Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Hoggart's Law

Almost every line reflects the law of the ridiculous reverse, which states that if the opposite of a statement is plainly absurd, it was not worth making in the first place.

"An economy where people who work hard are properly rewarded", or in the least gracious alternative, "an economy crafted to benefit lazy skivers who would rather watch Jeremy Kyle than turn an honest hand".

"Reduce the burden of excessive regulation" or "tie up business with yet more red tape".

"A fairer society that rewards people who work hard" or alternatively "an unjust society that rewards bent bankers and speculators". Oh, hold on, that's what we've got. So perhaps there really is a policy change there.
The late Simon Hoggart on the state opening of parliament, 2013. Lots of people posted their "best of" quotes when he died, just over a week ago. I'm late, because so much of his best stuff was so intensely topical that it's bound to date and I've only just come up with* something that also speaks to posterity. Others have mocked specific examples of the law of the ridiculous reverse, but Simon Hoggart deserves kudos for identifying it as a general principle.

The 'law of the ridiculous reverse' is a great mental filter for sifting out distracting, content-free mom-and-apple-pie platitudes. Ruthlessly redact this rubbish and any remaining residue of actual fact and information** might be worth thinking about. It deserves a snappier title, though. Call it "Hoggart's Law" and it merits memehood as surely as Poe's law, Godwin's law, or Hanlon's razor.

The sort of inanities covered by Hoggart's law deserve to die in fire. If they don't, all those hard working families will be condemned to spend the rest of eternity pushing the politicians' rhetorical boulder uphill. Isn't it about time they had a rest?

*h/t Radio 4's Word of Mouth

**How about a memorial prize for the first person who can find a speech, press release or mission statement so completely devoid of substance that no meaningful information remains, once every statement that falls foul of Hoggart's Law has been deleted? If somebody could stump up some decent prize money, that should concentrate a few minds.