to cause any offence whatsoever. “What really annoys me is the complaints that the sign is sexually offensive. Well, I can’t see anything sexual about it. The people who thought that must have dirty minds.” Somali-born Khalil Abdi, who is street warden in the area, said the sign was deliberately provoking the Muslim community. Speaking to the Bristol Evening Post, he said: “Because of my faith I am required to attend the mosque in the education centre to pray. “I regularly use the learning centre in Wade Street, which is near to the pub, with my fellow Somali friends. “Muslims do not eat pork but the sign has a picture of a pig and the words ‘porking yard’. “My friends and I were angered and upset by the sign and we have welcomed the court ruling ordering the sign to be changed. I definitely think it is provocative and insulting to Muslims.” Beat manager Adrian Williams, of Avon and Somerset Police, welcomed the Asbo. He said he had received complaints about the sign from school teachers, community leaders and members of the Somali community. He said: “We are very pleased that the order has been made following complaints from the community. “It shows that this kind of behaviour, which is provocative, will not be tolerated.” What kind of fragile mind is so threatened by mere nouns? What kind of paranoid, hateful loons - hijacking the meme of "tolerance" - can't even bear to tolerate a non-inflammatory, non-accusatory (non-anything, really) use of a word used to describe an animal? I don't like dogs, but I don't consider a sign reading "DOG" to be an attack on everything I believe. I don't eat squash - I find the texture entirely nauseating - but I don't prissily act as though a picture of a ripe Hubbard or Acorn somehow repulses me like garlic to a vampire. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a word is just a word. To see an entire community retreating into magical thinking, where banning a word must therefore make non-existent the distasteful thing described, is somewhere between sad and terrifying. Moreover, the ban itself is overkill, the product of a culture deathly afraid of letting anyone become offended, because it's easier to just go along with the touchiest members of society; to feed that crocodile, rather than attempt to fight it. The local beat cop, I'm sure, would rather censure a harmless joke than deal with the pub being mysteriously firebombed one night. (It'd create more paperwork than issuing the asbo, if nothing else.) I think there's a point at which some level of assimilation is required for any ethnic group. The ability to comprehend jokes of one's host culture, say, and realize when imperious overreacting will just cause resentment, would be a good start. (Via Fark.)


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