Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sinking the boat race

First of all I like sport. Competition can be a healthy pursuit. Privilege, though, is something much different from competition, and privilege in sport should be stamped out. It is competition with the competitive edge removed. Some sports, in my opinion, are not sports so much as engineering achievements. Among these I include motor racing, sledging and, to some extent, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race which depends as much on the design of the boats as the crews powering them. What is more distasteful from my perspective is the lack of competition in the annual university boat-race. There have been no elimination heats. Only two crews compete. It is a final without semi-finals. It is the ultimate in privilege from universities which promote and perpetuate privilege.Which brings me to the Aussie, Trenton Oldfield, currently serving a six months' prison sentence for bringing last year's boat race to a halt, at least for a while.

What is it that the UK does not like about Aussies? We don't like Julian Assange, a liberator and truth-teller. We don't like Rupert Murdoch? Oops! Well, yes, there are good and bad all over the world. What Trenton Oldfield did was admirable.  He raised awareness of the privilege of this non-competitive race, a race which is all about elitism. For doing so he was sent to prison. He was sent to prison by Judge Anne Molyneux. I find that ironic.

Just before the First World War a suffragette, Emily Davison, in a similar manner to Trenton Oldfield, tried to stop the Derby. She threw herself in front of the King's horse. The Derby itself is an elitist race for privileged people with pots of money, and their supporters. More importantly, Emily Davison, chose the King's horse, Anmer, presumably in belief that she was targeting the king of elitism, George V. Her protest was one which together with other brave women of the Suffragette movement eventually ended the patriarchal society which had alienated women from public life. This hard-won campaign was responsible for creating a career path for people like Judge Anne Molyneux, who now finds herself in a position of privilege unheard of in the days when Emily Davison paid the ultimate price on behalf of women. Anne Molyneux should be ashamed of her treatment of another champion of equal rights.

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