My rant at the extraordinary lengths that people in many developed countries must go to in order to avoid the potential upset by others.
Did you hear about the dyslexic who was invited to a toga party? He went dressed as a goat!
A station announcer in Britain was suspended for writing this joke on a chalkboard in an effort to lighten the news of train delays to inconvenienced commuters, something he has been doing for twenty years. Thankfully, after protests by passengers, he was reinstated. To me this is political correctness at its worst, pouncing on someone who has proved their worth to society over many years for some innocent comment that, at worst, is a little thoughtless. Besides, how could a true dyslexic be offended by something they presumably can’t read? Not that I advocate laughing at people behind their backs, but I do advocate common sense.
Political correctness is, theoretically, a system whereby people’s lives are made easier and fairer by eliminating discrimination, of all types, from our society.
While I’m completely in favour of being pleasant to people and not discriminating against them because of their race, physical ability, religion, gender, breakfast cereal preference or whether their belly button is an “inny” or an “outy”, I am also in favour of not having to choose every word I say with the care normally reserved for micro-surgery.
I was once in a lecture where one of my fellow students objected to the term “brainstorming” being used as it might be offensive to people with mental problems. Not that it was offensive, mind you, just that it might be! It also seemed unapparent to this person that there were no people with mental problems in the room to be offended by it (apart from the possible exception of himself). An embarrassed silence followed and the tutor duly apologized. It occurred to me that this sort of ridiculous argument could be used for any purpose. I asked Mr.Offended if he would withdraw his alternative (idea-collection, thought-gathering or some other idiotic guff) as I found it offensive, due to the fact that, apart from its time-wasting effect, it was disturbing to people who are tired of listening to such a load of utter crap.
For anybody who is any doubt, I am not in favour of racism, homophobia, sexism, religous discrimination or any other form of being unpleasant to people, but I am tired of ridiculous decisions and accusations being made by people who are the self-appointed protectors of these minorities.
In fact, this time-wasting, tiptoeing around every conversation and debate has precisely, in my opinion, the opposite effect that it is supposed to have. It makes people annoyed at having to be so careful in what they say leading them to resent the groups that they are supposed not to offend. This can lead to racism where it never previously existed, homophobia where it wasn’t formerly an issue and the resentment of lexicographers where before there was none. When I read of the latest word or phrase that has been banned, I wonder who can really be upset at these terms, words such as fireman, blackboard and swamping? Anyone who is offended by these words deserves to be offended and much more for being so utterly stupid and for having such a ludicrously pampered life that they have to search for something to be up in arms about.
I would imagine that these views in themselves would have the politically correct brigade wanting to gouge out their eyes in shock should they read this.
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"A doctrine fostered by a delusional liberal minority, and rabidly supported by mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."
By suspending people like the station announcer or banning us from watching the black and white minstrels, these people are guilty of exactly the same offence as they are trying to police. I see no difference between discriminating against people because of their colour or gender and discriminating against people because of things they say. I read about an Italian politician said that he didn’t like homosexuality, and for this he lost his job. Whilst I think people should be allowed to practice the sexual orientation of their choice and that this was a careless thing for a politician to say, so I also think that people should be able to express their opinion so long as it does not incite hatred, violence or persecution. If the same politician had said that he didn’t like people who had white hair, there would have been no outrage, just bemusement at a silly opinion.
Who is it that has set these arbitrary criteria for which political correctness has to be observed? Why have they chosen sexuality, gender, race and physical ability? Why not hair colour, baldness, fashion sense? Why does it remain okay to poke fun at people with big noses who have no control over their appearance but not at fat people who do? How come I’m bad if I say chairman but I can say shortlist without any recrimination; just think how all those midgets feel! Oh, but indeed I forget- vertically challenged is the correct terminology here. By making normal people fear that an incorrect turn of phrase may make them appear evil, these protectors of the Holy Words stand over us just as ridiculously as Monty Python's Knights of Ni - whatever you do don't say "ni", it could be offensive to an order of comedy Knights in a forest, if either the Knights, the order or the forest really existed.
At this point it would seem relevant to mention that I am a white, male and as such have been the victim of both sexual and racial discrimination in the past. Some people might wonder how this is possible, but in Asia I have been turned down for jobs and told that the reason I was unsuccessful was because I was a man and on another occasion because I was white. I don’t mention this for sympathy, but to make the point that I know how it feels to be the butt end of this type of discrimination and I don’t condone it. However, I also know how it feels to be constantly chastised for saying something that might possibly, maybe, at the wrong phase of the moon, in a parallel universe offend someone who isn’t listening- it’s pathetic.
In my opinion, political correctness is currently one of the biggest retardations in western society. In Britain, at least, the government seem far more concerned in protecting the ears of minorities that could be offended if they are of particularly weak constitution, than the majority who are not discriminatory but are sick of listening to this rubbish. Forget the threat of terrorist attacks, you are far more likely to have your life disrupted by a politically correct bombardment, should you admit to once owning a golliwog or saying that in general women are not as physically strong as men. Interesting to note here that golliwog is not in the Microsoft word spell check vocabulary, obviously the word no longer exists or ever existed.
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It can take ages to get ones point across when sticking to 'the code'. I was once in a crowded pub when a friend tried to point out a pretty woman (obviously I wore a hair shirt for a week afterwards as a penance for being attracted to a woman for her physical attributes). When I asked him which woman he was talking about, my friend replied, “the one next to that man”. Of course there were a multitude of men next to women in the pub and when I asked which man, I was told, “the one with the white shirt on”. Now, white not being an unusual colour for a shirt I asked for some further indication as to which man I should be looking next to if I wished to see the attractive girl that had originally been mentioned. My friend then said, “ the one drinking beer”. Well, that was helpful! It should be noted that this pub was the sort in which the clientele are inclined not to drink Singapore Slings or sip from huge glasses of cognac, so this didn’t narrow things down at all. The further clues I was given were “the guy in the jeans”, “the one with dark hair” and “the bloke without glasses”. Finally, after about five minutes of this nonsense I asked him if he meant the black guy (whoops, can you hear the lightening striking me down as I write?); the only black guy in the pub! He said, “yes, but you can’t say that!!!!!!”
The politically correct fever had, alas, claimed another victim.
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I couldn't agree with you more. When I originally wrote this article, back in 2003, political correctness was little more than an annoyance, something you could laugh at, shake your head and dismiss. Now it has evolved into something truly evil. As you say, bullying, controlling and authoritarian. I have zero time for the proponents of it and refuse to give in to their increasingly insane dictats.
Political correctness is part of a wider campaign in which totalitarian liberals try to control people's lives. They say that they want people to be free, but if people choose what these so called liberals dislike, they are verbally attacked. The whole situation is a state of persistent bullying. Once in a careers lesson a teenage girl told me that she knew what she wanted to be, but was afraid that I would shout at her. I said that I would not, and she told me that she wanted to be a housewife. I told her that it was her life and she should live it as she chose, but to get job skills. Here was a really nice kid reduced to a state of fear by the politically correct/woke, call them what you will.
Yes, actor is the standard now in British English.
There was a time when it was being insisted that female performers had to be acknowledged as actresses and that male performers had to be referred to as actors.
Would you happen to know whether British English is experiencing what American English is going through now, with the return of the word actor for female and male performers?
One group of people who are likely to often offend others are the politically correct. Maybe political correctness should be treated as a kind of hate crime.
Nick, like you I hate political correctness. I am a retired teacher of English, among other subjects, and on occasion I have had children asking me whether they are permitted to use the word black. You can infer my response.
George Carlin did a beautiful piece on political correctness, if you haven't seen it yet, check it out, you'll love it.
I agree with you completely. Political correctness is a ridiculous notion anyway. You can still insult people with 'neutral' words and a smile on your face, it's the intention that matters.
Besides, while kindness is to be encouraged, it cannot be enforced. And how does it all relate to the freedom of speech? We are free to speak our minds, provided no one gets unhappy about it? This may well equal silence...
I know it's a serious topic but this gave me some chuckles! We do need to be considerate, of course we do (and I totally get that you are not advocating insulting others), but it seems here in PC Britain things really do go way too far at times. It makes you sorry for white, heterosexual, able-bodied men who seem to be the new victims of discrimination. And yes, I've known people who are hurt by others saying to their face 'I hate you, you are so skinny'... because for some reason you can call thin people names but not fat people. How about we just respect everyone without tying ourselves in verbal knots?