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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, this is your pruriently genial host John Derbyshire with commentary on the week's news this first week of December.
I chose that adverb with care, ladies and gentlemen, to forewarn you that this week's Radio Derb will deal with some news stories related to the great and mysterious topic of sex. If you are listening on open speakers, please make sure there are no children or impressionable young people in the room. I have assembled the relevant material myself to spare the blushes of my research assistants, and have sent them down to the village on an errand so that the purity of their young minds will not be sullied.
Let us then regard sex, the beast with two backs … or possibly a back and a front, I guess, depending on the precise geometry of the event. At any rate, I don't think it's ever the beast with two fronts, though I can't claim any expertise in this area, so I could be wrong …
What was I saying? Right, sex, and its place in modern American culture.
02 — Showbiz star fondles starlets! Bill Cosby is in sex-related trouble, you may have heard. The nature of the trouble is that many women — the count is 19 as we go to tape here — have accused Cosby of stalking, groping, or raping them. As a result, Cosby has become a major hate object to feminists and the rest of the progressive pack.
That progressive pack includes of course the academy. Cosby's been forced to resign from the board of trustees of Temple University, which he attended on the GI Bill after serving four years in the Navy, 1956-60.
You can also include the Navy itself in the progressive pack. It's a sad feature of our times — one of the saddest, for a conservative traditionalist like myself — that no major institution in American society, except of course the academy, is as heavily invested in the follies of left-liberal ideology as the military. General Casey's remark after the Fort Hood murders that, quote, "As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse," was by no means an outlier. An average week of training in the U.S. armed forces nowadays might include a couple of hours of weapons practice if you're lucky, but it will definitely include three or four classroom lectures about diversity awareness, sexual harassment, and such.
So the U.S. Navy has stripped Cosby of his title as honorary Chief Petty Officer, granted to him just three years ago. The Navy chiefs then returned to their regular workaday tasks: signing sheaves of shore-leave orders for pregnant sailors, installing Muslim prayer rooms in submarines, approving same-sex marriages in service chapels, and so on.
You might be getting the impression here that I'm pro-Cosby on this one. I think of it in my own mind as more a case of being anti-stupidity.
I don't hold any particular brief for Cosby. I never found him funny; but that's probably my fault, not his. Not every comedian's style is for everybody. It does mean, though, that after watching a couple of his routines without getting a laugh, or even a smile, out of them, I never thenceforth paid any attention to him. So far as his main career is concerned, put me down as Cosby-neutral.
My main problem here is the imposition of the present-day progressive value system, which in most respects I think is false or misguided, on people's behavior thirty or forty years ago. Even fifty years ago: one of the allegations, by Kristina Ruehli, concerns an event in 1965. The latest one I've seen is from 1992. Two more are from the 1960s, eight are from the 1970s, the rest from the 1980s. Standards were different then.
One of the latest accusers, for example, Helen Hayes, says that Cosby stalked her for a while in 1973, then, quote, "came up behind me and grabbed my breast." Strewth: If grabbing a breast in 1973 gets you cashiered from the Navy nowadays, I can kiss my hopes of a naval career goodbye.
Other accusations are that Cosby got a woman alone and slipped her a Mickey Finn. Renita Chaney Hill, for example, who was a teenage actress on one of Cosby's shows in the early 1980s, told a magazine that Cosby would, quote, "often invite her to stay with him in his hotel rooms, then give her a drink," end quote, whereupon she'd pass out. She suspects the drinks were drugged.
He'd often do this? How much did the girl mind if she let him do it often? And in the early 80s Bill Cosby was 40-something. Did Ms Hill not know it's unwise for a pretty young teen female to go to the hotel room of a middle-aged man? And how are we supposed to evaluate these claims, anyway? What supporting evidence can these women provide, thirty and forty years after the event?
Another woman, Judy Huth, says Cosby took her and a friend to a party at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, where Cosby, when he got her alone, made her give him a hand job. The Playboy Mansion? Hel-lo? Ms Huth is suing Cosby on account of the, quote, "psychological damage and mental anguish" she says she suffered. After she went with him to the Playboy Mansion. And gave him a hand job. In 1974. Lots of luck with that lawsuit, honey.
I wouldn't be terrifically surprised if Cosby did get up to the kinds of things alleged. This was show business, after all — home of the casting couch. Powerful male screen stars have never been short of opportunities to seduce young women. The temptation to short-circuit the seduction chatter with some mild pharmaceuticals must have occurred to many guys in Cosby's position. Hey, time is money, you know?
It's a pretty easy thing for a woman to make sure she is never alone with a man. It's double easy to never be alone drinking alcoholic beverages with a man. It's triple easy to not be alone drinking alcoholic beverages with a man in the Playboy Mansion, and it was even in 1974. What a crock!
I think I'm going to swing over to being pro-Cosby. Hey, Bill: I'm sorry I didn't get your style of humor. If you want to get together for a drink next time I'm stateside, I'm definitely up for it. You can drop by the house if you like … one night when my wife is out.
03 — Standards corrupted by hysteria. If you're a regular reader of the British press, you will have a sense of foreboding here, reading the Bill Cosby news.
For over two years now there has been a huge witch-hunt going on in Britain against showbiz personalities accused of sexual abuse in various degrees. As with Cosby, the abuse incidents are all dated thirty or forty years ago, and the evidence, other than oral testimony, is fragmentary or nonexistent.
Some of the accusations involve offenses against young teens or children, which of course would be deplorable if true. Again, though, decades have passed and the evidence is thin or nonexistent.
This hasn't hindered the British authorities from prosecuting, nor juries from convicting. The authorities' biggest catch so far has been Australian performer Rolf Harris, currently serving a six-year sentence in Britain for various offenses of touching and fondling young-teen and preteen girls from the 1960s to the 1980s.
I'm a bit warmer towards Harris as a performer than I am towards Cosby. Some of his songs are catchy and quite charming, in an Australian sort of way, and his TV persona was engaging. My personal tastes aside, there is no doubt that Harris, like Cosby, gave harmless pleasure to millions across many years.
That's not nothing. Weighed against the victimological whining of neurotic middle-aged women coached by unscrupulous lawyers, it's a lot, even if some of the things alleged to have happened actually happened as alleged.
Parents are the guardians of their children; and young women who have left the parental home are the guardians of their own virtue. Famous men with the glamor of show business attached to them know that they can get their way with foolish or gullible young women. These things have always been true, and always will be.
We have to keep our children out of harm's way, and try to ensure our daughters don't grow up foolish and gullible. We also, I think, have to take care that modish hysterias, like the current craze for victimhood, don't warp and corrupt legal standards and a proper respect for the rules of evidence.
In Britain, it seems to me, those standards have been corrupted by popular hysterias. I'd be very sorry to see the same thing happen here. If the hounding of Bill Cosby is a harbinger of that, America is coming into evil times.
04 — That's rape in Sweden! And then there's the campus rape culture we're all supposed to be getting indignant about. "One in five girls will be raped in college," shrieked the Washington Post December 3rd. Elsewhere you see the figure as one in four.
As Heather Mac Donald pointed out in her 2008 article "The Campus Rape Myth" — which, by the way, is essential reading if you're going to peer into these murky waters — this is a preposterous claim. I'll quote from Heather here, quote:
No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America, was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants — a rate of 2.4 percent. The one-in-four statistic would mean that every year, millions of young women graduate who have suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience.
End quote. It's a measure of the infantile idiocy our public culture has sunk into that claims like this one-in-five nonsense can be taken seriously. To get to that one-in-five number you have to define rape down, way down. Heather quotes the case of a female student at William and Mary College who charged her partner with rape in spite of the facts that (a) she admitted providing him with a condom, and (b) he was a cofounder of a national antirape organization called One in Four. The school suspended the boy for a year anyway.
This defining-down of rape has gone furthest in Sweden. It's now a joke all over Europe that the merest uninvited contact is rape in Sweden. If a man bumps into a woman in a crowded elevator, someone will say "That's rape in Sweden!" and everybody laughs.
And with such a premium put on victimhood, we are of course plagued with victim hoaxes. An especially lurid one was perpetrated by Rolling Stone magazine in mid-November, when they published a story titled "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA." UVA here is the University of Virginia. The author is billed as Sabrina Erdely.
The story Ms Erdely tells is of a frat-house rape, where seven men across three hours raped an 18-year-old freshgirl on the shattered remains of a glass table, all in pitch darkness. The whole thing is completely implausible, up there in implausibility with the one-in-five bogus statistic. As Steve Sailer wrote, quote:
The glass table is smashed, but nobody turns on the light to see what happened or where the broken glass is? Instead, each man, having heard the glass table get smashed, still gets down on the floor covered with shards of broken glass, risking not only his hands and knees, but also pulling out an even more personal part of his anatomy, one that he only has one of?
End quote. The complete implausibility of the rape scenario, and the absence of any record of a young woman showing up at the local emergency room to have shards of glass removed from her back, didn't stop the tale being taken with utter earnestness by the UVA authorities and the press at large. All fraternity activity has been suspended at UVA and a full-scale investigation by the college authorities is under way.
One negative effect of these inflated statistics and victim hoaxes is that true, actual horrors get lost in the noise. Rape does occur and it's a dreadful thing. However, when rape has been defined down so far that people talk solemnly about one woman in five being raped at college, and when the air is further clouded by victim hoaxes like the UVA story, it's hard to pick out the true atrocities from all the chaff.
05 — Co-education at the end of its tether. Colleges are reacting to all the rape hysteria by imposing strict standards for consent to sexual activity.
The standard until recently went by the name "No Means No." On this standard, A has committed a sexual assault on B if B is underage, or incapacitated, or has explicitly refused the advances by clearly saying "No."
Now campuses are adopting a new, stricter standard called "Yes Means Yes." Under this new standard A has sexually assaulted B if A performed any sexual act without receiving prior affirmative consent.
Are you confused? I don't blame you. To clarify the issue, I'll read you the definition of the term "affirmative consent" just adopted by the State University of New York system. It's rather long, so I'll read it real fast, like the legal disclaimers at the end of a radio commercial. You ready? Here goes. Quote:
Affirmative consent is a clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed, and voluntary agreement between all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive. Silence or lack of resistance cannot be interpreted as consent. Seeking and having consent accepted is the responsibility of the person(s) initiating each specific sexual act regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not constitute consent to any other sexual act. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time. When consent is withdrawn or cannot be given, sexual activity must stop. Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated. Incapacitation occurs when an individual lacks the ability to fully, knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation includes impairment due to drugs or alcohol (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary), the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, if any of the parties are under the age of 17, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Consent cannot be given when it is the result of any coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm.
End quote. I hope you got all that.
Have the lawyers totally taken over our culture, or what?
Once again Heather Mac Donald has sensible things to say. Heather is really the go-to writer on this whole topic. In a different column in the Weekly Standard, October 20th this year, she wrote, quote:
Do the bureaucrats' rules misunderstand the nature of sex? Do they take the fun out of it? You bet! And what's not to like? … Unlike the overregulation of natural gas production, say, which results in less of a valuable commodity, there is no cost to an overregulation-induced decrease in campus sex. Society has no interest in preserving the collegiate bacchanal. Should college fornication become a rare event preceded by contract signing and notarization, maybe students would actually do some studying instead.
I concur. In fact I'd go further than Heather. I think we should admit that co-education is a mistake. Let men attend men's colleges and women attend women's colleges. What was wrong with that arrangement? I would have got twice as much work done at college, and graduated twice as learned, if hadn't spent half my time looking at girls.
06 — Over-reporting, under-reporting. To further complicate the issue there is the vexed question of race. Numbers from the Department of Justice Crime Victimization Surveys show that black-on-white rape is far commoner than white-on-black. Add to that the fact that many big university campuses are located right next to depressed inner city areas. Add the further fact that colleges admit black athletes, mostly male, who have little interest in academics and are bored when not playing or training, and you have some combustible material.
There was for example a reported rape at William Paterson University, a state college in northern New Jersey, the Tuesday before before Thanksgiving. At this point I'm skeptical of any college rape story, but this one is more plausible than most, certainly more plausible than the UVA story.
The college had largely emptied out for the holiday. Five young men assaulted a female student in a dorm room. We don't know precisely what happened. It's possible the woman had agreed to sex with one of the men, then the others forced their way in and raped her. We're told they blocked the doorway of the dorm room so she couldn't escape.
The woman reported the rape to campus police immediately, on Tuesday afternoon. The five men were arrested that Saturday and are currently free on $50,000 bail each. All have pleaded not guilty; all five are black. We don't know the woman's race.
Whether this eventually emerges as a genuine rape or a hoax, or something in between, the story is being under-reported by the press. It's had nothing like the publicity of the absurd UVA story. The reason for that is of course the race of the alleged perps. To provide proper combustible fuel to the progressive Narrative you need white men raping a black female. That's why the Duke lacrosse story in 2006 was so over-reported, such a big deal; although alas for the Narrative, it turned out to be another hoax.
So piled on top of all the stupidities of college administrations in dealing with campus rape, there are the distortions that arise when the media report what's happening, trying to squinch everything into their preconceived Narrative about victim groups and oppressor groups, magnifying or miniaturizing stories according to which favored or unfavored group the parties belong to.
07 — Who's the victim? Rape stories don't just concern men raping women. There are also women who rape men.
You may say that's not physically possible, and you may be right. It's legally possible, though. If you take rape to mean sex without consent, then an adult woman having intercourse with an underage boy is rape since the boy, being underage, can't legally consent.
So you get cases like the one in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where we got a verdict this week. Thirty-five-year-old Abigail Simon was found guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree for doing the naughty with a 15-year-old high school student she was tutoring. She'll be sentenced in January. Ms Simon says the boy forced himself on her, but that didn't help her.
Apparently the female is guilty in these cases even if the boy forced himself on her. There was the case back in 1997 of Cassandra Sorenson-Grohall, a teacher who was sentenced to four years in prison for sex with a 15-year-old boy, a juvenile delinquent. The boy, it turns out, was large and muscular; Mrs Sorenson-Grohall — yes, she was a married woman: Grohall was her husband's name — was small and skinny.
The boy admitted that it was he who had initiated the affair. Quote: "I just kind of started the whole thing," end quote. She decided not to report the crime for fear that her assailant might go to prison and become, quote, "more of a delinquent." Instead, it was she who went to prison. Four years: more than the average mugger gets.
Occasionally we read of women in Muslim countries who are raped and get punished by the law for it. It's entirely possible that the same thing has happened in the U.S.A.
The boy in that 1997 case was black, so race may have been a factor there, too — reinforcing the boy's victim status. I don't know the race of the boy in this Michigan case.
These knotty ambiguities are unavoidable in human affairs. It doesn't help in evaluating them, though, that we have a culture steeped in ideological preconceptions about oppressor groups and victim groups. It really doesn't help.
08 — When pieties collide. The pieties of Political Correctness, the articles of the liberal faith, occasionally collide with each other, and that's always fun to watch.
The most obvious example is the collision between Islam and feminism. Respect for Islam is a PC totem because, in the first place, Islam is non-Western and therefore magical and soulful and probably oppressed; and in the second place, because most of its congregations are brown or black and thus free of the horrid taint of whiteness. However, Islam regards women as inferior beings who need to be kept out of sight as far as possible and beaten if insufficiently obedient. Collision!
Homosexuality causes particular problems. Homosexuals are a liberal pet group, and it must be infuriating to liberals that Muslims and blacks, two of their other pet groups, are in general hostile to homosexuality. Another collision!
You'll recall that California Propositon 8 six years ago, striking down homosexual marriage in the state, was passed by 52 percent to 48 overall, yet black Californians supported it 70 to 30. Worldwide, the map of nations with severe legal penalties against homosexual acts shows pretty much just black Africa and Islamia, with a scattering of outliers like India and Guyana. Homosex-wise, the Third World isn't as vibrantly progressive as it ought to be according to liberal theology.
Here's another instance, passed on to me by a friend in the academy. The collision here is between feminism and homosexuality.
The topic here is the age of consent to sexual activity. There is talk over in England about lowering the age of consent. The thing Dr Beresford has noticed — and others have commented on it too — is that the most energetic talkers are male homosexuals, people like Matthew Waites, who teaches sociology at Glasgow University and is active in promoting homosexuality. Dr Waites has argued for lowering the age of consent from 16 to 14 for young people who are less than two years apart in age.
There is a case to be made, I guess, but I'm not sure male homosexuals should be the ones making it. The usual male-homosexual personality, as described by researchers like Michael Bailey, is a mix of normal feminine and normal masculine traits. It's feminine, for example, in a preference for being penetrated. Hence the old joke about a gay bar: "A hundred bottoms looking for a top." On the other hand it's masculine in its preference for youth and physical attractiveness rather than status. That's bound to make you suspicious about male homosexuals campaigning to have the age of consent lowered.
Well, this abstract of Dr Beresford's that my friend showed me registers a different kind of disapproval. Quote:
Queer Theory (originating from feminism), was intended to be a liberating phenomenon, but contrary to these hopes and intentions, Queer Theory evolved to become synonymous with white gay men, thus denying its origins and becoming distinctly anti-feminist. Those who argue for a reduction in the age of consent have used (whether knowingly or not) an approach which is consistent with this evolved version of Queer Theory. Consequently, the debate on the age of consent has ignored, or given insufficient attention to, the effect(s) a lowering of the age of consent will have on girls and women.
Translating that into English, I think it says: "Lowering the age of consent might be great for homosexual men, but's what's in it for us ladies?"
I'm going to leave you to discuss the main topic there among yourselves. I just want to register my pleasure at seeing another fissure open up in the progressive coalition, between feminists and homosexual men, on the age of consent issue.
Personally I think the age of consent should be 36 for both sexes; but when I say that at cocktail parties, people tell me I'm old-fashioned.
09 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: James Watson got the Nobel Prize as co-discoverer of the DNA molecule back in 1962. He is now 86 years old.
In 2007 Watson gave an interview to a British newspaper in which he said he was, quote, "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because, quote, "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really." He added that people want to believe that everyone was born with equal intelligence but that those, quote, "who have to deal with black employees find this not true," end quote.
That of course caused a terrific fuss and brought much scorn down on Dr Watson's head. What, after all, could the world's most famous living geneticist know about race and intelligence?
Watson tells us he became an unperson, lost several positions on the boards of companies, suffered serious loss of income, and is now putting his Nobel Prize medal up for auction, with a reserve price of $2.5 million.
I hope he gets it. I know James Watson slightly. He and I belong to the same dinner club in Manhattan. He lives near the Derb estates in Long Island. He once offered me a lift home from Manhattan. I already had a rail ticket, though, so from sheer instinctive cheapness I politely declined, and of course regretted doing so while the words were still coming out of my mouth. Good luck there, James.
Item: There was brief anxiety at the University of Texas midweek when it seemed that around 100 human brains had gone missing.
There was wild speculation about brain thieves: possibly students doing some kind of prank, or perhaps a Dr Frankenstein type desirous of creating his own human being from spare parts. There was also much unkind commentary expressing surprise at there being any brains in Texas, and so on.
In the event it all turned out to be a bookkeeping error. The brains had actually been disposed of some years before as being in poor condition and no use for research.
We did learn from the news stories, though, that brain thievery is actually quite common. Quote from the New York Times:
Last year in Indianapolis, David Charles, 21, was charged with stealing 60 human brains from the Indiana Medical History Museum. The police were tipped off by Brian Kubasco of San Diego, who had bought six of the brains on eBay for $600, and suspected they were stolen.
End quote. What a strange world we live in! You can buy brains on eBay. Who knew?
Item: The Queen of England's getting on in years: she'll be 89 next April. The thoughts of loyal Brits are naturally turning to the succession.
Here's one particular Brit who's been thinking about it: Lord Harries, former Anglican Bishop of Oxford, currently an assistant bishop in London. So this is a significant voice in the Church of England hierarchy.
Lord Harries suggested in the House of Lords November 27th that when the Queen's successor is crowned, that would presumably be Prince Charles, the coronation service should be opened with a reading from the Koran.
Prince Charles himself would probably be fine with that: he's been making friendly remarks about Islam for years. It's a multiculturalism too far for most Brits, though, to judge from commentary on the bishop's idea. A point commonly made is that if you're going to bring Islam in, then in fairness you should also include Hinduism, Buddhism, Latter Day Saints, Christian Scientists, atheists, and everyone else.
Since England is the home of Anglican Christianity just as Saudi Arabia, also a monarchy, is the home of Islam, I suggest a reciprocal show of respect: The Brits include a reading from the Koran in their coronation service, the Saudis include a reading from the Book of Common Prayer. That should go over well in Mecca.
Item: I was sitting around with some Chinese people the other day. They were talking Chinese. Now in spoken Chinese there's a very common word: nei-ge, literally "that one." Suppose for example in English you were talking about some guy whose name you just couldn't remember. You're saying: "That guy, you know, that … that … that … what's-his-name …"
In Chinese, "that … that … that …" comes out as "nei-ge … nei-ge … nei-ge …" You see the problem.
It occurred to me to wonder whether they knew how this sounds to American ears, so I asked them. Yes, they know. They figure it's their language, though, so they have a right to speak it among themselves.
I just looked up the Chinese word for "niggardly": 吝嗇的 … just in case you ever need it.
Item: Rudy Giuliani's been back in the news. The former New York City Mayor was on Meet the Press November 23rd, together with black affirmative action blowhard Michael Eric Dyson. They were of course discussing the Michael Brown business.
Giuliani told Dyson that he was making a lot of fuss about an exception, that 93 percent of black homicide victims are killed by other blacks. Dyson huffed and puffed and called Giuliani a white supremacist. Giuliani said, quote: "I probably saved more black lives in this city than any mayor in the history of New York City, with the possible exception of Mike Bloomberg," end quote, which is probably true. Dyson called him a racist.
Then on December 4th on the TV program Fox and Friends Giuliani laid into New York's current Mayor, the communist ethnomasochist nitwit Bill de Blasio. De Blasio had passed some remarks on a different case of a black man who died while resisting the police, saying that, quote, "centuries of racism" had led up to the event.
Giuliani again raised the issue of very high rates of black-on-black homicide, and pointed out that police killing of blacks is numerically insignificant by comparison.
I miss Rudy. He was a good mayor, who took no nonsense from the race hustlers. He refused to meet with Al Sharpton, for example, all through his mayoralty, whereas this current fool, de Blasio, has Rev'm Al sleeping on the couch in the Mayor's living-room.
I'm just wondering … Is it merely coincidence that Rudy's doing the TV news shows again? It couldn't be, could it, that he's contemplating another run for President? I don't know, but I can't help wondering.
Item: Finally, just a follow-up on the Miss BumBum story of two weeks ago. You'll recall that in our November 22nd podcast we congratulated 22-year-old Indianara Carvalho for winning this year's Miss BumBum contest, having been judged to have the most perfectly-formed heinie in Brazil.
Here's another news story from that competition. This story concerns 27-year-old Andressa Urach, who was runner-up in the 2012 Miss BumBum contest. It turns out Senhorita Urach had been injecting herself with hydrogel to enlarge her thighs and buttocks. This was one of at least nine cosmetic procedures she's had done in the last five years, according to newspaper reports. She's also had a nose job, a bioplasty facial "correction," jaw reduction, a boob job, liposuction and, oh dear, vaginal lip reduction.
Well, the hydrogel injections got infected somehow and Senhorita Urach is now in intensive care. Radio Derb offers her our sincere best wishes for a speedy recovery, and our hopes that she won't be stripped of her title for having surgically enhanced her ass …ets.
I know, it's not much of a story, not exactly the White Sox scandal, but how can I resist Miss BumBum items?
10 — Signoff. That's it, gentle listeners. To sing us out this week, I'll return to the seduction theme.
The social justice warriors have now planted this whole zone with mines, so you venture into it at your peril. Once upon a time, though, it was a pleasant open field where comedians could play. Yes, incredible to recall now, there used to be seduction humor.
Another thing there used to be, as I lamented back in October, was comic songs. Seduction humor met the comic song most memorably in Michael Flanders and Donald Swann's 1959 number, "Have some Madeira, m'dear."
Madeira is a kind of fortified wine, like sherry and port — wine with some liquor added. In the song, an old rake has invited an innocent young woman up to his apartment, where he plies her with Madeira. I'll let Flanders and Swann take it from there,only urging you to take note of their very skillful deployment of the rhetorical figure called zeugma.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Flanders & Swann, "Have some Madeira, m'dear."]
Unaware of the wiles of the snake in the grass
And the fate of the maiden who topes,
She lowered her standards by raising her glass,
Her courage, her eyes, and his hopes.
She sipped it, she drank it, she drained it, she did,
He quietly refilled it again
And he said, as he secretly carved one more notch
On the butt of his gold-handled cane:
"Have some Madeira, m'dear.
I've got a small cask of it here;
And once it's been opened, you know it won't keep —
Do finish it up, it'll help you to sleep.
Have some Madeira, m'dear.
It's really an excellent year.
Now if it were gin, you'd be wrong to say yes.
The evil gin does would be hard to assess.
Besides, it's inclined to affect my prowess …
Have some Madeira, m'dear!"
Then there flashed through her mind what her mother had said
With her antepenultimate breath:
"O my child, should you look on the wine when 'tis red
Be prepared for a fate worse than death.
She let go her glass with a shrill little cry —
Crash! Tinkle! It fell to the floor.
When he asked, "What in Heaven …?" she made no reply,
Up her mind, and a dash for the door.
"Have some Madeira, m'dear!"
Rang out down the hall loud and clear.
A tremulous cry that was filled with despair,
As she paused to take breath in the cool midnight air.
"Have some Madeira, m'dear!"
The words seemed to ring in her ear …
Until the next morning she woke up in bed
With a smile on her lips and an ache in her head,
And a beard in her ear-hole that tickled and said:
"Have some Madeira, m'dear!"