This evening I watched Channel 4’s documentary My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and as well as learning quite a few things I didn’t know about Gypsy culture, I was also not-terribly-surprised at the discrimination they face, having lived in the real world and met real people. They are one of the few groups, like smokers and fat people, that it is still alright to have a negative opinion about.
I’ve nothing against gypsies. I’ve met a few, not many I’ll admit. Some were nasty bastards, most were ok. Just like any other cross-section of the population. I’ve no problem with them living they way they choose, and as for most people’s complaint- “they don’t pay any bloody taxes…” Well. I’m sure you can guess where I stand on that argument.
In any case, in one scene, the family were called by the reception venue on the day of the wedding to cancel, having found out at the last minute who their clients were. The family were naturally furious, and much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.
“If they’d cancelled because we were black, or gay or something, it would be in all the papers.” Quite right, it would. The interesting thing -as always- however, lay in what they didn’tsay. They did not at any point say that there should be a law against discriminating against them. They gritted their teeth, complained, and got on with saving their wedding. They don’t seem to understand the rules of Victimhood Poker.
Compare this with Simon Green, the disabled man with a huge chip on his shoulder featured in the BBC’sPanorama the other day. Hardly a moment went by when he wasn’t either drawing attention to ‘hate crime’ laws that I didn’t know existed (In one memorable scene he is secretly filming inside a back-street pub where he is getting some stick from the locals.
“He doesn’t seem to like me, and that’s fine. He’s entitled to his opinion. But he called me a cripple and that’s not fine. In fact it’s illegal.” Is it!) or calling for further laws to protect his delicate sensibilities from people saying things he doesn’t like, or to make things that are already crimes (like assault or criminal damage) some sort of Super Crimes if they are committed against disabled people. It is tragic that he is in a wheelchair, and the other cases he showed (like the disabled lady who had the windows of her special disabled car smashed by local yobs) are tragic too, but smashing windows is already a crime and just because the police can’t be bothered to deal with it is no reason to be calling for specific offenses of damaging the property of the disabled. Surely the answer is the reform of the police so they investigate all crimes, not pleading for our own particular special cases?
It didn’t even seem to occur to the Gypsies that they might plead to the government to protect them from the nasty people who don’t like them, and force people to let out their property to people they’d rather not let it out to. Perhaps it’s their edge-of-society position, or their ancient anarchic culture, or perhaps it’s simply because they are not pets like Simon Green. Instead of whining for the State to come and rescue them they would rather get on and sort it out for themselves. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.