Once upon a time, when the Righteous were known as one track minded, Fair-isle sweater wearing anal retentives with a curious nasal whine who should be avoided at all costs, there lived an inoffensive little adjective called ‘inappropriate’. In those not so far off days it gambolled away without a care in the world; mainly in the hallowed halls of academe from junior school (inappropriate subject-verb choice), through high school (inappropriate hypothesis) to Universities (inappropriate conclusion). Life was simple in those days and inappropriate managed to get through life being very rarely called upon to do anything much.
Then the Righteous found Armani suits, elocution lessons and fake charities and suddenly people started listening to them, which of course was a bad idea. Well to most right thinking people anyway; so it inevitably followed that their most slavish followers were the Labour party who didn’t have a single original idea of their own and were desperate for something – anything – to make it sound like they had a reasoned plan, preferably one that involved spending large swathes of other people’s money and provided well paid quango plutocracies for their mates. But it had to sound credible or they wouldn’t be able to thrust their hands ever deeper into the taxpayer’s threadbare trousers.
Fortunately the Righteous came replete with a whole slew of imaginary evils we needed to be saved from; what’s more they also came fully equipped with an impressive variety of spiffing soundbites and misplaced adverbial clauses, all for a suitable (as in suitably high) due consideration. After all coming up with the bogus reports and halogen lit obviously rigged questions in fake questionnaires – designed to get exactly the answer the government were hoping for – is not cheap. Particularly as these poor lambs also had to take care of who was allowed to participate in these ‘public’ consultations. So our gallant heroes had to research each target to make sure they’d toe the party line before they would be allowed to add their tuppence worth.
Keeps the swivel-eyed riff-raff (aka the public) out you see.
And if the consultation still managed to give the ‘wrong’ view; then they’d simply lie (for example: ex Home Office minister Vernon Coaker when answering questions on BBC Radio 4’s programme The World At One on Wednesday August 30 2006 said that – judging by the results of the consultation on so called extreme porn – more respondents were in favour of the new law than were against it which was a blatant lie. Individuals NOT supporting the new law numbered 223 against 90 supporting it. The total disapproval amongst all groups [including hand picked ones like rape crisis centres, churches and police forces] being 241 against with 143 in favour). You have to pay for that kind of chutzpah.
The thing that got New Labour really excited was the fact that it could all be done in a way that purported to help people to lead healthier more fruitful hence fuller lives. Fuller lives indeed! Since when is being constantly nagged conducive to a fuller, more productive (socialist orgasm numero uno: everyone fully productive and poor and dependent on the state for everything) life? I dunno. In many countries being constantly nagged counts as justifiable homicide; indeed it does in England, providing you’re a woman of course. Say the old bugger you offed had been undermining your confidence for years and you’ll be out in a year.
But why did we listen to them or, more to the point, why was the main stream media so enamoured with them?
The answer is simple: the big thing that the Righteous had going for them was they were wordsmiths or more precisely word benders. They went in and claimed a word for themselves then bent it completely out of shape to suit their own purposes. Innocent young adjective gay was an early casualty suddenly he had to come out into the glaring spotlight of homosexuality and then he was made to change from an adjective to a noun: in full view of everybody. The converse was also true with the noun objection being morphed into the more intense adjective objectionable. Even verbs weren’t safe as degrade was quietly going about its business when suddenly it was demoted in favour of its more pejorative adjective sibling degrading (adjectives are neat as they can be applied to anything). Naturally this sent shivers through the quieter sections of the dictionary. Worse was to follow; nouns exploitation, abuse and victim were further casualties with androgynous feminists taking to rolling round them around on their tongues, whilst they were shaving, savouring their coarse grittiness. Who would want to use a word for any innocent explanation once it had had that done to it? Well they could have them, we had no need for them anyway, those things rarely happened in our boring little lives.
Each new cause in the Righteous crusade heralded the misappropriation of a word, or they’d just simply make one up, that could be used to harass us. Good examples are the words denier, islamophobe and racist, none of which were real words but sounded real enough for us to have them rammed down our throats as our passive acceptance of our induced collective mea culpa grew. Words weren’t just used for negativity though; we also had misused words that were supposed to make us feel warm and cuddly as we were theoretically getting our say. The words inclusive and stakeholder spring to mind – they mean nothing but they sound as though they might.
But not only did they use words as weapons they changed the very definition of the words to further their cause and to keep us off balance. Rape in its adjective and verb forms was an obvious example. We thought we knew that it meant forced sexual intercourse but not once the Righteous got hold of it. Now it means any sort of unwanted sexual advance (as if that doesn’t work the slightly milder noun harassment would be used instead as they are interchangeable in the feminist lexicon). The advantage to them was that as the meaning expanded then so did the number of apparent crimes thereby calling for ever increasing draconian tightening of the screw and a plethora of laws that New Labour and the Righteous loved. Other beloved words include: Coercion, abduction, fraud, desensitizing, offensive and deception and we shouldn’t forget phrasal or compound nouns such as hard working families (another orgiastic New Labour phrase) and the people of Britain (as in we speak for the people of Britain. Subtext: ‘cause they’re too damned stupid to think for themselves) and passive smoking.
Of course these new words (or new meanings for old words) gave the main stream media paroxysms of intense pleasure because using words in the wrong way as a sort of linguistic bait and switch is their standard stock in trade. Look at the headlines in the Daily Mail for example and you’ll see things like fury, storm, rage, blazing, ferocious, backlash, controversial and looms, the origins of which are not apparent when you read the subsequent article.
The Righteous now held the field having both the ear of the government and the press, their every pronouncement, usually backed by dodgy or at best misconstrued ‘research’, being savoured like a fine wine. But they still weren’t satisfied, they needed more. In fact what they needed was some word that could be used to curtail anything that they disapproved of, particularly if someone else happened to be enjoying it, even if it wasn’t actually proscribed by the letter of the law.
And this brings us back to sweet little inappropriate because here is a word that been twisted so that it now means whatever it is that the speaker wants it to mean. It is the perfect Righteous word because you can’t disagree, or more to the point defend yourself or disprove it, on the basis that you haven’t got a clue what it is you’ve been accused of. In the old days it was easy, it was a mild academic rebuke but now….? Now it means anything and everything especially if intoned with a prim disapproving scowl.
So in future when you hear it, especially if it is directed at you, then you know that whatever it is that is being said or done isn’t illegal, in fact in all probability it isn’t even offensive but they just don’t like it. And to live a quiet life in Britain requires that you do as you’re told by them.
Personally I think that stealing our language and demeaning it for their own nefarious purposes is – oh I don’t know – inappropriate?