Thursday, 20 March 2008

Political Correctness

To get things rolling I'm White, British (and proud), Muslim and middle aged. I'm also disabled, but why? Being disabled is not something the particular health condition does, rather it is something that society does because of the health condition and its up to society to moderate those effects, not me.

Political correctness should be seen in the same light; when society causes a problem by its use of language or behaviour then its up to that society to redress the balance by modifying that use of language or behaviour.

I believe problems with political correctness arise in three principle ways.

Firstly, when assumptions are made that offence has been caused when it hasn't; this can usually be attributed to over zealous officials or hyper sensitive liberals. I, myself was guilty of this when, many moons ago as a young political researcher I was asked to draft what I called a 'Charter for Elder Citizens' to be discussed by a group of older people. I agonized over what term to replace pensioners with as that was considered pejorative. When the document came back I noticed the main change they had made straight away, the title, 'Pensioner's Charter'. Moral - Ask first.

Secondly, when people don't think their causing offence or that offence is secondary to their right to carry on living as they have always done. Moral - Don't be part of the problem be part of the solution.

Thirdly, when a minority of a group hijack the views of that group for their own ends. This can only happen when society as a whole has allowed itself to ignore the feelings of those within its own midst. Moral - If you think you've listened enough, listen again.

The next time you're thinking should I say that, make sure you've examined you own motivations before you speak and when somebody else is getting on their high horse ask yourself, do they have the right to decide what other people should think do or say. I know what my answer would be every time.

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