Offended? You respond to Michael Bywater's attack on political correctness...
Monday 16 February 2009
Think before you speak
What do anti-PC lobbyists want? The right to call out insults at every passing OAP, fat person, black person, veil-wearing person, disabled person? Will the new political correctness be unlimited offensiveness? Since when did the right to be as vilely insulting as one likes become the mark of an advanced society? If people want to go back to the days when landlords could advise, "No blacks, Irish or dogs" with impunity, just go on giving the foul-mouthed bigots a licence to present themselves as brave upholders of free speech. Otherwise, think before you speak.
Might there just be a middle way between the ludicrous situation where one has to choose words so very, very carefully, where "failure" becomes "deferred success", etc – and a return to a bullying and bigoted society?
Don't be so ungrateful!
Yeah, all those dark-skinned types who just cannot take a good joke at their expense, and all that other PC garbage can just go home then, eh? And just leave us normal good-humoured Brits to ourselves to be comfortable making whatever comments make us feel better about ourselves. How dare "other" people take offence – didn't we treat them all so well during the Empire? Ungrateful, is what I say. Shameful. If only every one of them was like Prince Charles's polo friend "Sooty" who knew his place.
We're all different
1) We all have different definitions of what is "offensive". 2) The corporate and media response to offensive remarks is disproportionate.
Let's take responsibility
The other day, I read that the rebellious spirit of 1968 is resurfacing at universities – I applaud these students! I hope they shake up society and help us rediscover some "old- fashioned" values, like thinking for ourselves, taking responsibility, not blaming others, etc.
You have to experience it
Perhaps if Michael Bywater had the experience of bringing up a mixed-race child in an openly racist community he would be less likely to sit comfortably with the golly image. Unless one goes through oppressive experiences, it seems one is unable to understand or act sensitively to the plight of others in a less fortunate position... hurtful words can have long-term consequences for a person's mental health and self-esteem.
Boot on the other foot
It is never admitted or discussed, by the way, that non-white people also have their own nicknames or terms - of varying degrees on the scale of derogatoriness – for white people.
Catherine Doherty, Australia
Some boots are mightier
While it is true that different nationalities, races, etc have derogatory terms for others, real harm begins when there is no balance in power between the groups. White people still hold most power and influence, and their derogatory words, accordingly, have more power and harm in them.
Try to be like Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson clearly intended the "one-eye Scottish idiot" summary of the Prime Minister to be disparaging. It's a simple use of rule of three listing, whereby the first two articles are emphasised and defined by the emphatic and indisputable third. It is a comedy staple. So yes, "one-eyed" and "Scottish" were employed by Clarkson to suggest some manner of absolute deficiency in our great leader, but it was a remark made by a silly old man in too-tight trousers. Now, if Clarkson has just one quality going for him, it's that he has the backbone to get on with his life after being so thoroughly insulted – as, I'm sure, does Gorden Brown, most one-eyed people and the Scots. We might all aspire to be more like Clarkson.
Legislate on language
We need a definitive list of words or phrases that might insult or cause stress to others - and we need to see it enshrined in law.
Readiness to be affronted is a means of implying how much higher than others is the moral plane upon which the affrontee exists.
I'm offended Blair took the UK to war, I'm offended that Brown encouraged a financial system that was bound to implode, I'm offended that laws are passed that take away my freedom to "prevent terrorism".
Whatever happened to sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me?
And the debate rages on... Have your say at independent.co.uk/offence
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