Let’s face it: no one does faux outrage better than the Daily Mail. The paper and its readers get outraged so often over so little that I wonder whether they have any energy or time left to get on with their own lives, rather than interfering in everyone else’s. Their latest rant is over Sandi Toksvig’s use of the ’most offensive word in English language’. The Mail took aim at one of its favourite ‘liberal-lefty’ tagets and blasted:
“The BBC was at the centre of a new decency row last night after ruling that the most offensive word in English is acceptable for broadcast. The Corporation decided that the word – most abhorrent to women – has lost much of its ‘shock value’ and is tolerable for radio and television.”
Now that sounds a little unlike Ms Toksvig’s usual language. So why did she utter that nasty ‘c’ word? Well of course she didn’t. In an edition of the News Quiz last Octover, the presenter used a scripted joke, saying:
“It’s the Tories who have put the “n” into cuts”
The audience laughed. If I was listening to the Saturday repeat, which I usually do, I would have laughed. My 14 year old daughter often listens to the show and she would also have laughed and I would have felt no parental embarrassment in her understanding the humour. It was a joke; an amusement. No rude words were actually used. No maiden aunts or small children were harmed in this scriptwriter’s artifice.
But that didn’t stop a complaintbeing made by an offended listener. The complaint has been rejected by the BBC and the BBC Trust have refused to take the issue further. Good for them – I am surprised, but pleased by their robust response.
I am not sure why the listener was so offended. It is one thing to actually use a rude word and another to imply it in a way that requires an adult mind to understand it. If the ‘c word’ had been used on daytime broadcasting, then I might have been a little disappointed myself. But it wasn’t. There was an indirect reference made to the word, which was mildly humorous. The complainant, Colin Harrow a retired managing editor of Mirrot Group Newspapers, said
“‘Of course they used a veil, but it was a pretty thin veil. They might as well have just said it.”
Well it wasn’t a veil, A veil is used to disguise of hide an item. In this case the item wasn’t there, no matter how hard you looked. I can point at a rusty nail and talk about gold, but that doesn’t make me an alchemist.
And whilst I’m on the subject, I’d like to argue that the word in question is not the ‘most offensive word in the English language’. There are several that I find more offensive, which are usually used to describe non-white people or LGBT people. But those are word I suspect are more likely to be in the lexicon of some of the apparently easily offended Mail readers. And if the word in question is ‘most abhorrent to women’, why was a man the only complainant?
Or maybe, as we approach the millennium of King Cnut’s capture of the English throne, Ms Toksvig was simply making an oblique reference to the Conservatives failing to turn the tide?