Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Don't pretend not to understand, Ian"

I watched the repeat of Have I Got News for You yesterday evening. It was worth it for the moment when Grayson Perry was talking about art and Ian Hislop affected to be baffled by him.

What Perry said next was:
"Don't pretend not to understand, Ian"
Well said.

There is a style of argument that is so common amongst those who were educated at public schools that I suspect the Headmasters' Conference insists it is included in the curriculum.

When you say something they do not agree with, particularly something a bit left wing, they do not disagree with you: they act as though your argument is so baffling that they cannot make anything of it. Hislop does it all the time, though his conservatism is more cultural than political.

In future I shall use Grayson Perry's retort when faced with this tactic.


dheigham said...

An excellent retort.

I don't think that the pretence of not understanding has much to do with left or right wings. It seems to be a University debating society tactic when an opponent produces an idea to which you have no answer. Possibly that is why we LibDems encounter it so often.

Anonymous said...

Well observed. As someone who was educated in a fee-paying establishment a long time ago, I should watch for this in myself. Curiously, the only time I've seen Hislop in public was in the National Gallery (big Titian exhibition).