Armagammon
May 15, 2018 7:15 AM   Subscribe

As the Brexit phony war rumbles on with deadlines getting ever nearer, it's time to ask the big question... namely is it racist / prejudice to call angry, red-faced, middle-aged, right-wing, white men, 'gammons'?
posted by fearfulsymmetry (131 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is gammons to replace les rosbifs then?
posted by poffin boffin at 7:17 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


is it racist / prejudice to call [...] white men, 'gammons'?

No.

Next question?
posted by Mayor West at 7:22 AM on May 15 [29 favorites]


No it isn't racist. No it isn't a slur. The only way in which it is problematic really is the fact that it's unfairly insulting to delicious, delicious pigs.
posted by Dysk at 7:25 AM on May 15 [35 favorites]


If it wasn't racist to compare Karl Rove to a canned ham, it isn't here either.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:26 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


why not "steamed hams"?
posted by chavenet at 7:26 AM on May 15 [46 favorites]


That's only acceptable when discussing Albany politics.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:28 AM on May 15 [41 favorites]


You can't be racist against white people, it's a conceptual error. Whiteness itself is the source of racism in the post-colonial world. If we cure ourselves of "whiteness" (not the skin color, but the idea of whiteness, the notion of a superior and peak race for which others are degenerate precursors) then we cure ourselves of racism.

why not "steamed hams"?

Here in Wisconsin I call them "hot ham and cheeses"
posted by dis_integration at 7:29 AM on May 15 [20 favorites]


Also, what the fuck Guardian?

Do say: “Always punch up, never punch down.”

Don’t say: “Unless the guy below you looks like pub meat, in which case punch away.”


How are home-owning, savings-and-pensions-having, full-time-employed straight white men presumed to be below in any meaningful way?

(And that is a needlessly flip dismissal of an excellent cut of cured pork. "Pub meat" indeed.)
posted by Dysk at 7:30 AM on May 15 [15 favorites]


This is basically the UK copycat version of “if you call me a Nazi I’ll become a bigger Nazi to spite you” which was incredibly stupid to begin with. Say no to thin skinned right wing idiots.
posted by Artw at 7:33 AM on May 15 [38 favorites]


This is basically the UK copycat version of “if you call me a Nazi I’ll become a bigger Nazi to spite you” which was incredibly stupid to begin with. Say no to thin skinned right wing idiots.

I was going to compare it to the "your intolerance of my bigotry is the REAL intolerance" folie à deux that has seen an upswing in recent years, but I like yours too.
posted by Mayor West at 7:35 AM on May 15 [15 favorites]


This is basically the UK copycat version of “if you call me a Nazi I’ll become a bigger Nazi to spite you”

No, we have that too and have done for ages. I mean: Brexit.
posted by Dysk at 7:37 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


“Gammons” and “Snowflakes” are the Cavaliers and Roundheads of our time.
posted by acb at 7:39 AM on May 15 [15 favorites]


James Gammon?
posted by zarq at 7:39 AM on May 15


I've never liked the punch up/down distinction as a rule of thumb because humans tend to be bad at reading power and rules of thumb need to be obvious. Obviously privilege means you don't realise you're upfist, but unexamined prejudice often means you read downfist as being upfist. Take the Westboro Baptist Church. Is it punching up because they're homophobes? Punching down because even the homophobic Fox News want nothing to do with them? Punching up because they act like assholes? Punching down because they're financially and psychologically trapped in an abusive church?

Whether it's read as punching up or down depends unhelpfully on everyone agreeing on the hierarchy, and that is not helpful for a simple guide to whether a joke is OK. Given how much the left loves playing the complicate-the-narrative game, it's almost an invitation for someone to dunk on you.
posted by Merus at 7:45 AM on May 15 [30 favorites]


You can't be racist against white people ...

I'm white. I once worked in a place where the executive team was predominantly non-white.

Believe me, racism against white people is possible. Because human nature. Sad, but true.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:47 AM on May 15 [24 favorites]


As a lady pointed out on Twitter, can't call them 'gammons'? Back to 'cunts' it is then.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:47 AM on May 15 [23 favorites]


1. This whole article made me hungry, and not in any metaphorical way, just in a "wish I had some gammon" way.

2. Sadly, my family, who are pinkish white people, tend to get rosacea-y or reddish with age, so I will admit that it did make me feel self-conscious about pinkening as I get older, because I already kind of hate it. (Double sadly, we do not pinken because of pub lunches and booze, we just pinken because our tiny facial veins age. I might be a bit more resigned to it if I'd had a lifetime of fish and chips and so on.)

3. It is obviously disingenuous to pretend that this is an actual problem, racist, etc. As a pink-faced person, I feel that it falls under the "not really insulting if it's true" rubric, and no one who has gone seriously ruddy is actually under any illusions about it.
posted by Frowner at 7:48 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


You can't be racist against white people, it's a conceptual error.

In the context of Brexit there has been a hell of a lot of hatred for white people in the UK, just not these white people. Instead it’s been directed at Eastern Europeans. And once in a while the Irish just for old times sake. So in this context I don’t think that blanket statement applies.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:50 AM on May 15 [40 favorites]


> acb:
"“Gammons” and “Snowflakes” are the Cavaliers and Roundheads of our time."

Snowflake Gammon is the new Bond girl, I hear.
posted by chavenet at 7:51 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


is it racist / prejudice to call [...] white men, 'gammons'?

No, because “prejudice” is a noun. :p
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:51 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


You can't be racist against white people ...

I'm white. I once worked in a place where the executive team was predominantly non-white.

Believe me, racism against white people is possible. Because human nature. Sad, but true.


Two different definitions of the word "racist" or "racism" - the one you're using (the common definition) means "racial animus" or "prejudice based on (perceived) race"; the one they are (from race theory) using refers to systemic racism and how racial prejudice within the context of systemic racism has differential effects when the direction of the prejudice reinforces the main racial hierarchies. Both phenomenon are real and significant, but the fact that theorists decided to re-define a common word has led to a lot of unnecessary confusion and arguments and misunderstanding of what they mean.
posted by jb at 7:54 AM on May 15 [65 favorites]


I assume the Venn diagram with the “TERF is a slur” folks is basically a O.
posted by Artw at 7:54 AM on May 15 [27 favorites]


I'm glad you posted this. All I'd seen was the twitter discussion of the 19th century meaning of the word gammon and I was very confused.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:54 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


It's fine.

I disagree with the notion that you can't be racist against white people. Any group can be racist - it's just part of tribal identity/dynamics. (Disclaimer: POC, deeply concerned and unhappy about white supremacists, not interested in giving them aid or cover. However, I am also aware of racism that has nothing to do with the West, and am wary of pronouncements that leave us beyond examining our own biases and damage. And, upon preview: whiteness itself is a surprisingly fluid construct that has excluded or folded in various unexpected groups over time.)

That said, it's about the last thing to worry about in the West. Cis het white men run everything, I got a very small violin for them if they feel bad about microaggressions.

Moreover, this is totally not what this is. Making assumptions about someone for the color of their skin has nothing to do with viewing them poorly for their known and documented beliefs and choices. The only reason they conflate the two things is projection: they are such fucking racist sacks of crap themselves that they literally cannot imagine someone judging them on more nuanced grounds either.

tl;dr: calling someone traditional racial slurs is categorically different from insulting someone for being a right-wing reactionary bigot even if the insult itself hinges on physical appearance.
posted by mordax at 7:55 AM on May 15 [48 favorites]


Say no to thin skinned right wing idiots.

Worth remembering that much of the hand-wringing is coming from the self-identified 'progressive' parts of the British media, including, as Dysk pointed out, the Guardian. It is disingenuous respectability politics by centrist folks who are more concerned with manners than anything resembling social justice. Genteel racists, classists and TERFs are over-represented at every level in the British media.

Case in point: Suzanne Moore's call for kindness as part of a socialist vocabulary doesn't extend as far trans women (CW transphobia): https://twitter.com/judeinlondon2/status/996090365429075969
posted by ocular shenanigans at 7:57 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


I can't think of "gammon" without thinking of Anthony Rowley:

A frog he would a-wooing go,
Heigh ho! says Rowley,
A frog he would a-wooing go,
Whether his mother would let him or no.
With a rowley, powley, gammon, and spinach,
Heigh ho! says Anthony Rowley.


If "gammon" is cool for Mr. Frog, it's cool with me.
posted by SPrintF at 7:58 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Billy Bragg: "Turns out that the ‘right to offend’ so often demanded by free speech warriors doesn’t apply if the offended are angry middle-aged white men."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:59 AM on May 15 [52 favorites]


I'm in awe at the size of these gammons.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:02 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


Ijeoma Oluo has a really good explanation of this issue about racial animus towards white people, and why it's different from what race theorists would call "racism" in her book So You Want to Talk about Race.

Basically: if someone calls me (a white person) a "cracker" - that might hurt my feelings (crackers DO matter), but it doesn't really impact my ability to get a job, or a house in a good school district, or make authorities crack down harder on me. But racial animus that reinforces given racial hierarchies is like adding drops of water to a flood - individually, they seem like small actions, but it just adds and builds to the overall prejudice in society until it swamps us all: those people are dirty, don't rent to them; those people are thieves, follow them around your store; those people are dangerous, call the police. The end effects are different.

Outside of the American context, the racial hierarchies are different and so the effects of racial animus are equally different: prejudice against Polish immigrants in the UK most certainly does reinforce the local hierarchies in a way that prejudice against Americans (which I occasionally encountered there, since I sound just like one) doesn't.
posted by jb at 8:06 AM on May 15 [32 favorites]


calling someone traditional racial slurs is categorically different from insulting someone for being a right-wing reactionary bigot even if the insult itself hinges on physical appearance.

I would tend to agree that racism and bodyshaming are not precisely the same thing, but I don't think that justifies either one.
posted by I heart bodyshaming at 8:11 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


This is so much an artifact of the internet, and a failure to keep one's eye on the ball.

An artifact of the internet because it's precisely the sort of clicky thing that everyone can have an opinion on and lots of discussion can therefore be had;

A failure to keep one's eye on the ball because frankly, yes, it would be nice if political insults were not based on appearance IMO, but really it is so overwhelmingly trivial a preoccupation in what is a frankly disastrous time. It does not matter. Much of the world is obviously, obviously careening toward disaster of some kind and we have to get our heads around that fact.

The spoiledness of the people who set the political agendas. It's easy to bloviate about this because an awful lot of the bloviators aren't themselves under the gun. For now, at least, the agenda-setters at HuffPo or the Guardian or wherever are relatively secure, and so it seems fun and slightly instructive to discuss this matter.

The spoiledness of the people who set the political agendas, Pt 2. This is all part of bourgeois solidarity. What's happening right now everywhere is that the have-nots are being destroyed, quickly or slowly depending on where. The haves are still afloat, even though eventually some of them will sink as well, probably the lefter ones first. So right now, the haves are all agreeing to disagree about some bullshit, because the real question for the haves is "are you going to side with the have-nots or not" and that's a question that will upend everything when it's taken seriously.

I don't even know how to handle all this - it's like reading Janet Flanner's 1930s essay collection Paris Was Yesterday, where bizarre crimes and scandal preoccupy everyone but you cna discern in little asides on daily life the disaster that is looming.
posted by Frowner at 8:12 AM on May 15 [40 favorites]


The OED lists gammon-faced and gammon-visaged as 'parasynthetic adjectives referring to particularly reddish or florid complexions', with citations going back to the early 17th century.
posted by misteraitch at 8:13 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


oooeeeet???
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:15 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


The OED lists gammon-faced and gammon-visaged as 'parasynthetic adjectives referring to particularly reddish or florid complexions', with citations going back to the early 17th century.

I imagine tho that there are a LOT of parasynthetic adjectives in the OED that people will avoid using if they don't want to sound like a bigoted dirtbag.
posted by turkeybrain at 8:15 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


Totally plausible that the time between someone coming up with a catchy new insult (whether they found it in the 17th century or not) and it becoming a solidly racist epithet is down to somewhere less than five years. Finding one that's just on the cusp is a great way to derail any debate, no matter how internationally significant.

Either that, or nobody has anything left to say about Brexit.
posted by sfenders at 8:18 AM on May 15


I would tend to agree that racism and bodyshaming are not precisely the same thing, but I don't think that justifies either one.
posted by I heart bodyshaming at 16:11 on May 15 [+] [!]


I personally read it as a statement on their emotional state (face flushed with anger) rather than their general appearance. I guess you could argue that it's a comment on how their emotional state makes them appear, but I still wouldn't call that body-shaming.

Bit of a tactless sockpuppet to register to make that complaint though, isn't it?
posted by Dysk at 8:22 AM on May 15 [15 favorites]


fearfulsymmetry: Did you expect this post to create heat or light?

And once again, the only person who has anything interesting to say is Frowner...
posted by Leon at 8:24 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I've never liked the punch up/down distinction as a rule of thumb because humans tend to be bad at reading power and rules of thumb need to be obvious. Obviously privilege means you don't realise you're upfist, but unexamined prejudice often means you read downfist as being upfist. Take the Westboro Baptist Church. Is it punching up because they're homophobes? Punching down because even the homophobic Fox News want nothing to do with them? Punching up because they act like assholes? Punching down because they're financially and psychologically trapped in an abusive church?

I don't think this is that hard as long as you think about the identity you're attacking. For example, attacking the Westboro Baptist Church qua the Westboro Baptist Church is fine because they're hateful racist homophobic bigots. You can say "fuck the Westboro Baptist Church, they're hateful racist homophobic bigots" because then you are attacking the identity "hateful racist homophobic bigots". If you say "fuck the Westboro Baptist Church, they're all tacky poors" then you are attacking poor people and that is not okay. Similarly, I am all for attacking Donald Trump because he is a hateful racist homophobic bigot, but when people make fun of him for being fat that is not okay with me because I don't think it's okay to attack the way people look and I think making fun of fat people is definitely "punching down". Punching up vs. down doesn't mean there are some people you're allowed to attack and some people you aren't, it means that if you are going to punch you need to consider what identity you're actually punching.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:30 AM on May 15 [23 favorites]


People like this are lucky that derision is all that they're getting, especially when they deserve so, so much more.
posted by codacorolla at 8:32 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I personally read it as a statement on their emotional state (face flushed with anger) rather than their general appearance.

I do believe the intent may be to highlight emotional state - and in this case the immediate target may be terrible people - but that doesn't change the fact that it's insulting someone based on their appearance.

Bit of a tactless sockpuppet to register to make that complaint though, isn't it?

For a long time, I've been saddened and disappointed in metafilter's general approval of bodyshaming. I'm not sure why this post was the final trigger for me comment on it.
posted by I heart bodyshaming at 8:33 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


As an insult, it’s not offensive enough. The people it’s aimed at will adopt it; they’ll form Gammon Clubs and boast about what true Gammons they are. Look what happened to ‘Tory’, which originally meant ‘Irish robber’ or something.
posted by Segundus at 8:34 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


but that doesn't change the fact that it's insulting someone based on their appearance.

That's not the same as body-shaming though. Someone might, say, look like they're about to explode, but that isn't a comment on the deficiencies of their body, it's a comment on how their emotional state makes them appear. So too with how I read "gammon" - it's no more body-shaming than saying someone has gone the colour of a beetroot because they're blushing with embarrassment.
posted by Dysk at 8:40 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


I suppose is is just acceptable to call the others tasteless tripe!! But they will scream unfair!!
posted by Burn_IT at 8:42 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Both phenomenon are real and significant, but the fact that theorists decided to re-define a common word has led to a lot of unnecessary confusion and arguments and misunderstanding of what they mean.

Other way around, innit? "Racist"/"racism" derives from theory, specifically as a way of referring to those who actively believe in and want to enforce racial hierarchies, then by extension to the racial hierarchies themselves -- i.e., the same way it's used in modern theory.

It's only in colloquial use that the terms get conflated with prejudice. (And I note here that the conflation serves those on top of the hierarchy.)
posted by tobascodagama at 8:44 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


Look what happened to ‘Tory’, which originally meant ‘Irish robber’ or something.

It's Medieval Irish for outlaw. It's also current Irish for the plural for rocks, so take your pick.

Brexit racial animus is very much a special UK blend and I think it might be worthwhile for those in the US and elsewhere to have some understanding of how racial politics is complicated in the UK, in ways that are not always the same as how it is manifesting and has manifested elswhere. And it's regional as well: the Pepe the frog memes get used in the North against Catholics and the Republic by various elected officials who then get reported under anti-hate speech legislation for all the good that does. But elsewhere, as in in the North of England I've seen the same stuff turned against Polish and other Eastern Europeans - and sometimes it's Irish-English at the forefront of that, which just blows my mind.

And then you have what I've always mentally thought of as the commonwealth brand of racism which is very certainly about skin colour; see, for example, the treatment of the Windrush generation, and the stop and frisk constant hassling of people of colour in places like London. Of course often the two combine as when a Brexit supporting member of the house of lords from the North of Ireland called our Taoiseach both 'the Indian' and 'a typical Indian' for actually doing his job and trying to stop a hard border coming back to Ireland.

In conclusion: these people deserve to be called a lot worse, given their vileness and the abuse they hand out constantly.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:53 AM on May 15 [24 favorites]


They're also like gammons in that it's a good idea to put them in a net.
posted by Drexen at 8:55 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Is it still OK to call Nigel Farage a "Clammy, walleyed homunculus"?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:55 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


Is it still OK to call Nigel Farage a "Clammy, walleyed homunculus"?

Aside from catharsis, it does not seem useful to call people names based on their appearance rather than calling out specific behavior.
posted by turkeybrain at 9:01 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


> Look what happened to ‘Tory’, which originally meant ‘Irish robber’ or something.

It's Medieval Irish for outlaw.


Interesting parallels with "Hoosier."
posted by rhizome at 9:05 AM on May 15


Attempted wiki edit by an IP inside the UK parliament is reverted.

Then, Gammon(insult) has its own wiki entry now.
posted by vacapinta at 9:05 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


“Gammons” and “Snowflakes” are the Cavaliers and Roundheads of our time.

Brought to an end with the Treaty of Westphalian Ham. mmm ... ham ...
posted by octobersurprise at 9:14 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's terminology used against gammons, I think it's used as a descriptive classifier (of a set of ridiculous and destructive (especially in terms of the amount of public resources they feel entitled to, despite their wealth) people), so I say it's important it carries on being used. And that we don't call it an insult. Insults have to be used to insult.

Instead [racism]'s been directed at Eastern Europeans.

I saw a tweet from a Brexit racist earlier where they were drawing a distinction between Bulgarians and Romanians, one nationality apparently being self-evidently bad, and the other self-evidently good. It wasn't especially clear which was which. (I have an idea, but I'd rather not see any speculation either way)
posted by ambrosen at 9:18 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


gammon, feel the noise
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:19 AM on May 15 [10 favorites]


gammon, feel the noise
hamhock your boys
posted by halation at 9:20 AM on May 15 [24 favorites]


Also, Dickens has the oldest known use of the word in this sense, dating back to 1838.
posted by ambrosen at 9:20 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Dickens has the oldest known use of the word in this sense, dating back to 1838.

Dickens was actually using the word in a different sense: the OED defines 'gammon' (short for 'gammon and spinach') as 'talk or patter designed to persuade someone of something, or to flatter or cajole someone into a particular course of action in order to further one's own interests'. So it's not so much referring to the colour of Nigel Farage's face, more to the words coming out of his mouth.
posted by verstegan at 9:29 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Its kind of interesting that none of the original 9 Question Time audience where the thing started have been identified (I mean in the way White Van Man Emily Thornberry took a picture of van's was). You'd think the S*n would love to get their manifesto.

[This is not a call for doxxing, or suggestion that it would be a good thing to know anything about them, just an observation, really]
posted by threetwentytwo at 9:31 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I wonder if that speech-pattern case of gammon is why talkative people “ham it up”.
posted by crysflame at 9:35 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Someone might, say, look like they're about to explode, but that isn't a comment on the deficiencies of their body, it's a comment on how their emotional state makes them appear.

I think rising blood pressure as you get older probably has something to do with it. Which is very much a physical deficiency and not one confined to right leaning commentators.
posted by biffa at 9:43 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


crysflame: 'ham it up' refers to overacting rather than being talkative (says the OED).
posted by biffa at 9:46 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Dickens was actually using the word in a different sense: the OED defines 'gammon' (short for 'gammon and spinach') as 'talk or patter designed to persuade someone of something, or to flatter or cajole someone into a particular course of action in order to further one's own interests'. So it's not so much referring to the colour of Nigel Farage's face, more to the words coming out of his mouth.

Well, that rather settles it, then, doesn't it? Call 'em gammoners instead of gammons, and it's neither a slur nor body-shaming.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:53 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


the OED defines 'gammon' (short for 'gammon and spinach') as 'talk or patter designed to persuade someone of something

‘Gammon and spinach’ sounds like something you would ask the background extras in a party scene to say so as to convey the noise of dozens of overlapping conversations.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:53 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


It’s a dangerous game - it’s already been reclaimed by many of the same people as a point of pride in much the same way “despicable” was in the US.
posted by Middlemarch at 10:00 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Could've been worse than "gammon", the recent Spanish vernacular for a reactionary sexist old dude is "pollavieja" ("wrinklecock"). Since it's been pointed out that it's a bit transphobic, woker people are giving "señoro" ("mistro"?) an even more pejorative sense to replace "pollavieja".
posted by sukeban at 10:06 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Wikipedia article says:
"Gammon is a pejorative term used to describe older, often working class[1], white men"

Which is interesting, because I think the common consensus is that it's generally referring to middle class types and that claiming that it's an insult to the working class is an attempt at a bit of rhetorical judo to change it from an attack on the comfortable little englander (punching up) to an attack on the working class (punching down).
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 10:23 AM on May 15 [15 favorites]




I think the common usage is specifically an older white man who is unable to control his anger, and thus gets "red in the face."

It's not about whiteness, it's not about age, it's not about someone's predisposition for redness. It's about the unmitigated anger.

Alex Jones is a gammon. Patrick Stewart is not.
posted by explosion at 10:36 AM on May 15 [17 favorites]


In tomorrow’s edition of the Guardian: our music critic’s scathing review of Emperor Nero’s rather gauche choice of fiddle music, and our travel correspondent suggests an alternative configuration of open-air seating for unsinkable cruise liners travelling through the Arctic circle.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:46 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


I think the common usage is specifically an older white man who is unable to control his anger, and thus gets "red in the face."

Gammon tastes like ragey meat
Gammon is not good to eat
We don't love you Gammoners ...

hikiba!
posted by octobersurprise at 11:08 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I agree that to call a Brexiter a “gammon” isn’t racist or a slur or anything, but for real, shouldn’t we avoid insulting people unnecessarily? It’s impolitic, and we need to win at the politics.
posted by chrchr at 11:10 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


If one is never allowed to make comic remarks about people's appearance, what would become of caricatures? I like caricatures. But I like caricatures best when they are based on aspects of a person's appearance that they are personally responsible for. As a fat person who easily turns pink when I am agitated, I approve of the gammon slur, it's OK to depict me as an angry roundish pink object if I am shouting at someone when I shouldn't be. If someone portrayed me like that when I was over-heated from walking 10 miles in the sun, I'd feel humiliated.

Here, we have a female politician who is a racist demagogue, and in my opinion, and that of many caricaturists, she looks like an evil version of those little plastic trolls some kids collect. The thing is, she was really pretty when she was young, and the trollish appearance seems to be the result of her constant frown-smirk solidifying over time. A bit like Sarah Huckabee Sanders will look if she continues like that 20 years more.
Our semi-corrupt PM likes to portray himself as a little folksy man of the people you'd like to have a beer with. So he is often portrayed as a little pot-bellied drunk at the local pub, trying to catch up with the people who are really in charge.
To me those are two different types of fair caricatures that make fun of people in power, and there are more.

Other people that are fair targets of caricature are bullies, con-men and other crooks. People who believe they are smart for doing or saying things that are objectively wrong, either as in denying climate change, or as in breaking norms and/or laws. The brexiteers/gammons we are talking about are holding a whole continent hostage because of either denying the reality of British interdependence with the EU, or by attempting to con stupider people into turning the UK into a conservative-libertarian hellscape. It's entirely fair to make fun of people like that, and making fun of racists and bigots works. Not always, but there is a reason there is a whole genre of conservative pundits whining about how all the smart and sexy people are liberal.
posted by mumimor at 11:16 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


I think rising blood pressure as you get older probably has something to do with it. Which is very much a physical deficiency and not one confined to right leaning commentators.

Careful you don't strain something with that reach.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:17 AM on May 15 [15 favorites]


Gammon is a wonderful label, a classic playground taunt which really winds up the targets because they probably have a self image of being heroic crusaders for "the way things were". Ridicule is a very potent weapon for pricking pomposity and their outrage at the label shows just how effective it is. I agree with mumimor, it is verbal caricature and much to be encouraged.

The left needs more of this sort of thing and less of the self-righteous, holier-than-thou "lets not be beastly to the Germans" attitude exemplified by comments on this page.
posted by epo at 11:53 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


First they came for the gammons...
posted by Damienmce at 11:58 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I agree that to call a Brexiter a “gammon” isn’t racist or a slur or anything, but for real, shouldn’t we avoid insulting people unnecessarily? It’s impolitic, and we need to win at the politics.

Without wanting to turn this into Perennial US Politics Megathread Argument: UK Edition, it’s not impolitic, it’s impolite. There is no way you will get the kind of Daily Mail reader that “gammon” refers to into admitting that Brexit is a wrong insane disaster, but there is no reason at all that you shouldn’t mock them for being a furious sweaty racist - aside from anything else, “close-minded racist” isn’t a good look, and if you want to get people on side for repealing Brexit, or for attempting to mitigate it, or whatever, you might as well make “Brexit” as toxic as possible. It was widely reported that one third of UK voters didn’t know which way they would vote in the days leading up to the vote (I mean, fuck them for their ignorance and for voting anyway, but that’s another story). Being polite isn’t going to get you anywhere at this stage, sorry; and it’s also perfectly valid to mildly mock those that stole our future and our children’s future purely because they are ignorant, spiteful, gullible racists.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:58 AM on May 15 [14 favorites]


I think you really need to look at the original Wall of Gammon from Question Time to understand where it's coming from.
posted by Damienmce at 12:08 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


(As you may have summised from my previous comment, I have considerable insight into the red-faced impotent rage that your typical gammon feels: I am not one iota less furious about Brexit as the day I woke up after the vote, and there’s nothing at all that I can do about it*

*except to avoid reading or thinking about the issue, to never go back to the UK except in the case of family emergencies, and to naturalise in another country as soon as I can.)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 12:10 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


UK folks, may "gammon" save you just as "Drumpf" saved us! this is the cutting word that will make them realize how wrong and foolish they are, I'm sure

eat your ice cream sandwich if you want, but don't tell me it's health food, k?
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:12 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


I think you really need to look at the original Wall of Gammon from Question Time to understand where it's coming from.

Haha! Top middle guy looks exactly like one of my friends who I always have public pretend fights with because he loves to play-act being a gammon (he isn't at all, he just thinks it's fun that people assume things about him because of his looks). He'd totally love this if he saw it.
posted by mumimor at 12:16 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


> BungaDunga:
"I'm in awe at the size of these gammons."

Real units, eh?
posted by Samizdata at 12:21 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Gammon is the absolute unit used to measure the amount of brexichlorians within an individual. It's not racist, unlike, say, Theresa May's activities when she was in the Home Office. It's just stupid, like Theresa May's activities in organising a departure from the EU.
posted by The River Ivel at 1:07 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


In this white non-UKers opinion, not racist at all, but seems a little fatphobic, since it seems aimed at overweight people. I may not be getting the nuance.
posted by daybeforetheday at 1:12 PM on May 15


It’s not necessarily fat - it’s gin blossoms and gout, from living a comfortable life as a solicitor in the Home Counties and spending your evenings ranting about illegals in the pub while swilling pints of Old Peculiar
posted by chappell, ambrose at 1:20 PM on May 15 [15 favorites]


My big problem with gammon in pubs is choosing whether to get it with eggs or pineapple. If Brexit allows for a "Max Fac" option where I can have both, it will all have been worth it.
posted by DoveBrown at 1:49 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Gammon is the absolute unit

I see what you did there.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:13 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Of course it's racist to use a skin-color based insult, and the lazy justification that the people being insulted are "probably racist so its OK" is lame, since the point was that racism is bad and racial insults just stir up more racism. If you are on the good side you have to have some principles. I can disagree with ill-informed Daily Mail-reading Leavers without becoming more of a casual racist than any of them.
posted by w0mbat at 2:57 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Not every comment on a person's appearance is racism, though. "Gammon" isn't a pejorative term for a white person, it's a pejorative term for a white person who behaves in a specific, angry, racist way. And that's setting aside the whole question of whether racism just means racial prejudice, or if it means something that reinforces racial heirarchy. All of which has been discussed a good deal right here in this thread, so coming in to say, "Of course it's racist!" kinda makes it sound like you're not reading or at least not engaging with the discussion that's already been had.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:30 PM on May 15 [14 favorites]


I don’t think the comparisons to Drumpf (or tRump or bLiar or Killary or $hillary or whatever) are fair for various reasons, but mostly because those people already have a perfectly good name already that there’s no reason not to use. There isn’t the equivalent single-word name for gammons, except for “Brexiteers”, which I refuse to use because 1) it sounds altogether too light-hearted and frivolous for the UK’s current proto-Mosleys and also because 2) it only focuses on Brexit (itself an absolutely awful coinage) and ignores the gammons’ existence as a long-standing tendency in British culture, propping up the bar at your local and occasionally going on a long spiel about how Hitler built the autobahns or how young people aren’t the same since we stopped doing conscription or how they met a black chap who was, would you believe it, a stockbroker? but one of the good ones, of course.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 3:32 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


How dare they even imply that we could ever need a word for white men that isn't "human".
posted by Zed at 3:39 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


The politically correct term is actually Anglo Porcinian.
posted by Artw at 3:52 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


Which is interesting, because I think the common consensus is that it's generally referring to middle class

It's orthogonal to class, AFAIK. It can equally describe a golf-club bore with a portfolio of investment properties registered to an offshore company and a white-van driver with three huge St. George flags who deliberately tries to run cyclists off the road as a matter of principle.

There is the question of whether it could apply to a non-white person. It does imply white skin, of the sort that turns boiled-meat pink when exposed to sunlight or adrenaline, and most exemplars would be white. Hypothetically, one can imagine a non-white gammon whose (grand)parents immigrated from, say, India or the Caribbean, who is thoroughly culturally English and who cleaves zealously to the kick-all-the-foreigners-out/bring-back-the-death-penalty/lazy-entitled-millennials orthodoxy (perhaps even more so than his white peers, so as to be sure not to be mistaken as one of those people). This fellow would most probably end up joining the local chapter of UKIP or EDL or some other far-right party, and, after their initial suspicion was assuaged, they'd end up parading him publicly as proof that We're Not Racists And You're The Racist For Calling Us Racists.
posted by acb at 4:14 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I'm going to go with non-white Gammons being rare, but should one be found they are definitely going to be doing All The Media, and then at some point there will be some minor scandal about people still thinking they are an asshole even though they are not white. It always happens like that.
posted by Artw at 4:29 PM on May 15


I'm a middle class white man with a ruddy complexion. I say go for it. I hope it accomplishes something.

I'm relatively progressive and working to fight my own racism and prejudices. It stings to be conflated with these jerks but not enough to matter.

Also: Nish Kumar, (of the bugle, mash report, and mock the week) got in on this pretty early.
posted by poe at 12:17 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


There was a nice opinion piece from the Washington Post recently about the US situation, and one of its chief arguments was that there's a whole apparatus in the US dedicated to telling its readers What Democrats Think. That apparatus also exists in the UK. It's going to seize upon anything and everything in order to paint people opposed to its political project as being snobby elitists who don't respect you or your problems. 'Gammon' is fun, and it'll be treated as iron-clad proof of the contempt of the Remoaners and the Corbynites for the working class, but they'll always find something because that is literally their job.

The counter, the article says, and I think this applies to the UK situation as well, is to not play that game. Call people 'gammon' all you like, then helpfully point out it's means they're fucking lying swine and they put a big fucking lie on a bus and drove it around the UK. They are liars, they are liars, they are liars. They lie about Brexit. They lie about migrants. They lie about Corbyn (okay, let's ignore that he's doing his best Russian quisling impression, they still lie about Corbyn). They lie about the left. They lied about Grenfell. They'll lie about the proverbial dead cat on the table next election. They lie because if they told the whole truth, that they are the party of the rich and their goal is to set up the government so rich people can have as much wealth as possible, the Tories would get 20% of the vote and their shadow cabinet would fit in an actual cabinet.
posted by Merus at 12:22 AM on May 16 [9 favorites]


I assume the Venn diagram with the “TERF is a slur” folks is basically a O.

Yes, all the high profile TERFs at the Grauniad & New Statesman (Suzanne Moore, Sarah Ditum et all) have fallen over themselves to defend the rights of racist middle class white men to not be insulted for their awful opinions.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:27 AM on May 16 [8 favorites]


In tomorrow’s edition of the Guardian: our music critic’s scathing review of Emperor Nero’s rather gauche choice of fiddle music, and our travel correspondent suggests an alternative configuration of open-air seating for unsinkable cruise liners travelling through the Arctic circle.

The Guardian stands firmly behind Julie Burchill when she says things like how St Patrick's Day parades and Ireland "celebrate almost compulsory child molestation by the national church, total discrimination against women who wish to be priests, aiding and abetting Hitler in his hour of need and outlawing abortion and divorce" and our flag as "the Hitler-licking, altar boy molesting, abortion-banning Irish tricolor.”

She has, as you might imagine, similar things to say about Islam, including raging at the BBC having an Islamic week, which was apparently cover for Isis or the Taliban. The Guardian doesn't have an issue with punching down, as long as it's the right sort of people doing it.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:16 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Yeah, somehow the Guardian have convinced themselves that hateful white van men ought to be a protected category, meanwhile foreigners, Muslims, ethnic minorities, trans people, etc, etc are all fair game.

There's also some serious game-playing going on to get to the point of describing the gammon thing as classism. Now in a sense, a lot of gammons (though far from all - it is in no way a defining feature) probably see themselves as working class. And in some ways, a lot of them are: no further education, blue collar job, all of those markers of coming from a culturally working class background. But most of them have, in economic terms, absolutely ascended to the middle class. They own homes, have a decent income, own cars, have savings and a pension pot. But they still see themselves as working class (at least when it's convenient to). So when a bunch of no-doubt university educated kids on twitter (who are lonely scrabbling to get by, will never have a real-term income that's even comparable to White Van Man's, nevermind the more genteel gammons, will likely never own a home, etc) start coming up with terms like gammon, they see it as the privilege attacking them, salt if the earth working class people. They utterly fail or refuse to recognise that when it comes to economic opportunity - which is increasingly eclipsing everything else in significance - they are absolutely the privileged ones, even if they have a regional accent and some O-levels, compared to the kid speaking RP at university.
posted by Dysk at 3:42 AM on May 16 [9 favorites]


I mean, that kid is probably queer and lefty and trans and european (or otherwise foreign) and an atheist or Muslim. Sure, they may be starving in the gutter while we recline in our comfortable homes on which the mortgage is all but paid off, but we are the working class and they are the elites. I mean, how could they not be? After all, they're queer, lefty, trans, foreign Muslims...
posted by Dysk at 3:46 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


(And the more obviously heavily privileged Guardian columnists will play this card too, though it's more nakedly obvious what a ploy it is when Burchill or Suzanne Moore - highly paid university educated Guardian writers - try to position themselves as basically exploited coal miners.)
posted by Dysk at 3:50 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm going to go with non-white Gammons being rare, but should one be found they are definitely going to be doing All The Media

His name is James Cleverly MP, and he is whatever the opposite of nominative determinism is.
posted by threetwentytwo at 4:11 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


When Owen Jones wrote something recently on the class privilege of most journalists, journalists from all over the spectrum were on 'I went to a comprehensive school', as if that's the sole marker of working-classness. Julia Hartley-Brewer was at it, and her father is a doctor!
posted by threetwentytwo at 4:21 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


James Cleverly TD MP, according to Wikipedia. Which must be trolling. (It's a Territorial Army medal, rather than signifying that he's a member of Ireland's parliament).
posted by ambrosen at 4:27 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Alex Jones is a gammon. Patrick Stewart is not.

THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS
posted by Mayor West at 5:14 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


This is masterful.
posted by Artw at 6:02 AM on May 16 [17 favorites]


My dim awareness of British culture includes the idea that a lot of gammon types end up migrating to Spain where they insist on being called expats even though they're obviously just the badly-integrated immigrants that they love to rail against, and yet there are no instances in this thread of the phrase "gammon ibérico". Am I wrong or did you all just massively drop the ball on this one?
posted by tobascodagama at 7:37 AM on May 16 [13 favorites]


Dickens was actually using the word in a different sense: the OED defines 'gammon' (short for 'gammon and spinach') as 'talk or patter designed to persuade someone of something, or to flatter or cajole someone into a particular course of action in order to further one's own interests'.

This how Flashman uses the word in the Flashman books. But if someone as right-wing as him can throw "gammon" around then I can't see how Brexiters can object to it.
posted by Mocata at 7:52 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


It's the Legend of Brexit and it's really sad
Those creatures called gammons are pretty bad
There's Farage, Johnson, Theresa May too
It looks like they're really gonna leave the EU
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:48 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


With the profoundest apologies to Bob Marley...and to anyone who's already thought of this, because it's pretty darn low-hanging fruit:

Gammon
Gammon
I hope you like gammon too
Well, I hope you like , I hope you like gammon
I wanna gammon with you
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:45 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


tobascodagama, in the event that this filters to the Spanish media (which I doubt) it should have to be "gamón cocido". Besides, "cocido" means primarily boiled but also someone who is drunk.
posted by sukeban at 2:13 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


It’s worth noting that the right wing gained power in the US by using mockery to the fullest. Rush Limbaugh being a prime example of how it was done. I shocked people by saying a more muscular and confrontational and loud and mocking approach from the left is necessary. If on occasion physical characteristics come under attack, well, it’s been done before. Make the kitchen very hot.
Didn’t Gilbert and Sullivan do that? They are considered art now.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:36 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


The thing you have to realise about gammon is that it's a new insult for a very old tendency in British politics, the retired colonel Blimp type, disgusted of Turnbridge Wells, et all. Cozy middle class little englanders, retired (and living in Spain) and with nothing better to do then get wound up by the Mail or Torygraph about the absolute state of the country once they let the [racist epiteth][homphobic slur][bloody communists] run the place.

They don't like it up them, but that's no reason to stop.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:29 AM on May 17 [5 favorites]


The left needs more of this sort of thing and less of the self-righteous, holier-than-thou "lets not be beastly to the Germans" attitude exemplified by comments on this page.

Please, be mean to people that deserve it - be vicious. But use insults that are based on what they've done and said, not on what their body looks like. When you do that, you're hurting a huge group of other people as well.
posted by I heart bodyshaming at 7:48 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Who?
posted by Artw at 7:49 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


I am not a fan of the gammon label, but this twitter thread is quite funny.
posted by biffa at 7:54 AM on May 17


Who?

When you insult someone based on their appearance, you're attacking other people that share that appearance. When you insult someone based on their reddish complexion (or because they are middle-aged, or obese), you're telling everyone that shares that characteristic that they are worth less.

Why not use insults that are based on what your targets have done, or said? It sounds like their behavior is terrible - attack them for that.
posted by I heart bodyshaming at 8:21 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]


This is more of an “in theory” then?
posted by Artw at 8:27 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


The insult is based on what they do - get red-facedly angry. That is about the level of uncontrolled anger on display. Having a red complexion does not make you a gammon. Blushing does not make you a gammon. It is not about the redness as such, it is about what it signifies.
posted by Dysk at 8:34 AM on May 17 [7 favorites]


You can both be a gammon without being or having propensity toward being red in the face, and be red-faced without being a gammon. It's not about redness.
posted by Dysk at 8:43 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I’m not buying this population of non-gammon red faced shouters that are injured by this.
posted by Artw at 8:43 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]


"You can't be racist against white people, it's a conceptual error."

You can, just not with the way you're defining and using the word. That brand also always has striked me as kind of racist in an of itself, like only white people can possibly ever establish the position and hegemony for power and prejudice to mix.
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:13 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


We are talking about Britain, and in that context, it largely holds true. You can of course be racist against some white people, most notably Eastern Europeans, but not against white people as a class. In different contexts, with different power structures and imbalances, perhaps you could, but that's mighty hypothetical as applies to Britain.
posted by Dysk at 1:18 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


(Or rather, the UK - wouldn't want to exclude the Northern Irish gammons)
posted by Dysk at 1:19 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


"We are talking about Britain, and in that context, it largely holds true. You can of course be racist against some white people, most notably Eastern Europeans, but not against white people as a class. In different contexts, with different power structures and imbalances, perhaps you could, but that's mighty hypothetical as applies to Britain."

Right, I should have mentioned I understand the definition they were asserting and why it was used in that context and that it was appropriate all things considered. It was fair in this context but sometimes you see the same thing in scenarios where that attitude itself is a problem, but it'd probably be more meaningful to bring that up when it applies.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:54 PM on May 17


How about using "ruddy" instead of "gammon"?

Conveniently, it retains the "red-faced, spittle-flecked loon" aspect, with a mild seasoning of "low-grade epithet".
posted by The Outsider at 4:35 AM on May 18


"Ruddy" is literally attacking a type of complexion that lots of perfectly fine and innocent have. You've gone and made it worse now.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:14 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]




What do you call vegetarian gammon?




Morrissey.
posted by acb at 6:50 PM on May 18 [9 favorites]


I wanted to post a comment about this woman, but I couldn't find any international coverage. Now she made it!
The Danish article is about the weird-left party "Alternativet" defending her, which actually makes some sense, because a typical sexist epithet about women who have opinions is a "skrigeskinke" — a screaming ham — and even though Støjberg is an incredibly racist and also lying politician, there is no reason to counter racism with sexism.
posted by mumimor at 1:45 AM on May 23


Uffe Elbæk's protestations ("gå efter bolden, ikke kvinden"/"go for the ball, not the player") is all well and good if everyone plays by the same rules. That's not the case here. Støjberg is running around thwacking people as if this were a boxing match, and you're saying play the ball not the player? That it's too personal and insulting, which is somehow supposed to be unlike Støjberg's regular statements about immigrants or Islam?

Turnabout is fair play. And this is responding to a kick in the head with a light slap. This response is entirely proportionate.
posted by Dysk at 3:07 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Decades of being better than the, being more civilised, not being willing to insult, it's brought us a DF that went from strength to strength and a bunch of other parties deciding to follow suit. Calls for respect only ever seem to seriously flow one way.
posted by Dysk at 4:08 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia got amended!

Looks like my comment on the talk page was agreed with by people who could edit locked articles (I don't really understand the byzantine power structures)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:49 AM on May 24


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