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February 05th 2018 print

Peter O'Brian

Granny Get Your Gun

Cliche-prone reporters should watch their step when appending 'grandma' to any woman of a certain change on the wrong side of the law. First, it's unfair because granddads undoubtedly do more mischief. Second, some outlaw grannies get very irate about abused apostrophes

granny with a gunRecently, Channel Nine told us that a Melbourne grandmother had been jailed for a hit and run incident.  These days, we hear about errant grandmothers quite often.  A Sydney grandmother is convicted of fraud.  A Perth “grandmother of three” is arrested for drink-driving.  Two grandmothers from Adelaide are detained in Malaysia for possession of drugs.  It’s an epidemic of granny crime! No doubt there are grandfathers dealing drugs and driving under the influence but we seldom hear mention in reports of court proceedings and crime that describe them as such.

What is it about the acquisition of a second generation of offspring that drives the media to stress the link between elderly women and the outlaw life? Why is it that men appear to be immune to this effect?  And what can be done about it?  Married, as I am, to a grandmother, am I at risk of any standard-issue marital tiff becoming something more serious? A carving knife between ribs three and four, perhaps?  If Dr Jane Bone, fresh from her ground-breaking research on the “disempowering” influence of child-size chairs, is wondering where her next research grant is coming from, this could be the answer.

I’m not sure what social imperative TV news readers (and writers) think they are addressing with this gratuitous type-casting.  There are other infractions, however, that are more insidious.

Here’s one example.  On a recent Saturday both Nine and ABC News reporters described Senator Lucy Gichuhi as having ‘defected’ to the Liberal Party.  Given that Senator Gichuhi was sitting as an independent, how could she possibly be described as ‘defecting’ from anything.  The word ‘defection’ has a negative connotation, and no doubt the intent of our generally left-leaning MSM journalists is to somehow taint the good senator by saddling her with this pejorative simply because she had the bad taste to formalize her political leanings.

The banner headline of the first news item on Prime TV’s Hobart evening news on Australia Day told us “TASMANIAN’S DIVIDED”.   I’m not sure if writing these headlines counts as journalism but, if so, the mis-use of the apostrophe confirms the further decline of that  jaded profession.  That’s by the way.  The real offence in the headline is, of course, its contribution to the ‘fake news’ genre.

The main story of the day was the celebration of Australia Day by countless thousands of Australians on beaches and in backyards all over the country, the acceptance of Australian citizenship by thousands of new Australians in citizenship ceremonies and so on.  Given that there will always be a minority of Australians against mainstream opinion on almost any subject – in this case a very small minority – are we in a constant state of division?  How does the appearance of a noisy minority of some 2,000 (estimated) activists in Hobart constitute a division within the wider population?

The tendency for news readers to editorialize or slyly comment (particularly on the subjects of Donald Trump or Tony Abbott) is far too common an abrogation of journalistic standards, and not just at the ABC.  And here some caution is in order. With all those desperado grannies on the loose, who knows when some gun-toting matriarch might decide to set straight erring members of the Fourth Estate?

Comments [8]

  1. The thing that made me take Donald TRUMP seriously for the first time as perhaps being beneficial for civilisation was when he was reported to have said – ‘the Democrats aren’t our real enemy, the media is’. To my mind, while the Gramscian march through our institutions is most noticeable in our education, health and judicial systems, it has had its most damaging effects in the media.

  2. en passant says:

    Peter,
    Yo a’re so right about the drop in grammatical standard’s as I note that you may be a substitute for one ‘Peter O’Brien’. Secondly, ‘… any woman of a certain change …’. Did you mean ‘change of life’ or just showing her ‘age’?

    Given that you clearly watched the Absolutely Biased Clownshow the main question is why? And were you surprised. It is not an excuse to say that you werejust trying to get you’r moneys’ worth as a disempowered taxpayer as yours’ is not to reason why, but to pay until you die.

  3. Warty says:

    Though one cannot fault Peter’s opinion, indeed his insistence on the correct use of apostrophe, he has much to learn when it comes to tact.
    The girl I married was unquestionably beautiful and despite passing the 60 mark she is doing a far better job in keeping slim, unlike her husband who enjoys his food and loves his claret. Having stuffed up with my first wife I determined to be better behaved second time round and I think I have largely succeeded, though I’m sufficiently cautious not to ask for a second opinion.
    You might call it vanity on her part, or sheer cowardice on mine, but one thing I’ve leant is never to refer to her as a ‘grandmother’, certainly not even elderly and I stay well clear of mentioning her actual age, despite her being eighteen months younger than I.
    Such is the generation I come from, and being attentive to marital harmony, I find it essential to remind her she is still beautiful, to never use the past tense when it comes to youthfulness and to be generous when drawing any comparisons with myself. Actually, I’m being a little disingenuous with regards to the last point: I do indeed look my age, so talking of being ‘generous’ is misleading.
    As far as the apostrophe is concerned: use when necessary, and don’t forget the correct use of the colon (vis. the grammatical variety).

    • Mohsen says:

      Warty,

      About your last sentence: What do you mean by “when necessary”? Can we use the apostrophe when it’s not necessary?
      Also, my understanding is that you forgot to use colon correctly: What comes after the colon is supposed to be explaining what comes before the colon! Don’t forget the correct use of the colon doesn’t do much explaining about the apostrophe and concern over the apostrophe, does it? (All with total respect and in friendly jest. :-) ☺)

      • Jody says:

        With problems regarding the colon I can recommend an excellent Gastro-enterologist in my area. Now, whether that rectifies ‘irritable colon’ I’m unsure, but a good colonoscopy can reveal whether the inner parts are working correctly. And this relates to the human body as well, not just punctuation and good grammar!! :-)

      • Warty says:

        The response was not entirely serious, and yes, the colon is used to indicate a following explanation: the point was more to do with the pun at the end of the sentence, so I had to fit a colon in somewhere. As for apostrophes, and the point Peter was making, ‘why’ on earth would one use them incorrectly, but perhaps this is not what you mean by your question: ‘what do you mean by when necessary’?