Yesterday, I devoted a little time to watching the Beeb's presentation of the journey of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth from Balmoral to Edinburgh. My predominant reaction is one of amazement at the profound professional ignorance of the Commentariate.
They had among them a soi disant historian. But when the listeners were informed that the coffin was covered with the Royal Standard of Scotland, nobody was able to answer the inevitable and sensible question from Johnny Public, about how that Standard differed from the Standard for England. "I don't do Heraldry", the experts shamelessly mumbled.
The answer issimpler than simple. The royal shield is divided into four quarters. The three sauntering lions of England are in the first quarter; the single red jumping lion of Scotland is in the second quarter; the harp of Ireland is in the third; and ... oops ... because there is no fourth nation in this archipelago which has ever had royal status ... England appears again as a sort of filler in the fourth quarter.
But, in the version of the Standard used in Scotland, the red jumping lion of Scotland is promoted to the first and fourth quarters; the indolently perambulating three lions of England are relegated to the second quarter.
Surely, not rocket Science, except for Experts with IQs less that about 40.
I recall that, at the Queen Mother's funeral some years ago, there was one of the pompous Great High Priests of the Commentariate doing a voice-over in hushed tones ... and he had not the least information about the regiments in the procession. So he covered his ignorance by repeatedly saying "And still they come". This appeared to be the Commentariate-Pomposity-Equivalent for "Oh gosh here are some more of them but once again I don't have the faintest idea who they are or why they're here but who b***** cares?". (We should note the faux-literary word-order of the formula.)
Considering that these jokers actually have back-up staffs, and, I suspect, are paid fees, this is worse than a joke.
And pretending to be a professional with Information at his finger-tips, when you aren't, is dishonest and a disgrace.
I'm not joking when I remind you of the Veterum Sapientia of S John XXIII, with its insistence that knowledge of (for example) Latin, at least on the part of the clerisy, is essential, if witless bog-ignorance is not to force a cultural divide between the generations.
Am I making too much of the Ignorance of the Commentariate? Perhaps what really gets me is the combination, with that ignorance, of condescending Pomposity.
I still remember when Pope St. John Paul II was buried, and the commentator was like: "Oh, and there are developments of interesting significance; for example, there was no reading from the Old Testament in the funeral Mass, though I am not quite sure what this is supposed to mean." Or something to the effect.
This 16-year-old altar boy in front of the TV said: "Well, it means it's Eastertide."
I could write to the BBC daily on their ignorance but it could become a full-time job, which I already have. I wrote to them during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations when they posted a photograph on the BBC News Web site of the Royal Family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace and in the caption beneath it had listed members of the Royal Family incorrectly. To my astonishment they corrected the caption. Previously, when I have contacted them their excuses have been pathetic. My children, when younger, had far more imaginative excuses for their behaviour.
My favorite gaff by a BBC commentator was back when Sean T.O’Kelly was the Irish President. As was the custom in Ireland (still is…?) the President and his wife would be introduced as Seán and Bean (his wife) O’Kelly (though probably rendered in the Gaelic: Ó Ceallaigh…).
The commentator proceeded to describe them as ‘Seen’ and ‘Been’ O’Kelly…!
Granted, one might not expect a Sassenach to be well-versed in the vagaries of Gaelic pronunciation, but one might have expected a modicum of research prior to the broadcast. “Where ignorance is bliss, etc…”
No, dear Father, you are not making too much of the annoying/alarming ignorance of, as you dub them, "the commentariate." This is the result of the widespread illiberal education perpetrated on many societies of the West today---a sure-fire formula to produce a semi-literate (or, in many cases, illiterate) population thereby more easily manipulated by the so-called "elite" (elite in the realm of mediocrity). As often happens, the immortal words of the great English poets come to mind, in this case those of the incomparable Catholic poet Alexander Pope: "A little learning is a dangerous thing/ Drink deep or taste not from the Pierian spring" ("Essay on Criticism").
So agree. Example after example of profound ignorance and/or failure to prepare. According to one commentator the Scottish Royal Standard contains a “lion rampart”!
I found this page in about 10 seconds:
I can imagine the commentator:
Johnny Public: So what is the difference between the Royal Standard of Scotland and that of England?
Commentator: (Stalling for time.) A very…good question… and the answer is…most…interesting..indeed.. (frantically tapping his phone). You, er, see…the standard of England is based on the escutcheon of the Royal Coat Of Arms, so…(fluently now) the standard is divided quarterly, first and fourth Gules three Lions passant gardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure (for England), second quarter Or a Lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland), third quarter Azure a Harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland!) For Scotland you simply swap around the passant Lions and the rampant Lions, as any fool know…
Johnny Public: Oh, I see…
No, you are not making too much of the ignorance of the commentariat, or of their unwillingness to do the slightest amount of this thing we call "work" to find things out.
To give another example: as a lawyer, I find it painful to listen to most courtroom commentary, since many alleged reporters covering high-profile jury trials obviously do not take the trouble to find out the most elementary facts about courtroom procedure, and so are not able to give a coherent explanation as to what is going on. Sometimes their ramblings are so incoherent that I myself couldn't make heads or tails out of what is happening in the courtroom if I were to go by only what they are saying.
And I don't know what's worse: their high level of ignorance about matters they have no business being ignorant of; or their total lack of embarrassment about their ignorance.
At the funeral for Prince Philip last year, one commentator confused the book of Ecclesiasticus with the book of Ecclesiastes, so my expectations weren't high.
They remind me of the Sociology lecturer in That Hideous Strength, one of those people who was successful at school not by knowing things but by talking a good line. PPE is poison (especially when the Philosophy gets dropped after the first year).
No Father, you are not making too much of it. Before the last coronation Richard Dimblelby prepared assiduously to be able to identify the people and processes involved, in those days we valued accuracy.
>> one commentator confused the book of Ecclesiasticus with the book of Ecclesiastes...
Well, that's why it's simpler to call them Jesus Sirach (or just Sirach) and Kohelet (or, The Preacher Solomon) respectively. And yes, I had to look up which is which for the "respectively".
Imagine if sports commentary was on this level:
"Now this is all very interesting: in the last game we saw, the ball was round and people were kicking it to one another, but in this game the ball is oval and people are running with it in their hands and throwing it to one another, and sometimes knocking each other down. Very interesting developments, though I'm not at all sure what it all means."
I remember when watching a commemorative ceremony from Auschwitz (I forget whether it was BBC or ITV) it showed a close up of the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris - Cardinal Lustiger. I expected to hear a comment to the fact that Cardinal Lustiger - the Jewish Cardinal - had lost his mother in Auschwitz which explained his presence there on that occsion but there was none. Just silence. The commentator did not even know who he was. Now if the commentator had been Richard Dimbleby he would have researched the details of those present and viewers would have been told of the Cardinal's significant presence there.
One of the UK commentators thought Operation Unicorn was named after HMS Unicorn.
The other specialist guy kinda paused, and then started explaining the royal coats of arms as if she had not said that,and then meandered over to the unicorn as symbol of Scotland. Nicely done, but I felt that he was crying inside.
Oh, and alas I took no screenshot, but yesterday night, Google Translate thought "homozygou" means "same sex partner."
Yes, this ignorance combined with condescending pomposity, although not exclusive to them, is one of the defining features of the (il)liberal elite with whom we are so unluckily burdened.
I am currently visiting the Eternal City. A couple evnings ago the italian news commentator stated that the Magna Chartawas granted by an English King ahter the French Revolution!
This post and the one which precedes it served to remind me why I check-in here on a daily basis. I cannot remember how I took up this habit of a decade or more, although I clearly recall a rather well-educated (American) cleric telling me that "Fr. Hunwicke is an acquired taste"; and implying that my foreshortened university education probably prevented me from fully grasping the nuances, particulars, or references of your sometimes-abstruse postings. I am glad that I didn't take his advice, or sulk under his condescension! Thanks for your continued efforts, you are contributing to the "continuing education" - and edification, and amusement - of this Anglophile Papist Yank!
I'm still working on the same sermon, and in the last few days, Google Translate has also thought that "homozygou" means "homozygote" and "homosexual."
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