Lewis Carroll was nothing short of prophetic when he made his Humpty Dumpty conduct this dialogue with Alice:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
The writer foresaw which way the world was going: words would cease to be merely a means of communication. Instead they’d become an instrument of power.
This is the only way to make sense of our ostensibly idiotic political correctness.
Those who mandate and enforce the use of awkward and meaningless euphemisms don’t do so because they genuinely want to protect the delicate sensibilities of minorities or the less fortunate.
They do it to bring the majority to heel by controlling its language, thereby inverting its erstwhile certitudes and rendering it helpless to resist the increasingly tyrannical rule of the elite.
Depending on which Greek root you prefer, you may call this process ‘glossocracy’ or ‘logocracy’. Either way, our democratic tyrants now use words to serve exactly the same purpose as bullets fired by their totalitarian colleagues.
Hence the mock-horrified half-whisper YOU CAN’T SAY THAT uttered by real or aspiring members of the elite in response to anything that threatens their Humpty Dumpty control of language.
Why can’t I? Is it because what I said isn’t true? No, that doesn’t even come into it. Or rather it does: YOU CAN’T SAY THAT specifically because it’s true.
You want to communicate the well established, but to me utterly trivial, fact that different races have different median IQs? YOU CAN’T SAY THAT.
Wish to say what everyone knows already, that homosexuality isn’t normal? YOU CAN’T SAY THAT.
The NHS is failing not because it isn’t run properly but because it’s based on the corrupt idea of egalitarianism? YOU CAN’T SAY THAT.
Even though women are better than men at some tasks, they aren’t as good at some others? YOU CAN’T SAY THAT.
On this last, my eye was first caught and then abused by an article appearing on the BBC website: Why Are Men Still Suspicious of Female Coaches in Sport?
Someone enslaved by glossocracy is expected to deliver the only possible reply to the eponymous question: “Because they are all male chauvinists suffering from antediluvian and atavistic prejudices.”
Since neither you nor I fall into that category, allow me to say what can’t be said: “Because women don’t understand the game played by the men sufficiently well to improve it.”
The article was prompted by the appointment of the journeyman female player Gala Leon Garcia to captain Spain’s powerful Davis Cup team.
Toni Nadal, the coach and uncle of Rafa, the world’s best player, came up with a spurious objection that he himself knows for what it is: “A lot of time is spent in the locker room without clothing, and with a woman it would be weird.”
Marc Lopez, the doubles specialist on the team, noted reasonably, “There are other rooms.” True. It’s possible to coach players when they are fully dressed, which is most of the time.
Now Uncle Toni is a clever man. So why didn’t he voice the real objection? Because YOU CAN’T SAY THAT.
A professional woman player obviously knows a lot about the game. So does a reasonably strong male club player. But when it comes to the qualifications necessary for coaching at the highest level, a woman pro is closer to the club player than to a male professional.
A female pro could teach me how to flatten out my forehand or transfer my weight into the shot. But male pros already know all those things.
What separates a world Number 94 from a top tenner is the upper 10 per cent, a few things, often imperceptible, that are beyond any female player I’ve ever seen.
The stratospheric knowledge of this top 10 per cent is only accessible to a player who either possessed it himself or at least regularly found himself on the receiving end of it.
An intelligent female player regularly watches the men’s game and thus knows exactly what is happening when, say, Rafa whips his arms up to put more RPMs on the ball than anyone has ever done. But she has no way of knowing why.
Some factors operating in that top 10 per cent aren’t technical. They are psychological and, according to the article, female coaches have a higher ‘empathetic accuracy’ than men do, which enables them to understand a male player emotionally.
I’d suggest that the psychological differences between male and female players are even greater than the technical ones. Why do you think men come to the net, which is the most aggressive move in tennis, so much more than women?
Women are perfectly capable of running as far as the net or, for that matter, mastering the volleying technique. So why do they prolong those boring baseline rallies even when an opportunity presents itself to come in and win the point with one shot?
Because, as numerous conclusive studies have shown, aggression is a function of testosterone, the male hormone of which men usually have more than women. Thus a woman isn’t naturally drawn to the net and has to force herself to come in.
This explains why the best female net player ever, Martina Navratilova, has just publicly proposed to her girlfriend on bended knee. Lesbians, especially of the butch variety, clearly have heightened levels of testosterone, which gives them certain male characteristics.
I’m sure there are many subtler differences as well. All told it’s extremely unlikely that, for all their ‘empathetic accuracy’, women can add anything to the professional men’s game.
Actually, Andy Murray is conducting a one-man case study even as we speak. For two years he enjoyed the services of Ivan Lendl, formerly the world’s top player. During that time Andy won two Grand Slam titles, which no other Brit has done since God was young.
Ivan then got tired of globetrotting, and Andy had to find another coach. For some inexplicable reason he turned to Amélie Mauresmo (another proud lesbian).
Now Amélie had a lovely game for a woman, and she’s unusually bright for a professional athlete. Yet in the first few months of her in charge of Andy’s coaching team, he dropped out of the world top 10 for the first time since 2007.
To be fair, his back surgery in the off season has had something to do with that. But so much of the game happens in the head, and Amélie was known for emotional brittleness during her time on the tour.
Andy, who isn’t averse to weeping in public, needed a Sergeant Major type like the tough, unsmiling Lendl to tell him to get a grip and play like, well, a man. He got Amélie instead because “she listens”.
A good coach at any level and at any sport should speak, not just listen. I bet Andy will never win another major unless he finds a coach with less ‘empathetic accuracy’ and more understanding of the top men’s game.
Now do you think I’d be able to write any of this in any newspaper? Of course not. YOU CAN’T SAY THAT would be their response.
We’ll never regain the liberties we’ve lost until these pernicious words are expurgated from our language.
My forthcoming book Democracy as a Neocon Trick can be pre-ordered, at what the publisher promises to be a spectacular discount, from http://www.roperpenberthy.co.uk/index.php/browse-books/political/democracy-as-a-neocon-trick.html