Sunday, 19 May 2013

It’s not 'only banter', it is a threat to civilisation....

“There was a bit of banter which went too far,”said a Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council employee last week. What was the banter? Was it perhaps a slightly off-colour joke? An ungallant remark made to a female colleague? A spittle-flecked racist tirade? No: the “banter” was a manager sinking her teeth into the buttock of a 24-year-old staffer until she drew blood and he had to go to hospital for a tetanus jab.

I’ve written before that “banter” is the worst thing in the universe, a sort of cheap imitation of wit for stupid people. “Hey! You’re fat and stupid and ugly! What’s the matter, mate? Just a bit of banter.”

“Banter” and its loudmouth cousin “stick” (“Oh, the fans are giving him a bit of stick,” says the football commentator, as 45,000 people make disturbing aspersions about the sexual habits of a man’s wife) are terms people use when they want to be rude, but don’t want to face any consequences. Hey! It’s only banter! If you’re offended, that makes you a boring prude, while I, Banter Man, am daringly saying the unsayable! It’s tiresome. By all means be rude, be obscene, be offensive, but don’t turn around afterwards and say “Wahey lads s’only banter what’ve you got your knickers in a twist for eh?”

In the past, though, the banter abomination was limited to verbal idiocy. The Port Talbot incident sets a worrying precedent. If you can tear a chunk from a man’s backside with your teeth and have it written off as “banter”, where next? “Yes, the defendant together with six of his friends beat the victim into unconsciousness with carpentry tools, but I put it to the court that it was just a bit of banter and said victim is being a big girl’s blouse.”

“Oi oi! ‘E’s got a bullet lodged in his small intestine! Top banter lads!”

“Tell you what guys – let’s burn his house down! Can’t beat a bit of banter, eh?”

No. Enough. We are on the slipperiest of slopes, a slick precipice which ends with a group of young men repeatedly stabbing each other on Soccer AM every Saturday morning, where the first one to die from blood loss is accused of “not being able to take the banter”. It’s not “only banter” any more, it is a threat to civilisation. Right-thinking people of Britain, it is time take a stand.

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