It is strange what moves people to action, if signing a petition counts as action—which, given the sedentary nature of so much of the population, I suppose it might do. According to a newspaper article I have just read, 140,000 people in Britain signed a petition to have a man with the improbable name of Tyson Fury removed from the list of candidates for the BBC’s completely vacuous and unimportant title of Sports Personality of the Year.
Fury is a boxer who is 6 feet 9 inches tall and comes from a family of Irish Travellers (once known as tinkers), though he was born in England. His father was a bare-knuckle fighter who named his son after the boxer and all-around role model Mike Tyson, who distinguished himself by (inter alia) running through his $300 million earnings, being convicted of rape, and biting off part of an opponent’s ear in the ring. Fury is now heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
Again according to the article, “Fury provoked outrage when he equated homosexuality and abortion to paedophilia and saying a woman’s ‘best place is on her back.’” The article does not say who exactly was outraged by these remarks—who was furious at Fury, as it were—but I have noticed that in British newspapers such phenomena as anger, fury, and outrage seem often to subsist independently of anyone who feels them, and so are a kind of meteorological phenomenon, or resemble the pain described by Mrs. Gradgrind in Dickens’ Hard Times:
“I think there’s a pain somewhere in the room,” said Mrs. Gradgrind, “but I couldn’t positively say that I have got it.”
That guardian of public morals, the British Boxing Board of Control, called upon Mr. Fury to explain himself. The BBBoC later expressed itself satisfied that he, Fury, “expressed regret that he caused offence to others, which was never his intention.”