Half empty? Half full? Half-assed.

‘Half-assed’ is a term Americans use quite a bit. It always makes me think of the Christian apocalyptic novel (and film and video game) Left Behind for some reason (not least because it describes doing something in a badly planned and poorly executed manner) and, while considered vulgar by some (the American version is more palatable than the British somehow) last week’s news made reference to both variations in some fairly respectable publications. Nepali Times used it to describe a strike; Los Angeles Times used the term in a piece about home decorating; The Nationalist in Ireland about football and The Guardian, The Scotsman and Israel’s Sportingo all lovingly used the term in the last few days about everything from football to Paul McCartney’s latest album. But despite this seeming obsession with the term and the lazy, self-indulgent yeah-I’ll-do-it-but-my-heart’s-not-in-it attitude it describes, many people and incidents escaped the label last week.

Take the inmate of an Indian prison who made the news last week. He escaped from his cell, only to be found sleeping on the roof of the jail, the guards having been alerted by the sound of his snoring. This to me suggests something of a failure of will, a dedication to a goal that is less than fully-buttocked.

The attitude of pretending to care about something but failing to really commit was evidenced by a glance at the Sunday papers. While The Independent featured a picture of a man killed in British military custody, our old friends News of the World also engaged in investigative journalism with the earth-shattering news that some drag-artists competing in the Britain’s Got Talent show on ITV were in fact prostitutes. Highlighting the dark secrets of people with no hope of winning a chance to perform for the Queen (they were up against a rags-to-riches operatic savant and possibly the cutest child singer in the universe) and calling it investigative journalism is frankly lacking in posterior.

But, unsurprisingly, the best examples of gluteally impairedness last week were political. Much debate was entered into on the subject of a possible pseudo-constitution being put forward by the EU and specifically the impact it might have on British labour law. Because while the ministers in charge are part of a party called (for the moment anyway) Labour, they also opposed any additional rights proposed changes might bring. Any strengthening of their right to strike would be intolerable. And there’s that attitude again. How many of us have been reprimanded or forbidden for or from doing something by some jobsworth who has offered no explanation other than ‘health and safety’? Putting H and S laws in place to protect workers in factories and then opposing further bargaining power seems half… well, you know.

The results of an ideal that has been similarly one-bunned exploded last week in Palestine. We want democracy for the middle east and will invade if necessary to achieve it. Of course, when Palestinians got democracy and voted for a party we did not like (Hamas), the West cut off funding and refused to talk to them. So we believe in Democracy, but not so much. Last week, surprisingly enough, people kept walled into a tiny area whose aid has been cut off and whose government has been paralysed, got really violent. Surprise! The response of powers claiming to want to end the civil war? Arm one side (Fatah).

Do we Christians have anything more than this uncommitted, lazy and vaguely dishonest approach to offer? And how long will we be allowed to express it in a society that is increasingly hostile to absolute truth and ‘fundamentalisms’?

(All that said, the most half-assed thing about all this is the half-assed approach to writing a column that prompts one to use ‘half-assed’ rather than ‘half-hearted’ pretty much for the sake of a Left Behind joke. )

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One Response

  1. Try the word unipygic. It means, having one butt cheek. Derived from the Latin unus for one and the Greek pyge for rump. So this word literally means half-assed.

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