For suggesting that singing the song Delilah be banned at Interntational Rugby games featuring the Welsh team, Welsh Labout MP Chris Bryant is this week’s First Up Against The Wall Come The Revolution.
Chris Bryant is the Labour MP for Rhondda in Wales, and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons (which means that he works with the Government Leader of the House of Commons to organize the busniess of the House of Commons and to criticize the Government’s management of the House.
In the past week Mr. Bryant has made a statement calling for the banning of the singing of the classic Tom Jones song Delilah during Rugby Union matches, and in particular international matches such as those for the Six Nations Cup. Mr. Bryant describes the sang as being about “killing a prostitute” and encourages domestic violence against women. In his statement against the song, he says:
It is a simple fact that when there are big international rugby matches on, and sometimes football matches as well, the number of domestic violence incidents rises dramatically.
I know that some people will say, 'Oh, here we go, he's a terrible spoilsport,' but the truth is that that song is about the murder of a prostitute.
It goes right to the heart of the issues we are discussing. There are thousands of other songs we could sing.
I have sung 'Delilah' as well - everybody loves doing the 'She stood there laughing' moment- but if we are really going to take this issue seriously in Wales, we have to change how we do things.
Bryant isn’t the first Welsh politician to ask for the song to be banned. In late 2014, Welsh folksinger and former Plaid Cymru (the Welsh Nationalist Party) president Daffyd Iwan said this about the song:
It is a song about murder and it does tend to trivialise the idea of murdering a woman and it's a pity these words now have been elevated to the status of a secondary national anthem. I think we should rummage around for another song instead of Delilah.
The song originally recorded by Tom Jones in 1968 was written by Barry Mason (words) and Les Reed (music). It won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. Jones has said about the song that “This woman is unfaithful to him and [the narrator] just loses it ... It’s something that happens in life. I love to hear it being sung at Welsh games. It makes me very proud to be Welsh that they’re using one of my songs ... I don’t think the singers are really thinking about it ... If it’s going to be taken literally, I think it takes the fun out of it.”
According to the Wikipedia page on the song, “Welsh rugby fans have sung Delilah as an unofficial anthem since at least as early as the 1970s, so much so that it was referred to in the lyrics of one of the verses of Max Boyce's Hymns and Arias: "We sang 'Cwm Rhondda' and 'Delilah', damn they sounded both the same". Tom Jones performed it before Wales's historic rugby victory over England at Wembley Stadium in 1999. The Welsh Rugby Union now plays the song in Millennium Stadium before matches; the words to the song are shown on the big screens and the crowd sings along.
If we are to take what Mr Bryant is saying at face value – that Welsh Rugby fans singing this song somehow encourages violence against women by Rugby fans (otherwise why ban the song) – then we are dealing with a false syllogism; a case of post hoc ergo proctor hoc. The logic seems to be that (1) violence against women “rises dramatically after big international Rugby matches in Wales; (2) Delilah is sung during big international Rugby matches; therefore (3) Delilah being sung at big International Rugby matches causes increased violence against women, and (4) banning the singing of Delilah will lead to a reduction of violence towards women.
This theory has plenty of holes in it. You could just as easily say that (1) violence against women “rises dramatically after big international Rugby matches in Wales, (2) therefore big International Rugby matches cause increased violence against women, and (3) banning them will lead to a reduction of violence towards women. Or you could say that (1) violence against women “rises dramatically after big international Rugby matches in Wales; (2) Rugby fans as a group tend to consume copious amounts of alcohol; therefore (3) banning the sale of alcohol to Rugby fans will lead to a reduction of violence towards women.
In my view, Bryant is taking the easy route with this by advocating a specific simple “solution” in a specific locality for a complicated problem that extends beyond the borders of Wales. I would not be surprised to learn that domestic violence increases dramatically following each year’s Super Bowl, or indeed after each week’s NFL games. Big problem that doesn’t have as simple a solution as others would hope.
Runners up for this week include:
Canadian Conservative MP Jason Kenney for heckling Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan
Utah State Senator Todd Weiler who introduced legislation in the State Senate to declare Pornography “a public health crisis”
And Donald Trump on general principle (Okay, after losing the Iowa Caucuses he accused the Ted Cruz campaign of stealing the vote and calling for the results to be nullified)