tag : bright yellow-green apples: imagined

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


figure 3.4. oh no, it's pc world

That's enough earnestness for one month, it's time for a bit of levity. On the one hand we have an enjoyable plot synopsis of the latest Star Wars film, linked from Martin's site. I don't even need to see the film now, thank god! On the other, by Marcus Brigstocke, we have a rather brilliant skewering of the whole "it's political correctness gone mad" line. Marvelous stuff.


Blogger Martin said...

That article is so spot on it makes me want to jump up and down with glee!

Yay for the link, although credit should really go to She Who Wrote It In The First Place

3:07 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

But of course, even if the person seems to have a mysteriously elusive identity - though you get a small wedge of kudos for finding it.

Brigstock is always very entertaining for his rants on The Now Show, so it's rather fun to see him having a go in the Guardian at the moment. Oh my, and in searching I've just found he has a website - that'll keep me happy for a while...

3:42 PM  
Blogger ash said...

actually, i thought the article was a bunch of shite that is uncharacteristic of the Guardian. He is correct on the one hand that people are stupid. But not all people who are anti-PC are a priori bigoted, racist, sexist, heterosexist, blighty-o-centric morons. Some of us just object to having to re-name "brainstorms" to "lightening diagrams" because someone with epillepsy could, theoretically, sue their teacher for mockery.

At school this week, I found a magazine with the sub-title "the careers magazine for black and ethnic minority students." now... to title a magazine "the careers book for WASPs and ethnic majority students" would be absolutely heinous!

similarly, the majority of feminists I've met think that the fathers rights movement is chauvanism. Yes, people are very very stupid. and so is being politically correct.

Some of it is just funny... like the SAT papers where "Nassim and Meena have 2 marbles and Yuhrgun has 5 marbles.." and there is no mention of billy bob and jill. That's amusing, and i'd miss that if it changed.

But it can slip into reverse prejudice, and that is the very real negative side to it. The poet Benjamin Zepheniah rejected the title of OBE (or MBE, i forget) because, "as a black man it offends me..." it is a symbol of imperialism and white dominance etc. etc. Which is utter bullsh*t. It may once have meant that, but the fact that you are being offered this shows that time has moved on!

we all have a jaded past, all countries. Some of us are trying to move on into a more tolerant system, while others take issue with mere bagatelles!

4:48 PM  
Blogger Martin said...


I think the point I would pick up is needless self-censorship. For instance:

"Some of us just object to having to re-name "brainstorms" to "lightening diagrams"".

This is an example of one of those things that people opposed to genuinely needed reform do in order to try and undermine the important stuff. If you feel you 'have' to do this then you are, as Radiohead once said, doing it to yourself, just you. The supposed 'brigade' that enforces that kind of silliness simply does not exist.

And bringing up these kind of trivialities has the consequence of not recognising the bigger issues at stake involving how we all relate to one another. And so much of this, what we call political correctness, is needlessly self-inflicted simply to undermine our moaning about how we're all going to hell in a handbasket because this PC rubbish, or whatever. I long for the day when we stop bringing up brainstorms and St George's flags and start thinking about what we need to do to become a better-run and kinder society.

I also don't think what Benjamin Zephaniah does is really a representation of what anybody else thinks, and it is fair to suggest that the honours system is rooted in imperialism. What's more, people who aren't black have also refused honours for the same reason.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Laurence - it's the Girl With The Dickensian Name what did it, she's on my livejournal friends list (oh yesh) and she went to Reading. In fact, she was at my house at Dave's party when you were too. So not much kudos called for!

6:25 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

nice little article you got there. There will always be a backlash when something that is a good thing starts looking a little extreme. When DO you draw the line, tho. Particularly with comedy, which is more often than not based on mockery?

6:31 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Well well, this was certainly a hotter topic than I'd expected. Hopefully I can do some of the responces justice.

Ash –

I think you’re missing the point a bit. I would contend, first off, that the whole shadow some are casting about political correctness is just that – a phantom. The way many talk, it does seem as if we have a new bogy man, and abstract oppressive force out there contriving to make life irksome and difficult. Maybe even oppressive. But when it comes to the real world, most cases that are brought up – even those you have, I’ll confess – strike me as either (1) harmless disparate unease about something, that nobody is inducing upon you (such as brain storming – where is the rule against it?) or (2) token prejudice masquerading under ‘common sense’, of the Conservative party election manifesto sort. Most of what we hear about ends up being revealed as urban legend, or unsubstantiated – banned English white flag Christmas trees.

I should just deal with Benjamin Zephaniah here, because that’s a specific misunderstanding. One of the reasons he specifically turned down the honour, is that it served to co-opt people into an establishment that was latently hostile to his identity – personally and generationally, in relation to the past. Not everything can be so easily rendered benign as you think, not least when our political system is so woven into our disreputable history, often in an unreconstructed way.

It takes a lot of subtlety and careful reflection to develop an increasingly positive society – care to ensure we’re not falling into easy disregard in the present and our understanding of the past.

4:15 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Martin -

Thanks , you put it better than me, I think.

Oh, but I didn't realise she was one of the Reading lot. Thank makes the chances of your reading her webloggy thing a whole lot more likely, I suppose!

4:17 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Sarah –

This kind of comedy is maybe not the most positive, in the sense that it uses a whole lot of mocking satire along the way – but given how frustrating a lot of what he’s talking about is to me, I find it a relief to read as well as funny. I’ll often say, humour in any form is often a good way to deal with issues.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Rach said...

I have to ask because it has been bugging me for years, what does "WASP" mean?

As someone who has been tarred by the feminist brush I would have to say that I think the fathers right movement is a great idea. :D


12:04 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

laurence- yeah i had to rush of for dinner, sorry.

yes, i agree. Mocking satire can be frustrating, particularly when aimed at yourself. It highlights how much of other people we do not understand and get, and we mock what we do not know. This is turn makes us look pretty stupid too.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

laurence,u r very snazzy,i love u!

6:14 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

The singer from Frou Frou, is that you?

I have two further points to make, neither of which are absolutely necessary:

1) Rach is 'tarred with the feminist brush'? If you'll pardon the expression, I've been trying to untar Rach of this for a while, but she seems to insist on calling herself it...
2) I can't believe I missed this the first time - I wasn't aware that mockery was a crime... (and before you label me a pedant, I'm making a serious point here, which crime exactly are we talking about?)

8:25 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

ooh more comments galore.

Rach -

I wouldn't say feminism is any kind of tarr at all - so long as it's the reasonable 'all are equal' form rather than 'all males are questionable' form! But then The latter is very rare really.

I would be happier with 'the fathers rights movement' if it weren't so occasionally millitant and aggressive. There is an inbalance in the system towards the female parent, though it might not be best chalanged by stunts that the media can trivialise and take to make other points (eg condoms of purple dye becomes about Commons' security instead). These concerns aren't PC or whatever, I'd have thought.

11:36 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Sarah -

Mockery in itself need not be a bad thing, by any means. It can be a posative thing insofar as using satirical humour might be the most effective way to make a point of question, in some instances. It can certainly be amoungst the best ways of communicating issues to a wide audience, sometimes working across boundaries and camps of political outlook. It's best to excercise judgement about when to use what form - even if the Have I Got News for You kind is often my most favourite!

11:40 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Anon -

Thanks, on both counts - your compliments and flattery are most welcome, whoever you are (another mystery anonymous?)

Martin -

Good points, no matter how tangential this thread of discussions now seem to be heading ;)

11:42 PM  
Blogger Pip said...

Aww, thanks :) I wrote it while I was skiving off some work I supposed to be doing if I remember rightly! It's amazing what you come out with when you're online instead of doing something necessary and important to your degree!

12:27 AM  

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