Is this jokey post which is doing the rounds on social media harsh and uncouth? Probably.
Now look at this bona fide piece of campaign literature by the Leave side -no joke this - sent to households in areas where the campaign estimates potential supporters might be.
After re-posting the first image on FB I had a polite but unsettling exchange of views with a distant acquaintance who holds very different views from mine but has never interacted with any of the serious articles I've posted on the referendum or conversations I've generated about it. The joke though, was too much. The joke, she protested, was "unbelievable smearing by pro-Remain smug elites." (She left out 'metropolitan', I assume in her eagerness to make her indignation known.)
I then uploaded the second picture and pointed out that the Leave side "certainly seems to be appealing to people's lowest instincts AND assume they are stupid" (Free access for Turkey in 2017? No more Queen or Royal Family? Wah?). I argued that they are defining the terms of this conversation - avoiding all serious discussion about the economy or Britain's place in the wider world and making up ever more shrill scare stories and ludicrous post-facts aimed at racists with low IQ. I didn't think it was necessary to add: "I don't believe that those who want out are all racists with low IQ. But sure as hell is funny, hence the jokey post, that the Leave side treats them as such."
She replied along the lines of "you are lumping everyone in with one campaign or the other", whilst many outside the Westminster bubble, in the fabled 'real world' have switched off from both campaigns, feeling that "it's a dirty political battle with ugly messages and tactics on both sides, and so (they) rise above it by seeking out their own facts." She concluded castigating me for reposting the joke: "With so many issues at stake it's staggering that you should believe that people voting leave are all just stupid puppets."
Hmmm. "A dirty political battle with ugly messages on both sides". More a case of : if you are challenged to mud-wrestle with a pig, you both end covered in mud.
But. But. But...
A) mud-wresting a pig doesn't turn you into pig, and
B) the pig really enjoys it.
A grotesquely distorted figure about the cost of EU membership is still painted in metre-long letters on the side of Boris' #blunderbus. EU immigrants (of which I've had to reluctantly acknowledge I am one, after a peaceful and productive lifetime camouflaging on these shores as an EU citizen) are collateral damage, sneered at, baited and smeared by huge sections of the national media. Turncoat would-be leaders make up their mind and formulate policy on the hoof and lie to voters with a straight face on TV, using the NHS, (an organisation beloved by the nation, but one they are savagely indifferent to as a matter of record), as the institutional equivalent of a human shield.
Yet my reasonable and intelligent FB acquaintance cannot abide a silly joke, taking the low opinion the Leave side betrays of the undecided it targets at face value.
Look, I know this whole thing is won or lost on turnout and I don't believe that I have the power to rouse the masses either way. I reposted a silly joke. It didn't even have Hitler in it. At all. Like, in any form.
Am I "stooping to the level of those you find unsavoury yourself"? Possibly. (Hardly). But, see, I'm disenfranchised in a poll which will decide my future, lumped with 'cheaters and scroungers' by screeching headlines every morning before I've even had a cup of tea. So, yes, in this post-facts world I've become post-nice. I'm mad as hell and I'm laughing bitterly at the silly jokes about the racist imbeciles the Leave campaign think are their secret weapon.
Unless they are proved wrong, there will be plenty of time for tears later.