You’ve probably seen the video of the man in eccentric clothing who took exception to the Take Back The City demonstration on O’Connell Bridge, before appearing to throw a pigeon’s head at the protesters.

The peculiar incident involved a man with a strong English East Midlands accent, and this is relevant to one particular word which has been coming up in people’s reactions to this.

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What is the obsession with gammon? [Twitter]

Politics these days appears to be about insulting those who are outside your tribe. We are familiar with the term “snowflakes“, which is generally used by right-wing activists to describe those who disagree with them. For a while there appeared to be no single, established insult for throwing the other way.

Then in 2017 a viewer of the BBC’s Question Time posted stills of nine audience members who had been vocally supportive of Brexit with a caption describing them as a “wall of gammon”:

While the word “gammon” caught on as a left-wing way of attacking advocates of Brexit, the word is unusual to other insults in that it clearly doesn’t describe any type of behaviour, but the target’s appearance. The choice of word literally refers to the red-and-white appearance of a raging Caucasian.

In an era where we are supposedly sensitive to insults, this one is uneasily appearance-based. Even so, the word has since been used millions of times.

The target is almost always the same: an older white man with an unpleasant attitude and a nostalgic view of the past. Whether you approve of the insult or not, the man with the pigeon’s head does meet that criteria and now the word is in Irish parlance it may manifest itself into the local political discourse.

About The Author

Freelance radio producer; writer; researcher; learner. Twitter: @MrJRan

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