We took down the ‘joke of the week’ in the mens’ toilets of the Farmers Arms in Muker, North Yorkshire; and put it in the bin. Two nights running. And the landlord made it clear he was not amused. So we don’t know if we’re officially barred, but we imagine we may not be particularly welcome.
Which is a shame. Because on the face of it, the Farmers Arms is everything we want in a pub. It’s a proper local, in scenic Upper Swaledale in North Yorkshire, with well-priced tasty food, locally sourced ingredients, and welcoming staff (except for the ‘joke’ incident, of course).
For the record, the ‘joke’ in question was: “Obama played the race card. Clinton played the gender card. And America played the Trump card”.
The landlord was annoyed that we interfered with his right to express whatever political opinions he chooses, in his own pub. And he’s certain that his customers are amused by his ‘joke of the week’. Well, he knows his regulars and we don’t, so we can’t comment in that regard. But we wonder if we’re not the only tourists to be perturbed by his ‘joke of the week’.
What does it mean to ‘play’ a ‘race card’, or a ‘gender card’ anyway? Is the underlying premise of the ‘joke’ that a woman, or a black man, might somehow be more partisan than a white male? Less able to represent a diverse nation? We’re not sure. (Perhaps we should have asked the landlord?).
Maybe we’re a bit oversensitive right now to anything relating to Donald Trump’s recent election victory. But we both find admiration of his invidiously anti-democratic and selfish behaviours confusing and distressing.
- Does it really seem right for the President of a country with extremes of wealth and poverty to boast that it’s ‘smart’ not to pay income taxes? If the most wealthy don’t pay tax, then either the rest of us have to pay more, or we accept that we are moving closer to becoming a society focused purely on self-interest and everyone else be damned.
- Does it really seem right for the President of a democratic nation to encourage crowds to chant “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton; given how many non-democratic countries really do imprison, or even ‘disappear’, political opponents? Shouldn’t we be more proud and protective of legal protections?
- Does it really seem right that so little reliance can be placed on statements made by the leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world? According to The Guardian’s Trump fact-check column at any rate.
- And, even just from the point of view of simple manners and common decency, do we really want leaders who happily mock a reporter with arthrogryposis (a disabling condition)?
I could say more. But you probably get my point already.
In all honesty, with hindsight we wished we’d dealt with the situation better. Nonetheless, we’re relieved to get back back home to our own local where diversity and equality are, on the whole, celebrated rather than denigrated.
And, yes, we’d agree we might have over-reacted to the ‘joke’. We could have simply ignored it. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But, still . . . . . Numerous commentators have suggested we’re entering an era of ‘post-truth’ politics where wordplay and aggressive rhetoric carry far more weight than informed opinion and fact. And we think this matters. Not least because it’s not at all clear how Trump-style politics will contribute to genuinely addressing all-too-real inequalities within and outside both the US and the UK.