Sunday, April 03, 2016

Silvia Cano's Army

Fred Karno, aka Frederick John Westcott, was the man who invented slapstick comedy. It was he who made the custard pie in the face famous. He lent his name to a phrase - Fred Karno's Army - used to denote a chaotic organisation. Silvia Cano did not invent slapstick. But in other regards, she shares something in common with Fred, not least - the most splendidly fortunate of circumstances - her surname. It sounds just like Fred's moniker.

Silvia, it needs to be pointed out, is not some sort of Mallorcan stand-up. She is a master (sic) of contemporary philosophy and also an expert in the psychosocial aspects of domestic violence. Furthermore, she is an avowed member of the sisterhood. All of which led many to wonder quite why she had launched the type of custard pie in the face that she did. She wasn't having a laugh, one needs to make clear. Her particular custard pie was aimed at a different type of sisterhood (and indeed brotherhood), that to be found within the orders of the Catholic faith. In fact, one might suggest that Silvia was rubbing the pie in the faces of the entire Catholic establishment.

In addition to her various other qualifications, Silvia is the general secretary of PSOE in Mallorca, a kind of right-hand (or left-hand) woman to sweet and friendly Frankie Armengol, president of a chaotic organisation sometimes referred to as the Balearic government. In her gen-sec capacity, Silvia offered her thoughts about local telly. Specifically, she was questioning the continuing live transmission of Sunday mass from Palma Cathedral by the public broadcaster, IB3. "Pornography," suggested Silvia, "also has its public". With this utterance, the pie was launched, swiftly followed by any amount of stuff hitting the fan.

As always, one needs to place her comment in context. She went on to add that no one would think to put sex programmes on public telly. What she most certainly was not suggesting was that mass should be replaced by some dodgy video with porn actresses dressed as nuns enjoying pleasures of the flesh with a group of midgets. But the context didn't matter. It was the porn reference which did.

There was something of the John Lennon Beatles are more famous than Jesus moment about all this. Lennon was of course totally misrepresented. As has been the case with Silvia. Misrepresentation or not, critics rounded on her. How, for instance, could a fully paid-up member of the sisterhood even think to mention porn? This was one line of attack. Had she said football instead it wouldn't have been half as bad. But no, it was porn. And so not long after she had offered her thoughts, was in full petitioning mode. It was being demanded that she retract her comments and issue an apology for having compared the Eucharist to YouPorn (or some such).

Silvia has thus far refused to apologise, maintaining that it's all down to interpretations made by others. Which is true, but unfortunately such interpretations do get made, even if they are out of context, while it was also unfortunate that the timing of the row should coincide with the Fred Karno-style chaotic organisation as displayed by the departure of someone else from the ranks of the sisterhood: the government's Esperança Camps discovered that all hope had run out and she resigned.

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