spEak You’re bRanes

The spEak You’re bRanes site is one which I have recently come across. It serves to puncture the pomposity, self-importance, racism, and poor spelling which may be found on the BBC’s Have Your Say site.

It may well be argued that this is a task which needs to be carried out. Sometimes spelling and punctuation can be so bad as to be almost comical. For example, you’ve got a wide variety of opinions, spellings, and flavours of punctuation thrown into the ‘debate’ as to whether throwing green custard over Peter Mandelson is a legitimate form of political action, including…

  • “Perhaps if the politicians provided some other effective method for individuals to get their views heard, incidents such as this would not occur”
  • ‘Peaceful protest’, such as the massive protest against the Iraq war, gets ignored by the Government

Unfortunately, to find the people making a reasonable point, you quite frequently have to wade through the comments of those a little more rabid or incoherent — those suggesting that the liberal meedja are happy to support it only so long as it promotes a leftist agenda; those who think that punctuation , should appear randomly in the , middle of a sentence; and people who suggest things like:

I find it interesting that the fatuous buffoon, John Preston, says the girl should be charged with assault.

Was he ever charged after throwing a vicious punch at a bystander?


Here we’ve got what I consider to be a double-fail. Firstly, John Preston was an American author of gay erotica … not the “John Prescott” whom I rather suspect that they may have meant. Secondly, whether or not you think John Prescott should have been charged for assault for hitting the person that bounced an egg off him, the definition of bystander is that of someone present but not involved, and I would rather suggest that by hurling an egg off of John Prescott’s head, Craig Evans was not simply a bystander but rather someone actively involved in the incident.

But this also serves to highlight the issue I have with spEak You’re bRanes: if someone says ‘John Preston’, rather than ‘John Prescott’, it’s not necessarily a sign of ignorance, nor a sign that the validity of their argument is diminished, provided that you understand who they mean and that they make their argument coherently. For example, in this case, I think the use of the word bystander is a bigger problem. So is it fair to castigate someone for mis-remembering a name?

So while spEak You’re bRanes exists to highlight some of the worst cases, with categories such as Armchair Generals, Moderation Martyrs, Racists and so on, there’s always the slight nagging doubt that maybe they’re just putting the boot in a little unneccessarily at times…

This tends to occur, not so much in the spEak You’re bRanes main blog entries, but in the bitch-slapping comment entries which, in their eagerness to point out everyone else’s ignorance, can come over as vicious and unpleasant themselves.

For example, in a debate about the classification of Ecstasy and Cannabis, someone posted this on the Have Your Say website:

I didnt take much away from 7 years of secondary school and 6th form but i do remember perhaps more than anything the talk about drugs given to us by a young girl who had died after taking one pill, father.

His message was one of caution and enjoy yourself but allways remember the possible consequences.


What did the spEak You’re bRanes readers have to say about this?

“…and in conclusion, dying on ecstacy was the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

He also seems to think that the HYS [Have your say] comment box is his dad.

Ho ho, chortle. Admittedly, Tom has made a mistake in his phrasing — I think he’s tried to go with the rather unwieldy “the talk about drugs given to us by a young girl who had died after taking one pill’s father” instead of the much clearer “the talk about drugs given to us by the father of a young girl who had died after taking one pill”.

Sure, Tom’s made a mistake. But does that mistake detract from his message — enjoy yourself but know the risks? Is it sufficiently a big of a mistake to warrant people taking the piss out of him online without sounding malicious and vindictive? Or is it just that the spEak You’re bRanes commenters are themselves so thick that they can’t work out what he actually meant?

And that’s the risk with spEak You’re bRanes. It is funny, and entertaining, and well worth a look. But in attempting to parody the BBC’s Have Your Say site, and highlight the intolerance, abuse and pomposity found on there, they are falling into precisely the same trap themselves, without any signs of self-awareness*.

Irony. It’s a little bit like goldy, only more magnetic, yeah?

*please note: I’m not saying I’ve never made the same mistake either; so you can save the whole pot-kettle routine…

One Response to “spEak You’re bRanes”

  1. JackP responds:

    However, I really must concede that some of hte Have Your Say commenters do manage to demonstrate fantastical quantities of both ignorance (basic facts hopelessly wrong) and arrogance (my view of the world is right, everyone else’s isn’t), so I’m not saying sPeak You’re bRanes does not serve a useful purpose.

    Merely that it needs to be careful not to overstep the mark from time to time…

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