Have you ever watched one of those nature shows featuring fights between bull elephant seals? The combatants waddle up to each other, bellowing and puffing out their chests, and lifting their snouts in the air. They put on a big show of machismo.
As a litigator, I’ve seen a lot of court cases over the years. Some male barristers reminded me of bull seals on a rock. The similarities didn’t just arise through avoirdupois, either. It was the posturing, the bellowing and the swaggering: a primal fight for dominance. Funnily enough, I never saw the same display by any female barristers. Some were very aggressive, to be sure, and some had flair and panache, but it just wasn’t the same. (That’s not to say that there aren’t female barristers out there who behave like bull seals, but if so, I haven’t met one yet.)
I also noted that the really good barristers (male or female) tended not to posture and swagger. They were the top of the seal pack and they knew it!
Although it can sometimes be amusing, I don’t really like that kind of conflict on the whole. It must be admitted that I have an excessively tender heart. I sometimes wish that I was not so sensitive; but that’s the way it is. When I was little, I could barely watch Fawlty Towers because Basil was cruel to Manuel. These days, I can’t find any enjoyment or value in reality television. I get upset when I see participants bullying other participants, and I feel embarrassed for participants when they look foolish. I’m the kind of person who comes out in hives if I see a bad comedy act: I’m so embarrassed for the comic… I realise that most people aren’t like that, and can laugh at these things. Some of my dear friends (who are sensitive, generous individuals) have enjoyed reality television series of various kinds, and on one occasion a few years ago, my husband got addicted to a Big Brother series (can’t remember which one it was, I had to go hide in the study). Perhaps my coulrophobia is related to my oversensitivity. I can’t stand clowns. They make me feel sick. In fact, I can’t even type about them any more… Anyway, let’s move away from this topic before I get totally drenched in a cold sweat…
Sometimes activities in the blogosphere (particularly left vs right confrontations) remind me of those bull seals. The prime example of bull-sealishness lately has been the conflict between Andrew Landeryou (in the Blue Corner) and Jeremy Sear (in the Red Corner). In short compass, it involved a post where Sear criticised parents who sent their children to private schools, but Landeryou then exposed the fact that Sear himself had been to several private schools in his youth. If I had been Sear, I would have admitted that I had attended private schools, as in my opinion, it is hypocritical not to mention it. But Landeryou also included a link to Sear’s mother’s personal details. It seems to me that this is “just not cricket”. [Perhaps in the circumstances I should confess that this attitude may be a product of my own attendance at an English private school for 3 and half years? ;-)] Why should Sear’s mother and family be dragged into this? The fight continues, and each has been threatening the other with defamation. I can’t be bothered detailing it any further. Sear has now written a rather nasty personal attack on Greg Sheridan of The Australian, dealing with Sheridan’s article about his father’s death. Hmm, wasn’t he complaining about personal attacks…?
I really don’t like the personal nature of many left-right stoushes, and the way in which anyone from the “other side” gets pigeonholed immediately (“feminazi”, “leftoid”, “moonbat”, “wing nut”, “Blairite”, “fascist” etc, etc). I look at many different blogs, including some with which I disagree vehemently, but I hope I never “get personal” in my criticisms thereof. I just don’t enjoy watching bull seals on a rock, posturing and bellowing. Maybe I saw too much of it in the court room? Anyway, it all seems a bit hollow to me these days. I like an exchange of substance, where each participant is willing to listen to the other.
P.S. Like my drawing? 🙂