Beware the 3-eyed Monster (10)
Updated: Feb 2
(dificuldade 10 – pode encontrar uma lista de vocabulário no final)
If you’ve listened to our podcast, you’ll know that occasionally we get sucked into discussing politics. After all, it is hard to discuss almost anything these days without some ugly piece of legislation or immoral political behavior forcing its way into the conversation. Politics is ugly, and getting uglier. In fact, I doubt anyone alive can remember a time when politicians were as brash and plain ignorant as they are today. I say anyone alive, because brash ignorance has certainly featured before in politics, particularly if you go back 150 years.
In the 1800s, politics on both side of the Atlantic was far from pretty. Then, as now, election campaigns brought out the worst in political invective. John Quincy Adams’ supporters labelled Andrew Jackson’s mother a prostitute and his wife a dirty black wench and convicted adulteress. Of Thomas Jefferson, they said he was a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mullatto father. The man himself described Thomas Jefferson as a slur upon the moral government of the world.
George McClellan once described Abraham Lincoln as nothing more than a well-meaning baboon! While Stephen Douglas accused Abe of having stinky feet – a crime I must also confess to. James G. Blaine was referred to as a continental liar 140 years before Trump labeled his rival Lying Ted Cruz. And of course corruption was rife, be it in the kickbacks politicians received during the construction of the continental railroad, or the open murder of his wife’s lover by Daniel Sickles (1859).
In Britain, there were also notable put-downs. John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, the man credited with inventing the sandwich (yes, seriously) declared indignantly to John Wilkes in 1763 – Sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox! To which John Wilkes reply was – That, sir, depends on whether I first embrace your Lordship's principles or your Lordship's mistresses. Winston Churchill is arguably Britain’s most celebrated specialist in put-downs, as his insults were invariably subtle and amusing. Of Clement Atlee, he said – He’s a modest man with much to be modest about. He is attributed to having had this famous exchange with Lady Nancy Astor who supposedly said to him – If I were your wife, I’d put poison in your tea, to which he replied – If I were your husband I’d drink it! Although evidence suggests that this ‘joke’ had appeared many years before.
In order to moderate proceedings, the UK Parliament introduced a handbook with guidelines on the behavior of its members. These guidelines include the language to be used:
“Speakers have called Members to order with regard both to individual words and to sentences and constructions – in the case of the former, to insulting, coarse, or abusive language (particularly as applied to other Members); and of the latter, to charges of lying or being drunk, or misrepresentation of the words of another. Among the words to which Speakers have objected over the years have been blackguard, coward, git, guttersnipe, hooligan, rat, swine, stoolpigeon and traitor.”
Clearly, with the amount I drink, I could never be an MP.
But what disturbs me about our current political leaders – and in the USA, UK and Brazil, we sadly have three of the finest examples – is that they have brazenly illustrated to one and all that lying is perfectly acceptable behavior, and that if you are caught lying, you simply lie some more – or ‘double-down’ as they say these days. They espouse what I call the ‘3-eyed monster’ approach to politics: I, Ignorance and Intolerance: a world view focused on the self, where “I” am the center of the universe and my personal needs outweigh any form of the ‘greater good’; a world view based on Ignorance, where the truth is whatever you want it to be, or something to be faced down and ridiculed; and a world view based on Intolerance – intolerance for people of different races or religions, sexual persuasions or political beliefs. Combine the “three I’s” and you have a toxic mix of bigotry, selfishness and truth-denial which is driving a giant wedge right through the heart of modern Society. And ironically it has the perfect fuel in ‘social media’. When Mark Zuckerberg famously developed an app that allowed his college-mates the cruel sport of comparing the attractiveness of their female colleagues on campus, as depicted in the movie with Jesse Eisenberg, little did he imagine that he was sowing the seeds of a social revolution that would rip the very fabric of Society apart, and spawn a whole new dictionary of concepts, such as ‘fake news’, ‘trolling’ and ‘voter manipulation’. Social Media is a runaway train that no-one can control, leaving thousands of innocent victims in its wake. An exaggeration? Not if you had a loved one who has killed themselves over the online abuse they have received, or had your child groomed by a middle-aged man masquerading as another child. Or when you consider that the decisive reason the current US President was elected, was the systematic program of targeting potential voters with misinformation and lies from malicious agents sponsored by foreign governments. The consequences of that single outcome are almost impossible to measure, such are their scale, but anyone who follows the ‘regular media’ can see them for themselves every day in terms of lives lost, economic chaos and a general decay in many of the world’s most important international institutions, institutions that took many decades to build but one idiot just a few years to destroy. I’m sure you know of whom I speak, but if you don’t, just Google the word idiot.
But hope is not lost. Those of us lucky enough to have access to a ballot box may yet choose leaders who will turn things around (although recent form suggests this may prove unlikely). And just maybe, the sheer size and ugliness of the 3-eyed monster will shake legislators into controlling the beast it rides, the wonderful creation of Mark Zuckerberg and his cousins at Twitter and elsewhere. Perhaps deleting certain Twitter accounts would be a start? I wonder what the US President would say about that? But without his Twitter account, we would probably never know…
If you disagree with any of the above, you can get me on Twitter at… er, actually you can’t. Or Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Linked In. But do feel free to drop me a line by email, or you can post a comment below – although responses using the words blackguard, guttersnipe or stoolpigeon will be moderated! 😉
sucked into – enredado
brash – arrogante
wench – moça simples / prostituta (termo antiquado)
fellow – rapaz (termo antiquado)
squaw – esposa indiana (ofensiva)
sired – gerado por
slur – insulto
baboon – babuíno
stinky – fedendo
rife – onipresente
kickbacks – propina / suborno (gíria)
put-downs – insultos
gallows – forca
pox – doença sexual (gíria)
mistress – amante
coarse – vulgar
the former / the latter – o primeiro / o segundo
blackguard / git / guttersnipe / swine – alguém de baixo caractere moral / cafajeste (termos antiquados)
stoolpigeon – dedo duro (termo antiquado)
outweigh – superam
face down – intimidar / supercar
bigotry – intolerância
wedge – cunha
sow – plantar
rip – rasgar
spawn – criar
in its wake – em seu rastro
groomed – termo usado para descrever como pedófilas aproximam crianças com o intuito de fazer amizade (também está usado no contexto de preparar um cavalo)
masquerading – disfarçado
sponsored – patrocinados
outcome – resultado
ballot box – urna
sheer – absoluta
shake – sacadir
to drop someone a line – escrever (informal)