Good day, Dear Readers, and what odd times we live in. Those who can’t write do little else; while those who should write aren’t allowed to.
Exhibit A comes from the Buckie Farm, a carvery restaurant that represents some of the best-value eating in Aberdeen. I went with Faye and some of the other St. Columbites after church yesterday. The food was delicious, the location was convenient, and under no circumstances should any of the staff have been allowed near a word processor. But they were, and we wound up with this, a leaflet I am reproducing for your horror in all its punctual and grammatical glory. This is a trainwreck of a paragraph, and it makes me hurt inside.
“The team have put together this leaflet to explain what Empathica is, also what it means to us as a company. We really do value your opinion, to your whole experience here with us today. Even if you are either 1st time visitor, or regular, we want to hear about your visit. Derek our Manager, along with Mitchells & Butlers, also our team, want to give 110% satisfaction to you and your family/friends. You could win £1000, also win Instantly an IPod. Just for telling us, are we doing a great job, plus, also if we are not, where we can improve, as we want you to feel, your at home, are we matching up to mum’s or gran’s, or even dad’s/grandad’s cooking. If you agree, and feel you have been looked after, then we would love for you to tick the “Strongly Agree” button on our survey, which should be handed to you, on your visit. This gives a true reflection on how we are doing. If you don’t get one, simply just ask one of your team and one will be given to you no problem. all you need is the slip, which you use the telephone number to enter 01224 XXXXXX. then proceed, (if on line), 20 questions, all relating to your visit. No feedback will be sent, or emails to you, etc…. We will then be compared to other restaurants in our area, regarding Value, Price & most of all Standards. please take 5 min’s, at home, for us, let us know, if we are getting it right, and again if not, then how we can improve. Remember, you can also use our Free Phone Number. Good luck, someone has to win, we have had winners in our area. Thank you, Derek & The Team.”
Would somebody please take away Derek & The Team’s pencils?
The pencils could then be given to Jytte Klausen, a professor of comparative politics at Brandeis University. Professor Klausen has written a book on the 2005 controversy surrounding the Muhammed cartoons published in a Danish newspaper. The book is being published by Yale University Press, in an altered format to that in which it was submitted: the book no longer features the cartoons themselves.
I understand that these discussions on controversial topics must be handled sensitively. But this is bonkers. A book discussing elephants in the room cannot work if the pictures of the elephants are themselves excised. It is ludicrous to think otherwise. Professor Klausen’s comments have been models of restraint, but had I been in her position I admit I would have struggled to behave with such decorum. Bolton’s accusation of “intellectual cowardice” on the part of Yale is only the start of it. I would go further. Vladimir Lenin said that “the purpose of terrorism is to terrorise.” If this is true then it would seem that an American university has suffered a terrorist incident, insofar as it is too frightened to reproduce controversial imagery for fear of an attack.
Franklin Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, explained that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. By that criterion, Yale University is terrified.
Not a good day for freedom, Ladies and Gentlemen.