Kevin Brennan MP’s violent languagePosted on January 1, 2011
I’m at an absolute loss as to how the appalling attack on Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents has somehow become a debate about political semantics. People suddenly seem to have noticed the existence of military metaphors – which are inevitably part of the English language, particularly in a combative (see, there’s the military creeeping in) environment like politics.
Obviously this is mainly a debate in the US, but now some in the UK have started posturing about it, too.
Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West tweeted this:
“Let’s all give our thoughts to #GabrielleGiffords and eliminate the crosshairs mentality from our democratic discourse online or anywhere”
That all sounds very nice, but perhaps Kevin should have given some thought to his own record before jumping on this bandwagon. He has used some pretty violent language himself:
“It is important to dispose of the ACT argument—the argument that the shortfall has been caused by the removal of advance corporation tax. I shall kill that stone dead once and for all” 25th March 2004
“I just reminded him that there were such creatures as Liberal Democrat special advisers and perhaps fired a shot across his bows” 8th May 2003
I don’t think that Kevin Brennan is a violent person, or that at any stage he intended to incite violence or even to create a hostile environment with these terms. Nor do I think these terms actually did contribute in any way to any violent culture. That’s because I think military terms and metaphors are an embedded element of our rich and beautiful language – like it or not we are a species which has been at war since time began and these terms have been around since time immemorial.
If you look at any politician’s record I am certain they will have used terms like “shot down in flames”, “blow up in your face”, “destroy the opposition”, “turn your fire”, “set your sights”, “strike a blow” and so on. Given that, it’s probably best that all of us resist any temptation to jump on bandwagons by criticising others for doing the same.