The British press have been on idiotic form this week reporting, among many other non-stories, the growing popularity of Gender Revealing Parties.
In case you haven’t heard, these are parties where you open a sealed envelope and announce the sex of your unborn child. A Hallmark Moment if ever there was one. It also signals the surrender of another bridgehead of correct English. ‘Gender’ is a grammatical term and is no substitute for the word ‘sex’. I don’t know how it crept in, I must have dozed off while it was happening, but anyway, it’s WRONG. Odd too, don’t you think, that in an age where sex is brought into everything, the word should have been elbowed out of its legitimate territory?
Then we have today’s page 2 of the magisterial Daily Telegraph which carries a large photograph of a small hole in the heel of the Prime Minister’s sock.
But this week’s big opportunity for mischievous reporting and 20:20 hindsight has been the inquest into the death of Mark Saunders in 2008. Briefly, for my American Reader (Hi Biff, how are all y’all?) Mr Saunders was a young English barrister, also an alcoholic, a cocaine user and the owner of a shotgun. In a drunken meltdown he began shooting at his neighbours’ houses, a five hour seige ensued towards the end of which he pointed his gun at police officers. He was shot and killed. The tone of the newspaper reports has been almost uniformly anti-police. Expressions like ‘bristling with firearms’ and ‘hail of bullets’ have been ricocheting off the presses, and one hand-wringer even suggested that the risk from Saunders was negligible as ‘a shotgun can’t do much damage’. I’ll bet he wouldn’t be saying that if it was his child’s bedroom window that had been hit. Another commentator asked, ‘do we live in a Police State?’ Well that’s an easy one. I suggest he cuts the rhetoric and consults anyone who has actually lived in a police state.
So, yet another occasion when the police were expected to keep the public from harm and read the mind of a dope-head. Anyway, Mark Saunders is dead, may he rest in peace. I suspect that was what he wanted all along.