Had the Crossmaglen woman at the heart of the latest Up The Ra controversy muted the R button when she posed for a selfie with Arlene Foster, she could easily have claimed she was just abbreviating Up The Arlene.
Of course, just about everybody apart from religious evangelicals - who tend to have a literal view of everything but common sense - would have sensed the subversiveness in the reworked slogan. Ms Foster would have looked pretty silly complaining about it on the grounds that the Crossmaglen woman really meant something else.
Up the Ra never offends me because I so readily see in it the chant of resistance during the H Block blanket protest. If others want to roar, as they sometimes do, Fuck the Ra, I am not going to seek a gagging order.
Did the Crossmaglen woman set out to cause deep offence to Arlene Foster by expressing an authentic fidelity to the organisation that tried to kill but fortuitously injured her father? Or was she pricking the inflated balloon of conceit and self-righteousness that has come to characterise much of how the past is remembered? She is maybe guilty of nothing more than seeing an opportunity for a laugh, homing in on Arlene the Arrogant and not Arlene the Aggrieved. Alternatively, she could have been praising the Ra that took out so many of the war crime regiment responsible for Bloody Sunday, or the South Armagh Ra that killed numerous armed men from a force that murdered local child Majella O'Hare. In a week that British service men who were culpable of mass murder during their war of terror from the skies against German civilians are being honoured and remembered, any expressions of horror at the IRA killing British paratroopers would have sounded churlish.
Recently, attempts were made to scandalise the Irish women's soccer team for celebrating its success with a rendition of Up The Ra. It is hard to imagine the women on that team all hailing from West Belfast's Ballymurphy, where locals take pride in the resistance mounted by IRA volunteers against the army that massacred civilians. Some of them are probably of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour Party stock, all parties where glorification of the Provisional IRA has experienced a long time systemic drought. But this is where the I have a right to be more offended than you lobby has brought us.
The meaning associated with words is positional rather than fixed. It can and does evolve over time. Much like an atheist describing Maradona's 1986 World Cup goal against England as miraculous, Up the Ra for many no longer has the meaning imputed to it when first crafted.
A majority of people in Ireland believe that those who sing songs containing pro-IRA chants do not “mean to glorify the IRA”, according to a poll.
Civility has its place in public discourse but so too has coarseness. And that means telling Arlene Foster bluntly that she has yet to publicly renounce those elected representatives of the DUP who glorified the butchers of Bloody Sunday and called for them to be given medals.
The Crossmaglen woman in the eye of the latest storm should desist from her chant next time she meets Arlene Foster. The former First Minister suffered considerably when her father was shot. For that reason alone, in her presence is neither the time nor the place to shout up the Ra. In return, perhaps Arlene Foster could shout Fuck Soldier F. Nobody in Crossmaglen or Derry will be offended.
⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.