THE festive period now operates as a focus point for hectoring social campaigns of the most patronising type, writes Stuart Waiton
Last year – as part of the attack on fans of Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic, by the Scottish Government, and their promotion of the Offensive Behaviour Bill (now Act) – a section of football supporters in Scotland were labelled as wife beaters.
Essentially the argument was that there were more phone calls of complaint to the police about domestic incidents after Old Firm games, therefore Old Firm fans should be targeted and educated about not beating up their wives. We also had the invention of the new term or category (or label) – “Old Firm Domestic Violence”.
One of the arguments used at the time to attack this representation of Old Firm fans as wife beaters was to point out that actually, at any time when large numbers of people celebrate (or commiserate) and drink alcohol, there is a rise in the number of phone calls to the police about domestic disputes.
At Christmas and Hogmanay, for example, this is what happens. I remember thinking at the time that these arguments were being made, and indeed were being made by myself, that the logical, and miserable, response from the authorities would be to say, “You’re right, and we are going to target Christmas as well, as a time when you lot batter your wives”.
And hey presto – here it is.
The police Violence Reduction Unit has launched its very own domestic violence Christmas special. Chief Inspector Graham Goulden of the VRU explained that, “we must remember that domestic abuse is everyone’s problem. If we really want to make a difference to levels of domestic abuse, we need to look at our attitudes towards relationships and what we see as acceptable.” So forget this frivolity and merriment and remember people are beating their wives this Christmas – and it’s all our problem.
The point about this miserable campaign is that it doesn’t stand alone. Rather, it sits comfortably with a growing trend amongst “right-thinking people” to see Christmas and to treat Christmas as a time of misery and despair: Something the rest of us need to be made aware of and/or protected from.
In recent years for example the money-grabbing organisation, the NSPCC, hit us with images and ideas about all the child abuse going on in families at Christmas.
My suggestion for next year would be to really finish Christmas off with a campaign to stop children sitting on Santa’s knee. I mean, think about what sort of message this is sending to children about trusting strangers. It just won’t do.
Today it appears to be “right-thinking” at Christmas time to promote, or at least be aware of, the most degraded aspects of human behaviour. Where once we had a season that was to be jolly, a time for “loving and giving”, a time represented by the family as a wonderful thing, gathering together to eat, drink and be merry.
Now Christmas is fast becoming a time where simply by gathering together and eating and especially drinking, we are seen to be a problem to one another.
The Violence Reduction Unit for example, are keeping as busy as Santa’s little helpers, and have another cracking campaign over Christmas. This time, it is the drinking, the getting merry, of all adults that is being targeted. Why? Because every time we take a sup, have a bevvie or a dram we are, apparently, educating the next generation that our “culture of drink” is OK.
The police hope to teach us parents for example that you “don’t have to finish the bottle just because it’s open”, and to, “Let your kids see you tip the dregs down the sink rather than drain the glass or can”.
Developed as part of the “violence reduction” strategy of the police, essentially this breathtakingly patronising campaign is warning us to be aware, every time we have a drink in front of our kids, especially when we have “one drink too many”, that we could be creating tomorrow’s alcoholics, perhaps even the next generation of drunken wife beaters and violent binge drinkers.
The campaign even comes with its own cartoon and special version of the Twelve Days of Christmas sung by the police choir: “Twelve pints of lager, Eleven whisky chasers, Ten bloody Marys etc, etc…” It’s enough to drive you to drink.
And on the subject of driving, not only are the authorities intent on making us “aware” of all the misery we could be inflicting on one another this Christmas, they are also keen to up their policing of our behaviour in the form of random breathalyser tests for motorists. Kenny MacAskill wants more powers for the police to check if we have been drinking over the Christmas period. This of course is not based on any increased problem of drink driving, or injuries or death from drunk drivers, but is simply part of the relentlessly miserable attitude to the public. In reality drink driving related incidents have been falling steadily for decades, but in the minds of the awareness obsessed elites, this is an irrelevance.
If this wasn’t bad enough the down-beat and depressing cultural climate at Christmas is really rammed home by the anti-materialist moaning about, how “consumerism is ruining Christmas”. Even my own family has gone in for this desolate approach and banned present buying for adults. It seems I can’t even buy a bit of happiness this year.
Finally, just when you think you can find a bit of Christmas spirit at your child’s nativity play, you discover that the cosmopolitan awareness authorities have managed to take the politically incorrect Christ out of Christmas and replaced him with a spiritually empty anodyne “inoffensive” tale about how to parent a crying child. I guess I should be thankful for small mercies. At least they didn’t do Who Stole Christmas: A consumerist nativity play.
All this misery of course tells us nothing about ordinary people at Christmas, but tells us an awful lot about our empty misanthropic elites in Scotland. Cheers!
• Dr Stuart Waiton is a sociology lecturer at Abertay University