The Way We Speak

You know what? I fucking hate the language we use to describe some of the most important and complex issues. There’s a vocabulary that’s been adopted to “take the edge off” the nastiness and difficulty of what’s happening around us.

For example, desperate people fleeing war-zones for safer places are “migrants”, not “refugees”, while Brits fleeing Barnsley for more leathery skin are “ex-pats” not “migrants”. immigrants can be “illegal” while still apparently registered and claiming state benefit at a much higher rate than a native Brit. Such are the tricks used by government and media – and subsequently the people of the UK – to skew the coverage and make cracking down on the foreigners more palatable.

Take, for instance, this obsession every politician seems to have about finding “humane ways of dealing with the migrant situation” as though their first thought was simply to hack them down with a rusty machete until there’s nothing left but a sort of purple mush. I’ve grown up to hear the word “humane” used mostly when referring to animals, not people. We have “humane” farming methods, “humane” puppy breeding programmes and even “humane” slaughter. I’ve never heard the word “humane” used in relation to a human being until recently. Implicit in the word is the arrogance that humans should be treated with more respect and care than “lesser beings”. To treat an animal humanely means to give them more respect than an animal would usually deserve.

So what the hell are we talking about “humane migrant policy” for?! Shouldn’t ALL policy dealing with human beings be humane as standard? If there were millions of stray dogs making moves on the Channel Tunnel every night then humane would be the kind of word used when talking about the man with a high-powered rifle sent in to “deal with them” while they slept. But these are people we’re talking about! David Cameron might think them a “swarm” but he’s a prick and hasn’t a shred of decency, along with the rest of his party.

When news broke this week that over 2,500 sick and disabled people who had been declared “fit for work” had died within weeks of having their support slashed the government told many different TV and radio stations that they didn’t have a minister available to discuss it, such is the arrogance of this sickening shower of selfish reptiles we’ve been lumbered with.

No, you’re right. I’m not very “tolerant” of David Cameron and his gang of upper-class thugs. But then, that word means something different too, doesn’t it? Britain likes to pat itself on the back for its “tolerant” stance on gay rights or even the “migrant crisis”. But the truth is that the word “tolerance” is as sickening a word as “humane” when talking about human beings.

“Tolerance” suggests we are simply putting up with those we’re tolerant of. We’re tolerant of the gays because what else could we be? It’s frowned-upon to be openly hostile anymore, isn’t it? So putting up with them will have to do. Isn’t that what the word “tolerate” means? You might “tolerate” a buzzing fly in the living room until your show has finished, when you’d swiftly smash the fuck out of it with a newspaper. “Acceptance” isn’t a much better word, hinting at a battle lost; a people beaten down.

Though maybe that’s just it! The kind of people who speak about fellow human beings – black, white, straight, gay, British or not – using words like “humane” and “tolerant” ARE the losing side in an ongoing battle. They are dinosaurs hanging desperately on to the ability to say Gollywog and not get punched, for what reason nobody knows. The people who talk of “humane ways to deal with the migrant crisis” are either thinking of the people in Calais, or those dying in the Med, as animals or are pandering to voters who do. And no. I’m not very tolerant of those people.

Sometimes I’m sad about the state of the world. Sometimes I find hope in the fact that there are loads of people who, like me, aren’t racist pricks. But mostly I’m ashamed to breathe the same air as someone who would describe a fellow human being in such dehumanising terms. As far as I’m concerned these people are the lowest of the low and the people at Calais are a hundred times better than them.

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