An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

words may sometimes hurt me

I have to preface this entry because although it is Tuesday today this is actually Sunday's blog. Ten minutes before I was about to post Radio4 suddenly choked and eventually stopped. ADSL had fallen over - again. This time it turns out that OTE (the old Greek PTT) had somehow managed to take ADSL down for our entire prefecture - no explanations available since they don't work weekends and no forewarnings of course - 24 hours later most of the prefecture came back online but not us! Half past eleven Tuesday morning ours came back up - no explanation and no apology - wonderful service. So this is late and maybe anachronistic but here it is anyways. Updates on all fronts later (there's a 65mb update to OSX downloading right now).

I have become used to being called an anti-semite. I am becoming inured to the epithet Islamofascist. Well, online I have, or am. In face to face discussions they might elicit a different response but online, and most especially on Spymac I mentally shrug and move on. Online communities tend to be stacked out with young, hormone imbalanced, american youth and one makes allowances. To enter into a "political discussion" online in one of these communities is to invite such brickbats. I have been, of late, accused of being a Croat, a Serb, and even a member of Al Qaeda. And, to be frank, they are like water off of a duck's back. The people hurling these "insults" count for nothing and are so predictable in their responses as to be laughable. They even manage to disarm or at least to discount the insults that they use if they are not already the political or social equivalent of dud ammunition already.

There is an interesting article here ( that discusses the use of the accusation "anti-semite" as a weapon of oppression that made me smile. It gels very nicely with my own recent musings upon the idea of "taking offence" as a recently minted political weapon - maybe not such a recent vintage then.

But I will, I suspect, never get used to, nor shrug off, the very real, enduringly potent, and deeply insulting "racist". Do not expect me to. I'll let you in on a secret - I was once accused of racism - officially accused that is. At the time I was working for a very large high class IT consulting company based in London. We had a west indian receptionist - let's call her Claire - a lovely and intelligent girl from St Kitts. Now one day, a colleague (I'll not use the word friend) was passing by reception and heard us bantering in Jamaican patois. That same afternoon I was called to the personnel department or human resources as it was then fashionably known and informed that an official complaint of racism had been lodged. I was not told by whom. A hearing would, I was told, be arranged for later that week where I could defend myself. I was then informed that this was a very serious matter and that should the charge be uphold I could be summarily dismissed. Being a stubborn and reasonable person I made it perfectly clear that I had no intention of defending myself against such a ludicrous charge and that as far as I was concerned the onus was on them to prove such a blatantly ridiculous charge. In the event I did have a defence. An extremely articulate and lucid Claire stood in my behalf having heard of the charge through the internal grapevine. I shall not rehearse everything that was said but I do recall very clearly Claire standing in front of this "jury" and asking them to ask themselves why all of the receptionists in this company were black and none of the secretaries were. Why her own line manager had a white secretary with less qualifications than she had. Why there were only 3 black consultants on the entire workforce. The crunch though came when she looked around the room and said to the assembled worthies "Every one of you came when I bought drinks for my birthday didn't you? Do you know why the accused didn't? Do you? No, you don't. He didn't come because he was invited to the party that I had at home for my friends. Most of you are civil enough to me. One or two of you are pleasant. He is a genuine friend and, as for his accuser, well he has difficulty even being civil, most times he tries not to catch my eye as he passes through reception so that he won't have to speak to me. You just don't seem to understand the difference between racism and the symbolism of racism - you think that if you get rid of the symbols then the thing will disappear of its own accord. Well it won't. Don't ban marmelade jars on my account, don't rewrite Enid Blyton it makes no difference. Start treating me as an equal - that's what he does and that's the only way to end racism."

More from the "racist slur" front: 2 members of the community in question have written expressing their opprobrium of the behaviour of the culprit. Good news indeed.

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