Men with tears in their eyes

badgerIt’s the so-called silly season and the Today programme, yet again, was virtually running on empty this morning; alternating between only two main topics neither of which, however, was silly. The two topics had one thing in common: the extermination of the innocent.

Topic one concerned the annihilation and serious injury of hundreds of people in Syria by chemical means at the behest of their government. Topic two concerned the annihilation of hundreds of badgers in the UK by experienced marksmen (and one presumes markswomen), at the behest of our government.

Yesterday, when the Today programme also attended to the extermination outside Damascus, William Hague came into the studio to speak with some passion on the possibility of reprisal by governments in the West. I could, with my arm twisted high enough behind my back, possibly admit to being a closet William Hague fan. I might not necessarily agree with his politics but I think he speaks well. However, to mention William Hague and passion in the same breath might be classed as a throwback to the theatre of the absurd. Nonetheless, I detected the note of suppressed anger.

Today, it was the turn of the Americans. Those that we have come to regard as top of the pops in the warmongers’ chart, devoid of any passion in the sense of compassion, are suddenly crying. We learn that Obama – another of those that can talk the talk – is overcome with revulsion and grief whilst John Kerry is unable to wipe the pictures of this ‘moral obscenity’ from his mind. Call me a cynic but – well, just call me a cynic.

On the other hand, there is Owen Paterson, another credible sounding chap, especially when it comes to badgers. Badgers were elevated to the prime 8.10 slot on the Today programme this morning which either shows the national importance of the cull that commenced last night or the lack of any news of comparative interest. Paterson was potentially in a good place: the earlier speaker representing the Badger Defence League had been somewhat brutalised by the normally pleasant Evan Davis, firstly for refusing to give her name.

Evan: ‘we have a representative of the government coming in later and he’s given us HIS name.’ That’s a bit weak Evan. The other mistake the Badger Defence League person made, according to Evan the Terrier, was to step outside his own democratic principles:

Evan: ‘it’s alright to protest you know but you are intending to INTERFERE. You don’t mind if we kill 2.5 million battery chickens every day. What’s so special about badgers?’

The Badger Defence League person quietly pointed out she was a vegan and DID mind that 2.5 million battery chickens were killed every day. Evan had had enough:

‘Well thank-you Lynn’, he said in such a tone to infer that he didn’t even believe her first name. I didn’t hear you mention the word ‘interfere’ when you questioned William yesterday Evan. Still, not quite the same I suppose.

At 8.10am Evan the Terrier sprung his attack on Owen Paterson. Owen had all his factually based answers ready even though they bore little relation to the questions asked. Or should I say ‘question’? The Terrier went on and on about the measurement of effectiveness. Why didn’t you read the government’s guide to best practice when killing badgers beforehand Evan? Why didn’t you ask him about the treacle covered peanuts that are used as bait to encourage groups of badgers to the execution point Evan? Why can’t you see that the destruction of 70% of the badger population IS a measure of effectiveness? And do I care? But, no: on and on and on to the point of inanity. Or was that insanity?

Evan: Minister, what IS the price of a badger’s life?’ (as opposed to a Syrian child’s life, Evan?)

Owen (nearly in tears): There ISN’T a price on a badger’s life. I bet I’m the only one of your listeners who had badgers as pets when I was a child!’ (Why did you Owen? Where were the badger parents?)

Silence from Evan.

Dear God. Surely there’s some news elsewhere that’s worthy of all these tears.