"This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself...
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England"
Richard II. Act ii. Sc. 1.
What has happened to thee?
London Mayor Ken Livingstone has been suspended for four weeks for being insensitive to a reporter. After the reporter asked something that Livingstone must not have liked, the exchange went as follows:
Livingston: "What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?"
Reporter: "No, I'm Jewish. I wasn't a German war criminal."
Livingstone: "Actually, you are just like a concentration camp guard. You're just doing it 'cause you're paid to, aren't you?"
Well, I can see suspending him for being incoherent and, even worse, not witty, but just what is intolerably offensive about this? Has he offended Germans by suggesting they are war criminals? Does the fact that the reporter announced he was Jewish mean that he couldn't also be a mercenary? Or is the fact that he was Jewish mean no linking him with anti-semites? Was Livingstone just too rough with a reporter?
That's the problem with "speech codes" they are subject to the same law of expansion that governs Michael Moore's pants size.
How long would Winston Churchhill last in today's Europe. Here are two of my favorites. Did he really say them? I'd like to think so.
Bessie Braddock (meeting Churchill while he was in his cups): “Sir, you are drunk.”
Churchill: “And, Madam, you are ugly. But in the morning, I shall be sober.”
Nancy Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.”
Churchill: “Madam. if I were your husband I would take it.”