The tea trolls need to have bumps felt
Dear Sir, — Last week’s storm in a media cup was created because a Conservative politician was photographed brewing up and he was holding a packet of Yorkshire Tea. The hapless brand was then inundated with threatening messages or people vowing never to use their product again.
The makers of Yorkshire Tea pointed out that their tea was incidental to the event, that they had no involvement in the photograph and that their staff are also human beings who shouldn’t be subjected to gratuitous abuse. The company said: “We’ve spent the last three days answering furious accusations and boycott calls. For some, our tea just being drunk by someone they don’t like means it’s forever tainted, and they’ve made sure we know it.”
It’s worrying. In one sense it is just daftness from people who have nothing better to do with their time. In another, it is symptomatic of how very intolerant some sections of society have become. It is another manifestation of the process of polarisation that some people, particularly some politicians, are determined to bring about to achieve their own ends.
Anything for a vote, however irresponsible. Black versus white, young versus old, city versus country, Brexiteer versus Remainer, left versus right and so on, ad infinitum.
All this is bunkum. Human beings are not cardboard cut-outs. Nobody is wholly good or wholly bad. Nobody has all the answers or is above criticism. There are such things as nuance and proportionality and anybody who is so far gone that they have lost sight of that needs their bumps feeling. Some of the people indulging in and promoting this kind of behaviour are not only being childish, they are being irresponsible. They are saying, if you are not with me then you must be against me. If you are not with me, you must be bad because I am good. You cannot possibly drink a brand of tea that, however unwittingly, has been used by someone who is not of our caste. Get a life!
It’s silly, it’s spiteful, it’s trivial and it isn’t doing anybody any good. I shall go and put the kettle on. No, I don’t drink that particular brand, but I wonder whether this whole silly kerfuffle might ultimately improve their sales. After all, look how the election turned out. — Yours faithfully,