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Old 26th Aug 2004, 14:38   #1
ono no komachi
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Default Political Correctness

It seems that the Conservatives are falling back on the old “Left Wing Government Leads to Crazy Levels of Political Correctness” argument.

I was under the (perhaps mistaken impression) that there had been a swing back the other way in a reaction against the worst excesses of PC behaviour, and that this argument belongs pretty much to the 1990s.

Mr. Howard is quoted as saying “We cannot simply dismiss every isolated case of stupidity or zeal or plain barminess” but the examples he quotes seem exactly that – isolated examples that are easily targeted in order to say “See what madness this Government is responsible for.”

Does he have a point, or is this an outdated argument trotted out again in an attempt to stir up the electorate’s sensibilities?
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Old 26th Aug 2004, 15:06   #2
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An outdated argument trotted out again in an attempt to stir up the electorate’s sensibilities.

The worst excesses of what critics term political correctness (because it is one of those terms which is only ever used by people who want to knock it) is an over-zealous approach to a well-meaning attempt to avoid offending people unnecessarily. Political correctness itself, which is an attempt to accelerate the natural social evolution which makes our generation less racist (for example) than our grandparents', and should make our grandchildren's generation less racist than ours, is admirable and to be encouraged.
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Old 26th Aug 2004, 15:38   #3
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I had a look at this recently. There is a lot more thrashing about by opponents of PC than there are actual examples of it being misapplied, but instances of irritating silly little rules abound. Resistance to PC tends to come from people who feel that every minority in creation gets protected from discrimination while they themselves are robbed of jobs, respect and freedom of speech.

This hits hardest upon white anglo saxon Protestants (in name, at least) like myself, of course, but we've had it our own way for quite a while. The pendulum will eventually settle.
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Old 8th Dec 2006, 14:28   #4
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Default Re: Political Correctness

Much talk in the news this week, even in sensible sources, of the 'banning' of Christmas by Councils, shops, schools and so on. Investigate these claims, as Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian pointed out today, and they disappear. Like the old "Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep" story, which also wasn't true, they are written to foment resentment and hatred among those who claim to be put-upon by the requirement not to call black people n1ggers (amending that in case workplace filters block the thread). As such the false stories are far more harmful and dangerous than the things they write about would be if they were true.

And now there's an official Campaign Against Political Correctness, set up by John and Laura Midgley, neither of whom, I think it is safe to say, is a professional web designer. It claims to be a "non-partisan organisation." So why is one of its aims, "An end to the acceptance of directives and laws from the European Union which undermine our British way of life" (you mean like the minimum wage and working time directive?)? What's that got to do with political correctness?

Certainly their comments page suggests no great level of intellectual engagement with the issue on the part of their supporters.

"It is about time someone puts the brakes on these idiots - they are destroying our society."

"I am completely tired of the all the pc whingers in this country when there are more important issues in the world"

What idiots? What PC whingers? Is this another case of generalised bogeymen, because what they're complaining of doesn't really exist in significant amounts? Here's an hilarious one from Andrew Howlett in Cheshire, who works his way througn an entirely imaginary argument for his own purposes:

Quote:
We MUST stand against this 'thought fascism'. Next time someone at work tells you you mustn't say something or exchange Christmas cards, ask them WHY. No doubt they'll reply that it is 'offensive to non-Christians' or something equally stupid. So ask WHY anyone who came to Christian Britain would find Christianity offensive. Listen to their argument fall apart. If they carry on being stupid, ask them to find a member of staff who finds Christianity offensive. Of course they won't be able to. Now's the time to ask them WHY they are so stupid. PC is very shallow and depends entirely on threats and smears.
"No doubt they'll reply..." "Listen to their argument fall apart..." "If they carry on being stupid..." - Yes Andrew? What do we do if they carry on being stupid? Can you give us an example of someone carrying on being stupid, just so we can recognise it when it comes? "Depends entirely on threats and smears." Ah yes, smears like pretending there's a political correctness lobby trying to stop people from sending Christmas cards. Or threats like (as another commentator has it) "If it doesn't stop now, civil war will break out." Er, who against whom, exactly?

(This is a problem too with their petition. All it says is "by signing this petition you are registering your objection to political correctness, which is affecting our way of life." So who's the petition going to be sent to, then? What are its aims? They also disclaim that, just because someone's name appears on their petition, doesn't mean they support them. Surely they wouldn't get disagreeable right-wing extremists signing it!)

Or there's the complaint of "faceless, hateful cretins" - from "Name supplied." Or the man from the Isle of Man who has a personal campaign against people "who tell me my trousers or bin bag aren't black." Interesting how people who complain how they "hate what has become of this country because of PC" never specify what they mean. How odd!

The CAPC site also makes use of hilarious cartoons from friedbrains.com. Here's one of Mr Brains' (for many reasons, that's probably not his real name) classics:



Stop! You're killing me! ...No, seriously. Stop.
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Old 8th Dec 2006, 14:46   #5
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Default Re: Political Correctness

I was particularly entertained by the reported reaction of Birmingham City Council regarding the "rebranding" of Christmas as "Winterval":

Quote:
"We get this every year," a press officer sighs, eventually. "It just depends how many rogue journalists you get in any given year. We tell them it's bollocks, but it doesn't seem to make much difference."
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Old 8th Dec 2006, 15:30   #6
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Default Re: Political Correctness

Very well put, John. It never seizes to amaze me how people can create controversy out of thin air. Is paranoia to the 21st century what the flu was to the 20th?
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Old 8th Dec 2006, 15:53   #7
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Default Re: Political Correctness

I sent a message to them by email for their comments board (the submission form wasn't working):

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I'm disturbed to see the number of unthinking, knee-jerk response on this board. Has anyone bothered to investigate the supposed banning of Christmas? If they did, they would discover that no such thing has happened.

Journalists like easy targets and there's nothing better than relying on the old trope of "political correctness gone mad" to fill a few column inches. Almost invariably, though, these stories are not true. The "Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep" one, which is cited on the FAQ page of this site, is a good example. In fact the rhyme was used to teach children about the use of adjectives, so they would change the word and sing different versions - "Blue Sheep," "Green Sheep", "Happy Sheep" and - yes - "Black Sheep." Certain newspapers didn't report this as it didn't fit in with their aims.

When you find yourself reading stories like these and feel inflamed enough to respond, ask yourself first what the agenda is, what hatred they are trying to stir up by telling the story in this way, and look for other sources to find out if the story is really true.
It hasn't appeared (yet), but I did get a reply from Laura Midgley:

Quote:
Dear Mr Self

I can assure you that we do not post all stories that appear in the press preferring to use direct quotes where possible. However, the Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep etc stories are actually just the tip of the iceberg. I've heard of so many examples I have lost count where the work black has been changed. This is happening. People are also told they can't say "black coffee" - these people are not lying.

What is more worring are the stories I hear day in day out from people where they have been the victims of serious PC or quite nasty PC and they won't go to the press as they would risk further problems at work or even losing their job. What the press reports is an under-estimate of what is going on.

I know you won't agree but thought I would share my thoughts with you anyway.

Yours sincerely

Laura Midgley
Co-Founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness
www.capc.co.uk <http://www.capc.co.uk>

Have you bought your copy of "The Politically Correct Scrapbook" yet?

Available at the special direct price of £7.99 for 1 copy or £20 for 3 copies INCLUDING Postage and Packing in the UK.

The Politically Correct Scrapbook, by John and Laura Midgley, ISBN 0955207800, is a must buy for anyone who is fed up with political correctness and has a sense of humour. Full of some of the most ridiculous examples of Political Correctness, it is a collection of all things funny and PC and is wonderfully illustrated throughout by artist Beverley Rodgers.

Don't miss out by ordering your copy now. You can either pay by credit card online (on www.capc.co.uk following the link to 'PC Scrapbook') or you can send a cheque for £7.99 for 1 copy or £20 for 3 copies made payable to "CAPC" along with your address to:

Book Offer, c/o CAPC, Trevose House, Orsett Street, London SE11 5PN.

Signed copies can be requested at no extra charge - please just specify when ordering whether you would like your book signed together with a note of any special dedications.
To which I replied:

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Dear Ms Midgley

Thank you for your prompt and sincere response. I can tell we are not going to agree on this matter but I thought it worth making a few additional points.

People make mistakes and are sometimes over-zealous, but when the things you complain of do happen (and I do think it's rare), this is nothing to do with political correctness. The best definition I have heard for political correctness comes from the novelist Martin Amis:

"Although it is French in its philosophical origins, political correctness (PC) begins with the very American and attractive and honourable idea: that no one should feel ashamed of what he was born as, of what he is. Of what he does, of what he says, yes. But not ashamed of what he is.

"Viewed at its grandest, PC is an attempt to accelerate evolution. To speak truthfully, while that's still okay, everybody is a racist or has racial prejudices. This is because human beings tend to like the similar, the familiar, the familial. Again, I say, I am a racist. I am not as racist as my parents. My children will not be as racist as I am. Freedom from racial prejudice is what we hope for down the line. Impatient with this hope, this process, PC seeks to get things done right now. In a generation or at the snap of a finger, you can simply announce yourself to be purged of these atavisms."

And I think few among us would mourn the passing of terms like "coon," "poofter" or "spastic." This is what political correctness is about. Heterosexual white men like me are not an oppressed people and never have been. As such I think to suggest that there is some conspiracy afoot, and to foment hatred and resentment - not only against some supposed "politically correct killjoys," but also against the minorities they are perceived to be 'protecting' - is in my sincere view far more dangerous than the things complained of would be even if they were all true. I think this is clear from some of the comments on your site, which are at the same time worryingly full of fury (one mutters about civil war!) but very short on thought or details of what they are complaining about.

On the whole 'banning Christmas' business, I suspect you will view the Guardian with the same suspicion that I view the Daily Mail, but this may be of interest:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/christmas2006/story/0,,1967367,00.html

I would sign off by wishing you well with your website and aims, but instead I'll settle for Kind Regards!

John Self
Perhaps they're not going to put my post up, although I think it would be a pretty rum affair if an organisation which spoke out for (what it considers to be) freedom of expression, was refusing to air opposing views on its website.
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Old 8th Dec 2006, 17:12   #8
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Default Re: Political Correctness

Relax boys. She's married.



Meet Political Correctness campaigners John and Laura Midgley, so in love they can't even get into the same photo-booth together.

Actually, is that lipstick, or is she undead?

It's quite a successful ruse, unfortunately. Dim journalists and daytime TV presenters fall for it from time to time giving her fringe idiocies the sort of publicity they'd never normally get.

Judge her by the company she keeps. She is not above sending email to the British People's Party. Her views are widely welcomed by such ultra-rightist dimwits Stormfront and the BNP.

If she actually tried standing up for her views in the more orthodox way, she'd disappear without a trace, which, as it happens, she did when she stood as a councillor in Stockwell in 2002 when she received a risible 124 votes; one less than her dreamy looking partner John.

She is the part of that heavy, heavy cross David Cameron has to bear.
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Old 8th Dec 2006, 17:45   #9
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Default Re: Political Correctness

Firstly, I must congratulate you, JS, on getting a Martin Amis quote in your response to the lovely Laura.

Quote:
What is more worring are the stories I hear day in day out from people where they have been the victims of serious PC or quite nasty PC
PC brutality?
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Old 8th Dec 2006, 18:07   #10
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Default Re: Political Correctness

This quote from scary Laura Midgley's reply struck me as quite funny:
'What is more worring are the stories I hear day in day out from people where they have been the victims of serious PC or quite nasty PC and they won't go to the press as they would risk further problems at work or even losing their job. What the press reports is an under-estimate of what is going on.'
Oh yes, poor harrassed white male heteros, denied the rights of minorities. I would like to ask her to name just a few of these PC abuses and maybe send her a copy of that programme from a year or so ago about the police force (was it The Secret Policeman's Ball?)

Anyhow, if political correctness is banned, am I allowed to be uglyist and say that Laura's nose looks like it got hungry and gobbled her husband's in the night?
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