Patterico's Pontifications

11/12/2007

Pakistan Expels British Journalists for Offensive Words

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 1:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Pakistan expelled three British journalists for writing offensive words about President Pervez Musharraf. Specifically, for writing one long word twice:

“The offending word is “sonofabitch.”

Pakistan has expelled three British reporters after a UK daily twice referred the country’s military dictator Pervez Musharraf as a “sonofabitch,” sparking off a yet another fervent debate about language, stylebook and the limits of editorial expression. The comment, deemed offensive by the Pakistani government, appeared in a November 9 editorial in the Daily Telegraph innocuously headlined “Bankrupt Relationship.”

“In the old parlance, General Pervez Musharraf is “our sonofabitch,” the paper wrote. “He has failed to stamp out extremist groups and close the madrassas that inspire them. He has allowed the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan to fall into the hands of assorted jihadis.” It then went on to add: “An alternative… seems neither imminent nor especially enticing. But that should not blind Britain and America to the fact that their “sonofabitch” in Pakistan is a spent force.”

The “old parlance” the paper referred to appears to be an oft quoted remark attributed to various American leaders about their preference for some dictators — “He’s a bastard, but he’s our bastard.”

Even though this wasn’t one of his seven dirty words, I doubt George Carlin would be popular in Pakistan – especially if he talked about Musharraf.

— DRJ

7 Responses to “Pakistan Expels British Journalists for Offensive Words”

  1. You seem to miss the point.
    He’d probably be very popular.

    blah (fb88b3)

  2. In truth, he got kicked out for trying to make four words look like one word. They are sticklers for grammar in Pakistan.

    Kevin (4890ef)

  3. They are sticklers for grammar in Pakistan.

    Yes, I have often heard that they hold Sir Winston is very high regard…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  4. DRJ:

    Consider this possibility: Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistan government may have taken the term literally and believed that the journalists were saying that President Musharraf was the whelp of a dog.

    Dogs are considered particularly dirty animals in Islam, though I’m not sure why. Calling any Moslem ruler the offspring of a mongrel hound is a dreadful insult, no matter how secular he may be.

    And here lies the problem. In the West, disdaining to reply when someone insults you shows your contempt for the insulter: He is so beneath your stature that you don’t even notice his words.

    But in the tribal culture of Pakistan, to allow someone to insult you without taking reprisal demonstrates — weakness and cowardice; and weakness is the signal for your enemies to attack.

    Given the current circumstances, it was stupid for the British reporters to use the term “son of a bitch,” even run together. Had they said “hardass” instead, they might not have been expelled — because that would not deliver deadly offense to a Moslem.

    Similarly, Sachi tells me that according to her father, American businessmen in Japan in the 1950s and 60s would sometimes refer to their Japanese negotiating counterparts as “real business animals,” which the Americans meant as a compliment.

    But in Japan, to be called an animal is about as insulting as you can get… sort of like saying, “Bob, you old pederast, howya doin!”

    It terribly offended the Japanese and probably killed several important business deals. Eventually, American firms got it through their corporate heads that when in Tokyo, pay attention to what words mean in Tokyo; it doesn’t matter what they mean in Des Moines.

    Maybe Brit journalists will now realize that not everybody (a) has the same associations with certain words, and (b) has the deep respect for freedom of speech as we Westerners. They could probably have found a way to say the same thing without using a phrase that morally offended Pervez Musharraf.

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  5. In communist Russia when a member of the politbureau called Stalin an ‘ass’, next day that member was sentenced to be killed by a firing squad ” for revealing a state secret”… luxuries of dictatorship?

    amjad ansari (6b3b4b)

  6. Could be worse…. He could’ve called him a “pig-headed son of a bitch.”

    Mebbie he would’ve been killed, then.

    Do the news folks not get a briefing on basic cultural relations– something that the US military does before each port visit– or do they not listen?

    Oh, Mr. Hugh– I’m guessing it has to do with dogs and pigs both eating offal. Islam has a lot of similarities with Judaism, and I know that the Hebrew code has ritual impurities.

    Foxfier (97deae)

  7. Now what will the liberal media will say now?

    krazy kagu (6b296a)


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