Over the course of the last year, how many things have you been outraged about?
For me personally, the one that jumps to mind is school closures. Being somewhat self-aware, however, I know that I am not privy to all the factors at play and so, despite my outrage, I do not go on social media and spit out the dummy.
When I say “outraged”, I am talking about the dictionary definition “a strong moral emotion characterised by “a combination of surprise, disgust and anger, usually in reaction to a grave personal offense”. This manifests in me personally as “my back is up” and those within earshot getting my tuppence worth on the issue in question. For others, in recent times, it manifests as an outpouring online.
One of the things I miss most with COVID-19 lockdowns is a day trackside with my friends
Last week, for anyone that loves a good outrage, there were options aplenty. However, despite the unscrupulous behaviour of Davy, Boris once again attempting to undermine the Northern Ireland protocol and the absolute crisis in Yemen, it was Gordon Elliott that was chosen as the outrage of most merit. I love racing. One of the things I miss most with COVID-19 lockdowns is a day trackside with my friends.
And nobody, certainly not I, is arguing that sitting on a dead horse was and is not wrong. The horse racing bodies in Ireland and the UK have punished Gordon for this behaviour which they rightly see as improper and damaging to the industry. But I have to ask; with so many other things to be outraged about, was this misdirected?
Most people have heard about cancel culture. This is, in essence, when a person doesn’t like something – could be a food, could be an action or behaviour. Or they might not agree with an opinion or are dissatisfied with a service. The response; after said affront, is to never buy (that product), read (the commentator) or support the offending party again. And importantly, telling everyone about it. Nothing wrong with that, it is a person’s right in a democratic society and one person cancelling is not an issue.
If we are honest, complicated financial issues or wars that are harder to understand won’t get piled on as quickly as a dead horse
However, if a pile-on ensues, there are ramifications beyond that one person. Gordon Elliott’s staff, owners and the industry also got piled on. And they are all humans too. Outrage is an emotion and is therefore not logical or foreseeable.
If we are honest, complicated financial issues or wars that are harder to understand won’t get piled on as quickly as a dead horse. For that would require effort.
Trying to explain the issue away can add fuel to the fire and even a heartfelt apology might not work. Take Mary Robinson’s trip in 2018 to meet with Princess Latifa, the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The princess claims she is her father’s hostage. Very quickly after this meeting, Mary realised the error of this decision. A Panaroma BBC documentary has been made and our former President appeared on the Late Late Show just two weeks ago “not to excuse, but to explain” her actions.
However, despite all that is known, the Sheikh, seems to escape the depth of outrage that Mary has not
Outrage at her naïvety was palpable in 2018 and continues despite her repeated apologies and high standing in the world of human rights. However, despite all that is known, the Sheikh, seems to escape the depth of outrage that Mary has not. Why? In relation to the aforementioned “potential for outrage” stories, pick one of these: “But sure it’s not at my front door”; “We are just that bit bored of Brexit”; “Financial institutions being crooked – that is hardly new”; “It wasn’t my money anyway”; “That’s a cultural thing”; or “That’s just the way it is.”