Poles apart

I’m putting the finishing touches on a letter to the president of Poland. Here’s what I’ve written so far:

Dear Mr President

A great statesman forgives those who insult him. Julius Caesar spared the wag who mocked his baldness. W.E. Gladstone pitied the prostitute who showed him her knickers. The Nawab of Pataudi laughed at the elephant who farted in his face.

I implore you to join the ranks of these titans of history by pardoning Marek W, the penitent young man who languishes in prison for a thoughtless prank at the expense of your webpage.

Your respectful petitioner

G. Bananas
Republic of Congo

I did consider adding a postscript to the effect that my friend Dr Whipsnade has hired some builders who worked on your summer retreat and we know about the toys in your bedroom, you kinky swine. But I decided against it. Blackmail should be a last resort when you’re dealing with politicians – always give the man a chance to be magnanimous and do the right thing before bringing out the heavy guns.

Now what did this fellow Marek W do? Basically, he
linked the president’s homepage to a whole bunch of sites with the Polish word for “cock” in them. The result was that anyone who googled this word found the president’s site at the top of the list. This practice, known as “google-bombing”, seems to be a way of insinuating guilt by association. But if the intention was to make a joke, I’m pretty sure that it bombed.

The problem with the concept is that people who put dirty words into search engines are rarely interested in humour. Hundreds, if not thousands, enter this blog by googling phrases such as “crazy ape sex” and “women who seduce gorillas”. Are they interested in the jokes they find? Are they heck! Virtually all of them leave after a few minutes of futile clicking, presumably in a state of heightened frustration.

People who google the word “cock” have no interest in political satire, even of the most vulgar sort. The appearance of the president’s website probably irritated rather than amused them. No serious political damage would have been done, even if they’d entered the site in the hope of finding a few dicky pictures. There are worse things for a head of state than having his webpage scrutinised by someone with a penile fixation. Sitting next to such a person at a state banquet, for example, which would be risky without a bodyguard.

It must have been a terrible shock for Marek (aged 23) to find himself in jail as a result of this ineffectual lampoon. Experiences like this can destroy a young man’s confidence and propel him towards a career in the Roman Catholic clergy. I should imagine the prison chaplain is already prodding him in that direction and discussing the fringe benefits. It can’t be long before a deacon comes round to measure him up for the holy vestments. They’re entitled to recruit who they want, of course, but taking advantage of a vulnerable practical joker strikes me as manipulative and short-sighted. What will happen when he meets the Pope in full gear and gets the giggles?

I’m going to ask Dr Whipsnade to arrange a prison visit from a pair of famous comedians. They could inform Marek of our campaign on his behalf and encourage him to keep working on his comedy. Jackie Mason and Bruce Forsyth might be the perfect duo to perk him up. They’ve both told many jokes that misfired, so they’ll sympathise with his predicament. And being Jewish, they won’t waste time trying to make him a rabbi.

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