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Date: 06/11/13

Towering Stupidity

Or, Today In Ninnydom.

There seem to be no lengths to which people will not go in our thoroughly debased and de-evolving society to find offence where any reasonable person would do no more than shrug their shoulders and get on with life.

The latest example comes from a Hallowe'en fancy dress competition held in a nightclub in Chester (not a million miles from where I sit trying to type this whilst facepalming).

Two students from the University Of Chester entered the competition by dressing in costumes which updated the theme of horror, by illustrating the towers of the World Trade Center with flames and explosions.

Whatever you might think of this taste-wise, the two young women in question at least showed some imagination; I mean, ghouls, zombies and Frankenstein monsters are all terrible clichés, and the whole thing is ripe for reinvention. So much so that they won first prize (£150 in shopping vouchers).

Photographs of the students in their costumes were posted on a Facebook page. Which is when, with what is now a tedious inevitability, a fabricated shit-storm ensued.

The University (which became such less than a decade ago, having quite happily been a mere College for over a century before then) and its Students' Union both went into pearl-clutching mode, joining together to "utterly condemn the appalling photos", beginning "an urgent investigation" and threatening to take "the necessary action".

(There is, by the by, no indication in the story that either the University or the SU were in any way involved in organising the event in question. That was never going to stop them, of course; no mere fact like that ever does).

We've been here before so many times, haven't we? I'd hate to be a student nowadays; we used to think that the administrators of the colleges and (real) universities we attended were regularly to be found somewhere along the axis leading from the incompetent to the downright daft, but at least there didn't seem to be anything of the footling, self-righteous, censorious twattery which seems to be the norm amongst the contemporary rulers of what we are obliged - at least by convention - to refer to as our educational establishment.

It also seems too much to expect of students' unions nowadays that they might actually, y'know, defend their members' right to freedom of expression. Unfortunately, not only have the most extreme forms of 'Political Correctness' infected them to the very marrow, but the unions now seem to be run exclusively as a training ground for those with no other discernible utility to society, in which the better to practice their authoritarianism in readiness for their Glorious Careers as future Home Secretaries and other such footling political oafs.

Similarly, the company which runs the nightclub expressed themselves to be "extremely concerned", sufficiently so indeed as to pass the blame on to the DJ who was running the event and who awarded the prize.

So far, so predictable. But the BBC report of the story contains one extra little nugget of applied hypocrisy. It contains a quote from one George Borsberry (whose qualifications for bloviating on the subject are not vouchsafed to us), who claimed that he had "never seen such disgusting behaviour by anyone". The initial reaction to such a puff of foetid twaddle would normally be to suggest that Mr. Borsberry (whose name, the more I see it, looks like an invention of an American humourist) should try getting out more (although the warden at his Assisted Living Facility might have other ideas about that). But look at the report again. In particular, look at the photograph of Miss Langford and Miss Collinge. Most particular of all, look at the attribution of the picture.

Yes, it seems that 'Mr Borsberry' and his gorge were not so full of outrage that he didn't have the opportunity to take a photo and offer it to the BBC, no doubt for a payment of some sort.

If these two young women suffer any kind of sanction as a result of their innovative take on a rather tired cultural phenomenon, then we must once again assume that those who are in positions of power (however mean and meagre) over us consider their own amour propre and the protection of their so-called 'authority' to be more important than the principle that people should be free non-violently to express their views as they will, and that there must be no official punishment ever applied for the non-crime of causing offence (usually feigned or fanned) to people who are simply begging for the chance to be outraged on behalf of other people they don't know, have never met, and don't give a flying fuck for in any other set of circumstances.