Saturday, May 14, 2011

Silly buggers

It being Saturday I have time today  to catch up on my increasingly neglected blog. For a moment I was slightly flummoxed as to why I had queued this image for a future post. Then I remembered...
To insult: Defined as 'To treat with gross insensitivity, insolence, or contemptuous rudeness, to behave arrogantly, to give offense.

There are circumstances in which it exceedingly imprudent to act in a manner or make any pronouncement which could be interpreted as insulting.

In the Sandlands it appears that any tentative expression critical of the prevailing regime is seen as an insult to the rulers. This is not without consequences as some disappeared activists will confirm if and when they reappear in public. It explains why lawyers, teachers and students who met together with like minded thinkers belonged to associations which have now been banned.

It goes further. A hooning native of the Sandlands, irate at the failure of a British tourist to remove himself sufficiently promptly from the fast lane notwithstanding determined tailgating, sees himself as having been insulted by said Brit who is now in detention prior to a trial at which justice may... or may not... prevail.

[Note:The British Embassy said in 2009 that Brits were more likely to be arrested in the UAE than anywhere else in the world.]

Lest it be thought that I am sitting in a glass house tossing pebbles I hasten to add that in Germany, too, it can be unwise to behave in a manner which is insulting, in particular if the target of scorn or contempt articulated in word or gesture is an employee of the state, a civil servant. Beamtenbeleidigung is the German word for this transgression which can result in fines ranging from a few hundred to several thousand Euros.

And yet, and yet... 

Who has never been sorely tempted to snarl back at the clerk behind the counter in the post office, that one who manages to be stubborn, lackadaisical, obtuse and arrogant all at the same time?

Who has never felt the urge to remonstrate with the primary school teacher whose arbitrary excercise of rigorous discipline is matched only by a deplorable deficit in matters of personal hygiene?

Back to the picture of this odd trophy. It is an 'Arsch mit Ohren', the German definition of a real idiot. Literally 'an arse with ears'. Dickhead. Silly bugger.

In the eighties when I was involved in conceptualizing gameshow and reality television formats it occurred to me that thousands of Germans would love nothing better than to see this postal clerk, this teacher and thousands of other smug and arrogant civil servants get their comeuppance. With concealed cameras rolling our silent show host would deliver the 'AmO' trophy to worthy recipients while the sponsors of each individual story told viewers of the experiences which had lead to the specific nomination. And if this wordless award ceremony were seen as Beamtenbeleidigung then the resulting fine would be seen as an item on the production budget.

The show format remains just an idea. We would probably have been accused of 'systematic incitement to the commission of illegal acts'.

Sad really, since there seem to be more and more incidences of thin-skinned people who should know better perceving themselves as insulted and demanding consequences.

No comments: