Checking my blog-stats yesterday, I found someone had been looking for “aphra behn racism poems”. My guess is they were actually searching for 17th century racism, but – hey – they stopped by, which is always nice.
Oddly, I had in fact considered blogging about racist poems yesterday.
A local councillor and aspirant MP is in the news in the UK and has been suspended by the Conservative Party because a racist poem was sent out from her email account. She says her husband sent it out from her account, forwarding it to his friends in the same spirit of light-humoured jokiness that someone had sent it to her.
She obviously has not thought through the implications of what she is saying:
(a) someone sent it to her in the first place – Not good really; you can control what you receive: when an aquaintance was sending me “nuke ’em all” stuff after 9/11 I told her not to.
(b) her husband thought it funny – Or did he? See below.
(c) he thought it funny enough to send on to other people – Which at the very best is a lapse in judgement which is worrying in itself, and at worst is racism showing exclusionist thinking which one most definitely does not want in representatives to parliament. But of course it was sent out by her husband, so that’s ok. Sure it is.
(d) he has so little respect for her privacy, and for the confidentiality of emails sent to her, that he not only reads her emails, he also uses her email account – Or perhaps this is not an issue, see below.
If she had thought this lot through, then she might not have blamed him so easily. Especially since he is almost certainly innocent. The forwarded email is signed with the message:
Cow. I think. Don’t you? Lying cow, it seems. I’ll stop now before my ranting deafens myself.
Is the poem racist? Undoubtedly.
Is it funny? No. It has some moderately witty wordplay, but it isn’t funny. The cute use of animated icons is particularly offensive.
“Some years ago”, according to a old joke, “the Conservative Party decided that it needed to broaden its appeal to ethnic minorities and selected the following slogan:
“Goodness Gracious! Glory! Glory!
Clever darkies all vote Tory.”
That, my ladles and jellyspoons, is a political joke, not a racist one.