Where’s the charity?

Where’s the charity?

Melbourne’s Age, in typically mischievous fashion, has headlined an inflammatory article, Pearson snubbed as newspaper names horse as Sportswoman of the Year. Lest the headline leaves you in any doubt, here are the opening lines:

Sally Pearson – London Olympic gold medallist and golden girl of Australian sport – has been pipped at the post for Sportswoman of the Year by a racehorse by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

Sportswriters Phil Rothfield and Darren Hadland named Black Caviar as the best female athlete this year as part of their annual top 50 moments of the year column.

In fairness to The Age, the controversy began on Twitter. Footy commentator Tom Harley tweeted it’s “plain offensive to all the inspirational sportswomen of Australia.” Other tweeters joined in. “Stupid and offensive.” “Utterly embarrassing.” “A new low.” “Sexism and misogyny are endemic in Oz.”

The article at the heart of the controversy starts this way:

SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR

How can you go past Michael Clarke? Not even Bradman managed four double centuries in a single year. His 329 against India at the SCG was incredible. Well played, Pup.

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR

Black Caviar. The mighty mare took on the Poms on their own turf and still beat them. Let’s see Frankel do that. That’s right, they were too afraid to bring him here.

THE GOLDEN MOMENT

Sally Pearson

Sally Pearson winning the 100m hurdles in London. The Olympics weren’t our best, but Sally did the country proud.

“Pearson snubbed”? I’m sorry, but I can’t maintain the rage. Getting offended by this requires conscious effort.

I always though getting offended was a gut reaction. An offensive statement or behaviour strikes at our core, and elicits an involuntary and instantaneous reaction. I find it hard to believe that is happening here. Not only because the subject matter is inane, but also — and more importantly — because there’s no evidence the authors intended to offend women or snub Sally Pearson. Readers need to choose one of several interpretations before they can be offended.

Earlier in the week, the Pope published an article in the Financial Times:

When Christians refuse to bow down before the false gods proposed today, it is not because of an antiquated world-view. Rather, it is because they are free from the constraints of ideology and inspired by such a noble vision of human destiny that they cannot collude with anything that undermines it.

The “constraints of ideology” narrow a person’s perspective. Abstract ideas can blind a person to other persons. That blindness can license us to be cruel to other persons, because it’s ideas, not relationships, which become the primary motivator.

A rejection of ideology doesn’t necessitate a rejection of ideas. I can accept and understand a feminist critique of the Daily Telegraph column. I can sympathise with this comment:

If Black Caviar was a male we would be talking about a horse, not an athlete. This is typical of the ongoing lack of respect for sportswomen by all the media. I have been watching the sports pages for years and there is rarely more than one article (sometimes less than one per week!) and mostly of tennis players or even the girlfriend of male athletes. It really is appalling.

That sort of comment is reasonable. It is morally serious. Its claims can be investigated. But the righteous indignation which Twitter has broadcast, and The Age inflamed, is something else. It’s the fruit, I think, of “the constraints of ideology.”

The drums of tolerance and diversity beat incessantly. But what about charity? What about always attributing the best possible interpretation to the other person’s words, and presuming good faith?

It reminds me of a Facebook meme I saw recently:

How to start a nasty and personal flame war on the Internet:

1. Express your opinion about something.

2. Wait.

6 Comments

  1. MuMu
    Dec 23, 2012

    O, gimme the horsey any old day.
    Outrage on the alleged grounds that women are being ignored, passed over, discriminated against, etc always strike me as unutterably dreary and counter-productive.
    The gorgeous horsey doesn’t carry on like that. Where’s the poll so I can vote for her.
    Happy Christmas everyone.

    • Anne
      Dec 24, 2012

      Give me a break! Black Caviar for woman of the year? But then again Caligula did make his horse Incitatus Senator and our times are not that different from the Roman era, so all is possible.

  2. Simon Hogan
    Dec 23, 2012

    Here some jokes. Last one is the Christmas Joke

    A champion jockey is about to enter an important race on a new horse. The horse’s trainer meets him before the race and says,

    “All you have to remember with this horse is that every time you approach a jump, you have to shout, “ALLLLEEE OOOP!” really loudly in the horse’s ear. Providing you do that, you’ll be fine”.

    The jockey thinks the trainer is mad but promises to shout the command. The race begins and they approach the first hurdle. The jockey ignores the trainer’s ridiculous advice and the horse crashes straight through the center of the jump.

    They carry on and approach the second hurdle. The jockey, somewhat embarrassed, whispers “Aleeee ooop” in the horse’s ear. The same thing happens — the horse crashes straight through the center of the jump.

    At the third hurdle, the jockey thinks, “It’s no good, I’ll have to do it”
    Nothing is wrong with me — it’s this bloody horse. What is he — deaf or something?”

    The trainer replies, “Deaf?? DEAF?? He’s not deaf — he’s BLIND!”

    Little Johnny was sitting on the footpath with a bottle of Turpentine. He was shaking it up and watching all the bubbles.

    A Priest came along and asked him what he had.

    Little Johnny said, ‘This is the most powerful liquid in the world; it’s called Turpentine.’

    The Priest said, ‘No, the most powerful liquid in the world is Holy Water. If you rub it on a pregnant woman’s belly, she’ll pass a healthy baby.’

    Little Johnny replied, ‘Yes, and if you rub turpentine on a cat’s arse, he’ll pass a Harley Davidson !’

    JOKE OF THE WEEK

    A scratch golfer hits his ball three hundred yards straight down the fairway, and it hits a sprinkler and careens off into the woods. He finds the ball, but trees surround it. He s pissed, says what the hell, grabs his nine-iron, and hits the ball as hard as he can. It bounces off a tree back at the golfer’s head and kills him.

    He arrives in heaven, and God himself is at the Pearly Gates to greet him. Looking up his records, God sees that the guy golf’s and says, “Are you any good?”

    The golfer looks at God and says, “I got here in two, didn’t I !!!!!

    A man was leaving a cafe with his morning coffee, when he noticed a most unusual funeral procession approaching the nearby cemetery. A long black hearse was followed by a second long black hearse about 50 feet behind the first. Behind the second hearse was a solitary man walking a pit-bull on a leash. Behind him was a queue of 200 men walking in single file.

    The man couldn’t stand the curiosity. He respectfully approached the man walking the dog.

    ‘I am so sorry for your loss, and I know now is a bad time to disturb you, but I’ve never seen a funeral like this with so many of you walking in single file. Whose funeral is it?’

    The man replied, ‘Well, the first hearse is for my wife.’

    ‘What happened to her?’

    The man replied, ‘My dog attacked and killed her.’

    He inquired further, ‘Well, who is in the second hearse?’

    The man answered, ‘My mother-in-law. She was trying to help my wife when the dog turned on her.’

    A poignant and thoughtful moment of silence passes between the two men.

    ‘Can I borrow the dog?’

    ‘Join the queue.’

    SCOTTISH COW

    The only cow in a small town in Ireland stopped giving milk. The town folk found they could buy a cow in Scotland cheaply. So, they brought the cow over from Scotland ..

    It was absolutely wonderful, producing lots of milk every day and everyone was happy. They bought a bull to mate with the cow to get more cows, so they’d never have to worry about their milk supply again. They put the bull in the pasture with the cow but whenever the bull tried to mount the cow, the cow would move away. No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move away from the bull, and he was never able to do the deed..

    The people were very upset and decided to go to the Vet, who was very wise, tell him what was happening and ask his advice. “Whenever the bull tries to mount our cow, she moves away. If he approaches from the back, she moves forward. When he approaches her from the front, she backs off. If he attempts it from the one side, she walks away to the other side.”

    The Vet rubbed his chin thoughtfully and pondered this before asking,

    “Did you, by chance, buy this cow in Scotland ?”

    The people were dumbfounded, since no one had ever mentioned that they had brought the cow over from Scotland.

    “You are truly a wise Vet,” they said. “How did you know we got the cow from Scotland ?

    The Vet replied with a distant look in his eye: “My wife is from Scotland ”

    I leave the best to last I reckon

    First Christmas Joke

    Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates.

    ‘In honor of this holy season’ Saint Peter said, ‘You must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven.’

    The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. ‘It represents a candle’, he said.

    ‘You may pass through the pearly gates’ Saint Peter said.

    The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, ‘They’re bells.’

    Saint Peter said ‘You may pass through the pearly gates’.

    The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women’s panties.

    St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, ‘And just what do those symbolize?’

    The man replied, ‘These are Carol’s.’

    And So The Christmas Season Begins……

    Have a happy christmas and and wonderful new year. Oh happy punting, golfing or blogging, preaching and whatever else you’re up to. God Bless from Simon the Pieman.

    • Joel
      Dec 23, 2012

      I’m in tears…very funny.

      Merry Christmas to you too mate.

  3. Joel
    Dec 23, 2012

    Tom Harley. So called “thinking” footballer whose social conscience is outweighed only by his horrendous fashion sense.

    The moment he gets off Twitter and starts working on special comments that actually have some relevance the better off we’ll all be.

  4. PM
    Dec 23, 2012

    To follow up Simon’s post, here’s one a freind told me as he was about to leave for Christmas in his hometown in Perth”

    ‘Why couldn’t the first Christmas happen in Australia? Because they’d never have found three wise men in the East.’