Tuesday, August 21, 2012

George Galloway: you've got to admire his indefatigability. Oh no wait, you haven't.

Ah, George Galloway. As my husband remarked over dinner today, "it's not so much that this is par for the course with him, it's more that I expect him to be continually hitting new lows". It seems kind of unnecessary to post about why he's been a twat on this particular occasion, because a) it's pretty bloody obvious, and b) the internets are pretty much already on it. However, blogging about things that make me cross has got me this far, and George Galloway makes me pretty damn cross. Also, there's a video with more amusement value than his turgid excuse for a podcast as a reward if you make it to the end of the post.

I won't insult your intelligence by rehearsing all the reasons why Galloway's opinions about rape are stupid and wrong - rape charity Crisis's press comments say everything I would have said, except more eloquently, and this tweet says basically everything I would have said, except more wittily.

But one of the things that's really pissed me off about this is Galloway's attempt to excuse his comments by posing as a defender of the integrity of the term 'rape'. In the bit of his podcast that's been widely quoted, he says Assange's actions can't be called rape, "or you bankrupt the word rape of all meaning". Just in case we haven't got it, he reiterates this point again, in a passage that's been less widely quoted (probably for the understandable reason that you have to sit through five additional minutes of chuntering to get to it):

“I will not be intellectually terrorised into bankrupting the word rape of its actual, horrific meaning. Rape is a horrific thing, the currency should not be debased by describing other things, however base, as being rape.”

The problem is that you can't position yourself as being on the side of 'real' rape victims whilst simultaneously pronouncing on who is and isn't a 'real' rape victim. There's something about this tactic that reminded me of the police's efforts to co-opt the definition of 'protest' to justify their persecution of protesters they don't like. If that's offensive (and it is), how much more offensive it is for Galloway to co-opt the definition of rape to justify his persecution of (alleged) rape victims he doesn't like. And more to the point, just as it's not for the state to pronounce on what constitutes a protest, it's not for a self-important misogynistic windbag to pronounce on what constitutes rape.

Right, now I've got that out of my system - here, as promised, is my favourite ever George Galloway moment. On election night in 2005, Jeremy Paxman interviewed George after it became apparent he'd ousted Oona King as MP for Bethnal Green & Bow. The result is stunning - the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. Watch it.

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