You can’t say that…. Bongo Bongo land
|August 7, 2012
|Posted by Dan Clayton under You can't say that.....
Apparently there are some things you just can’t say, some words that are so offensive, so wrong, that their use is beyond the pale.
Bongo bongo land is the latest phrase to provoke the condemnation of moral linguists.
What is interesting about many applications of speech etiquette is that it isnt what is said so much as the phrases used to say something. There is a right way of saying something, and a wrong way of saying something. Even though we can all agree to the truth of what is being said.
So last week the government was condemned for the wording of a billboard which said ‘go home’ – even though everyone involved in this condemnation supports some form of border controls, and therefore, the denial of liberty and the forced deportation of individuals who don’t carry a UK passport.
This latest ‘no no’ – bongo bongo land – was used to express the view that foreign aid does not go to the poor, does not aid development, but goes to a rich elite in the developing world. This view is so uncontroversial as to be common sense amongst the intelligentsia in the west. Governments act on this view by imposing ‘poverty reduction’ conditionality on aid.
Another common view is that we shouldn’t be sending aid to foreign countries when we have poverty here at home. This is not so popular amongst the intelligentsia in the west, but it is common view – sometimes reflecting the frustration that people feel that the government is not doing anything for them.
Godfrey Bloom’s view is also slightly more nuanced. He argued that the government shouldn’t be choosing its own charities and using our tax money to directly fund charities. A valid question you might think, even if you agree with the policy.
I happen to have my own views of aid. But condemning the use of bongo bongo land isnt going to convince anyone that I’m right.