Wednesday 16 November 2016

Neither Rhyme Nor Reason

We should remember that English is not the first language of our owner, so when he spouts nonsense it is always possible that he simply doesn't understand the real meanings of the words he uses. I can make myself understood in French, but make all sorts of errors when speaking the language, much to the amusement of my partner Suzanne. Sometimes when together we have to pause and ask if the other really meant what was said (even sometimes when there is no alcohol on my part involved).

So when our owner sends a message to talkSPORT's Jim White concluding with "these protests have nothing to do with reason. Therefore, whatever we do or say, the core actors within that group will always criticise" it would be unfair simply to conclude that this is the latest batty outburst from a misfit who is living proof of Von Clausewitz's advice not to confuse stubbornness with strength of character, one who having failed to win any sort of argument or to browbeat his babies now feigns indifference rather than facing up to and learning from his evident failures in football and politics. We might instead start with the meanings of the key word he uses.

In case our owner is unaware, 'reason' can be considered to have two broad meanings in English: cause (ie motivation or justification for action) and logic (whereby reason is a substitute for argument form and rational thinking). And there is scope for confusion. Suzanne not long ago was the lucky recipient on her birthday of a little sign which read, in French, 'I must remember, Nick is always right'. I had no end of trouble getting the translation correct, as in French to 'be right' is to 'have reason'. So when Duchatelet claims that the protests have 'nothing to do with reason' he could mean that there are no good reasons for supporters to be protesting, that the protests are illogical, or simply that the protesters are wrong and he is right. Only he can say for sure, but let's take them in turn.

I think all would agree, perhaps even Duchatelet, that the first option, that there are no good reasons for supporters to be protesting, is a non-runner. It's not necessary to detail every avoidable error and misguided strategy which have led to our current situation and outlook and the efforts of the regime to blame anyone but the two key players.

The second option, that the protests are illogical, requires a little more thought. There is a line of argument to support Duchatelet's claim, namely that all Addicks want Charlton to thrive yet many are acting in a fashion which works against that. Most if not all would agree that the strong backing of fans is a necessary requirement if a football club - especially one which has an owner and top management hoping that bare minimum investment will prove sufficient - is to outperform. Whether or not the protests have been a material factor behind our current position is a rather sterile debate. As a protestor I would accept that they haven't helped in the short term - but would balk at any suggestion that they resulted in our relegation.

So if you state the argument simply - all supporters want the club to thrive; some supporters are behaving in a fashion which might not be helping the club to thrive; therefore some supporters are not behaving reasonably/rationally - it has some merit, or at least is not obviously irrational. However, we all know this isn't the full story, or the only line of argument. The other one reads: all the evidence since Duchatelet bought our club points to the conclusion that we cannot thrive as long as he remains our owner; we as supporters want our club to thrive; therefore we need to do all that we can - within the bounds of what is acceptable - to encourage and engineer a change of ownership for the good of our club. There is nothing unreasonable or illogical in this argument, it is quite consistent and rational. Duchatelet may not like it, even may not agree with it; certainly it doesn't suit his interests. But he cannot on this basis claim that reason is on his side.

That does leave the third option, that Duchatelet believes that he alone 'has reason' and so anyone who disagrees with him is 'without reason'. He may believe this. But if he does, you'd have to conclude that he is living proof of Von Clausewitz's advice .....


AlanFromParis said...

I have known my French wife since 1968, we married in 1975. I have lived in Paris for over 40 years and although my wife was, before retiring, an English teacher in Paris we still sometimes have problems in understanding each other because of language difficulties.

Burgundy Addick said...

Alan, many thanks for that, made me chuckle. I shall use your comment endlessly to justify my lazy approach to improving my French. I hope the potential for misunderstanding continues to give your marriage a warm edge.

a2c said...
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Andie S said...

Time for the nuclear option: As a season ticket holder for many years, who finally left in protest, when are CAFC fans ever going to learn that the only way out of this current mess is to vote with your feet. If protesting fans formed a ring around turnstiles on match days to persuade fellow Addicts not to attend, we could move the club towards bankruptcy from which something far better will emerge (witness Wimbledon). Time to start again, from the bottom, without the Belgians, or anyone else. at the moment we are the laughing stock of the entire football world. Pathetic.