Queen musician's rambling apology for likening badger cull to genocide
Queen musician Brian May has apologised for any offence caused by a remark he reportedly made about the badger cull being like “genocide”.
The guitarist, who is a leading opponent of the cull, said even though he did not recall making the remark during a visit to Gloucestershire last week, he apologised for any offence he may have caused.
The reported comment caused a backlash among members of the Jewish community who condemned May for describing the badger cull “as genocide in the countryside”.
Writing on his website, May said today: “Firstly, my sincere apologies, of course, to anyone who felt upset by this. It would never be my intention in any way to slight the Jewish community.
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“So many of my most loved and respected friends are Jews, and in any case, for people like us who have seen all corners of the world, racial slurs are just out of the question.
“I actually don’t remember using the word ‘genocide’ last Friday, but it’s possible, since I did probably 20 interviews that day, all off the cuff, and in the end you tend to lose track.
“The word I prefer to use about the badger cull is ‘massacre’ ... because really the word ‘cull’ is enormously euphemistic.
“One of the most distasteful things about this present government-licensed killing in the countryside is that it’s all being done in secret, as if the Government and the NFU really were afraid of the pubic seeing the full horror of what is happening.
“So in our messages, those of us who are close to this situation try to use words which paint a true picture.”
May, who is a member of Team Badger, continued: “Now, I had a look at dictionary definitions of the word, and really it’s a relatively modern word, and it has more often than not been used about human animals, rather than other animals.
“But a quick look at its derivation shows that really it means the ‘killing of a genus’ - something close to a species, so it’s not a very big flight of fancy to apply it to animals.
“Genocide is a generic term, and has been used to describe at least five major acts of horrific violence to one race of people.
“But a quick look at the Google results for ‘Genocide of animals’ gives hundreds of results, showing that I am far from the first to use the word in connection with violence to non-human animals.
“It has to be understood that we who are campaigning for decent treatment of animals regard this journey as an extension of the efforts of every decent citizen to ensure decent treatments for all races of humans.
“There is not the slightest hint of disrespect for the atrocities that men have suffered at the hands of men.
“But we believe, in a non-anthropocentric way, that every animal has an equal right to a decent life and a decent death.
“So, as time goes on, you will see, more and more, that campaigners for animal welfare will apply the same epithets to acts of violence to all creatures.
“The word ‘murder’ is now often used for a premeditated act of killing an animal for no good reason, and it seems to me that the word ‘genocide’, though not one of my favourites, will probably be regarded as legitimate if the Government succeeds in wiping out badgers, the ancient inhabitants of this land, in some areas of the UK, which it very much seems they intend to at the moment.
“So, again, my apologies to anyone who felt I was trivialising their family’s suffering.
“I certainly intended nothing of the kind. I think if I had used the word ’holocaust’, it would be something rather different.”
May went on to claim the story was “manufactured” by those supporting the badger cull in a bid to “discredit” his campaign.
“My feeling is that, although there are apparently genuine comments here from religious leaders, this story has been ‘manufactured’, as part of the continuing effort by the pro-cull lobby, to try to discredit me, smear me, because they desperately wish I would shut up – stop telling the truth,” May wrote.
“I can’t imagine that Rabbis are glued to their TV sets, analysing the words that I speak.
“I imagine that it’s more in the line of a reporter ringing up and saying ’Hello – we’re doing a story on Brian May using inappropriate words which might upset Jews – would you like to comment?’
“That’s the reality of so many of these attempts to attract attention in the press.
“Expect to see more attempts at character assassination in the coming months ... not just against me, but against anyone who stands up for wild animals ... including of course the RSPCA, and also, almost laughably, against the animals themselves.
“It’s all spin. Spin, spin, spin. Wild animals are ‘vermin’, right?
“Meanwhile, words are our only weapon in our David-versus-Goliath fight against the Monolith of the NFU, the Countryside Alliance and the Government.
“We will all be using words to the best of our ability – literally, figuratively, pejoratively, educationally.
“And in the end, the public will rise up behind us, to stop this atrocity being committed against our innocent, defenceless and irreplaceable wild animals.”