Friday, 28 March 2014

Domestic Violence - why we are all involved and we all have to be vigilent

Domestic violence is in the news at the moment. We are going through another round of initiatives seeking to encourage victims to come forward, the police to take them seriously and for robust action to be taken.

Domestic violence is a particularly nasty, brutal outrage.  All of us should feel safe at home.  I know of at least two people close to me (not part of my immediate family) who have suffered domestic violence and controlling behaviour in the past - and fortunately in both cases they have now found peace.

Now I'm a great fan of Radio 4 Extra - I love listening to the old comedies.  Yesterday we had the classic 'Dad's Army' from 1976 where the Home Guard had to look after a U Boat crew.  It contains the classic line 'don't tell him Pike!'- perhaps the funniest one-liner in all of Dad's Army.  Today it has been Steptoe and Son - an episode where Harold was jilted at the altar.  However I found this episode, and in fact previous episodes from that series quite disturbing.  Casual lines about 'beating your head in' are broadcast.

Now I think the BBC should take a firm line about this - just as they have about the casual racism that passed for comedy in the 1970s and before.  We don't see or hear repeats of 'It ain't half hot mum' because of the concerns that it could pander to racism.  I think the BBC should self censor inappropriate aggressive lines - such as the Steptoe and Son example.  They have no place in comedy in my view.

I think as a country we have a long way to go over violence - and in particular unnecessarily aggressive language which I think betokens an unnecessarily aggressive personality.  As a Councillor I see far too much of it.  You'd have thought I'd see more of it at the Fostering Panel where we are trying to pick up the pieces for innocent children - but in fact I see and hear far more inappropriate language when dealing with the public and in some cases dealing with other councillors.

As President Obama put it recently - 'you can object without being objectionable.'

I worry about people who, when expressing themselves, when discussing proposals consider it appropriate to besmirch and criticise an individual rather than discuss the proposal in question and the merits of what is suggested.  Often nasty, aggressive and defamatory language is used.  Lies are broadcast without thought.  Brief interchanges on social media or email seem to encourage this behaviour.  And it is all so unnecessary.

I do hope I'm wrong - and that all I am seeing and reading actually reveals a less than skilled communicator.  A 'want of education' as my mother would put it when I uttered an expletive as a child!  However I suspect I'm right.  If your language is aggressive and nasty, leaving aside the merits of what is being said, does that not show the state of someone's thoughts and personality?  If we tried to treat everyone with respect all the time - would that not lessen the risk of violence generally?

You can object without being objectionable.  In fact if you do object in respectful language I suspect you'd be more likely to be listened to...


By the way I'm going to write to the BBC about Steptoe and Son and domestic violence.