'Proportionality'. A Disgusted Rant.

We here in Britain have a traditional
belief in fair play.
Like, if we lose an away match,
we trash their town centre,
hold the town square as our turf
for several hours against the
full might of the police
who hours before, got us safely
to our seats and kept the home crowd
from throwing more at us
than we could shout at them

(That's one thing about
not learning foreign languages:
they have to learn English
to insult you...)

Proportionality.
It’s reassuring.
A level playing field.
And if one end dips away,
change ends at half time.

Like Waterloo, as we were taught,
was won on the playing fields of Eton.
Whatever that means.
That’s Waterloo in Belgium,
not the rush-hour and every
man and woman for themselves.

So it’s really offensive to our sense
of fair play when those countries
of the Middle East who love fighting
and who’s ever going to stop them,
do they want to, it’s
a national sport, kinda gun Olympics –
when those countries don’t play
the rules of proportionality:
the death toll in the ‘conflict’
- and Dubya-or-quits agrees with this –
should be more or less equal;
and in these democratic days,
that should include civilians
in with the troops.

Proportionality.
It’s reassuring.
A level killing field.
Bodies strewn equally.
Perhaps if it dips away one end like this,
They should change ends at half time.
Though, would anyone notice?

by Michael Shepherd

Comments (4)

Michael, I had to laugh at this fiirst as I spent the afternoon explaining the reasons for disproportionality in anti-terrorism stop and search statistics today! You've pulled together a grand argument that you drive through the poem. I like works like that which take the reader along with them and then suddenly open their eyes. Enlightening write Michael. Cheers.
Excellent comparison of 'proportionality' in different settings, an altogether apt and worthy rant, if ever I read one. And too, well, I had to laugh at the Waterloo bit, having experienced the latter first hand and fascinated by the former. Proportionality... fair play... sportsmanship... war as sport with an absence of anything resembling humanity (even for the dead) ... You've said a mouthful, Michael.
As a rant, I absolutely agree, goes without saying. I think the structure works, too - told as if an ironic depiction of a schoolmaster (heh heh) explaining what this British 'tradition' (my arse) means. Good continued match analogy, too. 'Would anyone notice'... perhaps the most troubling question. In short: well said. t x
As to the message, hear hear! ! As to the form....