That was the name of an old TV series that, to my shame, I never saw. I don’t even know what it was about, although I’m fairly certain it wasn’t about a man killing his dog.
I suspect the word ‘pet’ was merely a term of endearment widely used by Englishmen of a certain age and class when talking to younger women. It’s no more of a putdown than the similarly used ‘love’ is a protestation of undying affection.
The show ended in 2004, and little did its producers know that today the title of the series would be classed as incitement to criminal behaviour. The former boxing champ Glenn McCrory, 57, didn’t know that either, which got him in a spot of trouble.
Glenn attended a £5,000-per-head VIP dinner, served by a bevy of young waitresses. Failing to weigh his words with the exactitude demanded by today’s heightened sensitivity, Glenn addressed two of them as ‘pet’.
The girls called the police (as one does), who instantly arrived at the scene. It makes me proud to be British, knowing that our police have enough free time on their hands to fight even such seemingly insignificant infractions. Obviously, things like murder, burglary, mugging and theft have already been eliminated from Her Majesty’s realm.
The aging pugilist was arrested and charged with threatening and abusive behaviour. The maximum punishment for this is six months in prison, which testifies to the ill-advised liberalism of our legal system.
After all, the two young ladies may be traumatised for life, and how do you measure decades of anguish against any term of imprisonment, especially such a derisory one? Lock him up and throw away the key, I say.
I also wonder what would have happened had Glenn called the waitresses ‘love’, ‘darling’ or the archaic ‘flower’? Are these better or worse than ‘pet’? Don’t ask me, I’m no legal expert. I am, however, an occasional transgressor, known at times to call younger women ‘sweetie’, and most women are younger these days.
I’ve been told off a few times, but so far not prosecuted. If tried for that crime, I’d probably cite the extenuating circumstance of being foreign-born and therefore deaf to the fine nuances of the English language.
Since Glenn doesn’t have that excuse, he may be looking at some hard time. The rest of us may repeat after Alice: “Curiouser and curiouser”. Or rather crazier and crazier.
Everything about modernity is progressive, including, by the looks of it, its lunacy. Our whole society is being driven bonkers by a madcap idée fixe that words are more injurious than sticks and stones – and it’s up to every individual to decide which words are hurtful.
Such subjectivity has nothing to do with justice. Laws are supposed to be objective, with breaches tightly defined. Murder is murder, theft is theft, robbery is robbery. They are subject to investigation and proof, but not to personal idiosyncrasies.
A defence counsel may argue that his client didn’t commit the murder in question, but not that there is nothing wrong with it because the victim didn’t suffer very much.
The crime for which Glenn McCrory was arrested is different. Subjectively, some woman may be offended by the same word that most of her sisters would find warm and cuddly. Does this mean the man will get off for committing the same crime against some women, but not others? If so, justice isn’t so much abused as prostituted.
It’s not just words either. Transport for London has posters on the tube warning commuters that “intrusive staring” is sexual harassment, and sexual harassment is a crime. Not bad manners, not rudeness, not even a misdemeanour – a crime. That being so, anyone reporting staring would be doing her civic duty, not snitching.
The whole idea is expressed with the coruscating stylistic brilliance we’ve learned to expect from our civil servants: “We want to know about that staring because that is the behaviour that suggests to me that someone is thinking about a sexual behaviour that supports that staring. We will record them as crimes and we will investigate them.” [My emphasis]
Guilty as charged, m’lord. If an attractive woman sits opposite me on the train, I may try to look away, but I’m not sure I’ll succeed every time. The thought “of a sexual behaviour” may sometimes cross my mind, though not as often as in my youth.
At other times, I may look at her simply because she is indeed sitting directly opposite. If the ride is long, constantly looking away may crick my neck, a condition to which I’m prone. And if it’s not one attractive woman, but two side by side, then avoiding them would involve sustained contortions that might tax my flagging athleticism.
Thus, one of the two ladies, or perhaps both, may interpret my looking as staring or even leering. If that’s how they see it, they seem to be duty-bound to call the Transport Police and have me nabbed.
Our government should just be open about its aim. It intends to make the two sexes not complementary but hostile. One way of achieving this noble purpose is to destroy any normal interaction between men and women, which in the old days might even have involved mild flirtation.
Or not, as the case may be. A man may appreciate an attractive woman, or a woman an attractive man, aesthetically, with nary a dirty thing in mind. Looking thus becomes a wordless compliment, to be accepted with a noncommittal smile of gratitude.
But that sort of thing would go against the desideratum of annihilating society, turning people into atomised individuals resentful and suspicious of one another. Hence all links keeping those atoms within the social molecule have to be severed.
Divide et impera, said Julius Caesar twenty-two centuries ago, when he was fighting the Gauls. Our modern state also wants to divide and conquer. And it’s us that our spivs are fighting.