January 30, 2016

Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Their profession does not in itself exclude good character, however. Early in my medical career I treated the recently widowed wife of a boxer who in his time (the 1930s) had been a world champion. For more than a decade, his name was a household word, at least in Britain. He had fought hundreds of times, which would now be impossible; even so, he had not suffered from dementia pugilistica before he died.

His widow, who must by now be long dead, was a woman of refinement, not just of manner but of sentiment. She spoke of her husband in terms of unqualified respect, love, and admiration that were so obviously sincere that I felt they must be justified. Her husband, born very poor, had raised himself up by means of his career in the ring (he started in fairground booths), but he was highly intelligent, gentlemanly, modest, and cultivated, and did much genuinely charitable work. As she reminisced about her husband, I felt a growing admiration for him myself. All that I have read of him since, and the old newsreels of interviews with him, suggest that she did not exaggerate his qualities. He exhibited none of the crudity”€”real or assumed for publicity purposes”€”that is now expected of boxers.

Still, one boxer doesn”€™t make an academy, and it seems intrinsically absurd to look to boxers for enlightenment on social questions or political philosophy. A man who says that a woman’s best place is on her back, etc., without wishing to offend anybody, is not perhaps the most trustworthy guide to life. On the other hand, taking what such a man says seriously enough to be offended by it is also rather stupid. Demanding that he retract and apologize, as if he now truly realized that a woman’s best place is not on her back (but presumably in some other position), and then taking his retraction and apology as if they were sincerely meant, is likewise preposterous.

I suppose that being politically correct is (like love) never having to say you”€™re sorry”€”except, of course, for what your ancestors did.


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