Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Nailing the lid down

"Promoting child abuse", apparently
I don't normally subscribe to the "what's gone wrong with the world" way of thinking, but I did a bit when I saw this sign, which was placed outside the Black Lion pub in Leighton Buzzard, Bedforshire. Not the actual sign itself, you understand, but the reaction to it. It is obviously a jokey way of asking parents to ensure their children behave without putting up heavy-handed notices along the lines of: "Children must be kept strictly under control".

Apparently complaints have been posted on Facebook, including from one moron (anonymous of course) who said: "Personally I find this sign disgusting. [The licensee] should be arrested for promoting child abuse and closed down by Trading Standards for the same offence." The editor of the Babyworld website said it is important young children are "exposed to social events" such as pubs and restaurants, which is okay in itself, until she added that she thought the sign was aggressive.

Two different licensees I've chatted to both told me they have had to chase after children running out of the pub doors into busy streets while their parents chatted and drank oblivious of the danger to their little darlings. One of them got so sick of doing so that she banned children altogether. Even without the element of danger, it's strange how some parents can't see that noisy children running wild in a pub annoy most other customers, or perhaps they simply don't care. I'm not hostile to children in pubs, but I have turned round at the door and walked out when faced with a noisy room that resembles a crèche more than a public house.

Most pubs are not great places for children. It's fine for a short time, especially if there's a meal, but when they understandably get bored, the parents should put the other customers as well as their own children before their own wish to continue drinking. If they want to carry on, they should take some booze home. The Black Lion doesn't serve food and there's no TV or music, so there aren't any distractions for kids; all the more reason to watch out for them becoming restless.

Anyone who gets offended by this sign really is a humourless moaner. As for Trading Standards, the only grounds I can see for them taking action is for false advertising on the basis that the pub doesn't actually nail children to the tables.

To be fair, a lot of the regulars have leapt to the pub's defence and are delighted with its 15 minutes. One wrote: "Better idea nail the parents they caused the problem !!!"

"If you don't have humour, then you may as well nail the coffin lid down now." Roger Moore.


  1. A simple way of deciding whether the joke is offensive is to deconstruct it. The basic premise is children are annoying, if they annoy us we will hurt them. It is clearly not meant literally, hence the justification that it is a joke. But to be a joke it has to be funny. So for some it is a joke, to others possibly a tiresome statement, and as you’ve noticed even an offensive statement. Whether those complaining are offended, offended on behalf of others, or just see an opportunity to complain about something would require knowing who complained.

    If we deconstruct the joke we see the punch line is violence towards children. You could construct a joke on the lines that your wife can sometimes be annoying, the punch line being that you will hit her. Sickipedia is full of this. To some it is offensive misogyny to others it is two fingers at political correctness. Some will laugh at a joke containing the punch line “so I gave the daft bint a slap”, justifying it with it only being a joke, you wouldn’t really hit her. Others would pull their face and claim such a joke condoned domestic violence.

    What I think cannot be argued with is that the joke seeks to obtain its humour from a violent act towards a child, calling the child “it” as if an object. I think if you want to laugh at that go ahead, it’s a free country.

    My only question is how is it different from a punch line of violence towards a woman, an immigrant, a gay?

  2. If we must be analytical...

    It is a disgraceful fact that punching a partner after an argument is a commonplace occurrence; it is therefore not a suitable subject for humour.

    I've never heard of an instance where a child was nailed to a pub table by bar staff. If it had happened, or even if there was a chance that it could happen, it too would not be a suitable subject for humour.

    Laughing at real cruelty is not humour; it is sadism. The difference is profound.

    As for the use of the word 'it', there is no gender neutral word to use in place of 'he' or 'she'.

  3. Nice one Nev. That's taught the smug bastard!

  4. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Quite right, Nev - if the joke was about something that actually did happen to children, it would be in bad taste, but it wasn't.

    Sadly this country seems to be full of po-faced, humourless whingers :-(

  6. @Mudge can you do no better than accuse those that did not find the joke funny of being humourless? Wouldn’t a libertarian defend their right to hold that opinion as much as the rights of someone that thought it was the funniest thing since someone mentioned UKIP actually having a real live MP? Why is that a kipper will be offended and write to the BBC about a joke about Jesus being gay and taking it up the wrong ‘un, yet moan about political correctness stopping people telling an off colour joke where the victim is black or a woman? Is that instead of actually being libertarians they have only co-opted something that sticks up for personal freedom whilst actually just wanting the new prejudices removed and the old ones restored? Please make it 1950 again Mr Farage.

    @Alistair That would at least accept the children as human in the joke, and possibly even make the violence more shocking and thus provoking a bigger laugh among the idiots that find violence funny.

    @Tandleman Nev did indeed inform me. We are all learning. Except the dead. Only the dead cannot be taught.

    @Nev Thanks for putting thought into your answer and giving a considered response. Actually answering my question.

    As I understand your view, the line to cross for jokes about inflicting violence is whether the situation is realistic or preposterous? So long as the actual scenario is unlikely to happen we are on safe ground. The very first racist joke I was told goes as follows. It was in a school playground. I was aged 8. It’s considered offensive by all that hear it, and it is a preposterous proposition. What is transparent and sits in the gutter? A paki with the shit kicked out of it. It is preposterous because someone beaten up bleeds red blood. It is offensive because it equates dark skin with excrement and involves racial violence. But I’m guessing the fact that a beaten up person would never turn transparent edges this into surrealism?

    Don’t get me wrong. I believe in a free society. People have the freedom to offend others with dodgy crap jokes. The offended also have a right to complain regarding a violent joke they didn’t find funny. Whether the board stays up or not is up to the owner of the establishment.

    They would lose my custom, I’d see that sign and think if that was the level of “banter” to expect in such a place I’ll drink somewhere other than idiotville and leave them to it. If enough idiots find it funny good luck to him. Chubby Brown makes a good living. Heard a joke of his once. The punchline was kicking a woman in the cunt. The shock value of that word was part of the joke. The scenario leading up to that was an unlikely surreal series of events which made the whole thing as unlikely as nailing a kid to something. Check him out, he sounds right up your street.

  7. I really gave you more far credit Cookie, than to be one of the “outraged”. You are missing the point entirely. The children aren’t the problem; it’s the selfish irresponsible parents who are.

    I’m talking here about people who want children, but are not prepared for the responsibilities that go with parenthood. Raising children is a full time job, and one of the hardest that human beings have to do; and yes, it does involve a considerable degree of sacrifice, and I speak from personal experience here. Too bad if that messes up your social life, but it was your choice to bring the children into the world and, quite understandably, not everyone else in the pub/restaurant/other place where adults go to interact appreciates your little darlings as much as you do. They will appreciate them even less if you allow them to run amok.

    It’s the same as people who take their kids on holiday and then leave them alone in the apartment at night, whilst they go off for tapas and drinks with their mates. When something dreadful happens it’s everyone else’s fault rather than their own.

  8. I didn't say I was offended Paul, I said I understood why someone would be offended. Have a look at the Unicef website, violence against children is a common occurrence, which is why I suspect it has the capacity to cause offence. Jokes involving violence do tend to offend people, not me. I don't find the joke funny but that isn't being offended.

    The last racist joke I was told was told to me by an old man. I was at a black tie event. I offended him by not laughing at his joke and standing in stoney silence as he dug himself into a hole explaining it.

    I figured why be offended? He's old. My generation will bury his. Two years later I attended his funeral and paid my condolences.

  9. There's some quite extreme violence in Tom & Jerry, but of course they're just cartoon characters. The ending of The Life of Brian has the main character, plus quite a few others, on crosses singing "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life". Loads of deaths in the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost films, Shaun Of The Dead, a zombie film, and Hot Fuzz, a cop action film; both are comedies. Even in some of the Carry Ons, such as Follow That Camel, there are quite a few deaths.

    Comedy and humour are very personal. I like some of the 6.30pm comedy programmes on Radio 4 but - although some of the others leave me completely cold - they have a studio audience whooping and screaming with laughter.

    As for offensive humour, by which I mean racist, sexist, homophobic, etc, I've always taken the view that if a joke is genuinely funny in itself, it doesn't need the offensive element. If it does need that offensive element, then the humour is based on a feeling of superiority in the listener over the butt of the joke, and not on any genuine humour. I have occasionally tested this when people have told me a racist joke by telling one back to them, replacing the race-specific term with the actual word 'racist'. Oddly enough, they never then find it funny.

    Getting back to this pub notice, Paul has made the valid point that it is aimed squarely at the parents of noisy children. No children, even atrociously behaved ones, will ever be nailed to tables. The humour lies in the absurdity of offering it to customers as a part of the service.

  10. Would a pub notice saying "badly-behaved dogs will be turned into pies" be construed as encouraging cruelty to animals?

  11. @Nev Pointing out that there is humour in death is far from making a joke about acts of violence. Life is an absurdity and whatever you achieve in life or don't achieve, we all die and take none of it with us. That's the joke we are laughing at, not the violence of death.

    @Mudge In those pubs I last had a few pints with you in, I would take that notice as a bit of honesty regarding the menu and quality of fare on offer. The 2 ale fundamentalists you mentioned on your blog would dive in regardless if there was a free tray of them.

  12. Actually, Cookie, the last pub where we shared a pint is one noted for the quality of its food. They would only use the best pedigree pooches.

  13. I’ve thought of a sign, Mudge, which has all the unlikeliness and absurdity to pass Nevs test of acceptability but also has that underlying nastiness of dehumanising a group of people and inflicting violence upon them. I’m sure a libertarian like you would approve of my right to stick it up.
    “People found reading the Daily Mail and expressing sympathy for the views and opinions of Nigel Farage will have their Daily Mail confiscated and replaced with a copy of the Guardian. Their pint of bitter will be replaced with a continental lager in a chalice glass. Their lunch of English cheddar on crusty white bread will be replaced with a brie and grape ciabatta. They will be debagged and their Union Flag underpants replaced with ones depicting an EU flag. Their homes will be raided and any chintz related to Maggie, the Queen or Royal weddings will be replaced with items of a similar nature depicting Jean Claude Junker and Jaques Delors. Their TV retuned to remove ITV4 and any chance of seeing “Where Eagles Dare” and they will only be able to watch BBC4 when it shows French films like Jean De Florette and Manon Des Sources. Then they will have a large French baguette rammed firmly up their arse”

  14. Have you got out of the wrong side of bed every day this week, Cookie? And nobody apart from yourself has made any mention of UKIP.

  15. Common on Mudge, if we are removing pub irritants with "witty" signs, kids are not the only lot to get shut of?

  16. "Anyone mentioning craft beer or complaining about a lack of mega-hoppy IPAs will be forced to drink John Smith's Extra Smooth"

  17. That’s the spirit, fella. “People holding their ale up to the light, sniffing it or mentioning hop varieties will be strapped to a table, have a funnel inserted into them and a gallon of fosters lager poured into it. We will also burn their sandals”


Comments, including disagreements, are welcome.
Abuse and spam are not and will be deleted straight away.
Comment moderation is installed for older posts.