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Angus Take House

Worst Take of the Week: 'Save Big Ben' vs 'Save Confederate Statues'

What is sadder: a dead clock or a dead statue?

Welcome to Angus Take House – a weekly column in which I will be pitting two of the wildest takes the UK's journalists have rustled up against each other. This is your one-stop shop for the meatiest verdicts and saltiest angles on the world's happenings. Go and grab a napkin – these juicy hot takes are fresh from the griddle.

TAKE #1:

What's the story? Big Ben is going to be silent for the next four years so they can give the massive clock a clean.


Reasonable take: This is a story about a clock, therefore I am struggling to summon a meaningful emotional response.

8oz British Sirloin Take: By the spirit of the Dambusters, and the sugar-grey curls of her Majesty's hair, I swear this bell shall not be silenced.

There are plenty of small English men who have found Big Ben's four year detox quite distressing – shout out here to Labour MP Stephen Pound, who was reduced to tears – but none have taken the news as hard as Nick Ferrari, who reckons this whole kerfuffle is a "potent example of the depressing malaise that has been allowed to cripple this nation".

He's specifically enraged at the "the high-viz jacketed, hard hat-wearing health and safety zealots" who have decreed that the bell can't be ringing while workers are restoring it. A rep from the TUC told the Guardian that the bell rings at 120 decibels, so would be akin to "putting your ear next to a police siren". Which makes silencing it sound sensible – like, let's maybe not make people bleed out of their ears just so we can hear a massive bell? There is a clock on your phones, lads.

Nick says, no. In a goosebump-inducing rally-cry, lifted straight from the Noel's HQ re-staging of Braveheart, he declares: "Kings and queens have been crowned and died, governments succeeded and been toppled and an Empire blossomed and then was disbanded. The Luftwaffe failed to silence it. However, health and safety can chalk up another victory." If that doesn't make you want to snap a traffic warden's neck, then I don't know what will.


TAKE #2:

What's the story? A protester in North Carolina has been arrested for the part she played in tearing down a confederate statue.

Reasonable take: Constant reminders of white supremacy aren't totally conducive to welcoming town centres.

Sous-Vide Take Tartare: Black Lives Matter… but so does public property!

This week, Star Trek actor and activist George Takei was spotted reminding all those plucky anti-racism protesters not to get too ahead of themselves. Vandalism is illegal, people. Sure, you might find that towering tribute to the soldiers who fought to protect their right to enslave your body a little off-putting, but damaging public property is no joke. What would happen if I decided to protest oppression by dropping litter everywhere, or by sticking gum underneath bus seats? Anarchy. Two words: civic pride. Clean it up, Scotty!

I think perhaps the strangest thing about this take is George's decision to side with public property. In this huge debate about shared memory and how we confront the past and its lasting damage, he's decided the real victim is the statue – and not the meaning behind the statue, the actual statue. Given that George Takei is supposed to be everybody's favourite viral woke astronaut or whatever, this is a bizarrely cold, anal response. I can see you are pretty worked up about these symbols of oppression, but rules are rules I'm afraid folks!

What makes this weirder still is that George Takei's Facebook page is run by an external company called the Social Edge, meaning this patronising little dig was written by a content nerd in a basement somewhere, rather than Takei himself. While that raises some questions about his personal brand, it raises even more questions about the mysterious anti-vandalism vigilantes he is employing.

Prime Cut: Tough call. Both men very sad about the fate of big inanimate objects. Yet, there's the possibility George Takei's was written by a mildly racist bot, so the big man Nick Ferrari wins the cookout this week, for his nationalist timepiece erotica.