Solving the World's problems with common sense and a flamethrower.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Swearing in Politics

This post is not going to make me popular. In fact, it's likely to turn my email and my comments into a river of flame. But it must be said.

The more observant among you may have noticed that for a short time, I had this icon up in my sidebar:

The icon, you will no doubt notice, is no longer there.

Let me state, for whatever record there is, that I support and wholeheartedly believe in the Manifesto of the Libertarian Party. There is a great deal of sense in there, and it instils in me a sense of recapturing politics from the morally and ethically bankrupt LabLibCon mess we have now, and the reinstatement of a political system existing to serve the people, instead of profiting from the people. The root-and-branch change of the political system proposed by the Libertarians is desirable, long-overdue and something that I regretfully doubt I will see in my lifetime.

I took part in the 1984 Campaign. I have written, at tedious length, about the iniquities of our current administration. I believe we need a change. Yet I took the choice to remove the icon of a political party I believe in, and to whom I have made a donation, from my Blog. Why?

It's not the party. It's the bloggers that surround it - to be precise, it's the language of the bloggers.

To take a phrase from 'V for Vendetta', which has been used more than once on LP-affiliated Blogs, words "provide the means to meaning and, for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth". And in my personal opinion, the truth is something that at present needs to be spread.

As Bloggers, we are one of the conduits for that truth. We have the power to reach out to people who do not normally follow politics, and with our words to show them what is really happening. We can open the eyes of our readers to the dinimution of our civil liberties, or to the ever-increasing encroachment of the Nanny State into our daily lives. We have the ability to educate and inform, and to build a groundswell of opinion that can lead our readers to make decisions. If we can draw enough interest, enough readers, we can change public perception and influence the beginnings of the change we would wish to see.

Which brings me to swearing.

I have a potty mouth - it's been said before. But when it comes to political matters, I feel that it's best to set the Anglo-Saxon aside, because while I don't personally get offended by swearing, I am aware that many do. Foul language will only increase our readership in those who already share our views. In most cases, swearing will alienate, not engage. 'Middle England' and the Daily Mail readership, while perhaps agreeing that Gibbon Brown is psychologically unstable, are unlikely to take a positive view of him being described as having 'lost his tiny fucking mind'. David Cameron probably agrees that Jacqui Smith is a 'weapons-grade c***bubble' - but he's unlikely to tell Eddie Mair that on 'PM'. And though I have no brief for Mandelson - or Cameron, the same applies.

I hold no malice against the Bloggers who wish to swear on their posts. I enjoy their work. They're all damn good writers, articulate, succinct and able to cut through the omnipresent spin to reach the truth underlying the soundbite. Swearing is their choice, and as writers we all do whatever we deem necessary to increase traffic. Yet I feel that swearing in political blogs reduces our impact and dilutes our message. And I know that people who read this Journal link through to the links I provide, which means that their message influences mine.

Additionally, I believe that when we have the icon of a political party on our site, then our use of language influences the perception of that political party, however indirectly we represent it.

In my opinion, it's not foul language that will win the debate. Simply to castigate the current crop of politicians for their many failings - and to do so with clarity and objectivity - will be sufficient. Churchill didn't call Bevan a c*** at the despatch box.

We've all just seen the power of an articulate approach in the USA. Mastery of the facts should be enough to win the debate, and eloquence enough to influence those around us. Obscenity will merely drive away those we wish to recruit to our cause. Not censorship - just choice of the correct phrases to enthuse and engage, rather than repel.

As Bloggers we have the power of words. I feel that we should use those words carefully.


Hedgewytch said...

*Applauds* Makes sense to me. Swearing is usually emotional outpouring, used often in rants to get out of once system but best to let out before picking up a pen to write with clarity

Devil's Kitchen said...

"Swearing is usually emotional outpouring, used often in rants to get out of once system..."

But that, you see, is precisely why I blog. That so many people choose to read The Kitchen (and they do) is merely coincidence.

That my experience of blogging and writing at The Kitchen has led me to become a campaigner is equally coincidental, really.

On the other hand, Dungeekin, I entirely understand your point of view too.


Anonymous said...

Why just political blogs? Why would you want to alienate anyone from any of your writing? I personally dislike swearing intensely, and although it does not offend me in any way I get tired of hearing it day in, day out. And I'm still staggered when I talk to a stranger for the first time, in person or on the telephone, and they're effin' and blindin' without even knowing me.

I think you absolutely hit the nail on the head* when you made the comment about Churchill vs Bevan. The fairly modern phenomenon of ubiquitous swearing is crass and unimaginative and does justice to no-one's intelligence.

I wish you luck in your quest, and urge you to widen your aim beyond just political posts.


* Can't stand cliches either...

Dungeekin said...

DK. . .

Thanks so much for taking the time to read.

As I said, I enjoy your work, and it's your choice to swear in political posts just as it's mine not to.

In the end, though, we're working toward the same end, which I hope we all reach.



Devil's Kitchen said...

Quite so: further, people do become attached to the character. People leave comments demanding that I swear...

Anyway, busing reading The Silence and enjoying it muchly...


Winston Smith said...

I have no problem with what you've written. I wasn't aware of your support of the Libertarian Party, or in fact of the Party itslef (I'll go and investigate it at another time).
But to me, if a person resorts to swearing during a debate, or whilst trying to influence me, then I feel they have "lost it". In that situation, the use of foul language shows a degree of ignorance.
I accept it in everyday use, but if you're trying to win my suport or educate it, don't use it.

BritBloke said...

I don't get offended by swearing. I just see them as words.

However, I realise others do, so I am sorry you feel the way you do and feel the best choice is to punish the LPUK.

That's your call though!

Brennig said...

I'm uncomfortable with blog categorisation. I had a big 'to do' with The Guardian about Dave Hill's London Blog which escalated to a meeting with the editorial staff and elicited a promise from them to 'try harder'. In a nutshell, analysis of Dave Hill's London Blog reveals it's little more than a thinly disguised knocking shop for All Things Boris. While I have absolutely no problem with that, it is a piece of dishonest labelling. It is about London as much as yours is about Oxfordshire. Or mine is about music or writing or horses or... politics. And that's my point. Diversity summarises the lives we live, not neat pigeon-holing. You wander from topic to topic to discuss and examine things that please or irk you. Which includes politics. But your place here is not a political blog - by tne narrow definition that many apply to one topic blogs.