Political Uncorrectness please

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LewPaper | 07:21 Fri 27th Mar 2009 | Society & Culture
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Watching a programme on political correctness last night brought it home to me how restricted we've become in the way we express ourselves. Nothing is exempt from extremely detailed criticism and in-depth analysis concerning the use of certain words, phrases or practices. Certainly there are expressions which any normal person would consider unacceptable but this list is growing exponentially. The word black has almost disappeared from our language; words containing the syllable 'men' have been castrated. Prince Harry had to apologise for using a certain word in relation to a friend, who wasn't even offended by it. Why? because someone decided the word to be offensive. Surely something's only offensive if it offends and what was this word that had women reaching for their smelling salts - the first few letters of his nationality, Pakistani. If this is offensive why not ban the words 'Brit' or 'Scot'. If people are so sensitive to what they THINK is offensive to others - tough. There are London boroughs who now avoid the word 'Christmas' in case it upsets their growing non-Christian inhabitants. It's now getting rather ridiculous and out of hand. I'm all for religious tolerance as I am for any tolerances, but it's a two-way street and let's not forget the words of President Truman when he said 'If you can't stand the heat etc. etc.' Employers can't engage who they feel is the better man (oops, sorry) for the job for fear of being labeled sexist, ageist, homophobic or xenophobic and this in the land which promotes free speech. I refuse to acquiesce to these narrow-minded busy bodies who take it on themselves to be the conscience of the nation. I'll continue to say what I feel is appropriate allowing my upbringing and NATURAL sensitivity to restrict my vocabulary rather than to subscribe to the machinations of those with too much time on their hands or the intellect to use it wisely.


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You're right. Some people will criticise anything.

Oh, and ...

It's "Incorrectness" ...

... not "Uncorrectness"

Question Author
Sorry Jayne. That slip was deliberate. A subtle use of political incorrectness in action.
Hear Hear.

Thought it might be, Lew.

I'm sure you picked up on the irony of

"some people will criticise anything" ...

... followed by a petty criticism.

Question Author
A comment from you Jayne is always worth reading, whether I agree with it or not. So refreshing to hear from someone who possesses a different perspective but who offers it so politely.

Nothing to do with this post - just thought it worth mentioning.
Times change - you have to accept that.

There was a time when words like n1gg3r or c00n were thought to be perfectly OK "what was anybody getting upset about?

But you imply in your "question" that even you consider some words, presumably like this out of bounds.

So what are you saying? you think that the small list of words that you deem unacceptable should be the gold standard and everything else should be OK?

Sounds like you're arguing that everybody should just shut up and agree with you!

I also think you're believing what you read in the papers too much. I know in the US it's sensitive but I don't know personally anyone in in the UK who objects to the term 'black' where appropriate.

And that banning Christmas is a hoary old chestnut.

The word Pak1 as opposed to Brit is interseting though - it's entirely through abuse. If you lived abroad and had had a history of 50 years of people shouting Brit at you and spitting in your face I think you'd come to object to the term too!

It's entirely though the abuse of it.

And that's where we come back to my first point. Things change, language changes. Words acquire new meanings and new degrees of acceptability and you have to accept that and change with it.

Or shall we bring your deckchair down to the beach and let you command the waves?
I'm with you on this, Lew. Some words are obviously offensive or derogatory, but there has become a science, a career, in deciding beforehand which words in the language might potentially be offensive to others. Once the new word is put into use, the old term is seen to be ignorant or offensive. The people who make these decisions are difficult to actually locate and name. Who are they?
Well Jock why don't you start in your quest with where you first heard the story.

I'm guessing behind the editors desks on the tabloids.

Simple rule - Don't take anything you get out of the Media at face value.

They are all lying, exagerating, story chasing weasels and that goes as much for the Telegraph and the Gaurdian as the Mail and the Sun.

They exist to write a bunch of half-thruths to make you blow your top with the injustice of the world

And boy do they love "PC stories"! nearly as much as "EU straight banana stories" and "illegal immigrants ate my hamster stories"

Found it hard to buy a bent banana recently?

What happened to the 50 million immigrants we were going to see from the war in Sudan? - they told us last year that they'd be here by now!

Tell you what - let's follow this up when the BBC starts talking about "African Britons"
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But . . . but doesn't the alluded abbreviated form for Pakistani carry with it strong connotations of 'fudge packer'? You wouldn't necessarily call someone from Virginia a 'Virgin' or ask someone with a Cockerspaniel, "Hey, hows your . . . ", well you get the picture . . . doncha?

Some words are simply more prone for abusivity as has often been demonstrated by how they had been used historically. That being said, I would agree that everyone should just lighten up. But then, fudge packin' is not everyones cup of tea, so beware. If you're not prepared to do the time etc. etc.
Jake is right about changing times and meanings. As my mum always says:

It used to be acceptable to be happy and gay
Then it was unacceptable to be gay
Then it is was acceptable to be gay
Then it was unacceptable to call people gay
Then it was unacceptable to say �that is so gay�.

And who decides all this acceptable & unacceptable? Fleet Street.
Question Author
Jake - whilst I welcome your comments I don't know what you're on about.

Certainly times as well as everything else changes, but they evolve naturally without any external pressure. And why you should place the word question in quotes defies belief. It wasn't a question but an opinion, something very similar to a large proportion of postings I read on AB.

Your paragraph beginning 'Sounds like you're . . . ' I can't take seriously; I welcome argument and discussion but let's make it intelligent argument and discussion. Perhaps you'd like to expand on your thoughts on that issue.

The banning of the word black I support by the introduction of the words chalk board in its place and the similarly naive changes involving the word. One council in particular was criticised by amending the nursery rhyme Ba Ba Black Sheep. And the banning of Christmas you may consider an old chestnut but I speak from personal experience as one who witnessed its roasting.

Repeats of veteran tv shows of 30 years ago now have words bleeped out, Monty Python being one that instantly springs to mind.

As for your beach scene, I've no complaints with lapping waves, just the clumsily built tsunami.
Retrograding to reference the opening salvos of this thread; Is it not incorrect (politically or not) to denigrate the word uncorrect? Several of my dictionaries and Thesaurus' have entries for the word. I find it full of irony (which you British, historically have appreciated) that a standard definition of uncorrect is... incorrect! So, I'm politically offended that someone chooses to criticize another's use of a totally acceptable and applicable word, presumably because the criticizer has some undefined bias, no? A dicephalous example of an equilateral adjective to this unwashed Yank's mind...
I'm with you Lew.
But I take issue with JockSporran. Very ageist - 'old term'.
old is derogatory !!!!! PC says so.
Well said, Lew, commonsense has disappeared for ever from British society, thanks to the limp wrist-wringing, sopping wet, peep-toed sandal-wearing PC Brigade's infiltration of everything this country has stood for since Jesus was an altar boy (whoops, another Freudian slip!).

I totally agree that vile and obnoxious words such as n*gger, c*on, P*ki, w*p etc etc, have no place in a tolerant society, but it baffles me as to why certain others have been undermined and airbrushed from our vocabulary.

For example, the word "golliwog" is defined as: "a soft doll with a black face and fuzzy hair". That is the only context in which I've ever personally placed it. But just because it was hijacked at some time by racist thugs and wrongdoers does not make the word in itself racist when it's uttered. If I were someone who collected dolls etc as a hobby, and I wanted a golliwog for my collection, how should I refer to it unless by that name?

"Eh, ah, ph, phew, let me see, now, I'd like one of those little soft dolls with a black face and fuzzy hair, but I can't use its dictionary name for fear that I might offend someone. Can you help me, Mr Shopkeeper?"

An extreme example, perhaps, but it just goes to show how the most innocent of words can be used as a tool by those in our midst who would rather radically indoctrinate our thinking in the name of offended feelings than bear to hear such words innocently spoken.

Racism is not a one-way street, not here in the UK at least.

What interests me is WHY some people dislike Pakistanis, Blacks, etc. Is it all unfounded, or is it maybe because of the disproportionate levels of crime, the insularity, the repeated attempts to change British society to suit them, the sheer failure to muck in with everybody else?

No, it is of course racism.

The decree is that I have to like anybody of a different race, colour, religion, dress, way of thinking, even if he is antagonistic to me.

Britain is F****D
Question Author
Oh dear Gormless, you really haven't got a clue have you?

The reasons for racism I leave to the sociologists and anthropologists but your cynical statement that you have to like everyone even if . . . does leave you open for some harsh criticism.

No-one is asking you to like or dislike anyone - either through race, colour, religion, dress, way of thinking, even if they're antagonistic to you - just don't prejudge them. Their colour and race is bourne from nature, all the rest is bourne from nurture, and while you're bemoaning the current state of Britain, you know where the door is.

And Clannad - you may have retrograded to the opening salvos of this posting but your then progression through it has been severely lacking in comprehension. Did you read my comments regarding the very first post? Nice try though.
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Just one little thing: they're called chalkboards now, not through idiotic obeisance to PC, but because they're not black any more! The most common colour is green but I've seen blueboards.
I believe that since a pen is used, some boards are called whiteboards.
Personally I find all this sort of thing childish and best treated as a joke whenever possible.
In practise, most people I know still speak of *****. If they want to call me a honkie or whitey, I can rise above that for I'm no racist, simply a patriot.

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