Posts Tagged ‘offence

09
Dec
09

Dog meat

It was going to happen eventually, I suppose. Today I was offered dog. Not a dog, you understand. I wasn’t being given a pet. Somebody thought that I might actually enjoy scoffing on flesh that had been pulled off the carcass of a dead dog.

I’ve been given a couple of days off as my fellow lecturers have to go to some conference. With nothing to do, the one lecturer who didn’t go to this thing offered to take me to lunch, and he suggested dog meat. I was previously aware of a penchant for dog meat in Korea, but I figured nobody would expect me to eat it. So this was a surprise. Thinking it best to immediately rule out the possibility, I calmly said, “I don’t think I’d like that, to be honest.” Unfortunately, I failed to appreciate this was beyond my companion’s level of English, and it seems he interpreted this as enthusiasm for the idea. Five minutes later we were parked beside a dog meat restaurant.

I honestly can’t say why I knew it was a dog meat restaurant – it wasn’t as if there were cartoon dogs on the sign – but somehow I knew it was not a place I wanted to be. And in that moment I thought it might be better just to do it. Was it worth the risk of offending a colleague by saying I didn’t want to eat here? Yesterday, this same guy congratulated me for assimilating into the Korean culture so well. It seems most Westerners have huge problems with food here, so the locals find it impressive that I horse it down without qualm. It’s not that impressive really, I genuinely love Korean food, but I have always prided myself on being able to assimilate well with foreign cultures. For instance, if I were teaching in Japan and someone offered me whale meat, I’d eat it. I wouldn’t feel good about it, but I’d suck it up and do it. And so, I rationalised that eating dog is pretty much the same deal.

Of course I didn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get the image of our Frank back home out of my head, looking up at me with his big sad face. I spluttered out, “Oh, dog meat. Sorry, I’ve had that before and I didn’t like it,” and so he took me to a Chinese place where I had battered pork and seafood noodles instead. I was embarrassed at my squeamishness. I mean, I’ve always had a problem with our national mores over meat, and how we find the foods of foreign cultures repulsive. If we have little problem with chewing on the flesh of cow or pig, then is eating dog or horse or whathaveyou really any different? The way I see it, the only people who can be legitimately repulsed by such customs are vegetarians (this should not be read as an endorsement of vegetarianism, as I downright dislike vegetarians). And so, I will try just about anything that’s offered to me.

Still, there are two animals I just can’t bring myself to eat: dogs and donkeys. Donkeys because they have it hard enough as it is, and dogs because, well, just because they’re dogs. What other creature in the animal kingdom strives to align with humankind the way dogs do? And we’re going to repay that by eating them? Fuck that shit.

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26
Feb
09

Roe versus the Volcano

With the media’s constant attempt to makes us feel miserable these days (discussed here, which in turn produced this. I always thought of myself as something of a muse), it’s good to see there’s still room for this kind of story. Blogger Jason Roe posted about a glitch he found with Ryanair’s website, which produced a spate of offensive and highly personal responses (accusations of a “pathetic life”, etc) from individuals within Ryanair’s HQ. (link and linker)

I still don’t understand how exactly the glitch Jason found works, and as I wouldn’t fly Ryanair even if they paid me I don’t really care. What interested me was the vindictive nature of the responses left by the staff. The rudeness of Ryanair’s frontline service has long been established, so it’s somewhat refreshing to know they share this attitude within the inner-workings of the company. Even so, the explosion of anger over someone doing nothing more than highlighting a bug on your site is baffling. Choice quotes for me are: “Keep working on yourself and don’t post bollocks,” “It’s not a threat, its advice for you to present yourself better… but of course you think of threat straightaway, because that fits you better,” and my favourite, “Offensive aggression of customers depends on customer’s ignorance.”

Even their PR guy was snotty about it when discussing the matter. “It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers,” he was quoted in the IT, adding, “lunatic bloggers can have the blogosphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel.” Of course he also admitted the offending posts did come from staff. So we have two conflicting pieces of information within the same head with both being accepted as true, not terribly unlike the difference between the prices they think they charge and what they actually charge. Orwell would have had a field-day with this. Presumably the cost of air travel went up a little when their people were wasting time and energy with Jason’s blog.

When RTÉ reported it a spokesman tried to suggest it was the work of just one member of staff “when they should have been working”. I call bullshit on that one. This to me sounds like the kind of thing that spreads around the office like wildfire, and in a mob-mentality sort of way they lost the run of themselves. As for their repeated degrading language regarding bloggers, I would suggest a blogosphere boycott, except I’m not that organised and I really don’t care enough.

Anyway, the relevant blog is here, but yoze have probably found it already.

22
Feb
09

I’m full of shit

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this blog is the reaction it has generated. The e-mails and comments sent to me have been almost entirely supportive, which I very much appreciate. However, last week this suddenly landed in my inbox.

i just read your blog and you are full of shit.if i was that girl i would walk passed you in the street.they all did that for a good cause grow up…………………

I found this anger confusing, not least because it was left as a comment to my “this is me” page. At first I hoped it might have been left my mistake, as it seem like otherwise the writer had somehow taken offence to me personally, which was just bizarre. However, I soon realised that what had upset this person was my post on a naked calendar featuring people I know that I had just discovered. I had to delete the comment, as it would have been ridiculous to leave it where it was left. All the same, I’d like to highlight it and offer a defence.

It’s not that I’m so thin-skinned that I can’t accept that someone doesn’t like me for what I write. I’ve had plenty of articles published that pissed people off, and I would never dream of giving a shit. I’m also not bothered by the childish use of foul language. Let’s face it, with post titles like “Dermot O’Leary can go fuck himself”, it’s not something I’m in a position to moan about. What is bothering me is how people can misinterpret a comment and perceive offence where none exists. Ok, the language I used in this particular post might be described as flippant, you might even say sarcastic. Yet I do not accept that it was negative or unfairly critical. I believe I expressed encouragement for the enterprise and the cause it is aimed to support.

I have to admit I’m nervous about meeting again the individuals referred to in the post. I imagine they’ll be a bit pissed. I probably should be more careful about what I write here, especially now that thanks to the Indo people close to me know I write this blog. Even with this aside, there’s a duty of care. We bloggers enjoy a freedom to write what we like without interference from an editorial process. This, however, should not permit us to unfairly cause hurt or offence with impunity. In general, this isn’t a major issue as most Irish bloggers seem to be mindful of this. But we should also be mindful of unintended offence with off-the-cuff remarks about individuals.

This being said, if you publish pictures of yourselves in the nude and distribute them freely, it’s a bit of an ask to assume everyone will dismiss it as a big laugh. I would have thought such a calendar was designed to generate a discussion, and this is what my post sought to reflect.