Adding Insult to Injury

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A quotation is “the repetition of one expression as part of another, particularly when the quoted expression is well-known or explicitly attributed by citation to its original source, and is indicated by quotation marks”.

According to Wikipedia, quotations are used for a variety of reasons: “to illuminate the meaning or to support the arguments of the work in which it is being quoted; to provide direct information about the work being quoted; to pay homage to the original work or author, to make the user seem well-read, and/or to comply with copyright law”.

Quotations are also commonly printed as a means of inspiration and to invoke philosophical thoughts from the reader.

I collect quotations, that is, I am in the habit of writing down and preserving things that others have said or written and which I consider to be important to keep or worthwhile to repeat in appropriate circumstances. The regurgitation of what others have said can be used in sermons, newspaper articles, group discussions or personal arguments, speeches and other forms of public address and, of course, as starters or fill-ins for blog articles such as this one.

In all of the above cases, a quotation is usually included to give a glimpse of the user’s personality, to make a statement of his/her beliefs, or to spread his/her views or ideas. In this I am reminded of the views of the 19th century German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who said that personal statements are expressions of the user’s personal philosophy and that “every philosophy, in fact, is a personal confession, a kind of memoir”, and that “every philosophy really has a moral root, a moral prejudice”.

Nietzsche saw the un-rooting of some of these prejudices as an important aspect of his work.

I was reminded of the foregoing when I recently came across a quotation from that exemplary source of misquotes, verbal blunders, inappropriate statements and questionable memoirs, Philip Mountbatten. It was he who had the title of the ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ bestowed on him when he became a naturalized British citizen before he married Elizabeth Windsor. Ironically, Philip Mountbatten was born in Greece, the birthplace of some of history’s greatest philosophers.

Philip Mountbatten is quoted as once having said: “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining that they are unemployed.”

In saying the above, it is blatantly apparent that this so-called ‘royal person’ is confusing two fundamentally different situations – what is ‘leisure’ and what is ‘unemployment’? Perhaps this is to be expected from someone who left active military service and his day job in the British navy as far back as 1952 (in preparation for his marriage to Elizabeth Windsor).

Philip Mountbatten has had a history of making flippant and erroneous statements. He is someone who seems to have lived a life of unending and (probably) boring leisure as the consort of the longest-serving monarch in British history, and who, along with the rest of his family, was effectively given a job for life at the expense of the British public. Unemployment has never impacted his life.

In commenting on unemployment and linking it with leisure in the manner he does, he is surely being very offensive to the millions of people, including at times members of my own family, who are or have been caught-up with the struggle of being in a situation of not having a job, never-mind a ‘job for life’. Such persons can clearly differentiate between leisure and unemployment.

Unlike many British people, Philip Mountbatten does not need to be concerned about the economic well-being of his wife and children. The British public and the private wealth of the ‘royals’ ensure that. So too, he has been in the very fortunate position of being well-placed and affluent enough to have a long and exceedingly comfortable retirement – with a substantial pension.

In making statements such as “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining that they are unemployed”, and without any countermanding statement, Philip Mountbatten demonstrates that he seems to care very little about the ordinary people of the UK. He apparently believes that he can insult them with seeming impunity. But, there again, what’s new?

Perhaps the fact that statements made by individuals can be quoted, as I have done with one opinion of Philip Mountbatten, might serve to remind us of the consequences of making flippant, abusive and inappropriate comments about matters that are publicly sensitive.

On the other hand, the fact that such statements can be placed in the public domain may be a valuable means of gaining an insight into the kind of characters that occupy prominent public positions.

 

 

R S Culbard

27 January, 2016

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