Friday, 7 August 2009

Why Do We Have To Be ‘Proper’?

To be proper or polite is social lubricant. It takes away the little snags and makes social interaction run more smoothly, allows easier interaction and co-operation. As such it is important in some circumstances. Unfortunately in those circumstances it is falling away, and what is now termed anti-social behaviour (which is largely extreme rudeness and impropriety) is increasing, one of the great social ills of a generation told by left-wing nannies that the state is responsible for everything. We forget at our peril that we are all dependent on the kindness of strangers.

However there are circumstances where propriety is not needed at all. The obvious example is in a group of close friends, whose interaction and co-operation is dependent upon much deeper understanding. Another case is where entities have no need to co-operate or interact, and where impropriety simply does not matter.

So what business is it of Poland if Jeremy Clarkson’s humour is not proper? Poland can quite happily ignore Jeremy Clarkson. It would be ridiculous to suggest that this has any bearing on the editorial standards at the BBC outside Top Gear, where it might matter to Poland. There was no deeply nasty or offensive suggestion given about Poland, which might have affected opinion Poles have of Brits or Brits of Poles beyond the manufactured indignation of the media. Even they had to make some heavy interpretation and assumption to become offended.

Humour is important, freedom of speech more so. It is not up to officials or even elected politicians to determine what is funny, or what is a suitable topic for humour. Oh, and regardless of what the Polish embassy staff thought, I laughed like a drain.

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