Saturday, December 24, 2005

And it was all going so well

Just as Dishy Davey Cameron was convincing us all that the Tory party had changed and Oliver Leftwing was coming out in favour of socialist redistribution (picking up clothing long-abandoned by the Labour party), one of the old-fashioned Tory MPs has raised his head out of the feeding trough long enough to stick his foot in his mouth.

The previously-unknown Philip Davies, recently elected as the MP for Shipley, has called for the party of small government and deregulation to appoint a 'political correctness eliminator' to tackle problems like the Somerset museum that decided to use the scientific term BP (Before Present) when dating certain objects. The museum itself states that they only intend to use the term for objects that can be regarded as pre-historic and will continue to use the traditional AD/BC designations where pieces can be effectively dated.

Quite what this PC Czar will do is unclear - aren't we just replacing a set of fairly informal guidelines with a firmly-enforced set of rules? It will simply redefine political correctness with a right-wing bias and suggests an Orwellian thought police more entrenched than anything the current atmosphere produces, putting the jackboot firmly on the other foot. However, there should be no shortage of suitable candidates to take up the post as scourge of political correctness - Daily Mail columnists, Daily Express headline writers, Robert Kilroy-Silk, Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning - all eminently qualified to lead this new campaign.

Bear in mind, also, that many of these stories are dreamt up by elements of the media seeking to grind their own axes - remember the stories a couple of years ago about councils banning hot cross buns for fear of offending non-Christians? Absolute hogwash - and the Telegraph eventually admitted it. Similarly, there was a furore in the 1980s about a book called Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. This was widely portrayed as councils promoting gay propaganda and the resulting media frenzy helped to generate the infamous s28 of the Local Government Act. From that, you would think that this book was a set text in every primary school in the country, when in fact it was only available in the teachers' resource library and not on general release in schools.

An article by the author reveals her reasons for writing the book and also the disappointment from the journalists when they found out that the characters in the book were fictional and weren't based on real people who had all died from some horrible, sexually-transmitted disease. The journos were also saddened to discover that the author wasn't gay, which blocked off a further line of attack.

My point is that whenever someone rattles on about political correctness gone mad, I always want to find out the truth behind the story, which is usually somewhat different to that published in the media. That's not to say that people don't do silly things in the name of equality, but at least they are erring on the side of caution and generally doing things with a good heart.

I don't see anything wrong with recognising that we do have a multi-cultural, multi-religious society and seeking to make government and public services as universally accessible as possible. That doesn't destroy our traditions and our society - rather it strengthens it.

Whatever you're celebrating, be it Winterval, Hanukkah or Christmas, have a good one.

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