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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The best insults descend from a great height

I think Rowan Pelling was on to something in the Daily Telegraph today:
You have to be careful what you say nowadays. A teacher is facing disciplinary procedures at a school in Hampshire after she told a 13-year-old that her itsy-bitsy skirt made her "look like a slut". The problem, it seems to me, was not the nature of the insult, but the language it was couched in. My old headmistress, who had once been a missionary, used to tell brazen girls that they looked like "painted Jezebels". The more elevated the language, the greater the freedom to abuse: that's what I learned at school.