I had no understanding of the French riots until today. What was going on and especially why, I had no idea. Just about all blogospheric writing on the matter that I’ve seen, if it offered any analysis at all, was of the "the riots prove my politics are right" variety and pretty useless even as that. But today, Daniel Davies posted this comment to a post by himself at Crooked Timber:
I love the French and I think that smashing things up and setting fire to them is an excellent way to pursue your grievances against the French state. If these young chaps stick to it for long enough, maybe they will be as pampered and looked after as French farmers.
Game, set and match, folks. The riots are now Explained. Daniel’s post on his own blog has a good quote as well:
These young men have got a political grievance, and they’re expressing it by setting fire to things and smashing them up. What could be more stereotypically, characteristically French than that? Presumably they’re setting fire to cars because they don’t have any sheep and the nearest McDonalds is miles away. "French society is threatened by anarchy and lawlessness". I mean really. Everyone would do well to remember that this is France we’re talking about, not Sweden or perhaps Canada.
In forthcoming weeks, I shall be applying similar analytical techniques to topics like "root and branch corruption is threatening the essence of Italian democracy" and "Muslim immigrants cannot fit into British society because they are insular, bigoted and sexually repressed".
Meanwhile, Andrew Rilstone dissects a "Political correctness gone mad" story from the Daily Express:
"NOW CHRIST IS BANNED"
"In addition." "On top of everything else" "We knew things were bad, but this is really the last straw." The word drags us into the conspiracy…. we all know, it’s so obvious it goes without saying, that many things have been banned recently, we can’t think of any actual examples, but we’re sure they have, and now this!
The person? The religion? Or just the word? I think there is a little wordplay going on here. We have just had the annual "local council abolishes Christmas" stormover. […]We are supposed to infer: "Yesterday, they banned Christmas, and now, Christ is banned."
The journalistic present. We are not reporting an event which has happened. We are informing you of a state which now exists. You have woken up in a bad new world where a new thing has been prohibited.
A key tabloid word. It’s meaning is ambiguous – it doesn’t been prohibited by law, necessarily, or censored, or abolished – but it implies that Someone is telling us what to do, and we don’t like it.
NOW. CHRIST. IS. BANNED.
Who is the evil authority figure doing the banning? The Curator of Cheddar Gorge geological museum. What has he done? Removed the letters "B.C" from the dates on some of his exhibits.
So in fact CHRIST IS NOT BANNED AT ALL
THE FIRST LETTER OF THE WORD "CHRIST" IS REMOVED FROM THE LABELS IN ONE MUSEUM.
That’s it. That’s the whole story. Main headline, front page, inside page and leading article in a tabloid on sale in every shop in the land, predicated on "Small Museum Re-Labels Its Exhibits."
Read the whole thing; it’s a good analysis of the "political correctness gone mad meme". I’ll add that I’m not looking forward to Christmas this year. On top of the normal suckitude of Christmas, I expect another crop of transparently made-up stories in which shopkeepers are prevented from wishing customers a merry Christmas with some bullshit "what’s this country coming to?" moral tacked on to the end. I’m looking at you, Lileks.