The Plastic Hippo

May 30, 2017

What`s in a name?

Moses parts the waters via Reuters

We have reached the stage in the great scheme of things when anything unpleasant is deniable and anything requiring responsibility can be dismissed as the fault of others or due to circumstances beyond the control of those in control.

So when Chelsea player Victor Moses took a dive worthy of Tom Daley but completely unworthy of an FA Cup Final, referee Anthony Taylor was blameless in brandishing a second yellow card for such blatant cheating. Similarly, given the new offside ruling on players interfering with play, the referee was correct to allow Arsenal`s first goal from Alexis Sanchez even though Aaron Ramsey juggled the ball like a pub team goalkeeper in a howling gale before proving that he was not interfering with play by whispering that fact into the Chelsea goalkeeper`s ear. In a blame game, everyone is innocent.

When the computer system handling the bookings for the world`s favourite airline decides to go pop and emit a little cloud of blue smoke, it is reasonable in these days of machine error to allow the CEO to say nothing for three days and then emerge to state categorically that the IT glitch was over after a few minutes and that the living dead wandering the cavernous purgatory of Heathrow Terminal 5 would be compensated with a free bottle of water. The ducking and diving from British Airways head honcho Alex Cruz was worthy of Chelsea or Arsenal and after outsourcing IT and saving money by not having an adequate back-up, Cruz says he will not resign because the computer was at fault and not him. Stranded BA travellers must hope and pray that Mr Cruz has not outsourced the IT systems that prevent aircraft displaying the aerodynamic qualities of a Whale or a bowl of petunias.

With uncanny coincidence, the CEO of the National Health Service upon hearing of an IT glitch brought about by underfunding, disappeared for three days and like Br`er Rabbit, laid low and said nothing. According to Jeremy Hunt the Secretary of State for Health, doctors, nurses and other health professionals should work weekends just like Secretaries of State for Health. With all the subtlety of a plummeting Airbus 380 desperately trying to switch itself off and then on again, Mr Hunt has failed to realise that doctors, nurses and other health professionals do work weekends unlike Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.

Naming names in a blame game is easy for government ministers and captains of industry but has proved remarkably difficult for English literature GCSE question setters at the OCR examination board. A question on Romeo and Juliet asks:
“How does Shakespeare present the ways in which Tybalt`s hatred of the Capulets influences the outcome of the play?”
Ignoring the grammatical error, this interesting interpretation of the play suggests that Tybalt hated his own family rather that the more traditional view that Tybalt was at odds with the Montague family. One can only assume that later questions might include:
“Describe the role of Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the feud between the epaulets and a Ford Montego.”

Semiotic accuracy is important not just in match reports, GCSE exams and computer failures. Giving names a correct or incorrect meaning can throw up all sorts of absurdities especially in the pick and mix of mainstream media. It has been a week since the dreadful events in Manchester and the resilience and humanity within that city shows no sign of abating. After such a monstrous attack on innocence, mainstream and social media are quite rightly not allowing this atrocity to slowly fade from view. Those in the media and in politics attempting to gain cheap points from the horror reveal themselves as being as barbaric as the perpetrator and those producing acres of sensational newsprint and hours of voyeur broadcasting for the simple motive of revenue and ratings might, in the quiet, dark hours of the night before sleep, consider the feelings of the survivors and the families of the dead.

The suicide bomber has been granted his wishes. A frightened population, divided communities and his name in almost every headline and his image on almost every television screen. He has even been bestowed with his own media name. As well as his given Arab/Muslim name, he is also universally known as “Of Libyan descent” in order to make the point that although born in the city he bombed, he is not to be remembered as British. Remarkably, this shallow deflection is an improvement on what a feral media normally reports in similar times of hatred. British citizens are routinely named as “Of Asian descent” when they are arrested and held without charge for the crime of a brother, father, son or member of the same place of worship. Guilt by association or a similar given name is reported as a conspiracy network of terror and then ignored when British citizens are finally released back into their communities to set about repairing the damage to their front doors. Perhaps knocking on a door rather than blowing it open with explosives might encourage mutual respect.

“Of Asian descent” was once a useful codeword for those wishing to avoid accusations of racism as “Asian” could describe anyone from the Inuit peoples north of the Arctic Circle to the indigenous Palawa people of the Australian State of Tasmania. After “Of Libyan descent” had committed his obscene attack and filled newspapers and broadcasts with his twisted legacy, consider the coverage given to another young man who filled a rucksack with nails, ball bearings and explosives. There are differences that might explain the imbalance of reporting. Firstly, the bomb left on the Tube at London Bridge, although viable, failed to detonate and there was no loss of life. The bomber lived and has been sentenced to 15 years in a Youth Detention Centre. He was also given his own special media name mentioned every time his Christian/British name was reported. Like “Of Libyan descent”, this other bomber is forever known by his third name which is “Who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome”.

Investigators into the Manchester bombing concluded that “Of Libyan descent” must be part of a terrorist network because a Muslim of his age would not be intelligent enough to manufacture such a sophisticated device. Using this assumption as evidence, the security threat level was raised to the top of the scale and anyone known “Of Libyan descent” was arrested.

On the other hand, Judge Richard Marks QC concluded that “Who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome” might have had an interest in Islam but was not motivated by terrorism. Perhaps leaving a bomb on a train is merely a prank if the prankster is a nice white boy from Devon with a few communication issues.

Imagine the message that sends to other young men and women who will hear the stories of Tony Blair embracing Gaddafi and then David Cameron`s triumphant speech in Benghazi which basically condemned Libya to bloodshed, lawlessness and an increasing debt paying for British weaponry. These future barbarians might become another “Of Libyan descent” and might persuade the arms dealers that there is a link between UK foreign policy and terrorist attacks on UK soil.

But, as young Juliet on her balcony intones:
“What`s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo, or “Of Veronan descent”, plays in goal for Chievo Verona Reserves.

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